So if anything other than a split happens, are the Twins going to take it as a sign to act? That is, would a big shift in the standings push them towards an early fire sale or a harder pursuit of the division? (Yes I know they’re always trying hard, but I mean actually raising the bar to expect winning instead of feeling good about their swings or whatever they were babbling during April.)
If they go 3-1, then on Tuesday morning they’d only be 6.5 back of Chicago (and a sweep would put them at 4.5.) That’s a very achievable gap in mid-May and would be quite a boost, but would it be enough to elicit some changes? I’m guessing not unless there was some very concrete weakness exposed during the series, like an injury or Castro going 0-18 with four errors or something. (Quite frankly I don’t think that’s a good example, as even that probably wouldn’t be enough to clear the memory of Juan’s .375 avg and fancy glovework from last month.) Anything they did to play that well would be an endorsement of the status quo and reinforce the organization’s penchant for inertia.
On the other hand dropping four might be enough to bring down the curtain on this incarnation of Twins Win Cycle 01-04. If they were 12.5 back it might be enough to send Hunter, Lohse, Cuddyer, Stewart and any other loose baubles that might not fit cleanly into the 07 plans out to the highest bidders. I’m not sure if 1-3 (10.5 games back) would get things rolling, but in conjunction with anything else (an injury, say) they’d be on the market pretty quick. In conjunction with the improved division it’s going to be harder than ever to pick those games up, so even a split leaves them close to shifting emphasis to next year.
I’m just not getting the feeling from this group that they feel any destiny or wind at their backs or etherial Puckett influence. So if they’re not totally feeling it when the stadium thing either happens or fails you’ll probably see a lot of preparation for next season. That’ll probably include more Kubel and Bartlett, less Lohse and Stewart, and maybe some experimentation with the CF of the future during September. (Tangent: I’m not sure they’ll deal Hunter given their options for 07—Ford? Tyner? Span?? Punto?!?—but if the right deal were offered I could see them pulling the trigger to get out from under the $12.5m dilemma.)