Woke up to some pretty bad news this morning as per the Twins, Miguel Sano, a consensus Top- 10 prospect in baseball and murderer of baseballs, is set to undergo Tommy John Surgery and miss the entire 2014 season. Many people thought he was going to make his debut sometime in June or July and that’s a sentiment I generally agree with. One of the first things I thought about when I heard this was the ways in which it changes the Twins plans in the short- and long-term. Here’s what I came up with.
1. Clearly the worst part of this situation is the fact that Sano loses a year of development in which he had a really good chance to graduate to the Majors at age 20. I don’t think he was ready yet because his defense still needs work and he didn’t exactly post a high batting average in his time at AA last year, but he was certainly a good Spring Training and 6-8 good weeks in AAA away from being in the Show.
· 2. More specifically, I’m really uneasy with the idea of Sano not hitting against professional pitching until next Spring Training. I think this set his timeline back by more than just a year because it’s going to take him some time to get back into the swing of things before he’s ready to be promoted. He has posted good walk rates everywhere he’s been, but in AA most of his value was a product of hitting baseballs into outer space to the tune of a .571 slugging percentage, but he only posted a .344 OBP. Now keep in mind he was one of (if not the) youngest players in the league, but he’s not a finished product.
· 3. It’s still apparent that the Twins medical staff is clueless as to how to handle injured/potentially injured players. There have now been a couple of instances where the team attempted to have the player rest and rehab his injury only to end up resorting to surgery anyways. Not only that, but they routinely won’t DL a guy for like 6 days after a pulled hamstring or sore ankle, only to eventually put him on the DL, thus playing with a 24 man roster for nearly a week which just bleeds incompetence. If the Twins were to pull the trigger on TJ for Sano back in the fall when there were first whispers about his elbow’s health, he would have had more time to get healthy and perhaps even play winter ball next offseason. Instead he’s just now getting surgery after the team pussy-footed around his injury all offseason.
· 1. Clearly this is not a desirable position for the organization, but it’s not ALL bad. For one, the clock on Sano won’t be starting until at the very earliest the beginning of next year, when he will be 22, giving the Twins control of him through his age 28 season. Had this not happened he would possibly have become a free agent a year earlier, and if he becomes a star like many think he will, that extra year could be worth upwards of $20 million to the Twins.
· 2. From Trevor Plouffe’s perspective, this is great news. He gets one more make it or break it year to either prove he can be a valuable asset for this team or to prove that he is just another player. If he comes out and has a good season a la Brian Dozier last year, he could perhaps gain some trade value and the Twins could possibly move him for a piece in the future while making way for Sano. And if Plouffe ends up hurt (again), it would give the team a nice chance to see what Debinson Romero can do at the Major League level.
· 3. The only other positive that potentially could be gleaned from this failure by the medical staff is the fact that they are only getting closer to being replaced by a competent group.
Obviously this hurts the franchise a lot, and of course I would have killed to see him in a Twins uniform in June after crushing the International League for two months, I don’t think this is the end of the world.