The two weeks between the All-Star Game and the July 31 trade deadline will go a long way toward deciding whether the Minnesota Twins will be a buyer or a seller at the end of the month.
The Twins (44-50) improved significantly after three consecutive 90-loss campaigns and are 4 1/2 games better at the break this season than they were last year (39-53). At 10 1/2 games out of first place in the American League Central race, Minnesota appears on the surface as if it should be a seller. However, the Twins begin the second half with a season-long, 10-game homestand.
"This week was a big week for us," Twins second baseman Brian Dozier said. "Coming back from the All-Star break with 10 games at home, everything plays in our favor. We've just got to go out and win."
With the Tampa Bay Rays (44-53), Chicago White Sox (45-51) and Cleveland Indians (47-47) the opponents coming in during the stretch at home, the Twins could make up some ground between now and July 31.
"I know how the business side of it is, but it's our job to make those decisions hard," Dozier said. "I want to contend. I believe we can. We've got the people to do it. I'm not saying we may not need a couple extra pieces to do it, but we're going to be just fine."
The past month was disappointing for the Twins, who sat only three games under .500 on June 8 when they surprised the baseball world by signing veteran slugger Kendrys Morales to a one-year, prorated $12 million contract. At the time, the Twins were only five games behind the Detroit Tigers in the AL Central and 3 1/2 out of a wild-card spot.
"Why not the Twins?" Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan asked rhetorically after signing Morales.
By June 13, the Twins were just 3 1/2 games back in the division race and 2 1/2 out in the wild-card chase. However, a five-game losing streak that began June 24 in Anaheim set the Twins back, and by the end of it, Minnesota was nine games behind surging Detroit.
Another three-game losing streak in early July added another 1 1/2 games onto the Twins' hole, but a 5-2 road trip to Seattle and Colorado to end the first half provided a glimmer of hope.