We are less than a week and a half since the Minnesota Twins wrapped up their season with a disappointing thud, but the team already has to evaluate what they have and how they can improve for the 2020 season.
With the ALDS loss to the New York Yankees fresh in their minds, there is one overlooked area the Twins apparently lacked that must be upgraded before the team hits Target Field for Opening Day.
Yes, the Twins may need starting pitching, but on Wednesday afternoon, they made their first major move of the offseason. After 19 years on the job, the man who portrayed their mascot, T.C. Bear, will not be back in 2020, according to the Star Tribune.
During his time with the Twins, he didn't miss a single home game (which is astounding considering the product that was put on the field for the majority of this decade) and that type of durability might have been more reliable than the former face of the franchise, Joe Mauer.
Although it's shocking that Ken Rosenthal or Peter Gammons aren't reporting on this development, finding the right man to portray T.C. Bear next season could be the difference between ending the Twins' playoffs losing streak or another ignominious exit.
But fear not, Twins, we have some ideas for who should be the next man beneath the mascot.
The most common complaint about the Twins front office is that they don't spend enough money. While fans would love to see Minnesota back up a Brink's Truck to the Houston Astros' locker room to sign Gerritt Cole, he's not going to come cheap and the Twins have to save money somewhere to get that done.
So why trade Eddie Rosario to save money when you can just resist on hiring a new mascot and do it yourself? Mr. Pohlad would be a great man to fill the void of T.C. Bear and by charging kids $5 for a high five or $20 for a selfie, perhaps that could raise the type of money needed to sign Cole, Madison Bumgarner and another free agent to a massive free-agent deal we'll all regret in two years.
This one will be a little bit tougher since Gardenhire is currently managing the Detroit Tigers. However, with a team that lost 114 games last season, it's a good bet that Gardy would rather throw on a bear suit than watch Miguel Cabrera limp his way over to first base.
Believe it or not, Gardenhire would also have experience with this sort of thing. During the Twins run to multiple AL Central titles in the 2000s, Gardenhire was able to go on cruise control with Mauer and fellow slugger Justin Morneau running the ship. Once the two lost their All-Star form, Gardenhire could be seen perched on the dugout railing in the same fashion Snoopy hung out on his doghouse.
Again, this would also require the Twins to buy out Gardy's contract, but they could do worse.
The "Bomba Squad" captured the imagination of Twins Territory last season, but in the end, they couldn't put enough balls over the fence in order to take down the hated Yankees. With that, the Twins may not be able to get Gardenhire, but they can take a piece of him and transfuse this team with pure grit.
Punto was a key member of the Twins throughout the 2000s and even though he only had a career average of .248 with 12 home runs during his seven seasons in Minnesota, he had the heart and hustle that the Twins loved.
This would be a huge get for the role of T.C. Bear. Imagine Punto in the Champions Club hanging out with some beautiful people and making it all the way up to the Budweiser Roof Deck in the same inning! Some people would say it's impossible, but with Punto's hustle, anything would be...even in a giant bear suit.
We've all watched Gibson battle throughout his time in Minnesota, but as his contract comes to a close, it's hard to tell just what would happen to the long-time right-hander. The Twins and the people around the organization love him and with an irreplaceable 4.52 ERA, it's highly likely the Twins will just sign him to a three-year, $45 million deal in their quest for impact pitching.
But what if we gave him that money to put him in this role? We've heard all the time that Gibson battles when he's on the mound, but what about when he's in a giant costume on a 90-degree day. If anything, he might sweat less than when he was dealing with a 3-2 count against the Kansas City Royals.
Last season, Buxton put on 21 pounds of muscle to get through the rigors of an MLB season. While he was able to have a career season at the plate, his style of play in the outfield proved to be his downfall as he tore his labrum trying to run through a wall in Miami.
So how do we keep Buxton healthy? MORE PADDING!!
By putting Buxton in a giant bear suit, we may lose a little speed, but crashing into the wall may be a little less rigorous even if he loses his head from time to time. It's not a terrible idea and if anything, it can't be worse than that time when Mariner Moose decided to take up roller blading.
What's more, he would absolutely destroy the field every home game in the mascot race.