Monday, July 11, 2016

An Open Letter to Trump Supporters

I suspect that, at this point, people who support Donald Trump's candidacy for President of the United States fall into two main categories:
  • Racists, Sexists and Xenophobes – no explanation necessary
  • People who have completely lost faith in government and would prefer to blow the “MF’er” up

To group number one, I feel sad and sorry for you.  It is tragic to think about how terrible your lives must be that you choose to blame your personal circumstances on the weak and marginalized among us. You represent the absolute worst of our instincts, and the absolute opposite of the principals that conservatives in this country claim to fight for.  These people simultaneously complain about the “takers” who rely on the government instead of “pulling themselves up by their bootstraps”, while blaming their lot in life on everyone but themselves and their own actions. 
To the second group, I have much more empathy and understanding.  My frustration with “politics as usual” and the unrelenting protection of the status-quo in Washington is genuine. I believe that the two party system creates an environment where we are too often forced to accept the lesser of two evils.  I believe that the influence of money in politics, combined with an inexplicable lack of term limits for legislators creates a breeding ground for corruption.  I believe that political maneuvering has, and continues to, erode away at the bedrock of the representative Democracy that we speak so passionately about.  Through years of gerrymandering, voter suppression, and due to the over-sized influence of special interest groups and lobbyists, my vote continues to lose value relative to some.
A number of years ago, I was part of a group of rebellious citizens who cast a vote for a former wrestler and movie star to “shake things up” a bit.  Whether or not I would vote the same way again, I’m not sure.  What I do know is that Governor Ventura was not up to the job, as he proved far too weak to navigate the ugly world of politics.  He was unable to accept criticism, far too unwilling to compromise, and generally unable to follow through on most of his ideas.  Had he run for a second term, he would not have gotten my vote again.  In any case, I am not immune to the temptation to cast a “protest vote” as recently occurred in the United Kingdom.  I am also not reckless enough to put our security and respect in the world and global economy at risk to prove a point. 

If you are interested in my thoughts on how valid a Trump vs. Ventura comparison is, go here.

If you are still tempted to give up on our Democracy in this election, I ask you to consider a different course of action.  Use your vote at the local and state level to elect people who will truly fight to restore the legitimacy of our representation.  Pledge your support to those who actually support the ideals that our founders laid out in the Constitution.  Pay attention to those who fight for more people to vote, rather than fewer.  Support those who truly want to eliminate the influence of money in politics by requiring publically funded elections, overturn Citizens United, and limit the outsized influence of special interest groups and super PACs.  Listen to politicians who have the courage to enact term limits so that politics become an honorable duty, rather than a profitable career.  Support legitimate 3rd party candidates who are more in line with your actual beliefs, rather than one of two highly funded special interest groups who are only accountable to a select few insiders. 

Whatever you do, please don’t cast your vote for a careless, joke of a human being whose only motivation is to promote himself and his selfish interests, at the expense of everything else, including our national security.

Protest Candidates

The rise of Donald Trump’s candidacy often prompts comparisons to another “outsider” candidate, former Governor Jesse Ventura.  As a longtime resident of the state of Minnesota, who elected Ventura to office, I feel the need to clarify a few things.  First of all, I definitely understand the desire to make this comparison.  Both built their campaigns on an anti-establishment, straight talking platform, and both were famous in TV and movies long before running for public office.  It is also notable that both Trump and Ventura took positions that didn’t fit particularly well in either of the established party platforms.  Each of them has a reputation for saying things that aren’t necessarily politically correct, and their comments often got them in trouble.  If you are willing to look deeper, and revisit history a bit however, that is where the similarities end. 

First of all, it is important to note that Ventura actually won the election as a third party candidate (Reform Party), defeating both the Republican and Democratic nominees. Trump, on the other hand, is going to be, albeit reluctantly, the GOP nominee. In addition, Ventura, while not a seasoned politician by any means, was not a complete newcomer to politics.  Prior to running for Governor, Ventura was the mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota from 1991-1995.  Ventura’s views, even at the time, were fairly reasonable and consistent, in stark contrast to Trump’s positions, which range from inconsistent, to incomprehensible, and in many cases, unconscionable.  Looking at Ventura’s views in today’s political environment, they seems almost refreshing.

Ventura described himself as fiscally conservative, and socially liberal.  He also like to say that he’s a “libertarian” (with a small “l”).  By simply analyzing his beliefs and political statements over the years, one site ( pegged him as a “Progressive Libertarian,” which I imagine he’d be fine with.  A sampling of his positions, both political and private, are as follows:
  •   Doesn’t agree with abortion, but supports the ultimate right of the woman to choose.
  • Doesn’t support gay marriage, but supports full legal rights regardless of sexual preference.
  • Does not support increased surveillance and invasion of privacy, even to fight “terrorism.”
  • Supports a simplified tax system, reducing overall taxes and attempting to balance out the tax burden across a larger tax base.
  • Favors taxes based on consumption of services, rather than income level or property values, including implementation of a national sales tax to replace income tax.
  •   Supports funding public education out of the general fund, rather than by local property taxes.
  • Does not support the absolute right of gun ownership.
  • Strongly in favor of separating church and state, including in public schools.
  • Believes in campaign finance reform, reducing roadblocks to voting, and is skeptical of the military and prison industrial complex.
  • Is against mandatory sentencing, “three strikes and you’re out” and criminalizing addiction.
  • In favor of legalizing and regulating marijuana, similar to alcohol and tobacco. 
  • Supports free trade agreements
  • Moderately isolationist and in favor of downsizing the military
  • Believes in climate science, is in favor of expanding green energy, and he made mass-transit (light rail) a priority for Minnesota while in office.

Another similarity between Ventura and Trump seems to be their willingness to support and to give credibility to conspiracy theories.  I’m not sure what to make of that, other than to note that Ventura’s love of conspiracy seems to be a fairly recent development, coming out after he decided not to seek re-election as Governor.  This is one major reason why so many people (myself included) who were drawn to his candidacy in 1998, would have problems supporting him today.  In 1998, he was the grassroots candidate of the people who gave us a viable option that fell somewhere in between the two mainstream options. His views made sense to pro-choice, small government crusaders who happened to have LGBT friends.  He provided a viable candidate for those responsible gun owning, recreational pot smokers who wanted to send their kids to a quality public school without having to buy a $500,000 house in the suburbs.  I certainly didn’t (and don’t) agree with all of his views, but he represented a common sense and practical view of the role of government in our society.  His policies were generally well thought out and consistent with a man that grew up in Minneapolis, and built his own success in this country.  He believed that our government had a role to play, yet we all needed to take an active role in our own success. 

Donald Trump does a very good job of getting noticed, and that was his primary motivation for jumping into this race.  He saw, much like Ventura, that people were getting fed-up with politics as usual, and saw a window of opportunity to appeal to those who felt left out.  The miscalculation that both the GOP and Democratic parties made, was regarding the scale of those voters who had lost their voice.  Trump not only grabbed hold of the white supremacist vote, the anti-immigrant vote, and the far-Christian right vote, but he also appeals to another growing category of voters.  This last group, much like the young people that handed the Governorship to Jesse, are those so fed up with the our government doing nothing, that they are willing to blow this “thing” up rather than put faith in politicians to fix politics. 

A candidate like Bernie Sanders also grabs a large group of the disenfranchised voters, but his message tends to appeal to those that believe there is still a path to success through politics, rather than in-spite of politics.  We need more than two options, and we need to change the system, not just rotate candidates in and out of government.  We need to reduce the role of money in politics, and we won’t get that done with candidates who are funded by millionaires and billionaires.   I fear that there are enough Sanders supporters who are so fed up with government that they’d rather “burn it down” with Trump rather than maintain the status-quo with Hillary.  

Only time will tell…

Friday, July 8, 2016

What I think I think...

We all know the kid in high school that always got picked on and pushed around. There are a few in every school, in every town in America. Maybe he/she was a little different, a little awkward, or just didn’t quite “fit in”. We all have a different story. That kid might have been you, your sister or brother, your neighbor or your friend. Or, that kid might have been a stranger to you, someone that you never really got a chance to know on a personal level.

Then there are the people who had power over this kid, those whose power was displayed by making him feel inferior. We all know who they are as well. Once again, this could have been you or me, your brother, sister, friend or acquaintance. The vast majority of people don’t qualify as either the tormented or the tormentor, but most are at minimum complicit in the abuse. Most of us have, at times, seen someone treated poorly, have felt bad for that person, but didn’t intervene to help.

 My personal story is pretty similar to the above generalization. I never considered myself part of the “popular” crowd, but I managed to generally avoid being considered “unpopular,” at least in most circles. I played sports, sang in choir, and did well in school. I was involved in activities, had enough friends, and never really craved the acceptance of the social elite. Still, there were times when I was bullied or mistreated by one group or another, and while the perpetrators were very few, many more stood by and did nothing to stop them.

 One night, in the fall of my senior year, I found myself at a party with a diverse group of friends, classmates and casual acquaintances. Also at the party were a few of the guys who, for whatever reason, liked to give me a hard time. By this point, I was perfectly able to stand up for myself, and the expected harassment wasn’t overly bothersome. This particular night, however, something amazing happened. A casual acquaintance of mine, and a good friend of these guys, stepped off the sidelines, and actively stood up for me. I’ll always remember that moment for a couple reasons. First, I will always respect this act of kindness and bravery, and to this day hold this person in very high regard. Second, I’ll never forget the look of shock on the faces of my tormentors, when their friend told them, and I’m paraphrasing, to “knock it off.” They were literally speechless, and they basically never bothered me again.

 For the last several years, and over the last few days in particular, I’ve struggled to make sense of how people are treated in this country. There are large segments of our society that are marginalized and made to feel inferior and forgotten. The powerful few among us exploit their advantages to make themselves more powerful. Most of us, just like in high-school, are left somewhere in the middle, as spectators to watch this all unfold. As we watch, but fail to act, we are complicit in the many injustices that we witness, some of us more than others. What I realized that night back in high school was that people will continue inappropriate behaviors as long as it is acceptable within their social circle. All it took was one comment from a respected peer to put a stop to years of damaging actions.

 Throughout American history, it has been the same story. Slavery was accepted as a practice for white land owners long after people started to struggle with the morality of owning another human being. Segregation and Jim Crow laws were prevalent long after African Americans began to express their displeasure. I imagine that many white Americans disagreed with these practices, but chose not to act. How long did women have to request the right to vote before progress was finally made? For how long did the fight for LGBT rights go on before real measurable progress was realized?

 The truth is, oppressors don’t simply change their behavior because the oppressed complain about their treatment. Real change only takes place once one’s society no longer considers that behavior acceptable. In order for that to happen, members of that society must speak out against the behavior of their own peers, making formerly acceptable views and behaviors unacceptable. It took two white Presidents (Lincoln and Lyndon Johnson) to abolish slavery and provide legal protections to African Americans. It took members of the straight community to demand equal treatment for their LGBT friends and family to prevail in that struggle. And it took one of the “cool kids” standing up to his peers to get them to stop bothering me in high school.

 Many people criticize President Obama for not doing more during his eight years in office to improve the lives of African Americans. Many people believed that having a black President would naturally make things better for people of color. The truth is, the minds and hearts of people who are comfortable in believing that the color of their skin makes them superior are not going to be changed by a black President. The responsibility for fighting inequality and institutional racism in our country lies with those who benefit from it, not those who suffer because of it.

 If we want to combat injustice and institutional racism on the police force, police officers, specifically white police officers, will have to create an environment where racism is not acceptable or tolerated. In order to combat racism in the justice system, white district attorneys and judges must be a model for fairness and equality. In order to change gun laws, gun owners must speak out for commonsense gun reforms. In order to recognize that #BlackLivesMatter, white people need to pick up a sign and march alongside our brothers and sisters to demand action and reforms. As long as we continue to sit on the sidelines while others are oppressed, the oppressors will continue to take comfort in the belief that their actions are justified, and nothing will change.

  The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy. – Martin Luther King, Jr.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Campaign 2016: Here We Go Again!

This political season is just getting started, and it is already one of the strangest ones in my lifetime.  In an environment where Republicans have obstructed the President and Democratic supporters at every turn, despite historical achievements in multiple areas of government, we are entering into another frustrating adversarial political campaign season.  The hard part is finding any sort of logic in the strategy of the Republicans. 

GOP Ideological Platform:

The platform of the GOP currently has very little substance to stand on.  It is basically this: You know all that stuff that the government does?  We think that we should get rid of most of it.  

Get ridof the EPA: We don’t believe that the government should impose rules and restrictions on business to protect the environment, because the “free market forces” will magically convince those businesses to police themselves and run their businesses in a way that is responsible for the environment. 

Get rid of the FDA: We don’t believe that the government should be imposing rules or regulations on the food and drug producers that in any way inhibit their freedom to do business as they please.  If there are issues with food or inspections, or safety of drugs or medical devices that cause people to get sick or die, “free market forces” will punish them because nobody will buy their products anymore.  (sorry all you people who are dead)

Get rid of the IRS: The tax code is too complicated, and we can’t trust a government institution to set and enforce rules related to taxation.  Instead, we should trust the people who are making all of the money to decide how much they should be taxed on their earnings.  Oh, and with all the “savings” that we get from eliminating the oversight, we can also lower taxes “across the board” for all Americans. (you’re welcome rich people). 

Get rid of Obamacare: We don’t believe that the government should be imposing rules and regulations on medical insurance companies, who are just trying to charge people for the potential cost of a completely inelastic service in an environment of skyrocketing healthcare costs.  Also, please ignore the fact that these companies are some of the most profitable companies in the world (it’s just good business).  Also, if you could forget the fact that the US Government already manages the most effective and efficient medical insurance plans in existence, that would be helpful.

Get rid of Dodd-Frank (or Glass-Stegal, or any financial regulation for that matter): Never mind that the lack of strong regulation on the financial industry led to a global economic meltdown, historic hardship for regular Americans, and virtually no consequences for the people who engineered the collapse, regulations are “bad for business.”  Seriously, pay no attention to the man behind the curtain; regulations are just really, really bad (really!).  By the way, it is better to have “private companies” regulate themselves, kind of like Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s “independently” rated the mortgage derivatives as AAA rating, just months before we all had to buy them up at a “junk” rating to save the world economic system.

Get rid of ATF (Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms): You know that part of the government that was created to control the sale and distribution of all the bad stuff that we decided was legal, even though we knew how dangerous it was?  Yeah, that’s the one.  The strange part is that the A&T have been universally attacked because of their clear negative societal and health implications, while the NRA/GOP partnership has managed to make the “F” component completely powerless in the “war on guns” in this country.  I think that Nancy Reagan picked the wrong battle as first lady.  While the war on drugs has succeeded in charging you and I for locking up millions of small time criminals for decades on minor offenses, the invisible “war on gun-regulations” costs us multiple lives every single day, with no end in sight.

But wait a minute; GOP policy isn’t just about rolling back regulation on…everything, right? Of course not, that would be insane…

·      The GOP is definitely interested in expanding the regulations on whether (and when) women can have an abortion, what type of birth control they can use, and who can decide to get married to each other. 
·      They are also very much in favor of increased regulations on who is “allowed” to come to our great nation, and harsher penalties for those who may be here without permission.

·      In addition, they are very much in favor of limiting the constitutional rights of the elected President of the United States to negotiate peace treaties with other nations, especially if with nations that we don’t like very much.  War with those nations is historically the more practical option. 

·      Conveniently, the “Grand Old Party” is also very much on the side of religious groups who would like to use non-legal religious doctrine to justify discrimination against certain groups of citizens and residents of this country while at the same time enacting new laws and regulations to limit the rights that other groups would like to claim based primarily on their (conflicting) religious beliefs.

Well, that doesn’t sound very convincing:
1.     Opposing common sense regulation of industries where lack of regulation has proven time and again to have universally negative consequences for our nation seems to be a bit of a hyper-ideologic reaction (Microsoft is telling me that “hyper-ideologic” is not a word, but I don’t care). It seems to me that regulation of industry is a logical compromise between free market idealism and socialism.  Right? No? Really? OK.

2.     Promoting enormous tax cuts that disproportionally benefit the very, very wealthy at the expense of middle class Americans, while at the same time advancing the argument that our country is drowning in debt that will eventually fall on the shoulders of our children, and using that as an excuse to eliminate programs that benefit the very, very poor seems to suffer from a lack of both logic and compassion (this may be the longest sentence I’ve ever written). 
3.     Not only are these arguments unconvincing, but they are most certainly “un-American,” which is almost certainly why this isn’t the official GOP platform (though I invite a friendly discussion on the above points).

So, given the above facts (and some opinions), what exactly is it about the “GOP’s message” that continues to resonate with so many Americans?

·      First of all, this is generally NOT the GOP message.  For anyone to run on the above platform with be certifiably insane (unless your last name is Trump…more on that later).  The points above attempt to describe the underlying GOP ideology, not the official public GOP platform. 

·      Publically, the party relies on vague buzzwords such as “smaller government”, “lower taxes”, and “more individual accountability” to describe their plans for the country.  In reality, these words are completely meaningless absent of any kind of concrete policy proposals, which generally don’t exist.  

·      The lack of any actual defensible political platform has forced the Republican party to rely on a platform of fear and distraction:

  •  Barack Obama is not a citizen, and refuses to produce a valid birth certificate (despite the fact that he is a citizen and has produced a valid birth certificate).  Whatever, Hawaii isn’t really a state, anyway!

  • Do you really want a Muslim “anchor baby” planted in this country by “Islamist extremists” to take over the country as the leader of the free world?

  • “Obamacare” is the worst thing to ever happen to this country, and will cause healthcare premiums to “skyrocket” and create government “death panels” who will decide whether your Grandma lives or dies.  (pay no attention to the fact that “Grandma” is doing just fine and insurance premiums are increasing slower than ever while the uninsured rate is lower than ever in the history of the country). 
  • “Bengazi” is the result of a President and Secretary of State who completely ignored cries for help from a foreign ambassador and cost the lives of 4 Americans who were protecting our interests in a war zone overseas.  Despite years of evidence to the contrary, there must be some conspiracy and cover-up to exploit politically. 
  • Welfare and food stamps are terrible government entitlements because most people on welfare can afford refrigerators and may decide to purchase something other than McDonalds for dinner.  McDonald’s, by the way, should not have to pay its workers a living wage for making billions of dollars poisoning us all with heart disease, because that would be “Socialist”. 

TRUMP: Donald Trump, who is clearly a brilliant businessman, has managed to climb his way to the top of a ridiculous GOP field of hopefuls by doubling down on every outlandish policy stance they have taken. 
·      Anti-Immigration: I see your “Give us your poor, your tired, your huddled masses longing to be free”, and raise you, “They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists. And some, I assume, are good people.”
·      Obama as Muslim, Illegal Immigrant: Trump was basically the lifeblood and caretaker of the “birther” movement for years.
·      Trump, a billionaire, who has no need to ask others for money, acknowledges the GOP’s pathetic pandering to the Koch brothers and other billionaire donors, as an incredible conflict of interest for a politician, in the following quote (thanks Twitter):
I wish good luck to all the Republican candidates that travelled to California to beg for money etc… from the Koch Brothers. Puppets?”

So, here are Republican politics in a nutshell:

1    1. You can’t run on the platform that you actually support, because it would be too unpopular.
2.    So, you endorse and support crazy conspiracy theories to energize those who are disinterested in politics and distract people from the actual issues that affect their lives. 
3.     A billionaire opportunist businessman who only cares about himself and has no interest in winning the office does a better job of engaging the “disenfranchised” than any other GOP candidate.
4.     GOP is stuck fighting a war on two fronts:
      1.    Democratic “establishment” candidate with typical “Liberal” ideas.
      2.     TRUMP (who is better at doing “crazy” than they are)

Your move Republicans…

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Twins Baseball: A Look at the Future

The calendar has switched over to May, and the Twins are over .500.  After a 1-6 start to the year, this is by no means a small accomplishment.  Enduring four straight seasons of 90+ losses makes looking to the future a necessary coping mechanism for Twins fans like myself.  For the last couple of years, I've been waiting and hoping to finally witness a "transition year." As of today, I think 2015 may be that year.

After a lengthy absence from writing in this space, I am hoping to become a more consistent presence.  I am going to start things off by looking to the future yet again, not as a coping mechanism, but to explore how the 2015 season can "transition" the team back to relevance in MLB. For the first time in years, the future core of a successful franchise is starting to show itself, and many of the big pieces are finally knocking at the door.  This is the first in a series of posts examining some of the major players who will power this resurgence. 

No, I'm not going to talk about Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano, or J.O. Berrios (at least not today).  I want to kick things off by examining another piece to the puzzle, and an important one at that.  Today, let's talk about Aaron Hicks.

Twins fans have been hearing about Aaron Hicks for years, since he was drafted with the 14th overall pick in 2008 out of high school in California.  He spent most of his early years in professional baseball enjoying prominent placement on various top prospect publications.  In fact, from 2009 - 2013, Baseball America ranked him as the #39, #19, #45, and #79 prospect in all of baseball.  He was to be the next great center fielder for the Twins, following in the footsteps of Kirby Puckett, Torii Hunter, and Denard Span. Now, in 2015, Hicks is no longer a top prospect, and the "next great Twins center fielder" title belongs to Byron Buxton.  The general consensus is that Aaron Hicks is a bust, and doesn't have a place in the future of the Minnesota Twins.

I, for one, think that the general consensus is wrong, and here is why.

History Lesson

As a general rule, "toolsy" high-school prospects take much longer to develop into solid regulars in the major leagues.  Coming out of high-school, Hicks was not only considered "raw," but there was also considerable debate about whether to make him a pitcher or an everyday player.  That Hicks didn't move up the ladder quickly, therefore, was neither surprising nor alarming to the Twins.  Let's look at Hicks' so-called "top-prospect" years to examine his natural progression.

  • 2008: After being drafted, Hicks spent time in rookie ball as an 18 year old.  As should be expected from a high draft pick, he got off to a good start, slashing .318/.409/.491 and stealing 12 bases in 14 attempts. 
  • 2009: A strong showing in rookie ball convinced the Twins that Hicks was good enough to skip a level, and he played the entire season for Beloit (Low A) as a 19 year old.  Playing in a league where he was nearly 3 years younger than average, he put up good, but not great numbers.  He ended up with a slash line of .251/.353/.382, showing good plate awareness (40 BB to 55 K) but not much power (4 HR in 250 AB). 
  • 2010: As a 20 year old, he returned to Beloit for a second season, and improved his numbers significantly (.279/.401/.428), hitting 8 HR and 27 2B, while slightly improving his walk-to-strikeout numbers (88 BB to 112 K).     
  • 2011: The next season, Hicks moved up a level to Ft. Myers (High A) and once again struggled with the transition.   His full season numbers were similar to 2009, as he hit .242/.354/.368, continuing to excel in taking walks (78) and hitting doubles (31), while his anticipated "power tool" failed to materialize.  Under normal circumstances, Hicks would have probably returned to Ft. Myers in 2012, but after a stellar performance in the Arizona fall league (.294/.400/.559), the Twins decided he was ready for AA. 
  • 2012: Riding a wave of confidence from his AFL experience, Hicks' career really started to take off in AA New Britain as a 22 year old.  He truly had a "breakout year," as he continued to draw walks (79) while starting to show off his power potential (21 2B, 11 3B, 13 HR).  Overall, Hicks finished the season with a slash line of .286/.384/.460, while playing a great CF for the Rock Cats. 
  • 2013/2014/2015: While repeating AA wouldn't have made much sense after such a strong year, a normal progression would have Hicks starting 2013 at AAA Rochester.  His history certainly suggests that he would have struggled significantly with the jump, likely repeating AAA in 2014.  Had that been the case, and assuming that he worked things out in 2014, Hicks would have been in line for a mid-to-late 2014 MLB call-up, likely joining the Twins last July or September.  That would have put him in a great position to open 2015 as the starting CF for your Minnesota Twins (at age 25). 
As we all know, this is not how the events played out.  Instead of continuing to refine his skills at AAA in 2013, Hicks was thrust into the spotlight as the Twins' starting CF after Denard Span and Ben Revere were traded for pitching prospects.  Looking at the history above, it should not surprise anyone that Aaron Hicks struggled to maintain his performance as he bounced back and forth between the majors and AAA.   In 2013, he struggled to hit .200 in either MLB or AAA. In 2014, he once again struggled to get on track in the majors, even briefly giving up switch-hitting.  In fact, it took a return to AA New Britain, the setting for his breakout season of 2012, for him to really get back on track. 

The Turning Point

Last summer, in mid-June, Hicks was placed on the disabled list with a shoulder injury and was eventually sent to New Britain for a rehab assignment.  After hitting just .238, the Twins decided to leave him in New Britain after he came off the DL, to see if he could re-gain his confidence.  To me, this felt like the Twins (and Hicks) got a "do over," as Hicks proceeded to hit .297/.404/.466 in AA, .278/.349/.389 in AAA, and earned a much deserved September call-up to the big club. 

This year, the Twins surprised many, including me, by sending Hicks back to AAA to begin the season, keeping Jordan Schafer and Shane Robinson to share duties in CF.  Hicks has responded to this move by hitting .318/.396/.545, with 12 extra base hits (6 2B, 4 3B, 2HR), 12 walks and 17 strike-outs in 88 at-bats.  If he can continue this type of production at Rochester, Hicks will soon be re-joining his teammates in the Twin Cities.

How He Fits

Even though Aaron Hicks is no longer the "CF of the future" for the Minnesota Twins, he could quickly become the "CF of the present" until young Mr. Buxton is ready to take the reigns. When that time comes, hopefully later this summer, Hicks would look great patrolling left field next to Buxton. Consider how much our outfield defense would improve if we could trot out Hicks/Buxton/Hunter, Hicks/Buxton/Rosario, or Hicks/Buxton/Arcia instead of Arcia/Schafer/Hunter, Robinson/Shafer/Arcia, or Escobar/Schafer/Hunter (yikes!), as we have lined up a few times this season. 

No matter how things pan out by the end of the season, a productive Aaron Hicks could be a very important piece of the puzzle, as this "year of transition" plays itself out before our eyes.