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Seattle leadership accused of racist stuff

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Wins versus Payroll in 2018: Fun with Numbers

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FanGraphs: Mauer (and Utley) are Hall of Fame Worthy

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Non-Twins Off-season news, tidbits and transactions

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Front Office Flop for the Twins?

Entering play on July 5, the Minnesota Twins own a 35-48 record. They sit third in a terrible AL Central division, and their postseason odds sit at 0.4% per Fangraphs. To sum it up, the wins and losses the rest of the way for Paul Molitor’s squad no longer matter in 2018. Coming off such a great 2017, and an offseason that had plenty of exclamation points, the only logical question is to ask where it all went wrong.
Image courtesy of © Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
When searching for answers, the Twins could build an extensive laundry list of things that haven’t gone their way. Two of the most integral figures when it comes to defining future success aren’t currently on the big-league roster (despite being healthy), the staff ace of a season ago (along with a host of others) has missed significant time due to injury, and the team leading second basemen has provided next to nothing of merit. If you were to break it down by percentages, the impact those issues have had on the bottom line this year would make up more than 75%. What sliver is left falls on two separate places: Paul Molitor and the front office.

After the dust settles on the year, it’d probably be a shock if Molitor wasn’t handed his walking papers. He was never the guy chosen by his bosses, and without the wild card game or Manager of the Year nod a season ago, he would have already been out the door. Managers impact games on a very minute scale, but you’d be hard pressed to argue that there isn’t opportunity to get more out of the position than Minnesota currently is. A fresh face doesn’t signify an immediate fix, but it’s an area where action can be taken.

Looking higher than the clubhouse though, the real questions should start to come into play. This offseason, Derek Flakey and Thad Levine couldn’t have hit more of a home run than they did. Free agency is a complete crapshoot most years, and banking on big ticket players to be the backbone of a club instead of stellar to prospects is generally a losing bet. With the Twins having graduated many of their brightest stars, supplementing a team that over-performed a season ago was a necessity, and there’s no way to argue against it having been accomplished.

Despite missing out on Yu Darvish, the premier name of the winter, Minnesota brought in talent all over the place. Lance Lynn and Jake Odorizzi were clear upgrades to the middle of the rotation, while the bullpen was bolstered by the likes of Addison Reed, Fernando Rodney, and Zach Duke. A late acquisition of Logan Morrison to top it all off was a nice bow on top of the package. No one was a superstar on their own, but the collective could fairly be expected to provide significant value.

Here we are, past the halfway point of the season and it’s all blown up. Nothing has gone to plan, and none of the offseason acquisitions have made a lick of difference in the grand scheme of things. The most unfortunate development however, is that the front office has seemingly gone from a sound process to one that makes what appears to be little sense.

The bullpen was an area of weakness a season ago. While it’s been better in 2018, finding the next Trevor Hildenberger should be the goal on a yearly basis. Acquired (by the former regime) in exchange for Alex Meyer, Alan Busenitz has dominated Triple A. He’s been given no real opportunities to showcase his abilities and was recently snubbed in favor of veteran retread Matt Belise. Speaking of Belisle, Minnesota just outright released 2017 Top 20 prospect Felix Jorge (who’s 24) after he was DFA'd.

Moving away from the bump, we’ve seen Jake Cave (who was acquired by this regime) be looked over in favor of guys like Ryan LaMarre and Robbie Grossman. Cave isn’t an uber prospect, but he’s 25 and has projectable upside. Grossman is 28 and a failing on-base guy, while LaMarre was a spring training story that ran out of pages months ago. Assuming Molitor has complete control of his starting lineups, it’s hard to pin the egregiously poor usage of Mitch Garver on the front office. That said, at some point common sense would hopefully suggest that the 27-year-old prospect with a capable bat be playing more than 25% of the time instead of favoring a 35-year-old veteran struggling to stay above a .400 OPS.

Maybe the most unfortunate situation of all, is the handling of their incredibly integral center fielder. Despite a broken toe, the Twins decided Byron Buxton’s defense was so necessary that they ran him out in lineups for multiple weeks. Knowing he couldn’t swing without significant pain, Minnesota allowed him to continue to play with the injury before ultimately DL'ing him. Following the healing process, it was then decided that his offense was slacking so bad, he didn’t even deserve to regain his starting role at the big-league level.

At the end of it all, it’s really process that this comes down to. Garver may never be an all-star, Cave may never be a regular, Jorge may never be missed, and Buxton will be back. How all the scenarios work out in their own way isn’t really the issue here. Going into the season, the Twins had a very obvious opportunity and took a sensible approach to capitalizing on it. As the season got underway, games have taken place, things have fallen apart, and Falvey and Levine have doubled down to make the questionable move much more often than not.

Going into the 2019 season, the Twins will have a nice opportunity to hit the reset button. Players will have a clean slate, lots of one-year contracts will be filtered out, and new bodies will be brought in. With the AL Central trending down as a whole for the immediate future, a division crown still doesn’t seem like a longshot. The biggest obstacle right now however, seems to be whether this front office can blueprint a process that enhances their opportunities instead of squelching them. The winter was good, but as the weather warmed up, Falvey and Levine went as cold as the lineup they’ve constructed.

The honeymoon phase is over for this duo, and having process drive results is the practice of any successful venture. Getting on board with that sooner rather than later would be incredibly welcome.

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136 Comments

Nice article, Ted. My hope is that Falvine doesn’t bring up Buxton and Sano until they figure out AAA and A respectively. Both seem to be striking out with the same frequency they did in the majors. It’s tough to watch the losing, but if the FO shows that it is dedicated to finding players for 2019 and beyond, I can handle the losses piling up.
    • Jerr, DocBauer and gagu like this

It's hard to be impressed, given the Belisle decision, and their refusal to use the AAA RP shuttle plan.

 

But, they get 1 more year from me before I really start deciding.....but ya, the results aren't stellar so far.

    • Carole Keller, Jerr, gunnarthor and 13 others like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Jul 05 2018 04:08 PM

 

Nice article, Ted. My hope is that Falvine doesn’t bring up Buxton and Sano until they figure out AAA and A respectively. Both seem to be striking out with the same frequency they did in the majors. It’s tough to watch the losing, but if the FO shows that it is dedicated to finding players for 2019 and beyond, I can handle the losses piling up.

100% on board with this. That suggest reversing the course on what they're currently doing though. Garver is already wasting away on the bench in favor of Wilson. Where things are, the second half should see Gordon, Garver, Busenitz, Cave, Moya, Curtiss, etc all up and playing often. You can reset quickly next year, but figure out which of those players are a part of it.

    • glunn, Mike Sixel, Danchat and 7 others like this
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Ted Schwerzler
Jul 05 2018 04:08 PM

 

It's hard to be impressed, given the Belisle decision, and their refusal to use the AAA RP shuttle plan.

 

But, they get 1 more year from me before I really start deciding.....but ya, the results aren't stellar so far.

I'm definitely not calling fr their heads. They had a great offseason, and I've been in favor of the organizational overhaul from a leadership/coaching stadpoint. The in season roster moves have been poor at best though, and that's something they deserve to be questioned about.

    • Brandon, DocBauer, birddog and 2 others like this
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strumdatjaguar
Jul 05 2018 04:09 PM

NOT signing Yu Darvish is a major plus!!! 

    • Danchat, Sconnie, laloesch and 3 others like this

It's hard to be impressed, given the Belisle decision, and their refusal to use the AAA RP shuttle plan.

But, they get 1 more year from me before I really start deciding.....but ya, the results aren't stellar so far.


Feels like over half the time I'm scratching my head at their decisions. Think about how many service days have been wasted the last 3 years on Justin Haley, Tyler Kinney, Phil Hughes, Breslow, Belisle, etc.

We've been playing with essentially 23 or 24 players throughout their tenure.
    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, gunnarthor and 8 others like this
Walking papers? I never got walking papers.
You know what I got? Some guy would come over to my desk and say get the hell out of here!
    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, Twins33 and 6 others like this

 

Feels like over half the time I'm scratching my head at their decisions. Think about how many service days have been wasted the last 3 years on Justin Haley, Tyler Kinney, Phil Hughes, Breslow, Belisle, etc.

We've been playing with essentially 23 or 24 players throughout their tenure.

 

thanks for reminding me! 

 

100% on board with this. That suggest reversing the course on what they're currently doing though. Garver is already wasting away on the bench in favor of Wilson. Where things are, the second half should see Gordon, Garver, Busenitz, Cave, Moya, Curtiss, etc all up and playing often. You can reset quickly next year, but figure out which of those players are a part of it.

The Garver thing is on Molitor but at some point it's also on Falvine. Much like Gardy with Punto, if your kid's diabetic, and you know they can't resist cake, but you keep buying cake, at some point it's on you.

    • Mike Sixel, Twins33, LA VIkes Fan and 5 others like this

 

The Garver thing is on Molitor but at some point it's also on Falvine. Much like Gardy with Punto, if your kid's diabetic, and you know they can't resist cake, but you keep buying cake, at some point it's on you.

 

i think it is the pitchers....but the FO has to make it clear that they don't get to decide, and that they want them to give Garver more of a chance......

    • LA VIkes Fan and BJames like this

There is one last thing that Flavine need to do:Finalize the clean up in the FO and get rid of TR's buddies still there. I am not convinced that they are not the ones who are responsible for the mess with the veterans and I am convinced that they are the ones who are feeding the likes of Souhan and Reusse tidbits against players. Unless that front office gets ridof the people who brought you Park and Nishioka and extended Capps and Hughes, there will be no progress.

    • Jerr and Sconnie like this

 

i think it is the pitchers....but the FO has to make it clear that they don't get to decide, and that they want them to give Garver more of a chance......

The pitchers can suck it up. Berrios didn't exactly seem adversely effected yesterday. Besides, hopefully they can see that losing 3-2 games is in part because you send people up to bat who have zero chance of doing anything.

 

The FO can make it clear by releasing him already.

Walking papers? I never got walking papers.
You know what I got? Some guy would come over to my desk and say get the hell out of here!


Copyright George Carlin best comedian... Ever?
Totally agree that there have been some very strange moves. It would be nice if Flavine were a little more forthcoming as to their rationale. Seems very quiet over at 1 Twins way.

One thing I do agree with is not playing Garver more behind the plate. I know many disagree with this sentiment as he clearly is a better stick than Wilson. At times Garver looks like he is trying to catch with a boxing glove. There have been many wild pitches that IMHO should have been blocked/caught and he consistently stabs at pitches. Does not have soft hands and at 27 I don’t think that changes. Catcher is such a critical spot we just have to find someone to man the position and I can’t see him being the long term #1 guy. Neither is Wilson but I have to believe the pitchers like him behind the plate more than Garver.
    • birddog, gocgo, howieramone2 and 2 others like this

What a depressing season. A bad team in a bad division. 

 

Wow.

    • Jerr, Twins33 and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

Flavine


Is that a mash-up of Flavor Flav and Adam Levine?
    • Sconnie, Lefty74, gocgo and 2 others like this

They haven't had a lot of successful moves yet, have they? We liked their draft last year but they had a lot of advantages with extra picks and we're a long way off from finding out if it was a solid draft. This years draft was boring but ok. They sold at the deadline last year, pissing off the players. I liked most of their off-season moves (understanding that the Pohlads weren't going to give them Darvish) but few of them have worked.

 

The biggest problem for me is that they chose to bring back Molitor who is obviously not the right manager for these players. This is the second time in three years that the players look absolutely lost and ill-prepared for the season. It's not just one group - it's everyone. It's an utter mess. I think Molitor is as good as gone and Levine should get one more season to make his mark before I start calling for his head but we learned some stuff about the new FO in the last year and it wasn't good. Next off-season will be huge for them.

    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, diehardtwinsfan and 6 others like this

I'm agree you need to give them another year before deciding, but so far you really have to ignore the results to believe they have hit a home run.When they first started, I believe they thought they were in a complete rebuild, so the first thing they did was try and trade Dozier.But they misread the first year and traded players at the deadline instead of adding and despite the front office moves, the team when on to win the wild card race,

 

This off season, they tried to build up for a playoff run and we know how that has turned out.Instead of using the young pitchers, they signed and traded for veterans.Adalberto Mejia's season last year was better than the production you are getting from Lynn or Odorizzi. The real home run signing they had was Anibal Sanchez and we cut him to sign Lynn.

 

Hopefully, this year they clear out the roster for the second half and we finally get to see the young players.Then with the salary flexibility they should have next summer, they will have a better idea what to spend the money on.

 

The reason I was hopeful in hiring this FO was that they would bring new ideas and change the operations.I'm still waiting for that to happen.

 

 

    • Jerr, Mike Sixel, gunnarthor and 2 others like this

I don't think Molitor is gone because I don't think the FO gets to decide. Just like they really didn't get a choice in bringing him back after his MOY award. The owner wanted him and continues to want him. Once this contract is done maybe then the FO will get to decide, but not before.

 

Overall, we're picking at the edges when this season has come down to a core failure. The Garver/LaMarre/Belisle/Cave decisions are not the core of the problem. Santana and Polanco started us off. Then the off-season signings didn't figure things out. Then Sano and Buxton forgot what they already knew. Add in Dozier's walk season failure and I don't see how all of that is the FO's fault.

 

Personally I think the FO did their job well overall in the offseason. And sure, I'll question some of the moves during the season, but I don't believe for a minute that the previous FO would have made the moves that this FO has made. The previous office would be looking for a 2nd and 3rd Belisle.

 

So, not a good season at all. But I'd still rather have this FO around for a few more years. How many years did the previous one get?

    • DocBauer, joemama, gagu and 2 others like this
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nicksaviking
Jul 05 2018 05:56 PM
I like the improvements from the starting pitchers, specifically the strikeout numbers. Anyone involved with that accomplishment gets kudos from me. I'm not much impressed with anything else. What puzzles me is why they've clearly tried to increase the velocity and strikeouts with the starters but continue to go out of their way to avoid that with the bullpen additions.

Also, I really don't like this Falvine stuff, these are two different people and I don't think they really had more than a casual relationship prior to their hirings. I don't know, and I'm not sure if anyone as a fan knows, what responsibilities each have, but we should. If Levine isn't getting the job done, he should go. In my opinion he should be on a short leash if he's doing most of the traditional GM duties. These aren't the Wonder Twins, one isn't required for the other to be effective.
    • Mike Sixel and wsnydes like this
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operation mindcrime
Jul 05 2018 06:00 PM
Why am I unable to like or quote any of these comments? It's very frustrating!
    • Sconnie and ken like this

 

Why am I unable to like or quote any of these comments? It's very frustrating!

 

trying to distract you from being frustrated by the actual team, I'd guess. consider it a feature!

    • diehardtwinsfan, Sconnie, birddog and 3 others like this

Why am I unable to like or quote any of these comments? It's very frustrating!

why did the chicken cross the road?

To show the skunk it could be done!

:)
    • Jerr, laloesch, operation mindcrime and 1 other like this

Total failure of all three - Front Office, Manager, Players = 90 Losses

    • ken likes this

 

Total failure of all three - Front Office, Manager, Players = 90 Losses

I'd say player development has to shoulder some blame too.

    • Thrylos, Jerr, Mike Sixel and 8 others like this

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