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Falvey Playing Numbers Game With Pitching Staff

During his ball-playing career at Trinity College, Derek Falvey was a pitcher – albeit not a very good one, by his own admission.

He hasn't thrown baseballs for quite a while, but since taking over the Minnesota Twins front office, Falvey has shown a proclivity for throwing stuff against the wall to see what sticks, particularly where the club's pitching staff is concerned.
When he made his Twins debut in starting the first half of Monday's doubleheader, Tim Melville became the 34th pitcher to make an appearance for Minnesota in 2017. We've still got a week left in August, but already this team has shattered the franchise record for pitchers used in a season (29), set last year during a catastrophic 103-loss campaign.

It speaks to the willingness of the new Chief Baseball Officer and this new front office to experiment, which I personally enjoy. Falvey has a reputation as an exceptional pitching evaluator, so there is value in having the opportunity to see these players first-hand and assess them against big-league competition.

The Twins have acquired arms through just about every avenue imaginable: major-league trade (Jaime Garcia), minor league trade (Dietrich Enns), free agency (Bartolo Colon and Dillon Gee), home-grown prospects (Felix Jorge and Aaron Slegers), independent leagues (Melville and Nik Turley), waiver pickups (Adam Wilk and Chris Heston), Rule 5 draft (Justin Haley). Frankly, it's the right approach with a staff that last year was one of the worst in team history. All options should be on the table and all channels should be explored.

I'd be less enthused with this pattern if the Twins were consistently trotting out garbage, but – with a few exceptions – pretty much everyone that's gotten a shot has carried some level of legitimate intrigue. Even guys like Melville and Turley, who have struggled mightily, have flashed impressive enough velocity and spin rates to make you think there could be something there.

The previous regime had a tendency to stubbornly adhere to a non-working plan, and showed little imagination when it came to searching for solutions, so this newfound creativity is refreshing. Finding pitching is hard, especially in-season, but you give yourself a chance by playing the numbers game and trying out as many interesting arms as you can.

The key is in evaluating those arms and deciding which ones are keepers. Falvey and Co. will have the next six weeks (and maybe beyond?) to appraise what they have on hand before heading into their first full offseason running the show.

They'll have no shortage of impressions to draw from as they proceed.

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28 Comments

Basically they were started with nothing and a bunch or promises. But two starters went down (May and Hughes) and happily there were enough AAAA bodies to start the season and more pickups to keep things running fairly smooth. Think of poor Rochester which has had 40+ pitchers thru their mound.

 

It was a season in which you hoped some promising guys would make the rotation at some time during the season (Gonsalves and Stewart, for example). Neither have, and it looks iffy as any of the prime prospects would break camp next season.

 

Same with the bullpen, which by this time should've had names like Burdi, Reed, Melotakis, Chargois, Jones, Bard holding fort. Instead we have Busenitz and Hildenburger with Rogers and Duffey and pray for a complete game. That the Twins have survived this far into the season without a dominant closer (Kintzler is still a set-up man in my opinion) is beyond words. And no closer on the horizon.

 

And all those fabled names? Most will be lucky to work into the picture sometime next season, if they ever do pan out (Reed being the closest, Chargois we don't know where he is -- hanging out with Zach Jones, perhaps - and maybe some names like Curtiss jumping ahead of the pack.

 

They may have spent a tad too much time with some folk (Haley) and the 40-man thing is a constant mess, because once you pass them off, you may not see them again (Wheeler, Wilk -- not that they are missed). 

 

Seriously, at Twinsfest we thought we had Santana, Gibson, Hughes, Mejia and May and Berrios fighting it out. We knew Kinzler could close, but Perkins would be back sooner rather than much later. We hoped Duffey and Rogers would give us innings. Haley would be the true long man. Chargois and Pressly would throw heat and be closers in waiting. Tonkin was a distant backup. And Breslow and Belisle were the old men to turn to if someone couldn't open the season. All that looked pretty darn appetizing, compared to what the pitching buffet has served up so far.

 

I think the plan was to really get work out of May, have Hughes come back, Perkins make a statement, and any number of prospects would be pushing on the door handle wanting "in" by July, if not August.

 

The thing is, the team is still as unsure about 2018 now as it is 2017. Any arms from the old regime going to finally come swinging thru the doors and dominate...I say lucky if they get more of a looksee (Jorge, Rosario, Romero for example) next year and lots of ray of sunshine come 2019. But what to do before then. Long-term some guys, or patchwork a staff again by asking Colon to return and hitting the waiver wire for guys hungry for another opportunity in The Show?

 

 

    • glunn likes this
I don't know what more you want from Hildenberger. He's been exceptional. Busenitz has been pretty good too from what I've seen. How many of the young relievers you cited are hurt?
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The Wise One
Aug 23 2017 01:16 AM

 

 

You are a little off base on the bullpen. Rodgers has been adequate in the set up role. Hildenberger has earned the trust to be the other setup man to go along with Rodgers. Good enough that trading Kintzler was not going to cripple the team.  It looks like  Molitor is trying to  get Busenitz i skilled enough for that role. Watch to see how Curtis is used. Big lead, first man out of the pen  when losing they might have some confidence in his ability. 

    • glunn likes this
it seems Busenitz has some ability and promise. He might have a little less control than some would like, but he seems to have a very live arm.
I don't see nearly the contrast in approach that Nick sees. The Ryan regime also threw a lot of arms from a lot of sources out on the field. They had their slow-cooked draft-and-develop guys, but they too sourced rule 5, the independent leagues, junkpile, major and minor league trades. Look at the 2016 staff- Abad, Kintzler, O'Rourke, Graham, Light, Mejia...
I don't see the current leadership doing anything new or different other then the fact they seem even quicker with the trigger. This means we've again seen a lot of arms attached to unfamiliar names, but might not see them long enough to recognize who belongs. With this constant carousel, players will frequently be made available to other organizations. As a fan, I have to hope they evaluate well and hold the right guys in the shuffle. We'll see about that.
    • birdwatcher, Highabove and blindeke like this

I don't see nearly the contrast in approach that Nick sees. The Ryan regime also threw a lot of arms from a lot of sources out on the field. They had their slow-cooked draft-and-develop guys, but they too sourced rule 5, the independent leagues, junkpile, major and minor league trades. Look at the 2016 staff- Abad, Kintzler, O'Rourke, Graham, Light, Mejia...
I don't see the current leadership doing anything new or different other then the fact they seem even quicker with the trigger. This means we've again seen a lot of arms attached to unfamiliar names, but might not see them long enough to recognize who belongs. With this constant carousel, players will frequently be made available to other organizations. As a fan, I have to hope they evaluate well and hold the right guys in the shuffle. We'll see about that.


I generally agree. Seems pretty similar to the previous model, and the majority of success stories were already in the organization.

I am hoping for positive change and progress in the years ahead, but don't really see this season as an example.
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Major Leauge Ready
Aug 23 2017 07:10 AM

 

This year was setting up for a complete bullpen makeover of young power arms.I am not going to complain that we are in contention and can't just roll with the young guys.The injuries really suck.However, I still think the bullpen is going to be a real strength by the end of next year.Hildy looks like a fixture in the pen for several years.Rodgers has been quite good with the exception of a couple weeks where he just was not effective but he seems to have what it takes to be part of our BP for several years.

 

We just need a couple of the numerous other prospects to step up the remainder of this year and the first half of next year.The only place where we might be short is LH relievers but that's generally the case.Maybe Turly could be good in that role and we do have a handful of other LH relief prospects.It will be interesting to see what the BP looks like at the end of next year. 

 

I am glad they are finding a way to give the Slegers of our organization a chance.He looked like he has the potential to be part of the solution.It would be a huge boost if one of these guys step up.I have enjoyed watching Colon but he is a very short-term boost.One of these AAAA guys outperforming their projection would really help 2018 and beyond.I would like to see them cut Colon and give those starts to someone who will be here next year.

    • birdwatcher likes this

My only real complaint is that we haven't seen Gonsalves or Romero. They were aggressive with Jorge (with decent results), and I don't see why they wouldn't do the same with either of these two guys. Gonsalves needs to be on the 40-man after the season anyways, and I'd be A-OK with cutting ties with Santiago for good to make that happen. Romero already on the 40. I'd rather see these guys in MLB games than Melville, Turley, etc.

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Nick Nelson
Aug 23 2017 09:24 AM

 

My only real complaint is that we haven't seen Gonsalves or Romero. They were aggressive with Jorge (with decent results), and I don't see why they wouldn't do the same with either of these two guys. Gonsalves needs to be on the 40-man after the season anyways, and I'd be A-OK with cutting ties with Santiago for good to make that happen. Romero already on the 40. I'd rather see these guys in MLB games than Melville, Turley, etc.

Those two will get their chances eventually, it's a matter of when not if. But with guys like Turley and Melville, it's kind of now or never, so pushing them ahead in line makes sense in the scope of seeing and evaluating as many arms as you can.

    • MN_ExPat likes this

I do appreciate the fact the the new Twins' Front Office is much more active with player movement in general.In addition to trying to find pitchers everywhere, it has been much more decisive in placing players to the DL, as well as demoting under-performers (Gibson, Santiago,) which would have been unheard of in a TR & Co-led Front Office.

 

That said, the Twins' pitching this season has been slightly worse than their pitching in 2016, other than numbers that are affected by the improved 2017 defense (like ERA and WHIP). Here:

 

2017 Twins
Overall Pitching: 4.85 FIP, 1.39 WHIP (.295 BABIP), 10.4 K-BB%
Starters: 5.02 FIP, 1.42 WHIP (.294 BABIP), 9.3 K-BB%
Relievers: 4.57 FIP, 1.34 WHIP (.295 BABIP), 12.1 K-BB%

 

2016 Twins
Overall Pitching: 4.57 FIP, 1.45 WHIP (.319 BABIP), 11.3 K-BB%
Starters: 4.82 FIP, 1.47 WHIP (.315 BABIP), 9.8 K-BB%
Relievers: 4.18 FIP, 1.43 WHIP (.324 BABIP), 13.6 K-BB%

 

I do understand that 2017 is an asset evaluation season and trying to build a pitching staff in multiple ways made sense.But the fact is that it did not work, if you look under the cover of the improved defense.

 

What this team needs to do to compete is to start building a pitching staff using the 2 ways it did not use in 2017:a. Trade older assets and prospects for high quality young, MLB-ready pitching, under club control and b. sign high quality, young, MLB-ready pitching as a free agents.

 

The one thing I would have love to see them do, and I hope they do it soon, is to pull the plug on underperformers quicker.They did it with Breslow; Perkins and Santiago should follow.There is no reason for Perkins to be there, even as a mop-up pitcher.I'd rather see someone like Turley at that role.Time to let the ghost go.

 

    • Sconnie likes this

 

Those two will get their chances eventually, it's a matter of when not if. But with guys like Turley and Melville, it's kind of now or never, so pushing them ahead in line makes sense in the scope of seeing and evaluating as many arms as you can.

Pretty sure Melville will be a minor league free agent for the fourth offseason in a row in a couple months.  Not sure if Monday's start was particularly urgent, from an evaluation perspective.

    • birdwatcher likes this
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nicksaviking
Aug 23 2017 11:50 AM

 

I don't see nearly the contrast in approach that Nick sees. The Ryan regime also threw a lot of arms from a lot of sources out on the field. They had their slow-cooked draft-and-develop guys, but they too sourced rule 5, the independent leagues, junkpile, major and minor league trades. Look at the 2016 staff- Abad, Kintzler, O'Rourke, Graham, Light, Mejia...
I don't see the current leadership doing anything new or different other then the fact they seem even quicker with the trigger. This means we've again seen a lot of arms attached to unfamiliar names, but might not see them long enough to recognize who belongs. With this constant carousel, players will frequently be made available to other organizations. As a fan, I have to hope they evaluate well and hold the right guys in the shuffle. We'll see about that.

 

Hopefully that's because we've only seen half the picture thus far. The previous regime trotted out similar low ceiling cast offs, and while I can't speak for all fans, to me it always seemed like they were grasping at straws and never had any plan past "see what sticks".

 

I'm anxious for the off season to see if and what Falvey and company do with the information they gleaned from the tactic. I'm expecting trades and free agent moves that make sense and fits with the pieces that stuck.

 

If they don't, then I'll probably be criticizing as well.

 

 

    • USAFChief and Original Whizzinator like this

The previous regime had a tendency to stubbornly adhere to a non-working plan, and showed little imagination when it came to searching for solutions, 

 

 

I read this as 'non-walking plan,' which I think works too..... 

I'm not certain that the approach has been different with our new FO, but I think the results have been better. And there has been a quicker hook when warranted, and better juggling of the staff and use of the 40 man. Plus some guys have actually received shots. All much more aggressive than the old regime.
    • Original Whizzinator likes this

I think looking back at past Front office i think were way to hardonthem. I think there major weakness was they had poor results drafting pitchers. I look at theresigning of relief pitchers they had some fairly good success with signing of Kintzler, Rogers, and couple of other low cost signing relief pitchers. If Detroit would have had equal success they would have won couple of world series. There trading for pitchers was 50/50 they had some success with Mjeha and Mays but missed on big piece in myer. Free agent signings they had success with Hughesbut extending him has been bust, Santanna has been a good signing , Nolasco was a bust but this was pushed my management and ownership. This front office has done very little to be judged on what they have done is little more than parade bunch of pitchers through hoping one will stick but looking at results I have not seen anything that has come close yet. The best so far is Colon but this is no long term solution for the Twins and they did have Garcia which would have been upgrade to what they have been running out there but they waved white flag way too soon. This Front office will be judged on this off season by fans on what ever moves they make to improve pitching. I believe many fans will find out they are going to keep number of pitchers they have right now because pitching is hard to find and teams are unwilling to let go of young pitching prospects unless your willing to give up a lot of talent to acquire these prospects so far this FO has shown there reluctance to do this. I believe for Twins improve there pitching they will be signing at least one starter and one relief pitcher on free agent market this coming year. I wouldn't be surprised if they sign a couple of starters. Also I believe they will be keeping Gibson and wouldn't be surprised if they keep Santiago too. If they do not they will have traded away some of position players for pitchers. The Twins help from farm system is at least year to two years away before it makes impact on pitching for the Twins. Look at how long it has taken to get Berios to where he is at now. The problem is that the Twins have on field team that is ready to win now so they need immediate pitching help now. If This FO fails to do this we will be looking at another rebuild and I wouldn't be surprised on another FO either. The grace period is over for this FO and I believe they made fatal error this year in that they didn't know they were this close to having winning team and could have made couple additions in off season plus not waving white flag so quick they could have made run in the playoffs. Even with this the team could still pull off run in the playoffs. I Think there problem has been where they came from. Falvey Thought Cleveland was just superior to the Twins but this was based on last year but not how were the teams this year. Same thing with Levine he came from Texas where they were much better last year than the Twins so he had same impression. This years Twins were destine to be much better with development of young players and FO that had cut loose of Plouffe which previous FO had put to much value in because he had been number one draft pick. This move alone improved the Twins defense to where the pitching staff showed improvement this year but it was all about one move. With this move Sano to third the Twins outfield is one of the top outfields in MLB, Sano has improved defense at third base plus his offense has improved, The young outfield is now starting to hit on consistent basis with development of these young players. Infield has improved over last year and  overall is hitting much better this year. But getting back to pitching The Twins will need to acquire some immediate pitching help for next year and year after before we see how this next wave of pitchers coming develop because we have seen just about everything they have in upper levels of twins minor leagues this year.   

    • Original Whizzinator likes this
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birdwatcher
Aug 23 2017 02:14 PM

 

I don't see nearly the contrast in approach that Nick sees. The Ryan regime also threw a lot of arms from a lot of sources out on the field. They had their slow-cooked draft-and-develop guys, but they too sourced rule 5, the independent leagues, junkpile, major and minor league trades. Look at the 2016 staff- Abad, Kintzler, O'Rourke, Graham, Light, Mejia...
I don't see the current leadership doing anything new or different other then the fact they seem even quicker with the trigger. This means we've again seen a lot of arms attached to unfamiliar names, but might not see them long enough to recognize who belongs. With this constant carousel, players will frequently be made available to other organizations. As a fan, I have to hope they evaluate well and hold the right guys in the shuffle. We'll see about that.

 

Yeah, I think Falvey has simply asked the pro scouts to stay on the lookout longer than usual during the course of this season. It's essentially the same pro scout staff feeding the GM with possibilities, maybe just a few more of them with the trigger pulled more often. I don't see any magic here.

Yeah, I think Falvey has simply asked the pro scouts to stay on the lookout longer than usual during the course of this season. It's essentially the same pro scout staff feeding the GM with possibilities, maybe just a few more of them with the trigger pulled more often. I don't see any magic here.


The magic isn't in the method, but the results. Wild card in August as opposed to on the way to 100 losses. Maybe the current regime has better data on our scrap heap finds than TR ever had, or knew what to do with. Just a guess.

 

I think looking back at past Front office i think were way to hardonthem. I think there major weakness was they had poor results drafting pitchers. I look at theresigning of relief pitchers they had some fairly good success with signing of Kintzler, Rogers, and couple of other low cost signing relief pitchers. If Detroit would have had equal success they would have won couple of world series. There trading for pitchers was 50/50 they had some success with Mjeha and Mays but missed on big piece in myer. Free agent signings they had success with Hughesbut extending him has been bust, Santanna has been a good signing , Nolasco was a bust but this was pushed my management and ownership. This front office has done very little to be judged on what they have done is little more than parade bunch of pitchers through hoping one will stick but looking at results I have not seen anything that has come close yet. The best so far is Colon but this is no long term solution for the Twins and they did have Garcia which would have been upgrade to what they have been running out there but they waved white flag way too soon. This Front office will be judged on this off season by fans on what ever moves they make to improve pitching. I believe many fans will find out they are going to keep number of pitchers they have right now because pitching is hard to find and teams are unwilling to let go of young pitching prospects unless your willing to give up a lot of talent to acquire these prospects so far this FO has shown there reluctance to do this. I believe for Twins improve there pitching they will be signing at least one starter and one relief pitcher on free agent market this coming year. I wouldn't be surprised if they sign a couple of starters. Also I believe they will be keeping Gibson and wouldn't be surprised if they keep Santiago too. If they do not they will have traded away some of position players for pitchers. The Twins help from farm system is at least year to two years away before it makes impact on pitching for the Twins. Look at how long it has taken to get Berios to where he is at now. The problem is that the Twins have on field team that is ready to win now so they need immediate pitching help now. If This FO fails to do this we will be looking at another rebuild and I wouldn't be surprised on another FO either. The grace period is over for this FO and I believe they made fatal error this year in that they didn't know they were this close to having winning team and could have made couple additions in off season plus not waving white flag so quick they could have made run in the playoffs. Even with this the team could still pull off run in the playoffs. I Think there problem has been where they came from. Falvey Thought Cleveland was just superior to the Twins but this was based on last year but not how were the teams this year. Same thing with Levine he came from Texas where they were much better last year than the Twins so he had same impression. This years Twins were destine to be much better with development of young players and FO that had cut loose of Plouffe which previous FO had put to much value in because he had been number one draft pick. This move alone improved the Twins defense to where the pitching staff showed improvement this year but it was all about one move. With this move Sano to third the Twins outfield is one of the top outfields in MLB, Sano has improved defense at third base plus his offense has improved, The young outfield is now starting to hit on consistent basis with development of these young players. Infield has improved over last year and  overall is hitting much better this year. But getting back to pitching The Twins will need to acquire some immediate pitching help for next year and year after before we see how this next wave of pitchers coming develop because we have seen just about everything they have in upper levels of twins minor leagues this year.   

Talk about a wall of text. Are you drunk or is it just me ;). I can't help but disagree with everything you're saying. If anything we were not hard enough on the old front office. The majority of decisions they made were failures. Keep in mind that Sano and Kepler were signed by Bill Smith.

The new front office has done pretty well IMHP. We have to keep in mind that sometime the moves you don't make are what help you the most. Not trading Dozier for a middling pitching prospect was a good move. There wasn't a lot of free agent pitchers worth investing in either, with the exception of Greg Holland. Sure they sold players at the deadline, but that seems to have invigorated the team anyways. Plus we gained some pitchers who may help in the near future. Hardly a fatal error for a team that is at best a marginal contender. Not to mention early reports on the draft are looking good. They can thank the previous management for that partially though. They did manage to put together the worst record in baseball.

I would agree with you that it is way to early to judge the new management, but the results so far are much better than I am accustomed to. 

 

 

The magic isn't in the method, but the results. Wild card in August as opposed to on the way to 100 losses. Maybe the current regime has better data on our scrap heap finds than TR ever had, or knew what to do with. Just a guess.

 

The "Wild Card in August as opposed to on the way to 100 losses" has nothing to do with pitching.The fact is that the Twins' pitching in 2017, if anything, is worse than the pitching in 2016 (data on #11 above,) other than things influenced by the much improved defense in 2017 (like WHIP/BABIP & ERA)

The method might or might not be vastly different, but I think a couple things stand out to me:

 

- roster churn:  They seem to me much quicker to move on from moves that haven't produced, and seem more than willing to play the AAA/MLB shuttle game that other teams use.  That's in direct contrast to TRs roster moves.

 

- quick DL decisions:  this is somewhat off topic, but they are way quicker to make quick DL decisions, rather than let a guy go "day-to-day" for a week while the team plays shorthanded.  Part of that is probably the easier decision a 10 day DL represents over a 14 day DL, but I think the primary difference is just resolve and the recognition that playing shorthanded isn't productive.

    • dgwills, Sconnie, twinssouth and 1 other like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Aug 23 2017 04:39 PM

The "Wild Card in August as opposed to on the way to 100 losses" has nothing to do with pitching. The fact is that the Twins' pitching in 2017, if anything, is worse than the pitching in 2016 (data on #11 above,) other than things influenced by the much improved defense in 2017 (like WHIP/BABIP & ERA)

It's hard to call the pitching staff worse. Runs per game are up .2 this season and that brings the number will into the margin of error for FIP (which isn't to be relied upon as a direct translation of ERA anyway). The pitching staff is close to the same as last year, IMO.

One could say that the FO has selected more "failures" since we really only want 5 good rotation pieces with 5 back up depth in AAA. And the very high percentage of selections have not pitched well enough to stick and be a consistent option. Seems like guessing as much as great evaluation to me.

 

Plus, the new 10-day DL has changed everything about moving players around. Just ask the Dodgers. I like it.

I give them an A for effort, an A+ for trying different things and an A+++ for willingness to move on from failed decisions and recognizng when things just aren't working.

    • LA VIkes Fan likes this
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yarnivek1972
Aug 23 2017 07:39 PM

I give them an A for effort, an A+ for trying different things and an A+++ for willingness to move on from failed decisions and recognizng when things just aren't working.


They apparently have a blind spot when it concerns Kyle Gibson.

 

They apparently have a blind spot when it concerns Kyle Gibson.

Or maybe not