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Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:41 PM
  Maybe I'm burned out on the horrible season the Twins had this year or maybe its apathy, but this is the first time in many years...
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Article: A Refreshing Shift in Twins Territory

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:32 PM
The Minnesota Twins will embark upon the 2019 major league baseball season with plenty of areas to improve. After a season in which expec...
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Article: Across the Meadow: The Buxton Saga

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 01:55 PM
John and Jeremy cover every angle of the Twins decision to not bring Byron Buxton up in September. At a minimum, it's a curious decision....
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Article: Twins Daily Roundtable: Biggest Off-Season Need

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 02:32 PM
Twins Daily Roundtable is a weekly series. As part of this series, a question will be posed to the site’s writers and they will respond i...
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Jim Callis' Top 10 Prospects 1 Year From Now

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 12:45 PM
Two Twins make the list:   https://www.mlb.com/...cts/c-294181356    
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Looking Back at How Derek Falvey & Co. Have Transformed the Twins

Oct. 3, 2016 is a significant date in Minnesota Twins history. The date that Derek Falvey was chosen to lead the Twins into a new organizational era was 22 years after Terry Ryan succeeded Andy MacPhail when the former GM departed for the Chicago Cubs.

Ryan had enjoyed an outstanding run as GM between 2002-07, before stepping down temporarily to be replaced by Bill Smith. After his return in 2011, Ryan’s Twins never managed to reestablish their success, falling to 90-loss season after 90-loss season.

The Twins had been left behind. The defense-first, pitch-to-contact, strike-throwing paradigm of the early 2000s team had transformed from an organizational calling card, to another example of how outmoded their approach had become.
Image courtesy of © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
Arrival and reputations
Falvey was hired away from the Cleveland organization. He came up as an international scout before occupying a variety of roles in baseball operations. In his time in Cleveland, Falvey developed a reputation as a keen baseball mind with an eye for pitching in an organization featuring Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber, two of the top 15 starting pitchers in baseball.

When Cleveland acquired Kluber from the Padres, he was not among the organizations top 30 prospects. Kluber transformed from a Double-A pitcher to a Cy Young winner in four years, and has continued to dominate to the tune of 28.9 fWAR since the beginning of the 2014 season.

Thad Levine came to the Twins from the Texas Rangers, part of a formidable front office duo with GM Jon Daniels for 11 seasons. Levine, similarly to Falvey, oversaw Texas’ international scouting department, assembling one of the stronger systems in the majors (until the Rangers dismantled it in a variety of trades in their window of contention).

The duo’s arrival came with a wave of excitement. They were young, modern, analytical. A welcome change of pace for a Twins organization badly in need of a facelift.

Dream start and June draft
Falvey and Lavine stumbled into a dream scenario for any new front office: incredibly low expectations and a No. 1 overall pick. They took over an organization coming off a 103-loss season with a promising core of young players breaking into the majors.

Approaching the June draft, there was no consensus No. 1, although Hunter Greene was heavily favored. High school lefty MacKenzie Gore, two-way college star Brendan McKay, and Vanderbilt ace Kyle Wright were also in the mix.

Instead, the new front office duo selected Royce Lewis, a wiry high school SS out of California, with endless tools and a makeup which drew rave reviews. Lewis agreed to sign under slot, Falvey and Levine spent their savings on Blayne Enlow, a HS pitcher committed to LSU, sporting one of the best curveballs in the draft.

Lewis, to date, has looked every part the No. 1 overall pick. In his second professional season, he already made it to High-A Fort Myers, and appears to be on track to becoming a superstar.

The addition of Enlow followed a recent trend of teams signing their top picks under slot to add higher-level talent at the top of their draft boards. While Enlow’s performance has been slightly underwhelming so far, he’s still just 19. More important, it’s indicative of a new direction and approach by the front office, one predicated on buying as many proverbial lottery tickets as possible, an approach that foreshadowed the trade deadline fire-sale the Twins hoped they would not have to engage in at the 2018 trade deadline.

The Twins also added college bat Brent Rooker in the 2017 draft. The former college slugger bashed 22 home runs and sported a wRC+ of 124 at Double A, and looks set to make his big-league debut in the near future.

Smart hires
Upon taking the reigns at Target Field, Falvey began the task of beefing up the Twins front office and analytics department, adding heavy hitter after heavy hitter to the Twins front office. New hires included Daniel Adler (Director of Baseball Operations), Josh Kalk (Senior Analyst, Baseball Research and Development), former editor in chief of Baseball America John Manuel, and supreme techno-nerd Hans Van Slooten (most famous previously for his work in developing the Baseball Reference interface).

It’s a fascinating list of well-known sporting experts, and while it’s impossible to know the impact and synergy their work brings to the organization, it made another prong of Falvey’s plan crystal clear: Attract as many of the smartest minds as possible to the organization to build institutional knowledge and innovation.

Offseason of opportunity
After a surprise 2017 postseason berth in which the Yankees (as they are wont to do) pulled the Twins playoff ejector seat button, Minnesota had the type of active offseason that rendered even the most curmudgeonly fan unable to complain about the ‘cheap Pohlads’ any longer.

In the winter prior to the 2018 season, the Twins added Addison Reed, Zach Duke, Fernando Rodney, Logan Morrison, and Lance Lynn to the club. For a Twins team in need of bullpen stability, extra pop, and a reliable mid-rotation starter, fans were understandably excited, and rightly so.

It appeared the front office had capitalized on a slow moving free agent market by signing a number of high quality additions to short-term commitments. This premise of course, was predicated on their free agent acquisitions replicating (or coming close to) their 2017 performances.

Rodney and Duke provided solid value, while Lynn, Morrison and Reed struggled in 2018, with the latter two combining for a -1.0 fWAR. With the benefit of hindsight, the Twins had a high-quality offseason, making additions that should have boosted the performance of the club more significantly. The willingness of the front office to be opportunistic in a slow market was a refreshing change of pace for Twins fans used to tuning out of free agent signing during the winter months.

Roster management
Boy, has this conversation become more interesting over the last week.

Through the 2018 season, the front office has appeared to have an approach to the management of the big-league roster that does not mirror the progressiveness with which they operate the rest of the organization.

They have often favored playing time and roster spots for veterans with little value (Matt Belisle) over evaluating existing organizational talent in the higher levels of the Twins minor league affiliates. This has been underscored in September.

Nick Anderson has pitched 60 innings for AAA Rochester this season, in that time, he has accrued 88 Ks and an xFIP of 2.49. No September callup. Jake Reed put together a 9.44 K/9 and 2.96 FIP in 47.2 innings for Rochester this season. No September callup. The point here is not that Anderson or Reed are slam dunk big league options for the Twins, more that it seems preferable to determine (or begin to determine) their big-league ceiling in a lost season, as opposed to a new one in 2019. Why sacrifice an initial opportunity for experience at the major league level for veterans like Belisle who don’t figure to be in the Twins plans in 2019 and beyond?

The news that Byron Buxton was not to be among the Twins September callups was in stark contrast to the previous actions of a front office grounded in a strong organizational direction and attempting to foster its core of talented young players.

While it’s true that in Sano and Buxton, the Twins still have unproven quantities between injuries and poor performance, the front office took advantage of Buxton’s injury-plagued 2018 to manipulate an extra year of service time from their young center fielder. Thad Levine essentially admitted the front office play in a later interview, in which he described a need to ‘make amends’ to Buxton. If such a need exists, there’s a strong chance you screwed someone over. That’s a tremendous risk to take with Buxton himself, and given the fact that exactly none of the Twins young players are signed to long term extensions.

Draft part two
The Twins found themselves in a different position entering the 2018 draft. After a surprise playoff berth, Minnesota owned the 20th pick. The Twins elected to select another powerful college bat, adding recent College World Series champ Trevor Larnach of Oregon State. Minnesota followed that selection up with college catcher Ryan Jeffers, a player many analysts felt was over-drafted at 59 overall by the Twins. Both hitters have thrived at two professional levels in 2018. Larnach has managed a .303/.390/.500 line with five HR and 14 more XBH in his first 42 professional games. Jeffers has also thrived, with a .344/.444/.502 line with seven HR in his first 64 professional games. Both selections seem to be promising hitters moving through the Twins MiLB system at pace.

Trade deadline
With the Twins out of contention approaching the trade deadline, the front office wisely began to sell off impending free agents to acquire more talent in an already deep farm system. Falvey and Levine traded away Eduardo Escobar, Ryan Pressly, Brian Dozier, Lance Lynn, Zach Duke, and later, Fernando Rodney.

While certain trades (like Dozier) resulted in a predictably unexciting return, the Twins netted some genuinely exciting prospects, particularly Jhoan Duran from the Diamondbacks, and Jorge Alcala from the Astros. Both are high velocity arms, Duran struck out 115 in 100 2/3 MiLB innings in 2018, while Alcala struck out 104 in 99 1/3 IP. The Twins didn’t have a huge amount of trade deadline leverage, so adding five prospects to their top 30 (MLB.com) seems like a solid return

Extensions and organizational direction
While the front office has worked hard to amass significant depth of talent throughout the minor leagues, they will undoubtedly be evaluated by their ability (or not) to lock up some of their outstanding young players.

Throughout the winter, it was reported they offered extensions to some combination of Rosario, Buxton, Kepler, and Berrios. While their failure to sign any of them thus far is not a disaster, one wonders whether the Buxton fiasco will adversely impact their ability to do so.

It’s worth remembering that not all front office decisions are created equal. Few, for example, have more significance for the future of the organization than their number one overall pick in 2017. In terms of simple talent acquisition, the front office has done an outstanding job through the draft, trade deadline, and even leveraging their international spending money creatively.

The front office also appears to have a clearer organizational direction, acquiring lots of high velocity arm talent and high-power upside college bats. While Twins fans can be excited by these developments, their clumsy handling of Byron Buxton casts some doubt on their ability to lock up a core central to the Twins maintaining an extended window of contention.

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62 Comments

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Winston Smith
Sep 08 2018 03:08 PM

What makes you think Belisle won't be back?

    • Carole Keller and Platoon like this

 

 

Ryan had enjoyed an outstanding run as GM between 2002-07,

 

Teams that won weak divisions and went belly up in the post-season is "outstanding"? 

 

Wonder what MacPhail's run from 1987-91 should be then or Brian Cashman's for the Yankees from 1998 on?

 

 

    • notoriousgod71 and rghrbek like this
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ashburyjohn
Sep 08 2018 04:04 PM

Maybe I scanned too quickly and missed mention, but I'd be interested to know in what ways the new FO has put any kind of stamp on the day-to-day nuts and bolts of developing the young talent they acquire.

    • diehardtwinsfan and Sconnie like this

 

Maybe I scanned too quickly and missed mention, but I'd be interested to know in what ways the new FO has put any kind of stamp on the day-to-day nuts and bolts of developing the young talent they acquire.

 

An example is Royce Lewis:they focused Sam Perlozzo (IF coordinator) to work with his arm strength and his throwing accuracy and has paid dividends.It seems that he will stick at SS instead of moving to CF as was the initial thought after he was drafted.

    • Steve Lein, jorgenswest and DocBauer like this

Glad I'm not the only one who thought Anderson and Reed coming up should have been slam-dunks. 

    • Steve Lein and jud6312 like this

I guess we're still in the honeymoon period for Falvine.

 

Also, the Twins did win 83 games under Ryan in 2015.

    • KGB likes this
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Winston Smith
Sep 08 2018 05:55 PM

 

I guess we're still in the honeymoon period for Falvine.

 

Also, the Twins did win 83 games under Ryan in 2015.

And the Twins haven't won a playoff game since 2004.

    • Thrylos likes this
I would argue with one of the initial comments in this thread about defense first, pitch to contact and strike throwing agendas being wrong, or outdated in some way. There is nothing wrong with quality defense, or throwing strikes. Nor is there anything inherently wrong with "pitch to contact". This phrase has been over used and distorted. Nobody ever stated hitters should make GOOD contact. It was a phrase tossed out about POOR contact...in other words, throwing strikes, but not meatballs...and letting your defense work for you. Otherwise, love your perspective.

Through the draft and trades, this FO has done a tremendous job of acquiring milb talent and depth. They've even acquired a couple guys here and there that some scratched their heads over. Think Cave, for instance.

Where they have "blown it", IMHO, is this September. You really think Romero is done for 2018? OK. Glad to see some younger guys get their shot to get their feet wet. Kuddos! But Belisle vs Reed and Anderson? What? Why not audition them for the future, vs an aged RP who wont be back next season. You have to add Gordon, so why not get a taste of the ML and prepare him even more for next season?

I like most of what they have done. But I am frustrated about a lot of their September approach to next season.
    • birdwatcher, gunnarthor, Platoon and 1 other like this
From where I sit, I see they transformed the Twins into a team that has featured Grossman and Forsythe at cleanup hitter this month, two years into their tenure.

I don’t consider that progress.
    • Mike Sixel, Winston Smith, Rigby and 2 others like this

I don't post much, but read a ton.  You guys all make it worth while. I was happy to lose the Ryan old regiment. 

The new guys have drafted really really well.

 

However, for all the nice roster management they did last year, they have really disappointed this year.  

 

They spent a ton of money which I liked but the problem with one year deals if it goes south, then you get what we got this year.  That can't help the clubhouse.

 

Maybe they are letting the MOY have free reign, but my gut says they have blessed the Belile, Wilson, gimenez, Grossman, field, etc disaster. 

 

We've lost good talent in Shaggy and others and without other call ups besides Buck (that's its own deal), I don't understand how Anderson and reed and others are not part of this team.

 

Color me blah...I don't know what to think.

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Channing1964
Sep 09 2018 04:01 AM
if anyone of sound mind considers this progress i have some ocean front property for sale near Yuma Az. They won in spite of Falvine last year so Falvine made sure they could not win this year..Gaping holes at closer, catcher, 2nd base, shortstop (depending on the Polanco situation) and at least 2 bullpen and 2 starting spots. We're paper thin at 3b unless you really think Sano is durable. The fantastic farm system is 3-5 years from helping out in any of those areas if they do at all. I will be 55 next year. i would like to see a title before i dont know what it means anymore. The team looks to be a replica of the 2014 disaster with no hope for the foreseeable future.h
You can't rebuild a MLB farm system in two years, and get much help on the big club. But you can build a foundation, which they do seem to be doing. I do agree with the posters on the "Belisle" type moves. They seem to have brought up an awful lot of dead weight. It would be nice to know the rational for this. The problem I have is that if they can figure out that Royce Lewis has great potential, and that Sano cannot play baseball at 300 lbs., then I assume they can figure out that Matt Belisle is not a bull pen savior. So what gives?
    • birdwatcher, Twins33, Riverbrian and 2 others like this
I like their drafts. Other than that I don’t see anything transformational. They given away substantial talent with their bizarre 40 man roster management
    • birdwatcher, KGB, Rigby and 1 other like this
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birdwatcher
Sep 09 2018 08:13 AM

 

And the Twins haven't won a playoff game since 2004.

 

 

The most difficult thing about this fact, for me, is that for half of this time period, the previous financial obstacles have been significantly reduced (but not eliminated) by events and changes: revenue sharing, team payroll ceilings and penalties, revenues from a new stadium, the international pool, more TV revenue.

 

The playing field is level enough now to warrant our higher expectations.

    • USAFChief, Riverbrian and Rigby like this
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TheLeviathan
Sep 09 2018 08:42 AM

We've heard rumblings that they've had to spend a lot of their time fixing the systems behind the curtains.By all accounts I've heard, the Twins were running two-bit operation.  

 

To use an analogy, it sounds like everyone else was streaming and the Twins were still adjusting the rabbit ears and coax cables.

    • Platoon and mngopherguy like this
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ashburyjohn
Sep 09 2018 08:55 AM

We've heard rumblings that they've had to spend a lot of their time fixing the systems behind the curtains.By all accounts I've heard, the Twins were running two-bit operation.  

 

To use an analogy, it sounds like everyone else was streaming and the Twins were still adjusting the rabbit ears and coax cables.

I'm hoping for some specifics at some point, though.

    • birdwatcher and Platoon like this

I'm hoping for some specifics at some point, though.

Agreed. I'm figuring that if it is true that there's going to be a significant chunk of that change that as a fan, I'm not going to be able to see or realize.
    • Platoon likes this
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TheLeviathan
Sep 09 2018 09:05 AM

I'm not sure you'll ever see specifics.That would be seen as an unnecessary shot at Terry Ryan.

I'm hoping for some specifics at some point, though.


I’m hoping for results. The rest is pretty meaningless to me.
    • ashburyjohn, gunnarthor and wsnydes like this
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Buddy Holly
Sep 09 2018 09:58 AM

So far what I have seen from Falvine is boring baseball. I hope Molitor retires at the end of the season so he doesn't have to be associated with this boring Product. I can't stand to listen to launch angle and exit velocity anymore. This team forgot how to play. Its feeble baseball. Boring! I been watching this team since the since the early 60's and have seen a lot of bad teams, but never anything this boring. I turn the channel now and watch re runs or the History channel over this boring product. You can keep your new analytic baseball. 

    • mngopherguy likes this

I don't think they intended to compete at all at this point, and as some have pointed out, they've won (a little) at the MLB level in spite of (F)ire (T)ornado, not because of them. *I'm tired of Falvine.  Trying something new out.

 

In other words, maybe Fire Tornado's evaluation of the team was spot-on:  The rising crop of players, namely Sano and Buxton (and Molitor), were not the foundation of a championship team, as some others may have thought.  So, everything they've done at the MLB level has had an ulterior motive:  1.). Sign and flip veterans for prospects, or 2.) give Molitor rope with which to hang himself.  They have never planned to win now, 2020+ was always the plan.

 

And/or, maybe they are evaluating their own front office underlings.  Maybe they let an assistant to the regional manager make the decision on Belisle, and HE in turn passed it on to an intern...

Screen Shot 2018 09 09 At 9.53.07 AM
 
Screen Shot 2018 09 09 At 9.52.36 AM

 

 

What vets did they sign and trade?

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ashburyjohn
Sep 09 2018 10:23 AM

I’m hoping for results. The rest is pretty meaningless to me.

Well of course I'm hoping for results too. The process doesn't seem meaningless to me.

    • Twins33, Major Leauge Ready, Platoon and 1 other like this

 

Well of course I'm hoping for results too. The process doesn't seem meaningless to me.

FSL Flags Fly Forever.

 

What vets did they sign and trade?

Rodney and Lynn and Duke?  Not a sign and trade, but the Dozier/Esco trades were kind of along the same lines.  Hopefully Escobar becomes a trade and sign.


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