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Twins Daily Roundtable: Grading the Front Office

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 in 200 words or less (Some writers don’t like to stick to this limit). This will give readers an opportunity to see multiple points of view and then add their own point of view in the comments section.

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are two years into their tenure running the Minnesota Twins. In their first season, the club made a surprise run to the postseason and the team managed to have a solid off-season in 2018. With two drafts and trade deadlines under their belt, the farm system has been rebuilt into one of the best in baseball.

This week’s roundtable discussion question is: “How would you grade the front office’s performance? Why?”
Image courtesy of Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Nick Nelson
Short-term planning is hard sometimes. No one could have predicted last offseason that returning core players like Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Ervin Santana — as well as new additions like Lance Lynn, Logan Morrison and Addison Reed — would collectively contribute so little in 2018 after the years they had in 2017. This turn of events completely sabotaged any chance of contention this season, and there's little the front office could have done about it without the benefit of hindsight.

I still like the moves they made, especially because they were geared toward big-picture success. The Twins can move on from Lynn and Morrison after this season and managed to reload the pipeline with savvy trades in late July. They've set themselves up for tremendous spending flexibility this winter. Falvey and Levine have shown a penchant for opportunistically acquiring useful talents — such as Tyler Austin, Jake Cave and Gabriel Moya — at low costs. And, crucially, they've also overseen two drafts that look like absolute slam dunks so far, shoring up a sore spot from the latter years of Terry Ryan's tenure.

The 2018 season has been a bummer but I feel extremely optimistic about the organization's leadership going forward.

Seth Stohs
Always a tough question because what's more important, process or results? Obviously results matter, but that's too easy. We all loved the offseason, for the most part, and adding the likes of Lance Lynn and Logan Morrison to one-year deals in spring training was immensely exciting. It didn't pan out. At all.

But I think they've continued to add personnel and systems behind the scenes that should have Twins fans excited.

In season, I think they've been fine. They've been willing to work and make changes to the 24th and 25th men on the active roster, and they've been willing to grab guys on the back end of the 40-man roster.

I may not agree with every single decision, but I do trust the process. I do like what they did at the trade deadline and as they like to say, the way they've developed "waves" of prospects to hopefully put the Twins in a position to compete for playoff spots for the next decade or two!

Grade: I don't know. B?

Cody Christie
Last week’s roundtable revolved around trying to give a grade to Paul Molitor. Managers get too much of the credit when a team wins or loses. For the front office, it takes a long-term approach to revamp an entire organization. The Twins were amid some bad seasons, but the farm system had some good pieces. There are lots of things to consider when looking at the front office as a whole.

In their first season leading the organization, Falvey and Levine kept a lot of the previous front office pieces in place to reevaluate everyone. They started overhauling some of the pieces last off-season so it’s hard to know how well those pieces have worked out.

Even though the wins haven’t piled up, I’d give the front office an A for last off-season. It helps to have the number one overall pick, but the minor league system has moved from middle of the road to a top-10 system in all of baseball. I’d give them a solid B+ for their drafting so far with the potential of it moving higher based on results in the years ahead.

I feel their approach with Sano and Buxton this season was also appropriate. There are few teams that would send a former All-Star all the way down to High-A to “find themselves.” All things considered, I’d give them an A- at this point.

Tom Froemming
This is a tough question to answer, given that Derek Falvey has only been around since October of 2016. There are a lot of areas where I would give an incomplete grade at this point, but overall, I'd give them a C.

Nothing jumps out to me that suggests they're either clearly above or clearly below average.

What's really going to make or break this front office in the end is how they draft. So far, they appear to me to be very good at draft strategy, though having the No. 1 overall pick their first year certainly didn't hurt.

I liked how decisive they were at this year's deadline, but there have been a number of odd scrap-heap additions while guys performing down on the farm have struggled to find opportunities. The more Falvey and Thad Levine put their fingerprints on the org, the more we'll know. I think the next 12 months could be particularly telling

Ted Schwerzler
I've considered this as a significantly loaded question at multiple points during this 2018 season. The offseason was one in which the front office hit it out of the park. They aimed high (Darvish), and they shot often (multiple FAs). When the dust settled, they brought in a crop of players that signified a large talent leap and did so by boasting an all-time high payroll.

From there, things went downhill. A good number of those new players flopped (which isn't the fault of the front office), and the answers sought seemed less than satisfactory. I haven't found myself a fan of many roster moves made during the season and think more games could've been won with better promotions from the farm. As a whole, it's been a strong step forward from the late years of the Terry Ryan regime, but this duo isn't yet to the point of breaking through.

Jamie Cameron
It's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day minutia of what the front office does and doesn't do, particularly with roster management. While some of the roster decisions have been odd (if not extremely poor), there are so many facets of the organization the front office has excelled at.

Early indicators suggest the front office has drafted well in both drafts. Additionally, the Twins offseason was both strong and opportunistic (despite not translating on to the field). Finally, the team worked hard to acquire some exciting pieces at the deadline and took advantage of impending free agents.

One other key lever when examining the front office. We tend to give equal weight to all aspects of the work of the front office in evaluating them. In reality, the number -one pick decision is vastly higher leverage than in-season roster management in a season where they were unlikely to reach the playoffs anyway. While the front office has some areas for refinement, their biggest decisions have been huge wins for the organization.

Steve Lein
Two years into evaluating any long-term “plan” Falvine and company may have is still a bit quick on the trigger, but I am on board with a lot of the things they have done to this point in the short-term sense.

I liked that they struck on a colder free agent market to bring in guys like Addison Reed, Zach Duke, Lance Lynn, and Logan Morrison on short deals. On paper they improved some areas that needed it after a playoff appearance, which is what we all asked for. I’ll concede this didn’t work out, but when it didn’t they unloaded those and other short-term assets for future returns.

I also approve of how they seem to be running the minor league system. For once, I don’t have the impression prospects are being held back as a whole. Top prospects Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, and Brusdar Graterol were all promoted after a half-season in Cedar Rapids, where such prospects often would spend an entire season no matter how they performed under old leadership. Fernando Romero made his MLB debut after just four starts in Triple-A, as examples.

What I haven’t liked is their usage of the 40-man roster, both heading into the season with whom they protected/lost, and who has been bypassed with moves on the waiver wire. Small potatoes here, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows with them yet.

To assign a letter grade, I’ll say B-minus, trending up.

SD Buhr
The best “grade” I can give this front office is “Incomplete.” It hasn’t had time to fail, but the results on the field haven’t been anything to get TOO excited about, either. I’m sure some will give them a partial pass simply because they were not allowed to hire their “own man” as manager, instead being required by ownership to retain Paul Molitor. I think that’s a cop out.

“Falvine” has only had one full offseason and I think most of us felt they did a decent job assembling a roster over the offseason. I’m also certain that a lot of people are impressed with the way this FO has modernized its approach to everything from scouting to assembling and utilizing advanced data.

I just think running a professional baseball organization is about more than that. It’s also about relationship building – with players, agents, other GMs/executives, affiliates, fans, media and, I’m sure, many more stakeholders.

It’s just too early for me to give a pass or fail grade at this point.

If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Grading Molitor
Closing Time
Prospect Promotions
Hall of Fame Impact
Baseball in 2028

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I'm not sure why we're worried about IF they'll spend it when the primary problem has been spending WISELY. They splurged last year, going over what most thought the cap was, and Reed, Morrison, and Odorizzi (not a FA but was traded due to $$$ problems for the Rays) have mostly failed. Signing Darvish would have ended as a travesty in year one of the deal. 
Spending money just to spend it isn't a strategy I like. Make wise deals if you can and save your cash if the deals out there are too risky. I want the team to win games, not spend money to appease the fans who can't stand the 'penny-pinching' Pohlads.

Don’t forget Duke, Rodney and Lynn. And they picked up Cave, too.

I don’t think it’s really fair to say their spending last off season was unwise; only in hindsight based on results. While I get that results are the end game, most of us were enthused with what was done in the off season. I gave that a pretty high grade, actually. I don’t think it was spending just to spend. If you call the spending that was done unwise, then I think you have to call not spending to outbid the Cubs on Darvish wise.
    • wsnydes likes this


Short term results are all that matters then? In Ryan's second go around most of his failure was due to trying to fix things with band aids. for the here and now. To look at the success of a teamrather than the organization as a whole is as poor of choice as could be. To expect them to pull elite players out of thin air is unreasonable. To have major league ready available players available forCF, 3B SS, Ace pitcher as well as tanking 2b, and top set up man who was never injured gets injured is a bit much for any team to absorb.


I was going to type something similar but how do you grade on future results? How do we look at the organization as a whole? 


That leaves this year and it didn't work out. 


The Central was weak, the American League was weak. The Door was open. 


So yeah... I was going to respond the same way you did but then I thought about it. 

i can see an incomplete grade. Falvine was left with a mess. I totally agree with the posters who view Ryans tenure as an effort to stay "middlin"! I think this FO will not use that as a long term approach. I also agree with the disappointment in who were the first call ups yesterday. Good grief. Now I know callups have to be on the 40 man, so the list is in essence only 15 players deep. Some of the players I would like to see get wet feet aren't on that list. Maybe the 40 man roster needs addressing. It certainly doesn't seem to include enough player that will improve the 25 man next year. What I do fear is that if Stewart and Gonsalves are representative of what we consider top MLB pitching prospects, what do those that we don't bring up look like? That said, I would rather lose while sorting out our MiLB depth, or lack thereof, than lose while providing a home for the Belisles, Wilsons, and Drakes of baseball. That would indicate a process. The aforementioned three simply make me think the FO is kowtowing to Molitors veteran preferences.
    • wsnydes and Channing1964 like this

After looking at the September call ups I change my grade to an F as in What the F?

    • Don Walcott and Channing1964 like this
Sep 02 2018 05:13 PM

yeah, I'd say it's a bit too soon to grade them. What I like is that there seems to be an increased use of analytics and a much more decisive approach. Their drafts have been very good, and they've made some wholesale organizational changes on the development side. Problem is those things take time.

Sep 02 2018 05:40 PM
If I had to grade them on this year i would expel them from school. Im an O.G. Twins fan. The first game I saw ever saw was in 1970 at The Met vs the Senators.
Coming into 2018 I felt really good but before the season even started the course of events were ominous.
First the Polanco thing. I cant remember exact dates but wasnt he around everybody for awhile at Spring Training? Nobody noticed anything? Nobody reached out to him about this? After Santana, i never thought this would ever happen again to our organization.
Then everybody wanted to complain about Lynn. In my opinion everyone should have known those pitchers that basically got locked out would start slower. I thought it was a great move. Then again i am a fan of proven winners and players that come in from winning organizations a la Lynn, Duke, Rodney etc.
This is kind if old news but then i learned how Derek Shelton came to be the bench coach. I researched his career and needless to say i was not amused nor am i a Derek Shelton fan. If he is being groomed to replace Molitor i will absolutely be mad as hell.
Buxton has something that is prolly going to work out as he reaches a level of maturity that all young men reach at different stages of their lives. We all hope it is sooner rather than later but either way patience will be the key. Messing with his service time and publicly admitting it is one of the most monumental boneheaded moves i have ever seen in my 54 years. How he reacts and who he takes advice from will tell all of us what kind of Twin he either will or won't become.
Oh jeeze then there was not informing the Field Manager about the Escobar trade. This almost stinks horribly like a childish slap in the face to show Molitor who was calling the shots. I felt so bad when I saw the look on Molitor's face as he found out about it on the TV in the media room at Fenway Park. A lot of my people let me know that they never thought they'd see the Minnesota Twins pull such a classless and bush leage stunt like that. i have to agree. It saddened and angered me.
The trading frenzy, when you look at it realistically was a fire sale reminiscent of the dismantling if the '03 Marlins. Out of all those distant prospects and suspects not one of them play any of the positions that the big league club needs desperately such as catcher, middle infielder, closer,team leaders, heart and soul etc, etc,etc.
Somebody and again I dont know who, has to be blamed for the whole Miguel Sano fiasco. Im thrilled that he's doing better , but Really? How did he make it through six weeks of Spring Training and nobody saw this? No wonder the kid is a borderline basket case. Instead of leaving them in Fort Myers you're gonna send him ALL THE WAY DOWN IN JUNE? I get it that it needed to be done. What I don't get is that neither one of our famous dynamic duo could notice this in March rather than June. What a great show of confidence for our starting(and only) third baseman.
I dont know if anyone saw the 5-7 minute video of Dakota Chalmers after he was acquired for Fernando. I did. He is pitching like an inning in low A ball. I could still rake off him. Im not sure what happened there but i assure Billy Beane fell out of his chair laughing at the dynamic dolts after he hung up that phone call.
I am sure the worst is yet to come. The classless way they have treated the coaches, players, and fans is definitely going to hurt them as they go out and spend Pohlads money. The word travels fast around the league and the MLBPA.
I wish i could just go to sleep and wake up finding out it was all a bad dream. I would give anything to see what would have happened if we could have kept the core group intact. If I were a season ticket holder i would be soooo Royally Pi$$ed off i would burn the rest of my 2018 stubs.
Never in my 48 years as a Twins fan have I felt this way. We quit because we hired 2 guys away from our enemies that have no grasp of what tradition and resolve we have as a fan base. The Twins Way is a good place for any team to follow. I have never Ever seen our team throw a season away when there was even one fan left that still Believed. Shutting down a season at the 100 game mark is not what we do around here.
For these reasons i would not grade them i would kick them off the campus and take away their keys.
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Nick Anderson and Jake Reed will not be called up but Matt Belisle continues to hold a roster spot. Please someone tell me it's all about the future. I will wait for my answer.

    • Mike Sixel and Twins33 like this

Nick Anderson and Jake Reed will not be called up but Matt Belisle continues to hold a roster spot. Please someone tell me it's all about the future. I will wait for my answer.

It is about the future. Those 3 won't be a part of it very soon.

I give the front office a C-. I do not fault them for the deals - though I thought they should have kept Pressley and Escobar (and maybe Lynn)- but I don't believe we have received what we could have in return. I see other teams that have traded less for more than we received. Just my opinion. 

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