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No More Rebuilds!

Posted by carly148 , 30 June 2018 · 1,078 views

The Minnesota Twins had their worst season in team history in 2016 losing 103 games. What might of been harder to see than the Twins poor play on the field, was watching the Pohlad family and Dave St. Peter select a replacement for Terry Ryan. The Twins hired the firm Korn Ferry to conduct the search. The Twins decided they wanted a Chief Baseball Officer and eventually narrowed their search down to two candidates. Scouting/Player-Development Chief Jason McLeod from the Chicago Cubs and Assistant General Manager Derek Falvey from the Cleveland Indians. The Twins brass decided on the 33 year old Derek Falvey to lead the team. The Pohlad family has never openly discussed money but one has to wonder if it played a part in their decision. McLeod was the only minority candidate, had more experience, and is a brilliant baseball mind who helped put Cubs baseball back on the map. He also signed a lucrative 5-year extension with the Cubs after not getting the top job with the Twins. Falvey was young but literally had more time as a intern with the Indians than as Assistant General Manager.

When Falvey took over the Twins he hired Thad Levine in November 2016 to be his General Manager. He also for some unknown reason decided to keep around many of Ryan's guys like Rob Antony, Mike Radcliffe, Brad Steil, and former director of scouting Deron Johnson. The fans all thought the team was in full rebuild mode but Falvey and Levine refused to accept that. The Twins had a slow winter with trade rumors surrounding second baseman Brian Dozier. The Twins wisely chose not to trade their all around best player for the meager offers they received. Dozier had his best year as a professional in 2017 and helped the Twins make it to the AL Wild Card game. Falvey also had a terrific draft by selecting players like Royce Lewis, Brent Rooker, and Blayne Enlow in the 2017 MLB draft. The team improved by 26 games and many fans thought the future looked bright. There are times when Falvey looks like another Andy Mcphail but there are also times when he looks and sounds like a used car salesman.

All fans were optimistic about 2018 being better than ever. Falvey wasted no time by signing Manager Paul Molitor to a 3-year contract extension. There were many who had hoped Molitor would be replaced. One name that surfaced was Indians pitching coach Mickey Callaway. He ended up being hired by the NY Mets and he is already on the hot seat in his first season in Queens. The Twins had another slow winter with rumors swirling around Japanese pitcher Yu Darvish. They decided not to pay the hefty price tag for Darvish but instead traded a minor league player with some promise for starting pitcher Jake Odorizzi. The front office shocked many when they signed free agents Logan Morrison, Lance Lynn, and Addison Reed. They also surprised nobody by inking deals with relievers Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke. The Twins spiked their payroll to almost $130 million and were ready to compete. The only problem is from the beginning it's been nothing short of a disaster. The training staff made a mistake diagnosing the finger issues with pitcher Ervin Santana and he had surgery in February right before spring training started. Miguel Sano was accused of sexual assault in January and came into camp looking like he could play middle linebacker for the Chicago Bears than third base for the Twins. Byron Buxton has struggled to stay healthy and continues to look lost at the plate. Throughout the losing years of 2013, 2014, 2015, and 2016 we were all told just wait for Buxton & Sano. It appears we are still waiting and one has to wonder are they potential superstars or busts who can't live up to the hype. My biggest concern has always been player development. Why do players leave the Twins and find more success with other teams? It is a legitimate question.

The Twins are approaching the 2018 trade deadline with a 35-44 record and have been all but eliminated from the playoff race. Of course fans are clamoring for them to sell, sell, sell. I have no issues with them trading away Mauer, Dozier, Rodney, Lynn, or Morrison. However I take exception to trading Eduardo Escobar. Escobar continues to improve, plays multiple positions for the team, stays healthy, and is a clubhouse leader. He is also a free agent at the end of the year. Since Escobar was traded to the Twins by the Chicago White Sox he has progressed from a mediocre hitter in the utility role to a very good everyday player. It seems year after year fans keep saying we need to trade Escobar because his value will never be higher. Well guess what he just keeps on getting better and better. The Twins should not trade Escobar they sign him to a 3-4 year deal. We traded Eduardo Nunez back in 2016 for LHP Alberto Mejia. The trade does not look very good right now. How about Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer for Hector Santiago and Alan Busenitz in 2016. We gave up Meyer the prized prospect we got in the Denard Span trade, to get rid of Nolasco. Who can forget the day all Twins fans cried when Justin Morneau was traded for Alex Presley and a PTBNL back in August 2013. Truthfully the last trade deadline deal that worked for the Twins is when they acquired Escobar in 2012. A trade of Escobar signals to me the team is in full rebuild mode. I have been a loyal season ticket holder for thirteen years and the team is not any closer to winning a World Series now than in 2005. The Twins need to restock not rebuild.

  • Dave The Dastardly likes this



Okay, Falvey and Levine need to be given the rope to finish their plan, hopefully a solid 5-year vision that got derailed when they had to keep Molitor and work with some front office guys. You can see that they have started to mess with the front office with some changes in analytics and elsewhere, and the staff down-on-the-farm has done an about face.

 

I'm hoping they finally have free reign as this season becomes a disaster.

 

Now something strange happened last season, the Twins came back and actually were a wild card team. Molitor was named Manager of the Year. Did he deserve it? Well, he wasn't fired. That he might've deserved, but got a lucrative contract that will need a payout if he moves on. AAnd he will. Falvey and Levine will have their say in who manages the team, and also get free reign on hiring coaches with a new manager.

 

It's too bad they had to go into this off-season in a spending mode, because above all else the main concern of the Twins braintrust is putting fans in the stands and 2017 gave them a season to market to increase the season ticket base, still play ponzi games with certain seats and games, and hope spending that extra $30 mill will keep the attendance on par with last year when they had a surge and a GREAT year instead of the BAD year that they budgeted.

 

Y'know. The players are still there. Lots of pieces can be jettisoned. I see the Twins moving guys up faster in the seasons ahead, maybe NOT spending big in 2019, but moreso in 2020 and 2021 when many of the names we salivate around in the minors WILL BE HERE and those that are here now will get their act together.

 

They don't have a lot of players demanding any sort of return, except maybe Kyle Gibson (still an expensive arbitration season left) and Escobar (who might get them more than they gave for him back when) and then they would have the ability to possibly resign Esuardo for something more realistic than they would if they kept him. You lose a guy to free agency, you don't necessarily get him abck cheap...someone else does that.

 

Who knows, should the Twins sell high on Eddie Rosario, too. Remember Delmon Young? Can Fast Eddie crash and burn, or is he a true superstar beyond Buxton and Sano and even Kepler in the longrun.

 

Looking forward to lots of September games with very cheap seats and the concession stand lines short, although season tickets have been sold. Means more fees for StubHub instead of the Twins, who cleaned up selling a lot of full prie tickets in 2017. Same won't be said about 2018.

    • Cory Engelhardt and laloesch like this
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strumdatjaguar
Jul 01 2018 08:23 AM

The Twins have abundance of very good middle infielders. Plan should include trading Dozier and Escobar before trading deadline this month (presuming we get some value). We have the replacements. Nick Gordon has earned a call-up and Jorge Polanco will be back soon.Ehire Adrinaza is a versatile and less expensive utility man.Escobar has earned a starting job somewhere anyways.Gordon and Polanco are the middle infielders of the near future. Sano will likely be back at third base. If anything doesn't work out (like Sano!!!), Twins can sign Escobar in the off-season or maybe be the only taker on Dozier on a one year contract.

Carly148:Very thoughtful attitude!Now that it's quite evident that 2017 was more an aberration than a trend, it's worthwhile to reexamine Falvine's managment style, now that they have 1-1/2 years under their belt.A few observations:

 

1. The Pohlad/ St.Peter propensity for cheapness was apparent in their selection of Falvey over McLeod.Clearly, Falvey had not proven anything in his previous lower level jobs other than he was a great communicator and statistical maven.McLeod came from a much higher pedigree and while he is by no means solely responsible for Cubs' success, the fact he has been part of the Epstein team for so long should have tipped the scales in his favor.Knowing Pohlad's miserliness, is it too farfetched to believe money didn't play a big factor here?

 

2. The Twins' unexpected success in 2017 looks now more like a setback to the team's long term rebuild.First, theyhad to reup MOY Molitor despite the fact he has demonstrated little in the way of savvy game managment, has no apparent leadership qualities, and has the personality of a dishrag.As indication, why else was the organization so besotted with bringing aboard ex-Twins like Hunter, Cuddy, Hawkins and now, Belisle to provide "leadership" to the young players.I thought the manager and coaches were supposed to do that?Pretty damning indictment of Molitor, if you ask me.

 

Secondly, the two month hitting surge that carried them thru August and September masked some very obvious weaknesses in the lineup.As others pointed out, Rosario is the only "core" player who has continued to progress.Pre-Falvey, all we have heard was that the Twins could build around their two emerging, super stars, Buxton and Sano, when the former had only 2 months of all-star production, and Sano, despite several good half seasons, showed enough character deficiencies in his minor and major league careers to date to seriously questiion his desire to succeed.While the clock is still ticking, if anyone in the Twins front office is still counting on these two to be the backbone of a championship team, their baseball acumen is sorely in question, to put it mildly.I'm afraid that ship has sailed and we need to look to the next round of prospects to emerge.

 

3. It's easy to second guess Falvey's 2017-2018 offseason but the fact is it was lauded by almost everyone.They bolstered the two most obvious weaknesses of the 2017 squad - the rotation and the bullpen.I believe our rotation has about a 1.00 improved ERA over last year, so a thumbs up there, especially considering their best pitcher from last year has still not appeared.The bullpen has not worked nearly as well, mainly because Reed has been a huge disappointment, Rodney has too many blown saves, Pressly has remained Pressly, and Duke is limited.Let's face it, the Ryan plan to bring in hard throwing bullpen arms via the draft has been a colossal failure, starting with #6 pick, Tyler Jay, and running down the list of Bard, Chargois, and all the other college arms that have failed.Why else did they have to recycle Belisle: there was no one else in their upper minors who showed anything once they had been called up.Probably the best outside addition has been the journeyman, Magill - a sad indictment for both the scouting department as well as the previous organization's minor league pitching development.

 

But aside from Morrison, the Twins did nothing, other than the DH, to improve the lineup in 2018.The loss of Polance started the downhill spiral, but who knows if his late 2017 surge was a fluke like the rest of the core?The veterans, Dozier, Mauer and Morrison, are all showing severe signs of age or settling back to their norms.The results have been all too predictable: a putrid team batting average, little power , and terrible plate discipline.Just too many holes to plug, particularly with their best talent in the lower minors.But you really can't blame Falvey for not focusing on the offensive side when there were so many glaring holes on the pitching side.

 

4. Falvey was hired for his emphasis on statisyical analysis.His additions to the front office has seemingly revolved around the quantitative end.While I'm glad to see the Twins catching up in this area, managment must be rated more on their major personnel decisions and so far they basically punted.While I realize they can't be blamed for retaining Molitor, it should be obvious that he is not the guy to lead this team to the promised land.Bring in a guy with some fire in his belly - one who relates to youngsters, is enough of a disciplinarian to command respect(and a little fear) and is an inspiring leader.Maybe not now, but at the end of this dismal year at the latest!

 

Just as important is a review of their hitting and pitching coach choices - two guys they plucked out of obscurity, with no major league track record so to speak.Sure, Rowand got kudos for last season's second half resurgence, but how about this year's flop?Alston was selected out of the blue despite the availability of some well-established major league pitching coaches available in the offseason.Is it too soon to say he, too, is a flop?No, but given his lack of experience, there remains major questions on his effectiveness, especially in helping to elevate some of the younger pitchers to the next level.In fairness, the entire Twins' pitching instruction in both the minors and majors have failed for years now, despite years of high draft picks.

 

My fear is that Falvey, like Twins ownership, revels in saving a buck trying to find a diamond in the rough rather than going with proven performance.After all, he was hired due to Pohlad's penny-pinching preferences; is it reasonable that Falvey either has same philosophy or is under orders not to overspend on coaching and managers?

These personnel decisions will become even more critical as the next "core" emerges, probably no sooner than 2020-21.Even if Falvey and company's drafts are far better than Ryan's(and that is by no means certain after just two drafts), he will need to be far more proactive in finding a manager and coaches at both the minor and major league levels to get the most out of this talent.Based on his actions to date, count me as sceptical.I hope I am wrong but until new ownership comes on board, I'm afraid this organization is doomed to mediocrity.

    • curt1965 likes this

Where is it that anyone associated with the Twins stated they brought back for leadership for the young pitchers? What young pitchers in the bullpen27 is not young.Belisle the second half of the year pitched to a fip of 3.That is better than most of his bullpen this year.There is nothing wrong with hoping you could get that again. There is also nothing wrong with moving on when you can't get him to do whatever it was he did last year.

How can you call the Nunez-Mejia trade "not very good"? Oh, you mean for the Giants, right? It's far too early to call Mejia a failure - the Giants got 2 months out of Nunez for Mejia, how was that a better trade?

 

And how was the Nolasco/Santiago trade a failure? Alex Meyer was no longer a prized prospect and his shoulder went kaput - he's probably going to miss all of both the 2018 and 2019 seasons with the same surgery that virtually ended Glen Perkins' career. The Twins at least got Busenitz out of that trade, who may not amount to much, but losing Meyer has not harmed the Twins.

    • Miles Death likes this
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diehardtwinsfan
Jul 02 2018 08:39 AM

I'm not sure I'd pin this season on the FO. They did quite a bit to improve the team at it's weak areas. No one predicted Sano, Buxton, and Polanco. That hurts. There's no way around it, and no FO would have had much better options behind them. You cannot stash starting level MLB talent in AAA.

 

That said, I don't think they should be rebuilding. I'd say more retooling. The FO needs to fix Buxton/Sano. Not much will go right if they do not. I think they can do that this season yet, the talent is obviously there. You'll have Polanco back for 162 games next year as well as Rosario and Kepler (who I think takes a step forward). 

 

They would be smart to get a difference maker behind the plate (Realmuto), re-sign Escobar, and find a 1B and DH option for next year. I liked the LoMo signing, but that has been an unmitigated disaster. Getting a difference maker at the plate on a 3 year deal and another 1 year flier in these areas makes sense. That gives Rooker a bit more time to develop in the high minors and a chance to bring him in whenever the inevitable injury happens. 

    • beckmt likes this