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A Rift at the Top in Minnesota?

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 04 September 2018 · 2,577 views

derek falvey thad levine byron buxton jake reed minnesota twins
The Minnesota Twins front office is sure making a habit of blundering important decisions here in September. With respect to Byron Buxton, and the late season promotions, there's plenty of head-scratching and hand-wringing to be observed. At this current juncture, it's maybe worth speculating if everyone isn't on the same page?
Over the course of the 2018 major league season, I have found myself as a supporter of the new front office. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had an exceptional offseason, and they positioned this Twins club for success in the current season. As everything has gone up in flames however, their responses have seemed less than satisfactory. Now as real adversity creeps in, we may be seeing some cracks in the armor as well.

Obviously the biggest misstep thus far has been the handling of Byron Buxton. This isn't the space to rehash that situation, but I believe I did a good job of explaining the situation here. Looking back at it however, something has stuck out to me, and that's the quote from Thad Levine to Mike Berardino. Minnesota's GM said, “Their recourse has not been laid out to us. They’re certainly entitled to whatever they think is in the best interest of Byron Buxton. From this day forward, I think we recognize a responsibility to make amends and that we’re going to need to invest in the relationship with Byron Buxton. We understand this is a blow to the player, a potential blow to the relationship."

In analyzing that quote, it's hard not to wonder why the Twins GM is being so open and candid about the situation as a whole. He talked about service time implications to the media as well, and the suggestion that this team decision could be potentially damaging to a long term relationship speaks volumes. As the only member of the front office to speak on the decision thus far, it's hard not to speculate as to whether Thad is simply acting as the orator here, and there's some dissension in the room.

Derek Falvey is 35 years-old and holds the title of Chief Baseball Officer for the Minnesota Twins. His top rank previously was the title of Assistant General Manager for the Cleveland Indians. While he's obviously skilled and qualified for the role in which he's been enlisted, there's also an equally capable and qualified network of support around him. When making such delicate decisions, it's more than fair to wonder whether or not his peers all jump onto the same page.

When it comes to head-scratching options, Minnesota embarked on another when they revealed their full list of September call-ups. On top of the egregious missing name in Buxton, neither Nick Anderson or Jake Reed saw their names included among the group either. The Twins are currently 63-74, 14.0 games out of the AL Central, and have nothing left to play for in 2018. With those parameters, September immediately becomes a breeding ground for acclimation and assimilation with talent that could prove useful on the 2019 Opening Day roster. Except the Twins chose to forego that route.

It's great that John Curtiss, Chase De Jong and Tyler Duffey found themselves recalled, but so too did Chris Gimenez, Gregorio Petit, and Johnny Field. The latter three players represent veteran retreads that have no real value on a big league bench. Given the current state of the team in Minnesota, Mitch Garver or Jake Cave losing at bats to that duo seems counter productive. On top of that, the Twins left a stocked cupboard and closed the door. There's two spots still open on the 40 man roster, and of the 40 spots available on the active roster in September, only used 34 of them.

Anderson, a Minnesota native, turned in a 3.30 ERA, 13.2 K/9, and 2.9 BB/9 across 60.0 IP for Triple-A Rochester this season. Jake Reed posted a 1.89 ERA and 9.4 K/9 in 47.2 IP, and owned an even better 1.16 ERA in his last 31.0 IP. After signing multiple relief arms to short term deals this winter, squeezing out all the available talent within the organization seems like a smart blueprint. Given that neither now have an opportunity at the major league level in September, their afforded sample size will be a minimal one during big league camp (assuming they are invited, and still around).

Without being behind closed doors, it's impossible to know what Derek Falvey's impact on each decision is. It's also unfair to assume how he is viewed by his peers. What is absolutely certain though, is that there's a danger to always believing you're the smartest person in any given room. If the operating tactics are less collaborative than the amount the term has been used by the head honcho, it's hard to see how lackluster buy in is a positive.

Maybe Levine's comments surrounding Buxton are nothing more than they appear on the surface. Maybe no one in the front office saw the idea to waste the opportunity September roster expansion provides as a bad thing. Maybe everyone truly is on the same page. If that's the case though, we might be in even more trouble than it seems.

For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz

  • bdodge22, mikelink45, MN_ExPat and 1 other like this



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Kelly Vance
Sep 04 2018 10:23 AM

Anderson and Reed definitely should be called up and Addison rested. Rather than Fields or Grossman or Petit playing, I'd like to give guys who have done well in AAA a reward.. 

    • bdodge22, blindeke, DocBauer and 2 others like this

 

I don't think grouping Johnny Field with Gimenez and Petit is necessarily fair.

 

Sure, he was a Rays castoff and doesn't represent one of our beloved system MiLBers, but he' still a 26 yo rookie.He hasn't done much in his audition, but then neither did Niko Goodrum last year.

 

Looking at Field's AAA numbers, he seems to have faired better at that level than darlings Lamonte Wade and Nick Gordon are ATM.

 

I'm not saying that Field is the next godsend, but, once you get past names, he fits more into the type of player that you want to evaluate during September than the group of retreads that are being mentioned otherwise.Duffy is more of a retread, and Anderson is almost two years older.

 

    • adorduan and DocBauer like this
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theBOMisthebomb
Sep 04 2018 04:08 PM
Maybe the honeymoon with Falvine is over? I wonder the reaction if Terry Ryan made the same moves? While I am willing to wait a bit longer before criticizing Falvine, I have to wonder at what point they are no longer immune to criticism? Hopefully in 2021-2022 and beyond we have some deep playoff runs or even a World Series trophy and we can happily on 2018. Falvine still has to prove they have what it takes.
Actually, I really wish this post was on the main page as I think it begs serious discussion and debate.

I have both pro and con feelings about the Buxton situation. But this post is not concerning him directly. I have pro FO over and over again for much of what they have done, despite a poor handling/building of Rochester this season, and some questionable to very questionable ML moves this season, especially in the second half, and bordering on incredulous for September.

I can get Field and Petit. Field is young enough for a flier and an invite next year as a AAA player, especially if Granite can't bounce back. (Remember him?) Petit is a roster filler to finish out the year. (And all things considered, probably should have been up instead of Motter anyway). But please, please don't try to convince me that nice guy and good locker room presence Belisle offers anything more important than someone like Reed actually getting an opportunity!

Belisle was surprisingly good in 2017. He was also let go for a reason. Hey, the Twins took a shot to see if he could help and rebound to what he was/did last season. A debatable move, but not without some merit. But now? Absolutely no excuse for him taking a roster spot from a talented young arm who could actually have an impact next year in someone like Reed. Just...inexcusable!

There was a time when teams would bring up prospects for September just to get a taste of the ML to help expose and prepare them for the next level. Gordon has to be protected on the 40 man this off season. Disappointing second half of not, there is no room to just come up, sit on the bench, gain exposure, get in a few games, and maybe learn a few things.

Lastly, this whole experimental RP starting games is a joke! Just because Tampa has somehow found success with it is laughable to me. RP, no matter how good they are, are RP for a reason. They lack a 3rd pitch, a change, the ability to pitch multiple innings, etc, whatever. So you start a RP for an inning or two before bringing in your SP to go throw the lineup twice and hopefully three times? As opposed to what? Your SP actually starting and going through the lineup two and hopefully three times before bringing in the RP? Someone please explain to me some merit to this scenario because I absolutely don't see it!

The Twins should be doing what Seth suggested a couple weeks ago and auditioning their young starters on a piggyback scenario. Start someone like Stewart, Gonsalves, Littell, Romero, (Though Romero appears to be done now for the year), for a planned 4/3 UP scenario. You can reverse it next time around. The "second starter" comes in for a clean start to begin their turn. If the "first starter" falters early...guess what...you bring in a RP to bridge the gap. Is this really too hard of a concept to embrace?
    • Oldgoat_MN and mikelink45 like this
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The Wise One
Sep 04 2018 11:16 PM

Busenitz, Moya, Vasquez. Magill, Curtis, De Jong. There are 5 relief pitchers to go with Drake and Duffrey needing playing time to figuring out where they fit in. Then there 5 established relievers and Belisle. There really shouldn't be enough of a need for more relievers. As far as Buxton goes, as a hitter he regressed in AAA from his past numbers. Maybe having to work on hitting to get a call up is not the worse thing in the world

I have been a critic for this FO for a long time.They will become good when they stop thinking that they only have to have statistics and not watch the game.September for a team as poor as this should have seen a flood of young players getting a taste of the bigs, getting rid of the first time jitters, developing a taste for the big time.But we waste it on players who are never going to star, who have already had time and opportunity.I am not against them getting time towards their retirement, but bring them up and leave them on the bench.But give some new players a reward!

 

This isn't even about Buxton, but rather a culture of reward and promise. 

 

Tonight's game is about to start in less than an hour and already I question why do we have Odorizzi starting.We know him, get some new looks.Grossman is batting third!Adrianza is at third.I think I read we have an outstanding minor leagues prospect list - where are they?Field is in the OF - why?Even minor leaguers who are not expected to be great should be getting an end of the season chance. I look at this lineup and I have to think if I was an Astro I would be having a good laugh.

This may be audition season for Twins pitchers.I have zero idea why Belielehas not been released to free up another spot.Most of these relievers have not honed their control enough to survive against the better lineups in the majors.That is what makes the bulk of them AAAA pitchers.Some will find it later, some will not.  

I still see a big FO bias against the TR signed players, that to me is a major issue.Do not know what Duffey has to offer and Twins have seen him multiple times. Maybe the FO needs to figure things out, before doing a major 40 man roster overhaul this winter, I hope that is the case, but have seen little to suggest that is the case.

It seems more to me like the new FO is playing for and waiting for their draft picks to arrive (2020 - 2022). I am very unhappy with that approach and if this is what they are doing, they need to be replaced sooner than later.There could be the Peter principal at work here, they were better in the jobs they came from than they are at this level. 

The front office was hired to bring a new era to Twins ball. That means looking at fellow front office employees, evaluating the players on the team and, most importantly, in the system. Setting new sights towards player development. And bringing the team back from what was their worst year in baseball history.

 

They came in late in the off-season. The first year, they looked at what the team had on the field, while holding onto senior management's beloved Molitor.

 

The team excelled, in some ways, coming in second and squeeking into the wild card. Guess what? That derailed some of the longterm plans. They needed to show competitiveness in a weak division that they could maybe...squeek thru again. Yes, they made a big offer to Yu which would carry thru into rebuild plans, but instead did some solid shortterm signings

 

So, in regards to the St. Peer end of things, they TRIED to field a team that would sell season tickets and put butts in the seat, which you grab when you can.

 

What they do in this offseason will be telling. Will they get to make a field staff decision. Can we say that the minors, in which many non-baseball folks were put in place (from academics rather than fielded vets) working? 

 

Will they be taking a harder look at thinking totally ahead to 2020 or even 2021 when the Twins will start to compete? Not run away with things, but come out of the gate strong and be in the hunt again with eyes towards taking it all, say, towards 2022?

 

The boys were given five years, I believe, to turn it all around.

 

2018 was a bump where they HAD to look towards putting butts in the season (coming off a Minnesota Super Bowl). They did good in that aspect. Ticket sales are not that far behind last season's numbers, which were much better than anyone expected.

 

And right now, the payroll for 2019 will be so small...possibly the lowest in the league even with the return of a lower-priced (how low will he go) Mauer.Maybe they get another round of rental players to turn into future prospects. Maybe the Pohlad money bin fills to overflowing.

 

The front office IS trying to build their own organization, their own faces on the field. Give them a break!

    • brvama likes this
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Channing1964
Sep 07 2018 09:21 AM
After the last two months i just dont care anymore. I love the Twins. These two guys are ruining that. How come I havent heard of the 5 year plan. It's because if we had we wouldnt buy season tickets.

 

 

 

The front office IS trying to build their own organization, their own faces on the field. 

 

This is in no way a knock on anything you wrote, but I'm strangely compelled to admit, with The Almighty as my witness, that I initially misread the fourth from last word of that sentence as 'feces'.