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Feeling Out the Front Office

Posted by Ted Schwerzler , 03 October 2018 · 908 views

minnesota twins derek falvey thad levine
Over the course of the past two seasons I have seen plenty of comments directed towards the Minnesota Twins front office. With Derek Falvey and Thad Levine replacing the Terry Ryan regime, much has been made of their age and new-fangled way of doing things. When looking at it objectively however, are there really any egregious missteps, and isn't this the way baseball is run around the league?

From many around the media landscape, nicknames have been given to the duo sitting at the top of 1 Twins Way. Whether calling Falvey and Levine the "Boy Wonders" or "Baseball Nerds," there continues to be monikers that poke at the age and data driven ideology disseminated from the Twins organization. From my vantage point, this either speaks to a lack of knowledge regarding the current game, or a level of malice intended towards individuals deemed unfit for the role.

At any rate, using analytics as a buzzword remains out of touch in today's game. Baseball, and front offices in general, have long since incorporated data driven practices to set forth at least a portion of what they do on a daily basis. This isn't specific to the Twins, and it's certainly not new to the game. When attempting to carve out competitive advantages, continuing to do the things you have always done will quickly get you left in the dust.
In an effort to attack some of the misconceptions head on, I posed this question last night on Twitter:



The responses were aplenty, but genuinely surprised me. Maybe it's because of my follower base being of the more informed variety, but there simply weren't the frustrated and shortsighted responses I expected to get. Sourcing through a few of the comments, I did want to do my best to rebut a few things that I thought lacked context.



A couple of comments surrounded the handling of Byron Buxton, which has been a horse I've severely beaten. The FO looks silly for how they handled that, and regardless of the business aspect, you'd have to be looking through a very narrow vacuum to argue in favor of it.

The other point that's touched on regards Matt Belisle and the 25 man roster. If there's criticism I believe is fair, it's how the 25 man roster was handled at times this season. It's hard to know what level of impact Paul Molitor needed or wanted over who he managed, but aging veterans were often preferred over potentially more impactful youth. Should that be a reality we move away from in 2019, one can assume Molitor's hand may have been in that process as well.

From there, we get into a few complete fallacies.



I don't know how you could realistically look back at the offseason and come to the above conclusion. Logan Morrison was added for nearly nothing after hitting over 30 longballs in 2017. Lance Lynn was a big rotation boost, and was brought in late in the game. Although not a free agent, acquiring multiple years of Jake Odorizzi for a low-level prospect was another shrewd move. The winter as a whole was hit out the park by the front office. We know how the talent performed on the field, but there's zero argument to be made against the moves being sensible at the time.



Looking across the organization, I'm not sure how there could be a conclusion that the Minnesota Twins aren't in a significantly better position than they were two years ago. The developmental staff of coaches and scouts has been beefed up significantly, and the influx of talent has followed suit. Drafting first overall in 2017, Falvey and Levine put together a very strong class. They then followed up that group with another good set of youth this past season. Supplementing amateurs with prospects acquired through trades this season, identifying talent genuinely seems like something they've excelled at.

At this point in the game, you need to come to the table with something better than stathead or moniker driven detractions for the Twins front office. It's not as though computers run the game of baseball, but data driven analysis has turned into an exploitable competitive advantage. Marrying that notion with the human element and squeezing the most out of the on-field product remains the optimal goal.

We're embarking on year three for this front office, and the offseason is an incredibly critical one. 2019 remains a season that Minnesota should compete at a high level, and expecting a full tear down or rebuild is nowhere in the blueprint of what is currently taking place. Although being left out of the postseason isn't fun, an objective view of the current landscape should be viewed with a level of positivity.

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  • nclahammer and bighat like this



I guess you need less proof than I do.The roster construction still leaves me cold.The players Molitor has to work with was a mess.Molitor takes the blame and all the other coaches and experts that were brought on and surrounded him skate home free?Nope.I am not behind this FO.I am not buying in to the thought we are better off than we were two years ago when we also thought we were better off than we were two years before that.

 

Lets see some results before we crown them as saviors of Twins baseball.Put me down onas not one of the informed that you included in your statement - "Maybe it's because of my follower base being of the more informed variety" - not do I twitter or follow any on twitter - I just watch baseball. 

 

Personally I really enjoyed this article from MinnPosthttps://www.minnpost...57975-124131045It captures a lot of my perspective.

 

    • KGB likes this

I am not believer in this front office and had grave reservations about them after listening to them from the begining. They are going to alwaystell you what you want to hear but when they get behind closed doors they are going to just do the opposite. Second i get impression they think they are smarter than anybody else and they know how do everything better. The fact is they have screwed up alot moves in just two years being with the Twins. There player acquitions for most part have been busts. We hear how good they have drafted but in my mind that still to be determined because were several yerar away before these people reaching the majors if they do. Ruese Lewis pick should be good with first overall pick and so far looks to be good pick. Also this front office has all this these theories and new metrics for putting a team together but its another thing putting a team together its more than numbers its meshing of people and getting people to buy into what your doing and believing in what your doing. So far i haven't seen any of that in contrary we have heard some from veterans complaining on giving up and not improving this team. I think ownership got scared two years ago because attendance had dropped from peak of 3.2 million to 1.95 million they were afraid if that continued they would have to start supplementing this franchise until they began winning. What I think they have done is set in place where they may even drop further with this group thinking they needed to modernize there management office and decided to go with these unproven talent but had all these great ideas on how to make great baseball organization. The problem is they got sold a dream by the people who they hired but they were not ready to run a club and second they don't have plan to implement this dream. I think we have not reached bottom yet before ownership knows they have made a mistake but when other teams in their division are rebuilt before them they will finally make a change. 

    • mikelink45 and KGB like this

I'm a fan of the FO so far and generally like the direction they've taken the Twins. That said, they tend to come off as cold. baseball is a business, and you gotta be a little cold sometimes... but, it's still a business of people, as all businesses are. 

 

Case in point: Buxton. I understand the individual decisions made, but the cumulative treatment was bad for him and bad for the organization.

    • caninatl04 likes this
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Ted Schwerzler
Oct 04 2018 07:31 AM

 

I'm a fan of the FO so far and generally like the direction they've taken the Twins. That said, they tend to come off as cold. baseball is a business, and you gotta be a little cold sometimes... but, it's still a business of people, as all businesses are. 

 

Case in point: Buxton. I understand the individual decisions made, but the cumulative treatment was bad for him and bad for the organization.

I think there's merit to what you're saying/ I'm not sure I agree that they as people, or personality wise, come off cold. I will agree that some of the moves are cutthroat or all business. To a certain extent you need that, but in a scenario like Buxton, it probably doesn't outweigh the consequences.

I’m a big fan of their two drafts. I think they did a stellar job managing the draft budget. I also like the returns they received from the mid-season fire sales. I doubt it’s arguable that the minor league system is in much better shape than it was before. I would estimate it’s moved from maybe 15-20th to now 5-10th. Yes, I know the strength is concentrated at A and below, but they’ve only been in the job for two years.

The roster coming out of spring training was wonderful if you really felt Santana was coming back in a month and you didn't have the suspension of Polanco. That Lynn and Morrison were both very slow out of the chute can't be explained.

 

The Twins managed to turn international money into prospects and also draft well.

 

They had a core group of guys who didn't sign long term because the guys felt they were going to be better than ever.

 

Someone like Dozier should've had a career year entering free agency.

 

The division was horribly weak.

 

Everything went wrong, but the Front Office managed to turn lemons into some non-ripened fruit. 

 

Now they get to choose field staff 100%, make some hard choices on how to sell the team in 2019, and start a new dynasty of Twins baseball after the hiccup of 2018.

 

Have faith!

\

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Ted Schwerzler
Oct 04 2018 12:26 PM

 

The roster coming out of spring training was wonderful if you really felt Santana was coming back in a month and you didn't have the suspension of Polanco. That Lynn and Morrison were both very slow out of the chute can't be explained.

 

The Twins managed to turn international money into prospects and also draft well.

 

They had a core group of guys who didn't sign long term because the guys felt they were going to be better than ever.

 

Someone like Dozier should've had a career year entering free agency.

 

The division was horribly weak.

 

Everything went wrong, but the Front Office managed to turn lemons into some non-ripened fruit. 

 

Now they get to choose field staff 100%, make some hard choices on how to sell the team in 2019, and start a new dynasty of Twins baseball after the hiccup of 2018.

 

Have faith!

\

Can I clone you?

I have metric for this front office to measure their performance. I will be interested see where we stand in the division at the end of next season and probably year after that. If Detroit, KC, and Chicago make more progress next year and look like they are closer to contending and all three started after MN in rebuilding. If this happens this Front office will need to be evaluated and changes will need to be made.

I think the front office did a pretty good job.Going in to the start of the season, I thought they did a really good job of picking up some guys that I thought would contribute a lot more than they did.I didn't see that many people complaining about the guys that they brought in.Well, except for Lynn.Frankly though, the other two that were in the running stunk just as much or way more.I'll let you guess who the "way more" was.

 

Once the Twins had pretty much been eliminated from the post season, I think they got a pretty decent return on the guys that they traded.  

 

Finally, I was really happy to see youngsters get the opportunity to put in some real time in the majors.I see some guys there that could be contributors, and they were the only reason to watch the Twins over the last couple of months.That sort of thing hasn't happened much in the past.

 

All things considered I'd give them a B+ for acquisitions before and during the year, a B+ for having the guts to fire Molitor, and an A for playing youngsters.I'd give them Bs and Cs on most other stuff that they had control of. 

 

This may sound strange, but overall I think they're doing fine even though the team had a rotten year.I'm looking forward to what they do next year.At least I think that they will be working hard, and making (in my opinion) pretty good decisions..  

"Supplementing amateurs with prospects acquired through trades this season, identifying talent genuinely seems like something they've excelled at.

 

 

At this point in the game, you need to come to the table with something better than stathead or moniker driven detractions for the Twins front office."

 

I think you have that backwards. At this point in the game, you need to come to the table with something better than empty claims about minor league "talent" in defense of the front office.

 

None of that "talent" has delivered a single solitary major league victory.