Building a Winning Culture
by, 05-11-2013 at 12:56 PM (408 Views)
The early success of the Twin's minor league affiliates got me thinking the other day. How important is winning in the minors? Yes, it is important to the individual teams, as it draws more attendance, thus obviously helping that organization. But how important is it for the players as they move up the ladder?
I did some research. I went back and looked at how the core of the successful 2000s teams did in the minors.
Most fans here know it, but a lot of average fans probably don't know that core pretty much all came up together. From A ball in Fort Myers to AAA in Salt Lake. Doug Mientkiewicz, Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, AJ Pierzynski, Christian Guzman, Luis Rivas and Corey Koskie all played together for long stretches in the minors.
Obviously, they didn't move together as one unit. But they played a lot of games together as minor leaguers ascending to the big leagues. There were a few years that definitely stood out to me.
Starting all the way back in 1996. The Twins were positioned to be a good ball club. But 1996 was a terrible year for the Twins. Most notably due to the sudden, shocking retirement of Kirby Puckett. They would go on to win just 78 games that year.
Meanwhile the Fort Myers Mircale would go 79-58, starting quite the run in the minors. In 1997, the Miracle would go 81-58, led by the likes of Jones, Pierzynski and David Ortiz.
Moving up to New Britain in 1998 the team would go 83-59. Led by Hunter, Mientkiewicz, Guzman, Jones and AJ.
The 1998 Salt Lake Buzz would go 79-64 with a plethora of future big leaguers. In 2000, that same club would go 90-53. Anyone remember when the Twins started getting good?
It appeared this group of guys had a taste for winning. And from the looks of it, it carried directly over to the Twins in the early 2000s and throughout the decade that saw the big club win six Division Championships in 10 years.
Back then people weren't paying nearly the attention to the minors that we do now. But part of me doubts if we had TD back then the excitement would be as high as it is now for the likes of Buxton and Sano.
With that said, is there anything to building a winning culture? I firmly believe that winning is an attitude. If you truly expect to win it can go a long way. If you have won at every stop on the way to the Majors with the same group of guys how could it now carry over once they got to the Twin Cities?
I definitely see the same thing brewing in A-ball at the Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers affiliates. Miguel Sano has that swag. He knows he's the best and I think he will carry the torch, followed by the more subdued, silent killer, Byron Buxton. I don't think the records of the Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers clubs should go unnoticed.
So what do you guys think?