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Article: Overheard: Hall of Fame Jose, Falvey on the State of the Twins and More

jose berrios brusdar graterol derek falvey
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#1 Tom Froemming

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 10:55 PM

La MaKina is setting his sights on Cooperstown. New Twins beat writer Do-Hyoung Park had a chance to catch up with Jose Berrios and ask about his goals. The entire interview is available on MLB.com.

Berrios responded by starting out with your sort of canned athlete answer of it’s a new year and I just want to get better everyday, stuff like that. But then he got into specifics and it got very exciting.“For me, I want to make the All-Star Game again,” Berrios said. “I want to make 20 wins and put my team in the playoffs … I want to play in October with my team.”

Alright! I’m already getting excited. Then Park asked Jose about establishing himself as an ace and how his mentality has changed since he was a rookie.

“My mindset and my attitude to work everyday is the same. I want to be the best,” Berrios said.

OK, now I’m getting really hyped. Go on …

“I want to be in the Hall of Fame someday,” Berrios said.

POW! How awesome is that!? I don’t recall ever hearing a player throw that out as one of his goals, let alone a guy who’s only 24-years-old. I love it!

When we talk about leadership, this is true in baseball as well as other aspects of life, we typically are looking toward figures of authority or elders. That’s a relative term. You wouldn’t typically call a 38-year-old an elder, but in baseball terms I think that label fits for Nelson Cruz. Anyway, with his energy, work ethic and optimism, I see no reason to think Jose Berrios can’t be the leader of the Twins pitching staff for years to come.

Of course, there is no substitute for experience, but Berrios is entering this season with 71 starts under his belt. By no means has he seen it all, but it’s also not like it’s his first rodeo, either. And some of the young guys are already looking up to him. Brusdar Graterol has started referring to himself as The Machine Jr. That’s awesome.

Back in June, Mike Berardino asked Graterol about Berrios. Here are some of the things he had to say:

“My favorite pitcher is Jose Berrios. I like the way he throws. I like how he throws his breaking ball. Oh, my God, it's impressive.”

"My focus is to work out every day—every day. I need to keep my arm strong; that's the most important thing. So, every day I work on my arm. I like working hard. That's why Jose Berrios is my favorite. I understand he works every day."

"Every day I watch video of Berrios. That helps me improve. Right now, I'm working on my changeup."

Someday soon there may be two members of the Minnesota Twins rotation trying to pitch themselves to Cooperstown. Am I getting ahead of myself? Of course I am, but can you blame me? Listen to these guys. You gotta love it.

Falvey on WCCO

Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey joined Chad Hartman on WCCO Thursday to preview TwinsFest. Here’s a link to where you can listen to the entire segment. Falvey joins the broadcast at about the seven-minute mark.

At around the 16-minute mark, the conversation really turned interesting and Hartman did an excellent job asking all the kind of questions that are on the minds of Twins fans. Here’s the question Hartman presented:

"If I see a team that wasn’t a factor for the majority of the season in the race and then spends 30 million dollars less in payroll, it makes me think 'is this just a rebuilding year?' Where the organization is in many ways admitting by their actions in the offseason 'we don’t think this is the year we should go all in because we think we’re either not good enough right now, we’re too young,' whatever it might be. Is it fair to say you view this year as a rebuilding season?”

It’s not like Falvey was going to respond by calling the Pohlads cheap and admitting the team is raising the white flag, of course, so he started his response with a lot of things we've heard before about the front office always being backed up when it comes to baseball decisions. But here's was what I thought was the key takeaway from his long response:

“We’ve added to this team,” Falvey said. “We don’t look at this as a rebuilding team. We look at this as a group that, if all those things come together with our young players — that we are putting all kinds of resources around to ensure that happens — if that happens, along with some adds we’ve made, we’re going to continue to have flexibility moving forward. So I don’t fixate solely on the payroll number, I think this is a team that’s growing and developing and getting better. They’re going to have their sights set on Cleveland from the start, I know that.”

Hartman asked about all the one-year deals they’ve been signing and why the team is so willing to go there when things went so poorly with similar deals last season. Falvey said the difference as the players they signed late heading into 2018 were all seeking multi-year deals, whereas the guys they’ve added this year were comfortable and saw some value in signing one-year deals. He said he views them very differently in terms of player desire and interest.

Hartman acknowledge that he saw a lot of potential for the lineup to be good, but expressed concerns about the current pitching staff. He asked if Falvey believes whether or not the pitching staff as it’s currently constructed can play meaningful games in September.

To his credit, Falvey didn’t side step the question, beginning his answer with “I do, and here’s why.” He went on to point out all the seemingly unorthodox ways some really good bullpens have been built of late, and specifically mentioned the 2018 Oakland Athletics. In regard to the closer role, he added that the Twins have five relievers who have closed out games at the big league level.

How about those 2018 A’s? Blake Treinen went from basically your average reliever in terms of production to arguably the most dominant pitcher in baseball. Yusmeiro Petit was sort of the equivalent to a bullpen innings eater, pitching an effective 93 innings, which had to go a long way to keeping everybody else fresh. Rookie Lou Trivino burst onto the scene, Emilio Pagan was death to right-handed hitters and Ryan Buchter was untouchable against lefties. That foundation of those five pitchers ended up blending to be a deadly bullpen.

Nobody could have seen things shaking out the way they did, but everything seemed to magically fall into place for Oakland. They added to that group around the trade deadline and went on to win 97 games last season. I don’t love the idea of the Twins depending on some of that magic finding their way, but if you wanted to point out an unorthodox way an excellent bullpen was built, I think Falvey nailed it with the 2018 A’s.

“Bullpens are made in many different ways, and you certainly have to have different looks and different angles to the group,” Falvey said. “I’m not ruling out that we could have a chance to add to that group of pitchers, but I think that’s a group that could surprise a lot of us because of what they can do, how young they are and the chance that they could take steps forward for us.”

Finally, Chad asked about whether or not Falvey really felt like they’d be making any more additions. Falvey said they have to be open to that possibility and it’s possible they might not even truly know how the team is going to round out until late March. Hartman finished with “will I see Bryce Harper or Manny Machado at TwinsFest this week?”

“Don’t always believe everything you read on the Internet,” Falvey said.

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#2 jimbo92107

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Posted 24 January 2019 - 11:38 PM

“I want to make 20 wins and put my team in the playoffs … I want to play in October with my team.”

 

Ohmigod, is Berrios demanding a trade??

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#3 nytwinsfan

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 05:19 AM

Don't understand why they aren't trying to sign Berrios to an extension. This seems like the offseason to do it. You aren't going to find many better young pitchers with less injury risk. 

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#4 NapoleonComplex

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 07:23 AM

 

Don't understand why they aren't trying to sign Berrios to an extension. This seems like the offseason to do it. You aren't going to find many better young pitchers with less injury risk. 

 

Even if they are trying to extend him, Berrios is talented enough and young enough to bet on himself. IMO the Front Office hasn't done enough to prove to our younger players they are committed to winning. They seem to be more committed to finding value and saving money. It's likely a key reason players choose NY over mid-market teams. Yeah, history and market play a role in the decision. But if I'm a young, talented player on the brink of free agency, and I continue to see a team pay for the most talented players year in and year out, chances are they will move up on my list of teams I want to be part of.

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#5 Monkeypaws

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:00 AM

If I were in charge, I'd hand him a standard contract with the years and dollars blank and ask him to fill it out to his liking and return it by the end of the day. 

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#6 drbob524

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:01 AM

I remember Berrios in a post game interview after his first career win, and basically saying "only 299 more to go". 

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#7 killertwinfan

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:15 AM

Kudos to Chad for asking the right questions.But I totally disagree with the writer on his take that Falvey didn't side step his questions.I think it is the FO's job to make this team better than last year.We lost pieces and we added pieces but it is highly debatable that this team is better than the one that started the season last year which ended in a player dump.Our bullpen was poor on paper last year and is even poorer on paper this year.No closer? While I won't miss Rodney, I guess I would prefer to make an attempt to sign someone reasonable.I understand that the FO is waiting for our core to reach the next level before we go all in but, what that means to the fan base is a middling team at best unless Sano, Buxton and Kepler take the next step forward without regression from Rosario and Polanco.What scares me is that these guys good make good progress and we lose a bunch of games because of our pitching staff.  

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#8 rdehring

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:19 AM

Over two months to go until opening day, guys.Lots of time to get one or two of these players extended....Berrios, Gibson, Rosario.Will I be disappointed if no one gets extended, yes.Do I think it will be a mistake for the Twins, yes.Will that disappointment change my excitement for this team, no.

 

Damn, I wish I could be going to south Florida next week.

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#9 birdwatcher

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:37 AM

We might not like his answers, but I don't think we can accuse him of being ambiguous. One of the better interviews I think I've heard in terms of questions which require real answers. Very un-Sid like. Apparently, the apple fell off the tree and rolled some distance away.

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#10 birdwatcher

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 08:41 AM

 

Kudos to Chad for asking the right questions.But I totally disagree with the writer on his take that Falvey didn't side step his questions.I think it is the FO's job to make this team better than last year.We lost pieces and we added pieces but it is highly debatable that this team is better than the one that started the season last year which ended in a player dump.Our bullpen was poor on paper last year and is even poorer on paper this year.No closer? While I won't miss Rodney, I guess I would prefer to make an attempt to sign someone reasonable.I understand that the FO is waiting for our core to reach the next level before we go all in but, what that means to the fan base is a middling team at best unless Sano, Buxton and Kepler take the next step forward without regression from Rosario and Polanco.What scares me is that these guys good make good progress and we lose a bunch of games because of our pitching staff.  

 

 

I guess I see it very differently. He does not agree with you. Or me. But he didn't sidestep the questions.

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#11 Tom Froemming

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 09:11 AM

 

“I want to make 20 wins and put my team in the playoffs … I want to play in October with my team.”

 

Ohmigod, is Berrios demanding a trade??

Pfff bwahahahaha, Good one jimbo, I needed a laugh.

 

Even if they are trying to extend him, Berrios is talented enough and young enough to bet on himself.

I'd bet this is a big factor in any potential extension talks. Berrios clearly believes his best days are ahead of him, so there doesn't seem like there'd be any motivation on his end to sign what would be a team-friendly deal at this point.

 

We might not like his answers, but I don't think we can accuse him of being ambiguous. One of the better interviews I think I've heard in terms of questions which require real answers. 

I felt the same way. I don't agree with this mentality of "all these things could happen" that he's pushing. Sure they could, there are a lot of high-ceiling guys on this roster, but I'd still like to see some more work done to raise the floor of this team. Any of those things that could happen should just be a bonus to what you've already built up.

 

Falvey and Levine are both incredibly good at what I'd call being slippery. They're both very skilled in answering direct questions in sly, indirect ways. I'm not knocking them, that seems to be a valuable skill for a front office these days. I felt like Falvey didn't do as much of that sliding around in this interview, and to me it sounded like he got a little fired up, relatively speaking. There was definitely some more conviction in his voice than I've heard in most other interviews.

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#12 Shaitan

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 09:18 AM

 

Don't understand why they aren't trying to sign Berrios to an extension. This seems like the offseason to do it. You aren't going to find many better young pitchers with less injury risk. 

 

It's pretty rare to extend a player before their arbitration years begin. 


#13 Riverbrian

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 10:33 AM

I'm ok not "Fixating" on the payroll number as Falvey mentioned. Production is production and there are plenty of examples of minimum salary producing and high salaried players not producing. Finding players that produce is the job that they are tasked with and this is what I have been and will be razor focused on and I don't care where they come from or how much water they draw out of the payroll well. So yeah... I'm absolutly OK not "Fixating" on the payroll number as Falvey mentioned. 

 

However... that potential fixation is a two-way street. If Derek Falvey is going to ask us to join him and not fixate on the payroll number... then they can't fixate on it either. MEANING: If you are paying a guy 6 million dollars and he is failing. Don't fixate on the 6 million you spent by keeping bad performance in the lineup everyday. That is a form of fixation of the payroll number. A failing player in the lineup is a mistake, continuing to play that failing player is a 2nd mistake that synergizes with the first mistake and is much much worse than the original mistake. 

 

So Derek, I personally promise to you that I will not fixate on the payroll number and I ask you to promise to not fixate on it either. In 2019 and going forward, don't take as long as you did to discover Astudillo or Cave in 2018. The amount of time you took to find those players is a form of fixating on the payroll. 

 

I've heard you a couple of times clarify an original comment about one year contracts being a lesson learned from last year, by adding the lateness of the signing to the context. 

 

Bottom Line: It doesn't matter what the reason was or what the lesson learned was. It's wonderful that you found the reason for the poor performance... if you did? However... the question that needs to be answered is: You recognized the poor performance... why did you steadfastly stick with it? 

 

It's like standing in the rain in your backyard, instead of going into the house. You have the option of going indoors at any time but you just stand in the rain until it ends. The next day you say to your wife. "I figured it out... the reason I got so wet yesterday was because it was raining".

 

Your wife is going to say: You are right, but why didn't you come inside".  

 

 

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#14 ashbury

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 10:51 AM

We look at this as a group that, if all those things come together with our young players — that we are putting all kinds of resources around to ensure that happens — if that happens, along with some adds we’ve made, we’re going to...

Of all the ways I anticipated this sentence being completed - such as "make a run at winning the division" - a reference to "flexibility moving forward" didn't rank very high.

 

I'm not asking him to make a brash prediction that he'll be hung for later. But with all the qualifiers he stated... this is deflating. I'm not interested in the front office's flexibility.

 

He's not the star of the show. I watch the games in hopes of competitive baseball. He begins his reply with a focus on "this... group" of players but then pivots back to the FO.

 

If he's not willing to characterize the year as rebuilding, but his aspirations aren't on winning... then, uh, what? "Sights set on Cleveland" as an afterthought later on didn't do it for me.

 

He's not very inspiring. "Twins Baseball: come for the young prospects, stay for the flexibility moving forward!"

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#15 RatherBeGolfing

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 10:56 AM

If only our ownership had as lofty of goals as Jose

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#16 Hosken Bombo Disco

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 11:00 AM

Of all the ways I anticipated this sentence being completed, such as "make a run at winning the division", a reference to "flexibility moving forward" didn't rank very high.
 
I'm not asking him to make a brash prediction that he'll be hung for later. But with all the qualifiers he stated... this is deflating. I'm not interested in the front office's flexibility.
 
He's not the star of the show. I watch the games in hopes of competitive baseball.He begins his reply with a focus on "this... group" but then pivots back to the FO.
 
If he's not willing to characterize the year as rebuilding, but his aspirations aren't on winning... then, uh, what? "Sights set on Cleveland" as an afterthought later on didn't do it for me.

I read the same thing and had the same reaction.

I'm a fan; I wanted to read the spin there. Now I wonder if the converse of that statement isn't also true: if things don't come together this year, will ownership provide even less "flexibility" in 2020?
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#17 ashbury

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 11:06 AM

I read the same thing and had the same reaction.

I'm a fan; I wanted to read the spin there. Now I wonder if the converse of that statement isn't also true: if things don't come together this year, will ownership provide even less "flexibility" in 2020?

Corporate-speak like he engaged in suggests to me that he can't say what he's actually thinking.

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#18 mikelink45

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 11:12 AM

I love Berrios and his enthusiasm - you can see it when he pitches.  

The FO has not won me over.After the first year I was told that they did not have their guys in place, just wait.The second year they were putting their guys in place and now many of their guys like Pickler and Garvin are not around any more so we made more adjustments.Now they have their guys, they have available funds, and they have gone for flexibility.I am still not in line with them, not even a little bit at this point. 


#19 SomeGuy

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 11:12 AM

I disagree with the questions being great.

 

Is 2019 a rebuilding year?We addressed many of the holes in the lineup.We haven't entertained the idea of selling any of the many expiring contracts we have.We obviously view 2019 as a competitive year.A better question would have been something like "why aren't we going 'all in' or when can we expect to be more aggressive?"Nothing we have done suggests "rebuild." Because our payroll decreased doesn't mean our talent level did.

 

Why all the 1 year contracts after we saw so many free agent flops last year? I don't understand, you are worried about free agents flopping but also wondering why we only sign short deals?

 

Is the pitching staff good enough to play meaningful games in Sept?Change Sept to October and its a great question.I think the rotation is a little better than last year by having Pineda.Add in Parker, a full season of May, and the plan to use our young guys like Mejia, Romero, etc. as relievers should help the bullpen.This could be a decent group.I would answer yes confidently to are they good enough to "play meaningful games in Sept" but I don't know how confident I would be in the pitching staff if we made it to October.My idea of "meaningful games in Sept" would include being 5-7 games behind Cleveland or the 2nd wildcard which is a reasonable expectation.Compared to a typical playoff team though, it is an underwhelming group.
 


#20 shimrod

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Posted 25 January 2019 - 11:37 AM

"If he's not willing to characterize the year as rebuilding, but his sights aren't on winning... then, uh, what?"

 

 Then, business as normal with Twins management. The aim is to be "competitive" enough to produce decent ticket sales while banking the profits. They may set winning the division as a goal, provided the rest of the division is taking a few years off. 

 

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