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Front Page: Moneyball Redux: Will Red Sox Raid Twins' Front Office?

derek falvey thad levine
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#1 Nick Nelson

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 05:56 PM

The last couple weeks have been full of disheartening headlines for the Twins, but the one that might've hit me hardest actually had nothing to do with Minnesota... at least, not on the surface.

The news came down on Monday morning: Red Sox fire Dave Dombrowski. What matters to Twins fans is not so much this development, but what comes next.In 2011, the film adaptation of Moneyball hit theaters, bringing Michael Lewis's non-fiction work to the big screen.

Near the end of the movie, Red Sox owner John Henry invites Billy Beane to Fenway Park for a conversation. Beane had freshly guided small-market Oakland through back-to-back 100-win seasons, overcoming a limited budget by championing innovative strategies and cutting-edge analytics. His success caught the attention of one of baseball's most storied and respected franchises.

When Henry (portrayed by Arliss Howard) and Beane (Brad Pitt) sit down to chat, Henry says he heard about Beane receiving an extension offer from A's ownership.

"So why did you return my call?" he asks.

"Because it's the Red Sox," Beane replies matter-of-factly.



Ultimately, Beane turned down a lucrative $12.5 million offer from Boston to stick with Oakland, where he remains today. But the temptation was evident and understandable.

You don't have to look hard to find parallels between the Athletics front office of that era, and the current Twins regime. Since taking over a club that had freshly lost 103 games, and hadn't reached the playoffs in six years, Derek Falvey has overseen a complete turnaround for the Twins, who are on the verge of their second postseason berth in three years since Falvey's arrival.

Falvey isn't quite working with the budgetary constraints of the A's circa Y2K, but he has brought sophistication to a dated baseball operation, ushering in a rapid analytical awakening. Suddenly, the Twins find themselves mentioned among baseball's most enlightened franchises.

As Matthew Trueblood wrote at Baseball Prospectus on Monday:

"Most importantly, what the Red Sox need isn't a technological catch-up or an extra fleet of interns in research and development. What they need is, in all likelihood, a top-level change in philosophy, one that aligns them with the Dodgers, Astros, Yankees, Rays, Twins, and Diamondbacks, who now represent the state of the art."

Seeing the Twins mentioned alongside the game's most respected front offices feels surreal, but here we are. Falvey's vision has quickly come to fruition and he – along with his handpicked GM Thad Levine – has this franchise as geared for long-term success as any in baseball. It's no secret that I've long been a fan of the way these guys operate, and the rest of the league has quickly taken notice as well.

Unsurprisingly, Minnesota's Chief Baseball Officer has been mentioned as a candidate for the Boston GM vacancy by numerous outlets, including the Boston Globe. Still only 36 years old, Falvey could be viewed as a long-term fixture atop the Red Sox, in the same way Henry fancied Beane (who was 40 back in 2002).

So let's just assume that the Sox come calling. How tempted would Falvey be? There are a few things to keep in mind.
  • Falvey grew up in Lynn, MA – roughly 30 minutes from Fenway Park.
  • The Red Sox GM gig brings with it almost unlimited resources.
  • It also brings a level of prestige nearly unmatched in the profession.
  • Boston will undoubtedly be able to dangle a significant raise if they so choose.
These are serious perks. Of course, they also will be weighed against some very real factors in Minnesota's favor. For example:
  • Falvey and his family have planted roots here.
  • He's building something special, and is likely only getting started.
  • The Boston job, while glamorous, brings far more scrutiny and stress.
  • It also doesn't necessarily offer much job security. (Dombrowski was fired less than one year after winning a World Series!)
Will Falvey make the same move as Beane 17 years ago, and say "Thanks, but no thanks"? I don't know, but I do feel quite confident the Red Sox will at least inquire. He's clearly a rising young star among MLB's executives right now. With luxury tax become a central consideration for even the biggest of spenders, a GM who can stretch a dollar, dig up hidden values, and bolster development is in high demand.

If Boston misses on Falvey, they could conceivably turn their attention to Levine, who deserves his own share of credit for the spiffy roster construction in Minnesota. In his case, unlike Falvey's, it'd be a clear step up in terms of role – becoming the No. 1 guy.

But on that note, I guess the Twins are in better position than most in this regard, given that they have a two-headed monster atop their front office depth chart. Both Falvey and Levine seem capable of handling the head job solo. Maybe that would make one of them more amenable to leaving. Maybe it'd make the Twins more at peace with such a defection.

All I know is that Falvey and Levine appear to have great chemistry, and they've jointly built a hell of a roster in Minnesota, as well as a hell of a baseball ops department. Personally speaking, I've never had more trust in the people running this team in my life than I do right now. So thinking about a big-market shark coming in and pilfering away from what is currently the Twins' foremost competitive advantage?

Well, to borrow another line from Moneyball... "It's incredibly hard."

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#2 Pius Jefferson

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:05 PM

Ryan Gosling can play him in the movie. 

 

Honestly is Falvey proven himself in areas that seem to be important to the Red Sox?Rebuilding the farm system, trading away assets to both trim payroll and help said minor leagues. That's not say Falvey is doing a bad job, just maybe not the ideal candidate for the Red Sox.

Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong.


#3 thegambler

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:32 PM

Apples and oranges. Beane has stuck with a franchise always running on fumes and still needs a stadium. The Twins are a profitable franchise, great stadium, great fans, great market, and great history.
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#4 Vanimal46

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:35 PM

Money talks. If the Red Sox come knocking, Jim Pohlad's gonna have to open the wallet and pay to keep him.

#5 jud6312

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:40 PM

Only if they take La Tortuga as a sweetener.


#6 USAFChief

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 08:58 PM

Show em tape of tonight's game. Highlight the lineup.

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#7 savvyspy

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Posted 12 September 2019 - 09:21 PM

Number of playoff games Falvey has won with the Twins = 0. Let's pump the brakes a bit.
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#8 Linus

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 03:00 AM

Falvine inherited this entire lineup except Cron and Cruz. They also inherited Berrios, Rogers, Duffy and May (and Pressly) and Gibson if that is a positive. They have done some good things but have screwed up plenty. Let’s be careful about associating every part of this season as a credit to them
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#9 KirbyDome89

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 03:49 AM

It's hard to call it a complete turnaround when the most glaring issue that plagued the Twins prior to Falvey's arrival continues to haunt them this season. Look, I'm on board with a good amount of what this FO is doing and/or has done, but there is a constant rush to prematurely anoint this duo. 

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#10 hybridbear

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 06:08 AM

Do we have any ideas what their contracts are like with the Twins & what the penalties would be if they break the contract?

#11 Nick Nelson

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:32 AM

 

Show em tape of tonight's game. Highlight the lineup.

You're... blaming the front office for like 15 key players being injured at the same time? Are you of the belief that any GM anywhere would be prepared to field a quality lineup under these circumstances?

"All these guys did was break the all-time HR record in 5 months and field MLB's second-highest scoring team! They don't know how to build an offense!"

 

 

It's hard to call it a complete turnaround when the most glaring issue that plagued the Twins prior to Falvey's arrival continues to haunt them this season. Look, I'm on board with a good amount of what this FO is doing and/or has done, but there is a constant rush to prematurely anoint this duo. 

Are you talking about pitching? Because the Twins rank 3rd in MLB in pitching WAR, 4th in FIP, 6th in K/BB, 8th in ERA, etc. That's a complete turnaround by any definition for a staff that consistently ranked at the bottom of the league in almost every category for six straight years before Falvine arrived. 

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#12 Nick Nelson

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:33 AM

I understand the Twins aren't playing well right now but let's have some perspective folks, and stop tripping over ourselves to diminish the accomplishments of this team/FO. 

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#13 USAFChief

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:34 AM

 

You're... blaming the front office for like 15 key players being injured at the same time? Are you of the belief that any GM anywhere would be prepared to field a quality lineup under these circumstances?

"All these guys did was break the all-time HR record in 5 months and field MLB's second-highest scoring team! They don't know how to build an offense!"

 

 

Are you talking about pitching? Because the Twins rank 3rd in MLB in pitching WAR, 4th in FIP, 6th in K/BB, 8th in ERA, etc. That's a complete turnaround by any definition for a staff that consistently ranked at the bottom of the league in almost every category for six straight years before Falvine arrived. 

They haven't suffered more injury than other teams. When your backup plan is Lamont Wade, Ryan Lamarre, et al, it's on you.

 

For one thing, they did the absolute minimum possible at the deadline. 2 relievers. No starter, no position help. They banked on health, and continued record setting offensive performance.

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#14 Mike Sixel

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:34 AM

Number of playoff games Falvey has won with the Twins = 0. Let's pump the brakes a bit.


Not to mention this talk of sustainable success comes with one pitcher under contract for next year.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#15 USAFChief

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:36 AM

 

I understand the Twins aren't playing well right now but let's have some perspective folks, and stop tripping over ourselves to diminish the accomplishments of this team/FO. 

When they've accomplished something, i'll trip over myself to give them credit. 

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#16 Nick Nelson

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:42 AM

 

They haven't suffered more injury than other teams. When your backup plan is Lamont Wade, Ryan Lamarre, et al, it's on you.

 

For one thing, they did the absolute minimum possible at the deadline. 2 relievers. No starter, no position help. They banked on health, and continued record setting offensive performance.

These are just false statements Chief.

 

Find me another team with as many important players sidelined as the Twins had last night. One single team. Good or bad. And the "absolute minimum"?? They acquired two late-inning relievers to address what appeared to be their biggest weakness. Plenty of other teams did less. What position player help did you want them to get exactly?

 

Why you so grumpy today. 

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#17 Mike Sixel

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:43 AM

These are just false statements Chief.

Find me another team with as many important players sidelined as the Twins had last night. One single team. Good or bad. And the "absolute minimum"?? They acquired two late-inning relievers to address what appeared to be their biggest weakness. Plenty of other teams did less. What position player help did you want them to get exactly?

Why you so grumpy today.


The Yankees and it isn't close. Who have a better record also.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 


#18 USAFChief

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:55 AM

 

These are just false statements Chief.

 

Find me another team with as many important players sidelined as the Twins had last night. One single team. Good or bad. And the "absolute minimum"?? They acquired two late-inning relievers to address what appeared to be their biggest weakness. Plenty of other teams did less. What position player help did you want them to get exactly?

 

Why you so grumpy today. 

What's false?

 

They're temporarily down several players, but have enjoyed relative health through the season. They certainly haven't endured what Cleveland did. Nor the Yankees. And it's September, so there's no shortage of replacements available, it's just that the replacements aren't realistically capable of filling a spot on a team contending. The lineup last night was no better than a bottom feeder team...and that's at least partially the fault of the front office. 

 

As for the deadline, I called it the exact same thing at the time. They did the absolute minimum required. They banked on the starting rotation staying intact, and the lack of depth not to be a problem.

 

So it's tough for me to give them a great deal of credit. 

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#19 Nick Nelson

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 08:59 AM

 

The Yankees and it isn't close. Who have a better record also.

Yankees are missing: Stanton, Andujar, Bird, Hicks, Ellsbury, Tauchmann, and now Encarnacion

 

Twins missing: Kepler, Buxton, Sano, Marwin, Cron (basically), Cave, and now Adrianza

 

I count 7 and 7. What am I missing here that it's "not even close"?

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#20 Mike Sixel

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Posted 13 September 2019 - 09:02 AM

Yankees are missing: Stanton, Andujar, Bird, Hicks, Ellsbury, Tauchmann, and now Encarnacion

Twins missing: Kepler, Buxton, Sano, Marwin, Cron (basically), Cave, and now Adrianza

I count 7 and 7. What am I missing here that it's "not even close"?


They lost their best pitcher for nearly the whole season, he just came back. I mean, sure, if you for some reason only want to look at two weeks, the twins might be worse off, but that's just silly.

Cron, Cave, and Adrianza can't hold a candle compared to the Yankees injured. Seriously.
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It's been a fun year so far, GO Twins. 




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