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Front Page: A Decade of Greener Grass Ahead for Twins


Recently Nick Nelson outlined some highlights that have taken place in Twins Territory over the course of the past 10 years. Now, on the last night of this decade, it’s time to place a proverbial bow and look ahead through some logically rose- colored glasses.Over the last decade Minnesota compiled a 765-855 record (.472 winning percentage) while failing to win a postseason game (0-7). They competed in October baseball just three times, and won the AL Central Division twice. Long-time General Manager Terry Ryan was ushered out, and so too was long-standing skipper Ron Gardenhire. Concluding with a 101 victories in their final 162 games, a change appears to be on the horizon.

 

In the decade ahead, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine will look to assert themselves from a wins and losses perspective. Having established a new culture and blueprinted a strong foundation, the big league club is now beginning to see the fruits of that labor. We can’t accurately predict what will assuredly take place in the years ahead, but there’re some benchmarks that seem plausible to be cleared.

 

$100 million and $150 million will be spent

 

There will never be a time, until proven otherwise, that Minnesota won’t be viewed as a thrift-store organization. Despite spending significant resources on internal positions and developmental initiatives, the checks have not been cashed directly towards major league payroll. This should be the most straightforward slam dunk of all projections. Within the next ten years, as baseball continues to thrive, the Twins will ink both a $100 million free agent as well a team payroll of $150 million. They are entering a competitive window immediately in 2020, and allocating dollars to supplement in-house talent is only logical.

 

Major award drought comes to an end

 

No Twins player has won either the Cy Young or MVP since Joe Mauer in 2009. Mike Trout will continue to roll up his tally there through the 2020’s, but someone like Byron Buxton could pop up in contention for a year or two. Where I think it’s most likely is on the mound. Six different organizations captured Cy Young awards in the American League this past decade. Four times since 2007, a Cleveland pitcher has won the award. Having entrusted a former part of that brain trust with running the organization, and seeing the growth from a pitching development standpoint, I’d be far from shocked if the infrastructure bears fruit. Jose Berrios could get there. Maybe Brusdar Graterol or Jordan Balazovic emerges. An acquired arm looking to unlock that next level could be the key as well.

 

Playing for it all sounds fun

 

We are closing in on 30 years since the Twins even played in a World Series. The organizational failed to win a single postseason game in the last decade, and the one before featured a 6-16 record over five different playoff appearances. At this point, Minnesota looks poised to be a consistent threat for the immediate future, and painting them solely as a division winner seems foolish. If the current momentum is expanded upon and harnessed correctly, a couple of series victories could quickly turn into a deep run that winds up either with a parade or heartbreak, but a showing in the Fall Classic regardless.

 

Prospect breakout finally comes through

 

No Minnesota Twins prospect has broken onto the scene with a Rookie of the Year victory since Marty Cordova captured the trophy in 1995. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton had all of the pedigree but lacked some of the early results. Luis Arraez looked the part but didn’t have sufficient at-bats behind his body of work. With what Minnesota has built on the farm, it’s a good bet the drought will come to an end soon. Throw a dart between Royce Lewis, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jordan Balazovic, and Brusdar Graterol to claim which is going to make the biggest immediate impact in the near future. Then note the developmental prowess and drafting history of the organization as it stands today, and the reality is quickly apparent that high-quality graduating youth in this system will be an enticing proposition for quite some time.

 

Without wanting to venture out on a limb incapable of holding the weight, these select suggestions seem monumental in action even if they aren’t substantial in number. Defining where the Twins are, and where they are headed, seems to be as simple as this: The future is bright and the direction is sound. Baseball is not at all a sprint, and this journey is one Twins Territorians should be giddy about.

 

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You are slinging the positivity with some real passion, which I can appreciate and respect. I don't see how the narrative has changed much since the (overall disappointing) Gardy playoff teams. Cute club, able to show some spunk and win the AL Central, then get their doors blown off by the Yankees (or hopefully a different club) in the first round of the playoffs. Until they can prove otherwise this is what the Twins are. What's that saying about putting a dress on a farm animal?

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I think we all remember Jim Pohlad's famous comment about total system failure after the 2016 season. That was not just an idle comment. He took seriously the need to make changes, and so he initiated a complete restructuring of the entire franchise. It is easy to become impatient, but keep in mind that it takes a number of years to implement a top-to-bottom change in personnel and philosophy in a franchise and even longer for the results to be seen at the major league level. We are only three years in so it's still early. Even though I don't know the inner workings of the organization I get the strong feeling that Derek Falvey knows what he is doing. I share Mr. Schwerzler's optimism and snide remarks such as those above do not dissuade me. 

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Reads mod note, discards original message: "What the heck kinda joy juice are you on Ted?" :)

 

I've always believed that good drafting and development and international signings are the foundation of any winning ball club. Augmented with the key free agent and/or trade, that is the way to keep that window open a long time. It raises the floor.

 

You have to be able to take advantage when NYY and LAA and the big other spenders have  down years.

 

Let's just say I share your optimism. 

 

 

 

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IMHO, the FO is trying to establish who is going to be the foundation for the club for the next several years to come, which is a reason for one year contracts. Who will be the next prospects to step up in 2020, and who will be brought in from elsewhere? 

 

As of right now, the foundation could be viewed something like this:

 

Position players:

 

Polanco and Kepler are signed.

 

Waiting to see if Buxton and Sano can each play somewhere around 140+ games a season and what will the results of that be? If they prove they can accomplish that, hopefully they will see their just reward.

 

Latest to come onto the scene are Garver and Arraez. Hope they can both stick with the club. So far the outlook is good.

 

Rosario? Maybe with a few tweaks and concentration. Its the little things that are keeping him from making the next step.

 

Is Adrianza our next utility man after Gonzales?

 

Staring Pitching:

 

Berrios needs a long term deal.

 

Odorizzi needs to be considered for an extension, but will likely be a FA.

 

Who and how many will come through from the farm system?

 

Relief pitching:

 

Rogers needs a contract sometime soon.

 

Can Duffy, Littell, May, and Stashak all prove they belong during this year? Again who can come up from the farm?

 

Rome wasn't built in a day either.

 

 

 

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I wish I could be this optimistic but I just can’t. Obviously, the 20’s will (hopefully) be better than the 00’s and 10’s.

 

I’m of the mindset that division titles don’t move the needle too much, especially when you aren’t competitive in the playoffs. Right now, we need some of these “rose colored glasses” scenarios to unfold to become a contender.

 

I’m short, a lot needs to fall in the right place since impact FA’s view Minnesota as the wrong place.

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The thing is some are so quick to give this new front office so much credit for on field success. These are all Terry Ryan drafts and developed also under his leadership. Yes, the new guys run a different show and are much more analytical, etc. that’s good I think it will bear fruit.

 

That said, these are not their guys winning right now.

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How in the world are you all so negative coming off 101 wins, a front office with direction, and a post focused on a ten year sample size.

I would guess that there is a genetic component somewhere in the chain that effects vision. Those with the RCG combination see everything glowingly.  Then there is OHF who see through a haze of black

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Maybe I’m wrong about this but based on those I talk to outside of TD, the 40 and under (especially 35 and under) crowd has grown up with consistent losing and early exits. They are too young to remember how out of no where it seemed the Twins came to win 2 World Series. That crowd has a very hard time seeing anything through rose colored glasses and I don’t blame them.

 

One of our biggest droughts that is not discussed much is the Rookie of the year you mentioned in the OP. This is one of my biggest disappointments of the Ryan years and remains true. Knoblauch and Cordova in the 90s came in gang busters and then nothing. The prospects that were supposed to change that were Sano and Buxton. Now, granted, we’ve had some stars emerge, Morneau, Mauer, Johan Santana, Liriano for a minute and now Arraez. I would really like someone to pop up and blow our doors off like Knoblauch did. I’m hoping Kirrilloff or Lewis will be that next guy to do it and break the drought. (And win the series while they are at it)

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How in the world are you all so negative coming off 101 wins, a front office with direction, and a post focused on a ten year sample size.
Realistic, not negative. I think getting rocked and swept again by the Yankees in the ALDS and the lack of impact pitching acquired has put a damper on some enthusiasm for 2020. Have you watched the last 29 years of men's major league professional sports teams in this town? I think people have a right to be guarded and cautious.
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All of the negativity is a result of 3 games against the Yankees after winning 101 games. What if the Twins had at least won that home playoff game after dropping the 2 in NY? What if they had gone on to win the second home game and forced a game 5? What if they had won that game and played Houston for the ALCS? Would that have made the "doomsdayer" sign every free agent on the market folks any happier? My guess is no. Are Houston fans happy? My guess is no. Signing Bailey and Hill is perfect. At least wait until its time to count wins and losses again in just a few months before being critical. Then there may be no reason to.

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The shine of 101 wins has tarnished a bit when we saw how helpless the Twins' pitching (and even their vaunted offense) was against a quality opponent. A very good offense and decent pitching can go a long ways in the regular season, especially in this tanking era and this division, but that doesn't mean you're a true contender. There were six 96+ win teams and three 100+ win teams last year, which (like the juiced baseballs) is way out of the norm and means we have to look at 2019 records/statistics with a little different context.

 

That said, I think the Twins are still on the upswing and will at least be relevant and watchable for the foreseeable future. Yet I wouldn't blame anyone for doubting their contender status until they've proven they can:

  • Develop/acquire enough playoff-caliber pitching (including the bullpen)
  • Clean up the defense and add depth at key defensive positions so it doesn't look like a clown show out there
  • Maintain a top 5-6 offense as key players leave (Cron, Schoop, Cruz, Rosario?, Sano?, Buxton?

The above is mostly banking on prospects stepping up and fulfilling their promise, which is always a gamble. At least the team is interesting enough now to hopefully enjoy watching it play out.

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How in the world are you all so negative coming off 101 wins, a front office with direction, and a post focused on a ten year sample size.

Like, what "direction" are we looking at that is any different than what we've seen since about 1999?

 

There is nothing new here player acquisition wise. We are relying on our system, as has always been the case. Adding veterans at the end of their career or signing guys hoping and praying for a bounceback. Trading for guys without giving up much for them and getting mediocre performance from them.

Remember, Terry Ryan made some good trades too, Billy Smith traded for Carl Pavano, brought in Matt Capps. Jim Thome was signed as well. Twins brought in lots of relievers in the mold of what has been done recently.

 

The difference here is in the type of coaching these guys are getting. They are focusing on new age analystics, spin rates, mechanical inefficiencies, etc more than in the past.

 

Everything else though, the song remains the same to quote LedZep. Prove me wrong and I will eat crow. Right now though, it is the same bubble gum and band aids holding the starting staff together of a team that won 101 game last year. Terry Ryan or Billy Smith could have done that. 

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The thing is some are so quick to give this new front office so much credit for on field success. These are all Terry Ryan drafts and developed also under his leadership. Yes, the new guys run a different show and are much more analytical, etc. that’s good I think it will bear fruit.

That said, these are not their guys winning right now.

 

Do they get no credit for developing the players/hiring the coaches?  Outside of the fact that Odo, Cruz, Pineda, Littell, and Romo are their guys, Kepler, Garver, Polanco, Arraez, and Duffey are far more valuable now than they were prior to the 2017 season.  They've also added Lewis, Rooker, Sands, Larnach, Jeffers, Duran, and Alcala to the system.  Falvine clearly have a plan they are capable of executing; the only question will be if that plan pans out.

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Do they get no credit for developing the players/hiring the coaches?  Outside of the fact that Odo, Cruz, Pineda, Littell, and Romo are their guys, Kepler, Garver, Polanco, Arraez, and Duffey are far more valuable now than they were prior to the 2017 season.  They've also added Lewis, Rooker, Sands, Larnach, Jeffers, Duran, and Alcala to the system.  Falvine clearly have a plan they are capable of executing; the only question will be if that plan pans out.

 

They sure do,. Their coaching hires have been FANTASTIC, 100%. These guys have done a great job for sure. This IMO, is the main thing they have done DIFFERENT that has had a positive effect on the team/organization. 

 

I'll reserve judgement on any of their draft picks and guys they traded for until they do something. It does look like it will bear fruit though, doesn't it? As of yet though, its TR and BS guys making this happen.

 

What I am saying is that yes, they credit for those things.Those signings and trades you talk about in the first part of your post are all Terry Ryan-esque moves. Low-risk moves, signing of old boys hoping for a good season, etc. Like I said, song remains the same. 

 

Maybe the addition of the things they are doing organizationally with the exact same player acquisition strategy as prior regimes have used will work. But to say that part is any different is 100% not true. 

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How in the world are you all so negative coming off 101 wins, a front office with direction, and a post focused on a ten year sample size.

I agree with you, Ted.The regular season 2019 was the most fun I have ever had watching a regular season of the Twins, day in and day out. Plus I could see most games on mlb.com., even though I live thousands of miles away from Minnesota.  I too want to win a World Series title every year. But I realize it ain't gonna happen. But even the most pessimist posters must admit that they would take 101 wins every year. The Twins must first make the playoffs, in order to win a World Series. Ted is saying that it looks like the Twins are set to be in the playoffs every year for the foreseeable future. For that, I am happy and maybe that makes me a "Nellie Forbush - cockeyed optimist". 

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They sure do,. Their coaching hires have been FANTASTIC, 100%. These guys have done a great job for sure. This IMO, is the main thing they have done DIFFERENT that has had a positive effect on the team/organization. 

 

I'll reserve judgement on any of their draft picks and guys they traded for until they do something. It does look like it will bear fruit though, doesn't it? As of yet though, its TR and BS guys making this happen.

 

What I am saying is that yes, they credit for those things.Those signings and trades you talk about in the first part of your post are all Terry Ryan-esque moves. Low-risk moves, signing of old boys hoping for a good season, etc. Like I said, song remains the same. 

 

Maybe the addition of the things they are doing organizationally with the exact same player acquisition strategy as prior regimes have used will work. But to say that part is any different is 100% not true. 

 

So now they don't get credit for a move because it's too similar to what TR would have done?  Cruz, Odo, and Pineda combined for 11.3 WAR last year, which is literally the difference between making the playoffs and not.  And if you're going to give them credit for hiring good coaches, by extension shouldn't they get credit for the impact those coaches made?  It seems quite popular to denigrate Falvine since they weren't able to sign an ace in free agency, and reduce what they've accomplished.  However, it seems clear to me that Falvine is immensely better at running a baseball operation that TR/BS, and the fruit of that is already starting to come to bear.

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So now they don't get credit for a move because it's too similar to what TR would have done?  Cruz, Odo, and Pineda combined for 11.3 WAR last year, which is literally the difference between making the playoffs and not.  And if you're going to give them credit for hiring good coaches, by extension shouldn't they get credit for the impact those coaches made?  It seems quite popular to denigrate Falvine since they weren't able to sign an ace in free agency, and reduce what they've accomplished.  However, it seems clear to me that Falvine is immensely better at running a baseball operation that TR/BS, and the fruit of that is already starting to come to bear.

 

Jim Thome, remember him? He's Cruz. Carl Pavano, remember him? He's Ordorizi. 

 

I am not saying they shouldn't get credit for signing those guys you named, or having success recently. Most certainly they should get some of that credit. What I am saying is that there isn't any change in the way they go about acquiring players. It is almost exactly the same as previous regimes as of now.

 

As for the coaching hires? Giving them credit for hiring them is enough. I will give the rest of the development props to the actual coaches that made it happen. 

 

If Lewis, Kiriloff, Graterol, Duran, Alcala, etc, etc come up and produce here, then they should get credit 100% for those guys.

 

Buxton, Rosario, Sano, Berrios, Kepler, Polanco, Garver, Rogers,. Thank Terry and Billy. In particular Billy. He had a heck of a run drafting and signing some international guys. 

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