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OPINION: The ‘Fire Falvine’ talk should stop (for now)


cHawk
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Warning: Most of this is opinionated

I don’t think anyone within the organization has taken more heat than Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. We’ve seen the, “These guys have no clue what they’re doing,” for the past couple of months.

And I understand that frustration to some degree. I find it frustrating that the pitching pipeline hasn’t produced yet. I find it frustrating that they went from one of the best (no, not better, best) pitching teams in the league to the worst in the span of one year.

But you know what I find frustrating most of all? All of those regular season results and no playoff wins.

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Yet, I still cannot get on the same page with all those calling for them to be fired.

I’m going to run through some of the most common arguments I see.

*They have absolutely no idea what they’re doing, fire them*

I think this argument is more people being emotional than using actual reasoning. It’s a disappointing year, yes. But I don’t see why you need to throw out 2019 and 2020. Prior to 2021, they have had a .549 winning percentage. (Multiply that by 162 and you’ll get an average of about 89 wins). The pitching staff had gotten better and better each year since 2019.

Prior to Falvine’s arrival in 2016, the pitching staff ranked 29th in ERA, 28th in WHIP, 2nd MOST HR against. In 2019, it ranked 9th in ERA, 17th in WHIP, and 12th LEAST HR against. And in 2020, 4th in ERA, 4th in WHIP, and fewer HR against than ANY OTHER TEAM.

To me, in terms whether or not Falvine can compose a competent pitching staff, the evidence for ‘yes’ outweighs the evidence for ‘no’ despite the disappointment of 2021.

*They were gifted a loaded farm system and utterly squandered it*

So this kind of depends on how you look at it. While they did have a Top 10 Farm System overall…there was almost no pitching in it. You had your Keplers and your Polancos and your Kirilloffs and your Sanós and, of course, Byron Buxton. What you didn’t have was much of any good pitching prospects in your system.

That’s going to translate to what you see today. A lot of major league offensive talent but little to no major league pitching talent coming from that system. So, it’s not Falvine’s fault that they inherited a team where the bats showed promise but the pitching situation was terrible.

And also, if that squad had so much promise, why were they literally the worst team in Twins history? It’s not like that team was smothered in injuries like the 2021 squad, they were a flat-out terrible baseball team through and through.

*We aren’t seeing pitching pipeline producing yet*

This is a fair argument. Probably the most fair one I see. And if this argument still stands in 2022, then I can start getting on board with this ‘Fire Falvine’ stuff.

But, simply put, it’s too early to come to a conclusion about this. Remember that they completely lost a year of development in 2020. This is their fourth year of development, which is when you usually see your pipeline start to produce. We’ve seen Ober and a little bit of Joe Ryan. There is more to come. While only two pitchers is underwhelming, it’s not nothing. Also, guys like Duran and Balazovic have been injured this year too, which will also slow down their development.

Do I love the work that the Falvine has done? By no means. I’ve questioned them plenty (if you’ve read some of my other threads). I just don’t think that firing them would be a smart move from an organizational standpoint or a technical standpoint.

NOTE: The title says ‘for now’ for a reason. If we don’t see some results from the pitching pipeline next year, then yes, they should be canned.

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2 hours ago, cHawk said:

Prior to Falvine’s arrival in 2016, the pitching staff ranked 29th in ERA, 28th in WHIP, 2nd MOST HR against.

And today the staff ranks 27th in era, 18th in whip, and 2nd most hr given up against. Even with two division titles(and the pathetic playoff series' that followed), that doesn't look like improvement. 

Im not even about wanting them fired today or tomorrow, but that's what I think most people of that persuasion are probably looking at. That and the fact that next year doesn't look all that promising, and it FEELS more likely than not that we'll be selling off some more of our position talent(that was drafted or signed by the last FO), to facilitate another rebuild.

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Falvey and Levine are going to get at least another year (assuming one or both don't cut-bait-and-run for the Mets job), so I wouldn't worry about it. I've softened my stance a bit over the last few weeks, but I do think it's important to remember that if they ARE fired or they DO leave, there are many other qualified candidates out there for these positions. There's a wave of analytics-minded and game-experienced candidates emerging in baseball. Pohlad would likely use the same search firm that brought Falvey here to find them. And it's possible that another FO team might even be a bit better with signing FA pitchers and the internal evaluation of prospects.

But I'm content to bring on another "Falvine" year in 2022. Let's see if their blueprints can result in a pitching-strong annual contender. I don't expect much in 2022 with a rebuilding squad, but the deadline trades look helpful and the farm system might be on the cusp of yielding some great Twins.

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3 hours ago, flpmagikat said:

And today the staff ranks 27th in era, 18th in whip, and 2nd most hr given up against. Even with two division titles(and the pathetic playoff series' that followed), that doesn't look like improvement.

This season is terrible, no doubt, but the Twins were ranked 29th in pitching almost every year from 2011-2016, IIRC. Last year they were... fourth? Something like that. In 2019, they were around 10th.

Is this year the aberration or were those two very good seasons the aberrations? I'm inclined to say this season is the outlier but we'll find out in 2022.

But what we shouldn't do is assume this year is what will happen going forward. The Falvine track record has been better than that, much better than that.

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2 hours ago, LastOnePicked said:

Falvey and Levine are going to get at least another year (assuming one or both don't cut-bait-and-run for the Mets job), so I wouldn't worry about it. I've softened my stance a bit over the last few weeks, but I do think it's important to remember that if they ARE fired or they DO leave, there are many other qualified candidates out there for these positions. There's a wave of analytics-minded and game-experienced candidates emerging in baseball. 

I've seen comments like this quite often at Twins Daily, but I have yet to see any name mentioned.  Who are some of these "many other qualified candidates"?  And if the Pohlad's do use the same search firm as you suggested, why would the result be any different?

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Agree with the post. I am supportive of the current management team. However, I do get annoyed at the number of times we read petty comments concerning the Twins past management teams, especially while praising the current group. All of these people have very extensive baseball knowledge, well above our level. The current set have less experience than the former but certainly this year they will have gained some useful knowledge to put to use this offseason. Being a fan can be frustrating and this losing season has not been near what everyone expected. The final decisions or the initial direction always comes from ownership. Falvine do not just decide to spend $60 million or $180 million next season. So yes, the fans should relax on the negative towards Falvine and prior management.

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How long should it take for a 1st round draft pick to make it to the MLB? Doesn't seem like many of our picks make an appearance and then when we do hit a good one they do not stay (Berrios and most likely Buxton).   I would think a first rounder would be up in 3-4 years.

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They get one more year in my book and no more.  Next year's moves need to be the polar opposite in performance than this year's moves.  They don't get multiple years to improve after under-performing/breaking what they had previous.  No one should accept a near full rebuild given where things were when they arrived (I count 1st year as the baseline of what was inherited as they could have little impact in year 1).  2022 is the litmus test and will show which was the outlier 2019 or 2021.

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11 minutes ago, sjunisu said:

They get one more year in my book and no more.  Next year's moves need to be the polar opposite in performance than this year's moves.  They don't get multiple years to improve after under-performing/breaking what they had previous.  No one should accept a near full rebuild given where things were when they arrived (I count 1st year as the baseline of what was inherited as they could have little impact in year 1).  2022 is the litmus test and will show which was the outlier 2019 or 2021.

Out of curiosity, how would you (or any others reading this) feel after 2022 if the Twins go 82-80 on the season?

I don't know if I have an answer myself, I'm just curious what "success" in 2022 looks like to people.

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2 hours ago, terrydactyls said:

Who are some of these "many other qualified candidates"?

In terms of specific individuals? No idea. I didn't even know who Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were when they were hired. My only point was that with the rise of analytics in baseball, and the expansion of coaching opportunities for former players and even women, certainly there are some very sharp folks involved in the game who are looking to take a spot at the head of an MLB club.

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Honestly, this really depends on 1) what you think the FO was supposed to do and, to a lesser extent, 2) the hand they were dealt.

It is my opinion, oft stated, that the key parts were already in position and this FO simply needed to supplement a really strong core and extend the window of opportunity. Essentially, Falvey was hired to replicate the 2001-2010 run. Thus, I'm ok with them going. That said, I don't expect that they will be fired and I think we'll have a sub-.500 season next year.

Even if you don't think the Twins had good pitching in the minors, they had Gibson, Berrios and Santana under team control for 3, 5 and 2 years when they took over. They had immense outfield depth (still do, but less) in the minors and majors and never traded for pitching. That's on them.

Lastly, the main gripe I have on Levine is that he has never seemed to understand the value/ability of players in the Twins system or properly evaluate other teams players, leading us to lose, either through rule v or simply waivers, some pretty good players, or overpaying in trades. That, to me, is enough reason to get a new GM. As to Falvey, I openly despise the idea of bullpen games and I think it comes from him. It's boring baseball. It's not working. And it seems like our farm system is trending in that direction. I don't like watching bad baseball but I will, I hate watching bad and boring baseball, which is what he's creating.

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25 minutes ago, gunnarthor said:

As to Falvey, I openly despise the idea of bullpen games and I think it comes from him. It's boring baseball. It's not working. And it seems like our farm system is trending in that direction. I don't like watching bad baseball but I will, I hate watching bad and boring baseball, which is what he's creating.

I see you say this often but your view of the Twins starter management isn't adjusting for the changes in the game.

Despite fielding a terrible pitching staff, the Twins are currently 18th in starter innings pitched.

In 2020, they were 17th in starter innings pitched.

In 2019, they were 6th in starter innings pitched.

They haven't been worse than mid-pack the past three seasons, one of them they were near the top of baseball in starter innings.

But to the "boring baseball" part of your statement, I couldn't agree more. I strongly dislike five inning baseball but the Twins aren't sailing into uncharted waters in this regard, they're moving with the rest of baseball.

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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Out of curiosity, how would you (or any others reading this) feel after 2022 if the Twins go 82-80 on the season?

I don't know if I have an answer myself, I'm just curious what "success" in 2022 looks like to people.

Very fair question.  Honestly depends on how that 82-80 looks and was reached.  If that level is reached w/ Miranda/Kirilloff/Larnach getting extended playing time and growth during the season, along with 3 young starters showing real potential (might already be 2/3 there with Ryan and Ober but want to see a whole season), 1+ top level starter signed for at least 4-5 yrs, significantly improved defense, and a respectable bullpen then I am OK (this also assumes quality growth from Lewis, Martin, and Celistino as well as continued strong growth from other minor league arms)

However, if that record is reached with 2-3 1yr pitching contracts (starters), 1 yr position rentals like Cron/Schoop, a hodge/podge pen, and prospects still not showing up in quantity at the MLB level, then I will have seen enough.

2022 will be year 6 for the duo - they spent much of 2021 running thru other organizations cast-off arms.  They need to show me their drafted/acquired arms are ready to perform.  6 yrs is enough time.

For what its worth (probably not much).

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5 hours ago, sjunisu said:

Honestly depends on how that 82-80 looks and was reached.

Came here to say basically this.  I don't have any specific hoops they need to jump through.  I just want them to do something impressive - they can take their pick.  If an 82-win season for the big club is supplemented by good results in the upper minors (AA and A+ have indeed been rays of hope in 2021), with prospects taking their next step forward to demonstrate that the coaching and the overall system is operating well, that works for me - especially when the prospects getting their first taste of MLB ball succeed, indicating that the preparation was sufficient.  If they do something about the logjam of corner bats throughout the system, particularly if they turn some of that into even one up-the-middle talent or especially prime pitching, that would be good too.  If sifting through underappreciated talent results in something more than the unsustainable Matt Wisler, that would be something to point to.  If they have by season's end assembled a rotation that looks like will be a core that will keep them from having to do annual rebuilds, so much the better.  Likewise if the offense looks more able to score runs when the HR don't happen to be flying out on a given day, that would be a big plus.  All in all, if 2022 proves to be a return to league-average, I want the outlook for 2023 to be bright because the processes begun in 2017 have started to produce results, not because they mortgaged too much or relied on stopgaps for that thin result of 82-80.

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From 2022 I'd like to see the following things:

1) A real step forward from some of our high picks.  Sabato seems to be turning a corner, that needs to continue.  Chase Petty needs to show some stuff.  Cavaco needs to look like a top pick.  Royce Lewis needs to show why he was taken where he was.  Ditto Larnach and Kiriloff and Wallner.  Most of the top picks were hitters and we're not seeing enough from them at this point.  They don't all need to be amazing, but enough to feel good.

2) We've developed or acquired a lot of pitching that is currently in AA or AAA.  We need Balazovic, Duran, Winder, SWR, Strotman take a step towards being a big leaguer.  Either by getting their feet wet or dominating enough to show they deserve to be in the picture.  Not all of them, of course just like before, but enough of them to feel good.

3) You've got money to spend.  Assets you can move.  Have an offseason that shows what your plan is.  Whether that is aggressively selling, aggressively buying, aggressively trading to rework the roster, whatever that might be.  Not waiting until late February for values.  Plant your flag.

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6 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

But to the "boring baseball" part of your statement, I couldn't agree more. I strongly dislike five inning baseball but the Twins aren't sailing into uncharted waters in this regard, they're moving with the rest of baseball.

This.  This is what I was going to point out as well.  It's not just the Twins creating this "boring baseball", it's all of baseball.  Everyone is trying to get that edge using the same basic formula with perhaps their own little twist.  But in every case, it's a less entertaining version of the game.  

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1 minute ago, TheLeviathan said:

From 2022 I'd like to see the following things:

1) A real step forward from some of our high picks.  Sabato seems to be turning a corner, that needs to continue.  Chase Petty needs to show some stuff.  Cavaco needs to look like a top pick.  Royce Lewis needs to show why he was taken where he was.  Ditto Larnach and Kiriloff and Wallner.  Most of the top picks were hitters and we're not seeing enough from them at this point.  They don't all need to be amazing, but enough to feel good.

2) We've developed or acquired a lot of pitching that is currently in AA or AAA.  We need Balazovic, Duran, Winder, SWR, Strotman take a step towards being a big leaguer.  Either by getting their feet wet or dominating enough to show they deserve to be in the picture.  Not all of them, of course just like before, but enough of them to feel good.

3) You've got money to spend.  Assets you can move.  Have an offseason that shows what your plan is.  Whether that is aggressively selling, aggressively buying, aggressively trading to rework the roster, whatever that might be.  Not waiting until late February for values.  Plant your flag.

I like the "plant your flag" comment.  I expect 2022 to be a transition year, but it doesn't have to be a lost year.  The right moves and solidifying what's already hear (extending Buxton) would go a long way towards instilling some confidence.

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According to Falvey, they will compete for a division (world series seems to have dropped from the dialogue) in 2022, so 82-80 is a complete fail.

I am now ambivalent toward the FO and the team in general. They made the pitching choices that were a complete fail in regards to signing vets. Too cheap to go for the cream, and settling for the double rebound, a closer that none of the other teams wanted, and Dobnak. I see that some in this thread have lamented about poor offense, but our offense is better than a good many of the teams that will play in the playoffs. It is a down offensive year accross the board in MLB. I am not talking about the farm (which they have stocked, but none are really really helping the Twins at this point, and may never), but the pitchers they chose who literally tanked the team ...... Colome, Happ, and Shoemaker, in particular. I didn't like any of the choices at the time, and despise them now. I still am forced, if I am to watch "my" team, to still see one of them. 

Frankly, now, I really don't care much about the front office and the team. They got rid of Berrios, they will probaly get rid of Buxton, but keep Sano. They have driven me into ambivalence, and that is a place I usually don't go. In 2021, I really don't care about 2022. In 2022, I really don't care about 2023. They should though, without sacrificing the present. I want to follow a team that has players I like, and watch them grow - and are not traded just because the hired FO, who were never Twins fans, and are only here for the money, really, and their own personal advancement - and not a team of strangers and "good stories" that can't win, and turn the team from first to last in one year. The pitching choices were totally on the FO. Totally. Even more so for 2022.

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59 minutes ago, h2oface said:

our offense is better than a good many of the teams that will play in the playoffs.

The Twins are second in the AL in home runs, but their run scoring per game is below league average (4.51 versus 4.61). To me that screams out that it's a feast-or-famine offense that can't score consistently unless the ball is flying out and/or the opposing pitchers aren't hitting their spots, which confirms my eye-test, that it's not of champion caliber.

I like OPS as a quick and dirty analytic tool, but when OPS is at odds with actual run scoring, it's necessary to dig deeper.

Tampa, Houston and Chicago are assured of playoff spots. All score more per game than the Twins.  Boston, New York, Toronto, Oakland and Seattle are in the mix for the wild cards; only New York is below us in runs per game.

The fact that our offense is second to the pitching, as a cause for concern, isn't reason for complacency.  If having the horses for a World Series run remains the benchmark, this year's squad heading into 2022 remains another Total System Failure (tm) at the major league level .

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1 hour ago, TheLeviathan said:

From 2022 I'd like to see the following things:

1) A real step forward from some of our high picks.  Sabato seems to be turning a corner, that needs to continue.  Chase Petty needs to show some stuff.  Cavaco needs to look like a top pick.  Royce Lewis needs to show why he was taken where he was.  Ditto Larnach and Kiriloff and Wallner.  Most of the top picks were hitters and we're not seeing enough from them at this point.  They don't all need to be amazing, but enough to feel good.

2) We've developed or acquired a lot of pitching that is currently in AA or AAA.  We need Balazovic, Duran, Winder, SWR, Strotman take a step towards being a big leaguer.  Either by getting their feet wet or dominating enough to show they deserve to be in the picture.  Not all of them, of course just like before, but enough of them to feel good.

3) You've got money to spend.  Assets you can move.  Have an offseason that shows what your plan is.  Whether that is aggressively selling, aggressively buying, aggressively trading to rework the roster, whatever that might be.  Not waiting until late February for values.  Plant your flag.

I like this post, a lot. Not much to add here and maybe more of a clarification but maybe

3A) trade from depth. We have a lot of corner outfielders, 1B/DH bats, and second basemen. Move them for pitching.

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3 hours ago, ashbury said:

The Twins are second in the AL in home runs, but their run scoring per game is below league average (4.51 versus 4.61). To me that screams out that it's a feast-or-famine offense that can't score consistently unless the ball is flying out and/or the opposing pitchers aren't hitting their spots, which confirms my eye-test, that it's not of champion caliber.

I like OPS as a quick and dirty analytic tool, but when OPS is at odds with actual run scoring, it's necessary to dig deeper.

Tampa, Houston and Chicago are assured of playoff spots. All score more per game than the Twins.  Boston, New York, Toronto, Oakland and Seattle are in the mix for the wild cards; only New York is below us in runs per game.

The fact that our offense is second to the pitching, as a cause for concern, isn't reason for complacency.  If having the horses for a World Series run remains the benchmark, this year's squad heading into 2022 remains another Total System Failure (tm) at the major league level .

I know this is a bit off-topic, but I do agree with the idea that OPS can be an unreliable stat sometimes. Especially when you're looking at a hitter like Arraez and his penchant for 1Bs and BBs over XBHs. Heck, Hall of Famer Ichiro Suzuki has a career OPS of .757, which is lower than Sano's in 2021, but I think we can all agree that we'd all rather have Ichiro at the plate.

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19 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Out of curiosity, how would you (or any others reading this) feel after 2022 if the Twins go 82-80 on the season?

I don't know if I have an answer myself, I'm just curious what "success" in 2022 looks like to people.

WS or it is a  bust!  Well maybe winning a series to start with but I think at least playing in the WS is what would feel like success.  

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20 hours ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

Out of curiosity, how would you (or any others reading this) feel after 2022 if the Twins go 82-80 on the season?

I don't know if I have an answer myself, I'm just curious what "success" in 2022 looks like to people.

Seems pretty simple to me, if they have that record, and Winder, Duran, Balazovic, Ryan, Ober or at least two of them look like 2/3 starters going into 2023, Larnach figures it out and Lewis returns and it really good (whatever level that is) and Miranda and Martin are at least respectable and look like they have a future they keep their job. But if it looks like they are going into 2023 with the same question marks at pitching like they are going into 2022 they gone.

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I still maintain that 2022 (and this coming off season) SHOULD be the make or break for this FO.  They have done some good things.  Our minor leagues are stocked with good, young pitching prospects.  But in 5 years here they have had two epically BAD off seasons.  They need to sign Buxton (he who bunts with 2 on and nobody out in the bottom of the 9th and nobody out) and sign one A+ FA starter, TRADE for one A+ starter, sign a middling vet for the #3 spot (a Pineda, Eduardo Rodriquez etc...type) and bring in a bona fide closer and sign a "bridge" SS until we have a better idea of what Lewis & Martin can do.  That's their assignment.  If they fail miserably they will have a 50% off season failure rate in 6 years and a change (I have no idea who, that's purely up to the Pohlad's to figure out) will be needed.  Rocco is included in this.  If you're going to make a change, make it a clean sweep.  

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Any "Fire Falvine" talk was silly all along. No reason to even consider that at this time. As others have mentioned, the pitching was good the last two years. This year, they've had all kinds of issues. 

As for the pipeline, we are starting to see it. Ober has become someone who as a rookie has impressed. Jax has put himself into consideration. That's just kind of the starting point of what is coming. Remember, Civale and Plesac struggled some early in their first call ups too. I still contend that Dobnak is a huge success of the pitching pipeline, taking a non-drafted guy and not only getting him to the big leagues, but he had a lot of success too for a little while, and this year's just been a weird year. 

Also, there was a completely missed season that meant little development last year. And yet, the coaches and coordinators remained in contact with the players and tried to keep them on a program. But that's also altered innings loads this year, and without question, it's been a cause for several injuries too. That has to be factored in. 

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I appreciate your opinion, but I don't recall anyone saying that anybody should be fired.

There are a lot of people who aren't happy with certain people in the org, which given the circumstances is to be expected.  If it were me in charge, there would be some tough conversations, but firing anyone would not be Plan A.  Knowing the Twins, firing people is not even Plan Z.

Given the number of Twins veterans who observed a lack of support in the org and spoke up about it, if the Twins don't listen to that, yeah they should be fired.  Time will tell if they got the message.

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34 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

Given the number of Twins veterans who observed a lack of support in the org and spoke up about it, if the Twins don't listen to that, yeah they should be fired.

What number? I know of Matt Shoemaker but don't remember anyone else speaking up.

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