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Pitching Coach Wes Johnson to Abruptly Leave Twins


1 hour ago, Mike Sixel said:

These are jobs and workers have as much right to leave as the employer has to fire them. 

This discussion seems to have shifted to whether Johnson had the right to leave (of course he does), but I think we were arguing about if it was right or decent of him to leave in this way and at this point in the season (of course it wasn't).

Don't let the door hit you on the way out, Wes. 

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The most shocking thing to me about all this is that somehow LSU can more than double his current salary (assuming the reported numbers are accurate).  The Twins bring in well into 8 figures of revenue a year, and they pay their second-most important on-field employee half of what a rookie 26th man makes?  Absolute insanity.

That said, leaving in the middle of the season is a fairly scummy move by Wes, and makes me think less of him.

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I do not know NCAA's rules regarding having players commit to colleges.  But the following source (out of date by a couple of years perhaps) gives some guidance:

https://teamfactsrecruiting.com/ncaa-baseball-national-letter-of-intent/

It suggests that the deadline for HS seniors signing letters of intent is August 1.  Given that LSU just lost its pitching coach, time apparently was of the essence.  Schools they compete against would be throwing up maximum FUD until a coach was selected.

I don't know if it's important to the Twins to be able to attract college coaching talent.  But holding Wes Johnson to his 2022 contract probably would close the door to ever getting another one.

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While it isn't good to leave in the middle of the season, you have to take a desired opportunity when that opportunity arises. The college baseball season is shorter and their schedule far less demanding. Even with recruiting travel demands of college coaches, I'd guess that MLB coaches spend a lot more time on the road. What's shocking for me to learn here is that LSU can out-pay an MLB team. I know the SEC is loaded financially, but still.

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7 hours ago, LastOnePicked said:

I respected what he did here, but I do not respect leaving the team midseason with no warning. This is a high-profile position that requires a full season commitment. That must have been clear, right?

The job either meant something here, or it didn't. Apparently, it didn't ... or it didn't mean much. For the players who built a relationship with Wes, this leaves them - and the team - in a tough spot.

Might want to clarify expectations of the job for the next pitching coach.

 

The Twins have the right to fire him from the job so he should have the right to quit. It’s a two-way street. 

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A guy from the area, worked in that area his entire life until coming north takes a job back home. What is not to understand. From my experiences in the South, if I had taken a job down there to advance my career I would certainly have no trouble leaving for home country. Plenty people I know have done similar

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5 hours ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

The most shocking thing to me about all this is that somehow LSU can more than double his current salary (assuming the reported numbers are accurate).  The Twins bring in well into 8 figures of revenue a year, and they pay their second-most important on-field employee half of what a rookie 26th man makes?  Absolute insanity

Coaching seems like a pretty obvious market inefficiency, I'm pretty surprised that guys who have as much success as Wes aren't paid more competitively.

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6 hours ago, USAFChief said:

 

This is pretty shady, IYAM. I'd be surprised if money is the only issue.

I'm sure money isn't the only issue. But if the difference is 400K per year as was mentioned above I would think money is a very significant issue. I will also make a guess--and it's only a guess--that after nearly 4 years in MLB he has found that he prefers working in a college setting rather than in the professional game. There have been scores of coaches who have found that they are better suited to one more than the other. Moreover, this looks to me like it's one of the best college coaching positions in the country.

Rather than assuming there's something shady I choose to give all parties the benefit of doubt and believe that this move is simply a career shift for Johnson.

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6 hours ago, Cap'n Piranha said:

The most shocking thing to me about all this is that somehow LSU can more than double his current salary (assuming the reported numbers are accurate).  The Twins bring in well into 8 figures of revenue a year, and they pay their second-most important on-field employee half of what a rookie 26th man makes?  Absolute insanity.

That said, leaving in the middle of the season is a fairly scummy move by Wes, and makes me think less of him.

Wes isn't a job hopper. He put his time in with the organization. If this is the job he wants... it's the job he wants. If proper notice was given, that's between the Twins and him. 

But yeah... the shocking part is the money... if what is reported is correct. College baseball programs don't turn a profit. If they do, it's a tiny profit. 

Paying a pitching coach more than the head coach of the Gophers hockey program will make it harder to turn a profit. 

If a major league baseball team can't compete with a college team. Things are way out of whack. 

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55 minutes ago, TopGunn#22 said:

 

Wes probably got tired of Rocco's inability to manage a bullpen as well as the questionable pitch count limitations on SP's.  Probably drove him nuts.  

Common sense would suggest that the pitching coach is a major part of the pitch count/data process. 

The pitching coach probably serves as the main adviser to those decisions you complain about. 

The narrative of Rocco being some sort of ruler of the universe is beyond tired. 

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Wes Johnson could have announced he was going to LSU at the end of the season. The lack of commitment illustrates  a lack of character. If you make a commitment to a team then you follow through with it. 

On the point that the team could fire him during the season, they would have to pay him to sit at home. 

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Johnson was hired by the Twins in November of 2018. This is the time of year when college baseball coaches are in the middle of preparation for their season, which begins in February. That means workouts and practices are underway or close to beginning. This would be similar to a pitching coach leaving an MLB team in January, while spring training is being planned. I don't recall any hue and cry about Johnson leaving his position at the University of Arkansas at a critical time.

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We can all speculate as to why, he may tell us, he may not.  I do find the timing interesting.  However, time to move on and hope next guy up will be even better than Wes.  

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For Wes this decision had to be a no brainer.  Even if the Twins decided to match the salary it probably wouldn't have helped.  In College he doesn't have to deal with a 162 game schedule.  He won't have to travel as much so he will be home more.  He will be making double what he is making right now.  I think if a pitching coach can get that much money from a college program it would be almost impossible to turn down.  Good for Wes he established a reputation as one of the better pitching coaches out there and now that hard work is paying off.

It does stink that he is leaving in the middle of the season but I have to believe other coaches know how to use the latest technology to their advantage and the Twins have also been pretty good at finding coaches that are up to speed on the latest technologies.  I will miss him but if I was in his shoes I would have done the same thing.

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After a few hours I started to wonder what life is like in the pros versus the college ranks and how that might have affected him.  How many more trips, how much time away from home did this cost him.  As a person who travels over half the year I can say that there are times you wish for a little more home time, that good-byes are more difficult.  Wes was not a professional pitcher, he did not develop with the lifestyle.  Just speculating.

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My speculative narrative for what I think happened:

I'm going to assume that after such a bad 2021, Wes had to start thinking about his future if 2022 went just as poorly. Considering the Twins made so few bullpen acquisitions (and traded their best reliever) this created a lot of pressure on Wes to deliver results. So I'm guessing he picked up his networking efforts in the 21-22 offseason at the college level ahead of a real possibility he would be fired after this year.

Then I'm guessing those efforts revealed that for recruiting efforts, top programs saw a big value in a major pitching coach with some success. In addition, people really like this guy. He has a good mindset and approach. So I'm also going to make an assumption that he interviewed (casually) very well and probably not just with LSU. Aside from the strong resume, programs experienced his interpersonal skills and saw how valuable that skillset would be for recruiting.

From there, Wes was thinking this was the move regardless of the outcome for the rest of 2022. If LSU foresaw the same future for Wes, they'd likely be in a bidding war for him with other top programs in the fall. So they needed to be aggressive now. It would also allow Wes to help with recruiting efforts sooner than later.

Seeing the money in hand, Wes took it just in case the Twins pitching staff continued to struggle and front office didn't make significant reinforcements in July. 


Total dick move as a professional that likely burns any future bridges for him in MLB. It makes so little sense to me and these were the only dots I could connect. 

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As an LSU follower, I am aware that LSU’s weakness in the SEC West is starting pitching. They had a winning record in the SEC this year, several notches above even Ole Miss, who won the College World Series Sunday.

Johnson will impact LSU recruiting and pitcher development. This starts now , not after the Twins’ season.

Go Tigers 🐯 

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I was very surprised about this development.  Twins must not have been too upset with him though.  After all he's staying until after the Cleveland series.  Maybe a lot of teams would have just shown him the door when he said he was leaving.  But I guess with all of you amateur lawyers we would have realized if the twins did that it could constitute a firing and thus paying his full contract.  The fact is the Twins have plenty of coaches on the payroll now.  They will promote someone through the end of the season I suspect and hire a new one this off season.  Although the timing and professionalism may be questionable I believe it's not that significant.

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9 minutes ago, Gene Gomes said:

As an LSU follower, I am aware that LSU’s weakness in the SEC West is starting pitching. They had a winning record in the SEC this year, several notches above even Ole Miss, who won the College World Series Sunday.

Johnson will impact LSU recruiting and pitcher development. This starts now , not after the Twins’ season.

Go Tigers 🐯 

Thank you for this perspective ... it was mentioned earlier about recruiting and such ... this information makes sense about the timing

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Being a professional coach has been hanging out there as the end job of all jobs in a particular sport.  You have hit the pinnacle in coaching if you are at the professional level.  Money is important but deep down if your heart says I enjoy the college game more than the professional one and an opportunity arises, you listen.  If you like what you hear, you make a choice.  Deep down, maybe college game is where he feels he can make bigger impact on a 18-22 year old vs the professional money of a ball player.  Just maybe, he is happier.  I'm not concerned about timing of it as an opportunity knocked and he said yes.  Good for him

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1 hour ago, Riverbrian said:

Wes isn't a job hopper. He put his time in with the organization. If this is the job he wants... it's the job he wants. If proper notice was given, that's between the Twins and him. 

But yeah... the shocking part is the money... if what is reported is correct. College baseball programs don't turn a profit. If they do, it's a tiny profit. 

Paying a pitching coach more than the head coach of the Gophers hockey program will make it harder to turn a profit. 

If a major league baseball team can't compete with a college team. Things are way out of whack. 

Makes one question about the ever rising costs of college tuition

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This might be a way to determine if there is “dirty laundry”.  How many Twins pitchers are being quoted lamenting the departure of Wes Johnson?   Chris Archer had a nice comment for him in today’s Strib.   But it doesn’t seem like the organization is in intense grief over this.  But it’s early. 

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