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Pitching Coach Wes Johnson to Abruptly Leave Twins


I have not been overly broken up about this since I saw it last night because the Twins pitching/bullpen is such a mess--but admittedly most of that issue is probably Managerial--Rocco over-manages the pitching changes.  But, Sonny Gray did talk to other players who loved Johnson before he signed.

2 things:  First, I am sure Johnson is frustrated with Rocco and his constant tinkering in game situations and he gets frustrated having to keep hot messes like Duffey around.

Second--the college game is much more rewarding if you are built to really dig in and develop players,  You see serious development and short periods and don't have a front office to deal with.  And, you are right, the season is MUCH SHORTER!  if you have heard, LSU rolls out the wheelbarrows (of cash) for coaches they want.  I can easily see why, if you are not hung up about being in the pros, your day to day job, off time and compensation would be a step up package in this scenario.

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38 minutes ago, Karbo said:

Makes one question about the ever rising costs of college tuition

Most major college athletic departments are financially independent and their budgets have nothing to do with tuition.  Will agree however, that tuition over the past decades certainly are a problem for young kids looking at college today.

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22 minutes ago, roger said:

Most major college athletic departments are financially independent and their budgets have nothing to do with tuition.  Will agree however, that tuition over the past decades certainly are a problem for young kids looking at college today.

That's the way it is supposed to work. But I question, if a college can spend that much on 1 assistant coaching position (yes I call a pitching coach an assistant) Perhaps they could spread that money around better be for tuition or maybe into other sports or womens sports etc..

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It's a huge bummer of have Johnson leave, because he's done a fine job in his time here. It's worse because it's in the middle of the season, but that's the way it goes: MLB jobs are on one cycle, college jobs are not and they're year-round activities now too. I'm surprised at the number of people who so harsh on Wes taking another job. It's a substantial raise in pay and a significant lifestyle change (even with recruiting, there's less travel involved than being in MLB) in an environment that he was clearly comfortable and successful in. If he asks to wait for the end of the Twins season, that offer is gone.

The Twins can't block the move because it's not in MLB; they could stop him from joining another MLB staff while under contract. But good organizations don't stand in people's way when they want to make a move, especially if it's an advancement for them. The position might be a lateral, but the pay is a big step up. You should never get mad when someone leaves to advance. Worry when you have a bunch of churn that's not related to people moving up in their careers, worry when you have people taking laterals with less pay or downgrades to get out. That's the sign of a poor organization. If people are leaving to advance in their careers consistently, then you're doing it right.

Good luck to Wes Johnson. I think he'll be missed. But I do think the Twins have shown a strong ability to hire quality people and not be afraid to look in underrepresented areas and be creative to build their staff.

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My two cents:  Job changes are usually a difficult decision.  It is a personal choice with different parameters per individual.  Wes is the only one that can make this decision.  I for one,  will not judge, but I thank him for what I think was a very good job while he was here and wish him the best in the future.

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12 hours ago, Kevin H said:

I don't understand. Doesn't he have a contract through the end of the MLB season? How can coach resign in the middle of the season if Twins don't let him out of his contract?

I completely agree!  But as we know, contracts don't really appear to mean much in pro sports.  

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Assuming the $750K offer hinged on him starting now - the offer would not be available at the end of our season which is the reason Wes is leaving in the middle of the season.  Stinks as a fan of the Twins but not sure how many of us would turn down that substantial a raise for doing a relatively similar job.       

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Shocked at the timing, until I read about the salary...

Sorry ya'll, but there isn't anything shady about taking a job that more than doubles your salary... 

Even if the Twins offered to match it, I'm guessing Wes would have told them to kick rocks. College season much less demanding, Wes is a southern guy, and he might just be the highest paid pitching coach in the world now, at any level.

I say "Congratulations, Wes!"

Edit: Also not shady, is making this choice to spend more time with your kid(s).

Edited by Steve Lein
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1 minute ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Tuscaloosa is in Alabama. LSU is in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.   I prefer Juicy Lucies. to Alabama BBQ.

Wes would be assured of a trip there at least every other year before the weather became insanely hot.  And I expected someone to point out the geographical incongruence, so thank you...and I love a good BBQ preference debate. 🙂

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10 hours ago, joemama said:

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.

I don't understand how a college baseball team with attendance of 400,000 can pay $750,000 for their pitching coach.

FWIW - I don't see a college job as being much less stressful than MLB. Recruiting is essentially year-round including recruiting your own players to stay for the upcoming season.

I also don't think this is unprofessional in the slightest. If someone offered me a $300,000 raise to leave for a similar job elsewhere it wouldn't take me long to say yes.

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4 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

I don't understand how a college baseball team with attendance of 400,000 can pay $750,000 for their pitching coach.

FWIW - I don't see a college job as being much less stressful than MLB. Recruiting is essentially year-round including recruiting your own players to stay for the upcoming season.

I also don't think this is unprofessional in the slightest. If someone offered me a $300,000 raise to leave for a similar job elsewhere it wouldn't take me long to say yes.

1. Welcome to the SEC.

2. No matter the logical soundness of your bafflement, please refer to Point 1.

🙂

 

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1 hour ago, Karbo said:

That's the way it is supposed to work. But I question, if a college can spend that much on 1 assistant coaching position (yes I call a pitching coach an assistant) Perhaps they could spread that money around better be for tuition or maybe into other sports or womens sports etc..

But it has nothing to do with the academic side.  If the AD operates separate, whether they lose money or make a ton, it doesn't cross-over.  And yes, that is both the way it is supposed to work and does...at least at the schools I am familiar with.  You may recall that UM had to borrow money from the U during the pandemic.  I know my alma matre, UW, had significant surpluses/savings that they dipped into during the pandemic.  So what they spend on coaches has nothing to do with what your kid is going to pay for his/her education.  I will agree however, that some of the dollars thrown around for coaches sure doesn't look good to the public.  Also agree that they could spread it around to other unprofitable programs.  But it is also important to keep the programs that make the dollars continue their excellence.  I don't know if the LSU baseball program makes money, but it wouldn't surprise me.

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6 hours ago, Tiantwindup said:

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. 

Sure. And just as the Twins FO would face criticism for firing him abruptly and without cause, so too should he withstand criticism for leaving under the same circumstances. That's also part of the two-way street.

But he's getting his paycheck, so I'm sure the criticism won't mean much. 

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4 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

Sure. And just as the Twins FO would face criticism for firing him abruptly and without cause, so too should he withstand criticism for leaving under the same circumstances. That's also part of the two-way street.

But he's getting his paycheck, so I'm sure the criticism won't mean much. 

You'd turn down doubling your pay, to go to a job you want? You'd expect criticism for doing so? 

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1 minute ago, Mike Sixel said:

You'd turn down doubling your pay, to go to a job you want? You'd expect criticism for doing so? 

C'mon, this is a strawman, Mike:

1) Sounds like the Twins offered to match the salary, despite not even being warned in advance that he was looking elsewhere for jobs.

2) If he's that sought after, the job certainly would still be available in the MLB postseason. Perhaps even with a greater salary, if other top schools knew he was available.

When you agree to be an MLB pitching coach - and when you make specific recommendations over which pitchers to bring in because you can build a relationship with them and help them redevelop their pitches - I believe you accept an obligation to complete your contract. If you can't, you warn your employer in the offseason of your interest to leave so they can prepare. This didn't happen. So I am not going to cheer for Wes abandoning his relationships and responsibilities here, no. Sorry. Commitments should mean something. But good for him, Everybody knows that more money = more happiness, right?

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38 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

C'mon, this is a strawman, Mike:

1) Sounds like the Twins offered to match the salary, despite not even being warned in advance that he was looking elsewhere for jobs.

2) If he's that sought after, the job certainly would still be available in the MLB postseason. Perhaps even with a greater salary, if other top schools knew he was available.

When you agree to be an MLB pitching coach - and when you make specific recommendations over which pitchers to bring in because you can build a relationship with them and help them redevelop their pitches - I believe you accept an obligation to complete your contract. If you can't, you warn your employer in the offseason of your interest to leave so they can prepare. This didn't happen. So I am not going to cheer for Wes abandoning his relationships and responsibilities here, no. Sorry. Commitments should mean something. But good for him, Everybody knows that more money = more happiness, right?

Recruiting season is now....not in months. The job starts now, not in months. It isn't a straw man at all. This is when the job starts. Not later.

And no, given that the team can fire him any time, there is no obligation at all to the team. Why do people think workers are somehow obligated to stay in a job they don't want anymore?

Your last line is the straw man. We have no idea. Maybe he likes the teaching in college. Maybe he's now on a track to a head coach job? Maybe he is tired of working with MLB players? That last line has NOTHING to do with when the job is available at all, which seems to be the issue people have.

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53 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

C'mon, this is a strawman, Mike:

1) Sounds like the Twins offered to match the salary, despite not even being warned in advance that he was looking elsewhere for jobs.

2) If he's that sought after, the job certainly would still be available in the MLB postseason. Perhaps even with a greater salary, if other top schools knew he was available.

When you agree to be an MLB pitching coach - and when you make specific recommendations over which pitchers to bring in because you can build a relationship with them and help them redevelop their pitches - I believe you accept an obligation to complete your contract. If you can't, you warn your employer in the offseason of your interest to leave so they can prepare. This didn't happen. So I am not going to cheer for Wes abandoning his relationships and responsibilities here, no. Sorry. Commitments should mean something. But good for him, Everybody knows that more money = more happiness, right?

There's no reason at all to assume "the job certainly would still be available in the MLB postseason." College coaching is a year round venture. College baseball and professional baseball seasons are on different timelines. No bigtime college program is sitting around until October hoping they'll be able to sign the pitching coach they want while they're trying to recruit. It sucks for the Twins, and there's no reason to think Wes didn't really struggle with the timing, but this is the nature of big time college baseball and professional baseball. 

Official visits for college baseball teams take place in September. Coaches start making visits to homes and schools in July (is that coming up soon?). July 6-31 is the next "official contact period" for D1 college coaches to recruit high school athletes. I haven't seen the end of '22 timeline yet, but, if they stay consistent, there will be a "quiet period," where contact with high school athletes is limited, starting in the middle of October. Waiting to hire the pitching coach until October while trying to recruit high school pitchers would be a terrible decision for a college AD at a major program like LSU. The assumption that the job would've been available in October is not based on anything real. 

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56 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

C'mon, this is a strawman, Mike:

1) Sounds like the Twins offered to match the salary, despite not even being warned in advance that he was looking elsewhere for jobs.

2) If he's that sought after, the job certainly would still be available in the MLB postseason. Perhaps even with a greater salary, if other top schools knew he was available.

When you agree to be an MLB pitching coach - and when you make specific recommendations over which pitchers to bring in because you can build a relationship with them and help them redevelop their pitches - I believe you accept an obligation to complete your contract. If you can't, you warn your employer in the offseason of your interest to leave so they can prepare. This didn't happen. So I am not going to cheer for Wes abandoning his relationships and responsibilities here, no. Sorry. Commitments should mean something. But good for him, Everybody knows that more money = more happiness, right?

And why do you assume he knew in the offseason that he was interested in leaving? Isn't it possible, or even likely, that when LSU lost their pitching coach 9 days ago they started a search for a new one and Wes was approached out of the blue sometime in the last 9 days about the possibility of going there?

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7 minutes ago, Shaitan said:

Pro sports are fascinating.

We're fine with an employer literally trading or demoting employees to different organizations and locations, but if they make their own career decisions we get upset.

This. People are cool with teams literally sending players to cities they may not want to live in, no choice, but a coach leaving for a job he wants is bad/wrong/evil/shady/disrespectful/etc?

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6 hours ago, Riverbrian said:

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. 

Living down South and experiencing all that is baseball and football here, I'm pretty sure I can say without any doubt LSU isn't concerned about turning a profit.

image.png.093084686d0324c5b77d2fe0cf4a3765.png

Since 2000, only 7 non "Southern" teams have won the CWS (and 3 of those were OSU) and 16 total since 1980.  Much like football, it has turned into an arms race.  

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16 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

This. People are cool with teams literally sending players to cities they may not want to live in, no choice, but a coach leaving for a job he wants is bad/wrong/evil/shady/disrespectful/etc?

Where has anyone even said "evil"? - C'mon, there's no reason to take this into the realm of the ridiculous.

But there is a line of logic here that is ridiculous - that contracts don't matter if one party of the contract is unhappy. I'd be curious to follow fan reactions if Rocco left the Twins in August for a better offer with the Yankees, or if Buxton saw a chance to join the Braves in September to be closer to home.

I give you all credit for being worker-supportive, but I still lean towards the importance of relationships, mutual trust and commitments. But I'm getting old fast.

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43 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

The assumption that the job would've been available in October is not based on anything real. 

I'm going to drop this after this post because it's getting rather silly, but do you really think they wouldn't hire their superstar pitching guru #1 choice for the job if he wasn't available immediately? That they couldn't have gotten him working with staff in October? Come on, that doesn't hold water either. It's IDEAL for him to join their program now, sure. But if they targeted him this strongly, they certainly would have brought him on later. That's how any employer would work with a top choice for an ongoing program.

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5 minutes ago, LastOnePicked said:

Where has anyone even said "evil"? - C'mon, there's no reason to take this into the realm of the ridiculous.

But there is a line of logic here that is ridiculous - that contracts don't matter if one party of the contract is unhappy. I'd be curious to follow fan reactions if Rocco left the Twins in August for a better offer with the Yankees, or if Buxton saw a chance to join the Braves in September to be closer to home.

I give you all credit for being worker-supportive, but I still lean towards the importance of relationships, mutual trust and commitments. But I'm getting old fast.

The contracts forbid movement within MLB....not to other jobs. They also allow teams to force players to go to another team, even if they don't want to (to keep their jobs). Commitments are one way streets for most fans. Heck, fans boo players that were traded sometimes, let alone players that finally were free to choose their employer and left.....

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1 minute ago, LastOnePicked said:

I'd be curious to follow fan reactions if Rocco left the Twins in August for a better offer with the Yankees, or if Buxton saw a chance to join the Braves in September to be closer to home.

But that can't happen unless the Twins relieved them of their duties This isn't an apples to apples comparison here. Wes Johnson is leaving MLB, he's not leaving for another MLB team, and I don't think that can happen in season, either, because of MLB rules. But there is no rule stating you can't leave for elsewhere outside the MLB, whenever, for other reasons. If either Rocco or Buxton wanted to leave MLB for other opportunities, I'm sure they could, and I'm sure there'd be mixed emotions from the fans. The problem with this particular move, the job on the other side has requirements and needs and Wes needs to start there immediately.

And maybe some haven't used the word evil, the rest they have. Some have resorted to name calling and those posts were removed.

1 minute ago, LastOnePicked said:

I'm going to drop this after this post because it's getting rather silly, but do you really think they wouldn't hire their superstar pitching guru #1 choice for the job if he wasn't available immediately? That they couldn't have gotten him working with staff in October? Come on, that doesn't hold water either. It's IDEAL for him to join their program now, sure. But if they targeted him this strongly, they certainly would have brought him on later. That's how any employer would work with a top choice for an ongoing program.

As this has been explained in regards to recruitment and the timing of that for colleges, no, I don't think LSU would hold the job open for him to wait. That's how it works. But I don't know that, and you don't know for certain they would, either. I think LSU made the offer as sweet as possible to get him to come now because their need was now. I don't think it was wrong or disrespectful or unprofessional or anything of the sort. It is what it is. And, honestly, I think it sucks. But I doubt it was easy.

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