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Pitching Coach Wes Johnson to Abruptly Leave Twins


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4 minutes 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.

Yes, I think they would absolutely move on. Recruiting is the number 1 job of college coaches and you can't recruit pitchers if you don't have a pitching coach to do the recruiting. It's not ideal, it's necessary. That's just the recruiting side and doesn't even take into account fall ball practices that would take place before Wes was there. The only thing silly here is your stance that any college program would wait until recruiting is done and fall practices have completed to hire their pitching coach. It's not realistic and no program would do that. None.

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LSU had an immediate opening that needed filled ASAP.  What I am slightly curious about is who initiated the contact,  Wes or his agent or LSU.  It appears LSU targeted Wes.   I don't think this was Wes's initial plan this year to look for a new job but the opportunity came open.  I wish him well.  He did well here and I think helped instill a strong program.  Ultimately I think that is all we can ask of him.  He did his job.  Wish he would have stayed on for the rest of the year but fully acknowledge that wasn't a possibility in this circumstance.  I do think he was one that has a short shelf on any team.  He wants to see continued progress and improvement and is probably a perfectionist.  He is a fixer.  Granted we needed more fixing on our bullpen, but that wasn't really his issue (cough, cough).  Thank you and good luck Wes.   

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Not going through all the comments, but read he will be making over double for LSU over Twins.  Read Twins asked what they could do, and matching or breaking the LSU number did not come up.  My guess Wes always liked college ball, which is very different than MLB overall, and did not want to pass on the money.  

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From what i have read, LSU is offering a huge bump in pay. Add two that the season is much shorter. It also is a chance to return to his home area. He is from Arkansas and has three kids so family is a monster draw. The Head Coach at Arkansas will probably be retiring in the next few years. Wes was pitching coach there before joining the Twins. The LSU job may set him up to be the next HC there.

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14 hours ago, LastOnePicked said:

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. 

I'm with you.

Does Wes have the right to pursue employment elsewhere? Sure!

Was it a crappy thing to do with the team right in the middle of the season going into the biggest series of the year so far? Yes!

I'll be watching to see what the reasons might be. If it's money, I get it. And if it's the fact that Johnson prefers to work with college athletes in a smaller setting, I get it. And if it's a combo of the two, I get it. Or if Wes is having personal issues and wants to step down from the spotlight, I get it.

Right now I'm wondering if there's some friction with the Twins organization and/or Rocco that we've not seen.

 

 

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Guys, I think we gotten a little bit far afield. This is actually pretty simple. An important employee of the team got a job offer from another employer who more than doubled his salary and provided him an opportunity for different lifestyle. When the Twins offered to match the salary, which apparently they did, the employee still decided to go. The opportunity was now, not six months from now, not 3 months from now, not when it was convenient for his current employer, now. Had Johnson not decided to take the LSU job they would have offered it to someone else because they needed somebody for the recruiting season that starts in a week or two. It also make sense based upon the timing when their pitching coach was hired way that this all happened over the last couple of weeks at most. That's what happened.

I run a law firm and we have lost people in the middle of cases, projects, etc. because they had other opportunities that they preferred. This is a fact of life in business and a possibility that is always out there. The Twins are doing exactly the right thing, you make an effort to retain the employee and if he or she decides to go, you wish them well and don't burn any bridges. This is not a betrayal by Wes Johnson. This is a common practice in the business world of an employee getting what he or she thought was a better opportunity. The reverse is also true, the Twins always had the right to fire Johnson at any time without his consent. It's just that simple. The venom against Johnson is misplaced as is the thought that the Twins were somehow too cheap to keep him.

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16 hours ago, MN_ExPat said:

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.

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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.  

Agreed but when it comes to baseball. The weather has to be an additional factor. Being able to play baseball year round gives California and the South an advantage over the University of Minnesota. 

In reverse... Being able to skate outdoors in July gives the University of North Dakota an advantage over Arizona State in hockey. 😀

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I have two comments about his leaving.  First, I understand that employees move to other positions for a variety of reasons--unhappiness in current position, family issues, chance for more compensation, looking for a change, etc.  This is perfectly understandable.  Many, many people look around for better opportunities. This is fine, ASSUMING they are not under a contract that binds them to the team for a specified period of time. I don't know if Johnson had a contract for the whole year, and whether he had the right under that contract to leave at any time.  If he had the right to move midyear, then what he did is perfectly fine.  But, if he did not have a clause allowing him to move, then my second comment is this:  what he did is completely unprofessional.  If what is being reported--that the Twins were totally unaware of his conversations until Saturday--then at a minimum his behavior is questionable given the current situation with the team.  One would expect a higher degree of transparency from someone who claims to be professional.  But, if he has a contract binding him to the team for the year without an escape clause, what he did is bush league.  It all depends on the facts and I don't know them.

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6 minutes ago, RJA said:

I don't know if Johnson had a contract for the whole year, and whether he had the right under that contract to leave at any time.

He can't leave for another MLB pitching coach position (a promotion is different but requires team approval) but I'm pretty sure he can take a job outside of MLB at any time.

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2 minutes ago, DJL44 said:

He can't leave for another MLB pitching coach position (a promotion is different but requires team approval) but I'm pretty sure he can take a job outside of MLB at any time.

Thanks for the response.  I have heard some things to the contrary, but have no personal knowledge.  I appreciate you giving me a heads up.

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3 minutes ago, RJA said:

Thanks for the response.  I have heard some things to the contrary, but have no personal knowledge.  I appreciate you giving me a heads up.

There is no legal US contract that binds an employee to a company if they want to go to another industry. 

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Just a quick glance through this list tells me many people do not quite get what the current state of professionalism is. In the tech industry, this kind of thing happens all the time. Even non-compete clauses get negotiated around.

Beyond that wishing him the best. Sounds like a nice raise.

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12 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

There is no legal US contract that binds an employee to a company if they want to go to another industry. 

Thanks for the comment. I fear there is.  Actually, professional baseball players are bound to their team for the specified number of years of their contract.  Those that refuse to report and demand to renegotiate have no legal right to do so.  It is simply external pressure that causes teams to cave, as the law is on their side.  For example, some teams, the Vikings for example, refuse to let coaches take other positions if it is a lateral move.  Employment contracts are fully enforceable.  I think you are thinking of at will situations.  I presume Johnson had an employment contract that restricted him in some way.  Maybe not.

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18 minutes ago, Mike Sixel said:

There is no legal US contract that binds an employee to a company if they want to go to another industry. 

The question is what is another industry.  If being a pitching coach at LSU is another industry, he may not be subject to lateral move restrictions.  Though if he had a written contract and he walked away midseason, specific enforcement is a possibility, and certainly an action for damages though the politics of doing that are not good :).

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21 minutes ago, RJA said:

Thanks for the comment. I fear there is.  Actually, professional baseball players are bound to their team for the specified number of years of their contract.  Those that refuse to report and demand to renegotiate have no legal right to do so.  It is simply external pressure that causes teams to cave, as the law is on their side.  For example, some teams, the Vikings for example, refuse to let coaches take other positions if it is a lateral move.  Employment contracts are fully enforceable.  I think you are thinking of at will situations.  I presume Johnson had an employment contract that restricted him in some way.  Maybe not.

Nick Saban didn't have any trouble leaving the Dolphins to coach in the NCAA. Same with Bobby Petrino moving from the Falcons to Arkansas.

Professional athletes could move between leagues in different countries (ex. Japan) except the leagues themselves have agreements with each other not to sign players under contract in the other league.

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You can't fault the guy for making what he must feel is the best decision for himself and his family. 

As we have seen many times, the teams don't show much loyalty when the team is under performing or if a better opportunity is available.

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44 minutes ago, RJA said:

The question is what is another industry.  If being a pitching coach at LSU is another industry, he may not be subject to lateral move restrictions.  Though if he had a written contract and he walked away midseason, specific enforcement is a possibility, and certainly an action for damages though the politics of doing that are not good :).

The idea of Enforcing the contract through a decree of specific performance is an interesting one and really depends on state law. In California where I live, you cannot get a degree of specific performance requiring an employee to continue to perform services, but you can prevent him from performing services for a competitor if there are trade secrets involved. I don’t know Minnesota law but I’m fairly confident that you cannot get a decree of specific performance requiring the employee to perform services since we have abolished slavery in this country. Having said that, you may be able to get an order that prohibits him from working for a competitor or perhaps even from working in the same industry. I could definitely see getting an order preventing him from using any proprietary information or trade secrets that are owned by the team. Hard to see how there would be any in this case though. More likely though, the most the Twins could do was sue him for any damages they suffer and it’s hard to see how those could be quantified in Court. Interesting stuff on the legal side.

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The other thing is I believe he was on the last year of his contract.   The Twins may have made him nervous by not previously extending him.  We can't kid ourselves, if the Twins felt he was underperforming they would have cut him like many other coaches in the MLB.  Coaches have to do what is in their best interest.  However it doesn't appear he is getting a huge pay increase. He was making $350,000 and it is now going to $380,000.  

https://sports.yahoo.com/heres-lsu-baseball-paying-pitching-195556274.html?src=rss  

 

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1 hour ago, RJA said:

Thanks for the comment. I fear there is.  Actually, professional baseball players are bound to their team for the specified number of years of their contract.  Those that refuse to report and demand to renegotiate have no legal right to do so.  It is simply external pressure that causes teams to cave, as the law is on their side.  For example, some teams, the Vikings for example, refuse to let coaches take other positions if it is a lateral move.  Employment contracts are fully enforceable.  I think you are thinking of at will situations.  I presume Johnson had an employment contract that restricted him in some way.  Maybe not.

The 13th amendment specifically says Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for a crime which they have been convicted, shall exist in the United States of America. 

Employment contracts are not fully enforceable, there may be penalties for breaking it or non-compete clauses but that would depend on the contract.  Even if the team doesn't give their blessing, the player or coach can absolutely leave.  In most cases they would only forfeit the remaining money and not be able to sign with another team in the same league for a set period of time.   Since the NCAA is not affiliated with the NFL or MLB in any way, the NFL and MLB don't have any say in who is hired by NCAA.  A non-compete clause would not be applicable in this move since he is not moving to another MLB team.  The Twins are not in competition with LSU.

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2 hours ago, USNMCPO said:

From what i have read, LSU is offering a huge bump in pay. Add two that the season is much shorter. It also is a chance to return to his home area. He is from Arkansas and has three kids so family is a monster draw. The Head Coach at Arkansas will probably be retiring in the next few years. Wes was pitching coach there before joining the Twins. The LSU job may set him up to be the next HC there.

Serious question: is it called "head coach" in college ball?

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8 minutes ago, Bradfoot said:

The 13th amendment specifically says Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except for a crime which they have been convicted, shall exist in the United States of America. 

Employment contracts are not fully enforceable, there may be penalties for breaking it or non-compete clauses but that would depend on the contract.  Even if the team doesn't give their blessing, the player or coach can absolutely leave.  In most cases they would only forfeit the remaining money and not be able to sign with another team in the same league for a set period of time.   Since the NCAA is not affiliated with the NFL or MLB in any way, the NFL and MLB don't have any say in who is hired by NCAA.  A non-compete clause would not be applicable in this move since he is not moving to another MLB team.  The Twins are not in competition with LSU.

The 13th Amendment has nothing to do with this situation,  This would be governed by breach of contract law.  Specific performance of employment contracts is rare as it is considered bad policy to force someone to work with someone with whom may they have issues.  But, specific performance can be granted if the party to the contract has a unique skill--say Picasso painting a portrait, or if there are other extenuating circumstances which make specific performance necessary.  One could argue that leaving a team in mid season during a pennant race when finding a substitute is nearly impossible is an extenuating circumstance, especially when LSU is not currently in season.  He could effectively recruit while he was employed by the Twins if the Twins permitted it--which I am confident they would have.  But, if that is not the case, the party would still forfeit his salary, and in a lawsuit the party would be liable for damages including for any harm caused by his breach, especially if the Twins  including the difference in salary if a replacement is hired at higher  salary, as well as any other damages the Twins could prove.  The reality of the matter is that whatever remedies exist at law are not relevant as the PR fallout of pursuing a remedy by the Twins would be disastrous.  But, it still does not mean he was not legally and morally bound to honor the terms of the contract.  If he had a clause allowing him to leave, that would be a different matter.  Enough of this topic.  It is too esoteric for a baseball site :).

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I have personally been extremely underwhelmed by the reporting we have seen on this with basic questions being unanswered:

  1. Did the Twins offer to meet or beat his salary offer from LSU?  Reporting I have seen has kept this vague and the answer was "we asked him what we needed to do to get him to stay."  Be explicit and give us a yes/no on the money.  If the Twins are evasive then tell us that they refuse to give a yes/no answer.
  2. What was the actual value of his contract with LSU?  $750K was reported yesterday but today the actual contract comes out with $380K.  Aaron Gleeman's reporting on this comes to the quote "There are a lot of ways to get college coaches paid.".  Let's not speculate and actually report real numbers or don't report them at all.
  3. How long of a contract is Wes Johnson leaving?  Does it expire at the end of this year?  Is he on a 2 year deal?
  4. Was Wes Johnson legally able to exit this contract for similar work in a similar field or did it require the voluntary release of the Twins?
  5. How many other major league coaches have left for an equal level job in college mid-season.  Is he the only one?
  6. Did the Twins consult with the commissioner on this situation?  I can't imagine that the MLB likes the precedent that any other external, inferior league can come in mid-season and poach under-contract coaches at will for equal level jobs and potentially equal pay.  Just like the MLBPA didn't allow A-Rod to choose to take a pay cut to get a trade to the Red Sox because of the precedent it would set I would think the MLB isn't too keen on this precedent.

I am more annoyed by these series of seemingly straight-forward questions that we don't have answers to than if the situation is just that he wants to go back south and had someone offering similar money.

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1 hour ago, RJA said:

The 13th Amendment has nothing to do with this situation,  This would be governed by breach of contract law.  Specific performance of employment contracts is rare as it is considered bad policy to force someone to work with someone with whom may they have issues.  But, specific performance can be granted if the party to the contract has a unique skill--say Picasso painting a portrait, or if there are other extenuating circumstances which make specific performance necessary.  One could argue that leaving a team in mid season during a pennant race when finding a substitute is nearly impossible is an extenuating circumstance, especially when LSU is not currently in season.  He could effectively recruit while he was employed by the Twins if the Twins permitted it--which I am confident they would have.  But, if that is not the case, the party would still forfeit his salary, and in a lawsuit the party would be liable for damages including for any harm caused by his breach, especially if the Twins  including the difference in salary if a replacement is hired at higher  salary, as well as any other damages the Twins could prove.  The reality of the matter is that whatever remedies exist at law are not relevant as the PR fallout of pursuing a remedy by the Twins would be disastrous.  But, it still does not mean he was not legally and morally bound to honor the terms of the contract.  If he had a clause allowing him to leave, that would be a different matter.  Enough of this topic.  It is too esoteric for a baseball site :).

The 13th ammendment does have to do with this since you saying the consequence of breach of contract is forced servitude.  The 13th ammendment does not allow that behavior.  If there was a breach of contract it would be more of a early termination fee or barring him from working for a competitor which I don't think they can do in this case since it is not another pro baseball team.

 

Finding a substitute is nowhere close to impossible.  Even if the Twins did not promote the most logical person (the assistant), there are hundreds of candidates available.  If the Twins wanted to go the college route again they can talk to any of those that just finished their season.  There are also hundreds of past pitching coaches out of work, former players that would like an opportunity to coach, etc.  Making the argument that Wes Johnson is the only person in the world that can be our pitching coach next week is not at all true.

 

"During a pennant race" is also not true.  We have not met the halfway point of the season yet.

 

He cannot be forced to finish the season, there may be a penalty for ending the contract early but there is no legal method of forcing him to coach the remainder of the season against his will. 

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