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Twins Front Office Doubles Down On Process for 2023


The Minnesota Twins were projected to be roughly a .500 team coming into the 2022 Major League Baseball season. Then a strong month of May had them looking like division winners. When the dust settled and had them at home for the postseason, plenty of changes became expected, but the front office decided not to make hardly any.

 

Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week the Twins announced that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had opted to keep the entirety of their coaching staff intact. Head trainer Michael Salazar was relieved of his duties, but Rocco Baldelli, Tommy Watkins, Jayce Tingler, Pete Maki, David Popkins, and the rest of the field staff were set to return. Maybe that’s shocking, but then again, maybe it shouldn’t be.

Talking with a source in the Twins front office, there was a conversation less than two weeks ago that Minnesota had decided to move on from at least two individuals that have since been retained. That shift may have even surprised some within the organization, but if the front office has shown anything since their hiring, maybe we should have seen it coming.

Falvey and Levine have always operated to the beat of their own drum, and they’ve been extremely process oriented. For the sake of organizational change, this line of thinking seems imperative. The tandem was handed Paul Molitor as their manager following the firing of Terry Ryan, and despite a Manager of the Year award that kept him around a bit longer, it never seemed like the sides' intentions were married.

Minnesota’s front office has relied heavily on forward-thinking and process being able to drive results. The nature of that reality means having a coaching staff that can disseminate ideas and generates buy-in from players on the field. Former Twins reliever Ryan Pressly noted something along these lines when he touched on how the Houston Astros helped him to turn a corner. It’s in that reasoning that someone like pitching coach Pete Maki would be retained.

The front office continues to invest heavily in pitching development. Encouraging signs from expected talents such as Josh Winder and Simeon Woods Richardson are necessary, but it’s the breakthroughs from the likes of Louie Varland, Bailey Ober, David Festa, and many others that should have fans believing that the system works. Wes Johnson was supposed to orchestrate it at the highest level but left for a payday too good to pass up from Louisiana State University. Maki was someone the Twins plucked from the college ranks as well, and although he may have been thrust into a situation sooner than anticipated, he’s been able to connect with his subjects.

 

Maybe Minnesota could’ve made Popkins the fall guy for a terrible amount of run production with runners in scoring position, and maybe Watkins should’ve been held a bit more accountable on some egregious sends. Still, both have a substantial history in the game and have been able to generate production with this team. On the bench, Tingler brings previous managerial experience and has a wealth of knowledge to impart to a clubhouse he can certainly resonate with. As a whole, there’s more benefit for Falvey and Levine sticking with their guys than not.

Salazar was in charge for two previous seasons of relative health, and although 2022 was disastrous, it’s hardly fair to suggest some level of substantial onus being on his plate. At the end of the day, this has always been publicly made about injuries, and therefore that’s the path of least resistance.

Moving forward, Falvey and Levine must show they got it right. That starts with a reversal of production in 2023. The coaching staff can only do what the on-field talent gives them. Minnesota’s front office will again need to supplement a core that should compete, but advancing themselves along the edges is the goal of this team, and if there was a belief in those at the helm entering the season, it seems that remains for 2023 as well.

 


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  • Attendance down
  • Enthusiasm for the team low
  • Bad ending which is damaging to fan enthusiasm
  • Too many injuries - they got rid of the trainer 
  • Returning from injuries not coming close to projections
  • Not enough quality pitchers
  • The best starter frustrated with the early hook
  • Not enough RP to cover all the Rocco innings
  • Poor fielding
  • Poor baserunning
  • We exceeded projections most of the season, then exceeded them in the wrong way

So we bring back the same coaching staff.  We get rid of Smeltzer and Cave.  Correa Opts out (how much would we have to pay him this time?  Better do some things to bring the enthusiasm level back up or the first item on my list will not rise next year.

Maybe Varland continues the trend of rookie Starting day pitchers and Wallner is in RF and they work the hometown angle to get the fans - who else do we have from MN?

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Unfortunately we can expect more of the same for 2023.  At the end of the past two seasons the Twins were blaming their past two seasons on bad luck and injuries.  The FO never taking any responsibility for their own moves and lack thereof.  Since they are going with the same old philosophy and saying not to expect too many significant changes expect more of the same.  I really hope they make the playoffs next year but I am highly skeptical because winning may actually get in the way of their "plan"

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I don't think that Maki or Watkins should be fired but IMO they should have been move from there positions, Maki back to assistant & Watkins some place else. Coaching should also be accountable for lack of teaching fundamentals. That topic should have been addressed & dealt with. IMO we need a different head pitching coach, 3B coach and a coach to teach & stress fundamentals. It's nice that they had a meeting with the players and they liked & thought they were OK (for that reason, I don't think they should be fired), but that shouldn't be the governing factor.

I also think that FO should reevaluate their process because maybe that's where the source of the problem is.

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Probably read this article last year at this time. Their “system” has produced an underwhelming amount of pitching, a slow plodding group of players, many of whom are subpar fielders and basic fundamentals worthy of Legion ball. Ability to adjust course is a necessary requirement for success. 

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Wow! Keeping same staff expecting different outcome. Isn't that the definition of insanity?

Hitting has not been the same since Twins let Rowson (Bomba, Squad) walk for a few dollars. Hitting coach should have been replaced. And Watson at 3rd with so many bonehead throw outs at the plate??

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Someone has to be held accountable ... 

The coaches have not impressed me to believe the players will be any better  in 2023 season  ...

These are talented players , tap into that talent and make them better , every player can improve if they want too  ...

 I don't see the manager or the coaches expressing any desire to make sure the player exceeds ...

Kepler is a prime example of not making adjustments as his hitting has suffered since his career year of 2019 , they play kepler for his defense  and has no reason to be batting 4th in the lineup  ....

Nobody really likes changes  but sometimes  a different perspective in change is good   ,  in my opinion the coaches lack the mental part of teaching our players the true game of baseball    , fundamentals  ...

What are they afraid of by teaching fundamentals  the players could get injured ...

That's my plan and I'm sticking to it ...

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Is there any evidence that sticking with this leadership group and their “process” will result in: a) playing with better fundamentals; b) making better in-game managerial/coaching staff decisions; c) maximizing the development of our young players once they make the show; and/or d) creating the confidence to beat better teams? 

I don’t see any, but maybe some of my fellow TDers do. Regardless, unless this team improves substantively in these areas, there is no reason why these Twins, or any mid-market team for that matter, should be expected to contend (even if a CC type FA is added). Here’s hoping they turn things around.

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Watkins  may be above average than most 3rd Base coaches. If you watch more than  just the Twins you will see other teams make the same mistakes but I believe Watkins was great at being aggressive and getting us a few extra runs. There should be a statistic for 3rd base coaching or maybe there is one I don't know about. It would be interesting to evaluate Watkins. The negative disposition of some on this site is just they suck, are awful, fire etc.  At least offer some objective evidence instead or reasoning instead of overly generalized negativity. 

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2 hours ago, Linus said:

Probably read this article last year at this time. Their “system” has produced an underwhelming amount of pitching, a slow plodding group of players, many of whom are subpar fielders and basic fundamentals worthy of Legion ball. Ability to adjust course is a necessary requirement for success. 

If my son's Legion team played like many of the Twins this year, a lot of players would have been riding the pine.

As for the front office and coaching staff, if I owned the team I would make a lot of changes.  On the other hand, if I owned the team I would probably have a couple billion dollars from what my main job is and wouldn't give a hoot.  Note: I don't know the Pohlad kids and do not know their level of interest/involvement in what the Twins are doing on the field.

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So why does everyone act with shock and disbelief that Carlos Correa is going to opt out?  IMO this was a foregone conclusion the minute he signed.  Correa had a great September.  Mostly due to a salary drive and playing against many AAA pitchers.  Otherwise he was good but certainly not worth 35illion.  This was never about elevating the Twins.  It was all about Carlos Correa and what can he do to get a massive contract.  He did a great job of using Twins and us patsy fans for his own ego and gain. The Twins had an affordable option in Kiner-Fileva but they immediately traded him to Yankees in part to dump Donaldson's salary to then pick up an even higher salary in Correa.  Kiner-Fileva is no Carlos Correa. I'm not even suggesting that.  But he's good enough to be the starting shortstop on a storied Yankees team that has world series aspirations.  We were all duped and predictably so by Correa and his celebrity allure.  Now the truth is he will be gone, almost assuredly, and we will still be without a shortstop.  Looks like the FO got dumped as well.

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Human nature is to focus on negatives, not positive (if you don't believe me, turn on any newscast and count the time spent on negative stories vs. positive ones).  It is no surprise to me that an article like this and others (especially the one on if Rocco could turn the fan base) result in 90% vitriol against the FO and coaching staff.

It is easy to focus on the negatives, but let's be realistic here:

3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:
  • Attendance down
  • Enthusiasm for the team low
  • Bad ending which is damaging to fan enthusiasm

Not sure how to quantify enthusiasm, but fans from 29 cities will be disappointed this year.  Per game attendance was up 4k fans per game this year over last, while our per game attendance ranking is about the same as last year.

 

3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:
  • Too many injuries - they got rid of the trainer 
  • Returning from injuries not coming close to projections

Injuries were a huge issue this year.  Not only for games lost, but also for guys playing through injuries.  It is well documented that Buxton, Paddock, Kirrilloff all played a fair amount of time while injured.

This is more cyclical than "blameable".  This year the Twins lost 1570 days to the IR, last year it was under 900.  Has the Twins health approach changed so much in that time?

3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:
  • Not enough quality pitchers
  • The best starter frustrated with the early hook
  • Not enough RP to cover all the Rocco innings

Every team lacks pitching.  Period.  The Twins made multiple moves to address their pitching, some worked, some didn't.  Anybody remember the last time the Twins went out and signed a true #1 SP.  Anybody?  You could make the same argument with 15 other teams.  The Twins will continue to use the farm to grow their pitchers and hopefully (occasionally) will hit the jackpot.

Somebody better remind Sonny Grey what his ERA is the third time through the lineup (it is around 10.00).  I would argue the Twins were protecting him as much as themselves.  He should be kissing their feet that they have kept him in his wheelhouse.

3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:
  • Poor fielding

The Twins were 17th in errors, 16th in FP.  Not the best, not the worst.

3 hours ago, mikelink45 said:
  • Poor baserunning

Thanks to Tommy, there were some high profile ones here.  I would be interested to know where the team ranked in bases taken.

Last comment:  For all of you calling for the FO and coaching staff to be fired...

The grass is always greener...

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4 hours ago, Whitey333 said:

Unfortunately we can expect more of the same for 2023.  At the end of the past two seasons the Twins were blaming their past two seasons on bad luck and injuries.  The FO never taking any responsibility for their own moves and lack thereof.  Since they are going with the same old philosophy and saying not to expect too many significant changes expect more of the same.  I really hope they make the playoffs next year but I am highly skeptical because winning may actually get in the way of their "plan"

Exactly this.

What was it Dave St. Peter said about being shocked no one was coming to games?  Their plan as we have seen it play out for a few years now is in trouble and it sure looks like no one in the Twins mgmt organization is going to hold anyone accountable.

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4 hours ago, Karbo said:

It is looking to me like this FO wants a bunch of yes guys. Its looking more and more like the FO wants to call the shots on the field too. After the last couple of seasons I would think they may realize its time to change something.

You may have hit the nail on the head. "Minnesota nice" is a good quality, but it just may be a hinderance to winning baseball games. Look at the jerk Yankees (except Judge and Yogi Berra and Mariano Rivera) and the cheating Astros and the elite Dodgers. It is a mindset. 

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1 hour ago, KirbyDome89 said:

Having a process is not the same as having a good process. 

No, Bailey Ober, Louie Varland, and David Festa have not broken through.  

Well said. But what does a "Good process" look like? Is it just "winning" games at any cost? Or is it "playing the game the "right way""? Or just being "slightly above average" each year? Is it having "community oriented" players who are good citizens? My definition would be to strive for all of these. Would you sign, say, Trevor Bauer to appear at a number of charity events to benefit single mothers? Would you sign Josh Donaldson or Miguel Sano to teach the art of hustling on every play? Or what about having a Vince Lombardi trophy each year for the Twin who did the most to win games, at all costs? What defines a "good process"? 

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39 minutes ago, Doctor Gast said:

I just heard Gleaman mentioned maybe the FO have been trying to get a different head pitching coach since Wes quit but when they explained their plan they got no takers. So they were left with Maki.

If this is true it is a damning statement that there are people turning down a job to be a major league pitching coach. If you can't find people that don't want to coach this way, it bet it would be even harder to find pitchers that want to pitch that way?

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2 hours ago, Fire Dan Gladden said:

This is more cyclical than "blameable".  This year the Twins lost 1570 days to the IR, last year it was under 900.  Has the Twins health approach changed so much in that time?

Also: If it did, seems like it would be pretty easy to change back.

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7 hours ago, mikelink45 said:
  • Attendance down
  • Enthusiasm for the team low
  • Bad ending which is damaging to fan enthusiasm
  • Too many injuries - they got rid of the trainer 
  • Returning from injuries not coming close to projections
  • Not enough quality pitchers
  • The best starter frustrated with the early hook
  • Not enough RP to cover all the Rocco innings
  • Poor fielding
  • Poor baserunning
  • We exceeded projections most of the season, then exceeded them in the wrong way

So we bring back the same coaching staff.  We get rid of Smeltzer and Cave.  Correa Opts out (how much would we have to pay him this time?  Better do some things to bring the enthusiasm level back up or the first item on my list will not rise next year.

Maybe Varland continues the trend of rookie Starting day pitchers and Wallner is in RF and they work the hometown angle to get the fans - who else do we have from MN?

Winning fixes attendance and enthusiasm.  Injuries are unpredictable including returning from them. 

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If anyone is dumb enough to believe "but it’s the breakthroughs from the likes of Louie Varland, Bailey Ober, David Festa, and many others that should have fans believing that the system works" they are idiots. If our FO believes this, we're doomed. 

I have no idea how the FO can fix this mess without making some incredibly lopsided trades or outspending everyone. This team is in a really ugly place - kinda old, no solid nucleus coming up. Potentially a strong offense but no pitching at all. It was pretty easy to see the roster at the start of the season and realize they didn't have the pitching to matter. It'll probably be more of that again. 

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2 hours ago, tarheeltwinsfan said:

Well said. But what does a "Good process" look like? Is it just "winning" games at any cost? Or is it "playing the game the "right way""? Or just being "slightly above average" each year? Is it having "community oriented" players who are good citizens? My definition would be to strive for all of these. Would you sign, say, Trevor Bauer to appear at a number of charity events to benefit single mothers? Would you sign Josh Donaldson or Miguel Sano to teach the art of hustling on every play? Or what about having a Vince Lombardi trophy each year for the Twin who did the most to win games, at all costs? What defines a "good process"? 

Be very careful when bring Mr. Lombardi into any discussion here.  To some of us, and certainly those of us who were kids living in the Fox Valley back in the 50's and 60's, he is God.  One of his favorite lines was 'show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.'  Don't know if that is applicable to this discussion today, but might be.

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59 minutes ago, mikelink45 said:

And you write under Fire Gladden!  Be positive.

Nice try, a point for effort.  Apples and oranges.  Of course I think Gladden should be fired, his incredibly poor broadcasting skills are straight forward and measurable.  You can count the number mistakes he makes, the instances of incoherent language and rambling.  The differences between him and other announcers.  

Most of the arguments here are based on opinions or unprovable situations.  Can anybody here say with certainty that the trainer's approach is responsible for all of the injuries this year?  Chances are better that the trainer was fired as a scapegoat rather than for his actions.

We think we know, we may know parts or situations, but we don't know the whole story.  Yet there is a call for the scorched earth approach....

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Another question:

With all the talk about how poor our pitching staff performed this year, how come nobody is bringing up the impact of losing Wes Johnson?  The pitching coach for a (at the time) playoff team that has pitchers overachieving, voluntarily quits mid-season, then the pitching staff spirals after he leaves...

There is a good chance that if Wes Johnson did not quit, this team would have made the playoffs and the view on the Twins would look much different now.

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53 minutes ago, Fire Dan Gladden said:

Nice try, a point for effort.  Apples and oranges.  Of course I think Gladden should be fired, his incredibly poor broadcasting skills are straight forward and measurable.  You can count the number mistakes he makes, the instances of incoherent language and rambling.  The differences between him and other announcers.  

Most of the arguments here are based on opinions or unprovable situations.  Can anybody here say with certainty that the trainer's approach is responsible for all of the injuries this year?  Chances are better that the trainer was fired as a scapegoat rather than for his actions.

We think we know, we may know parts or situations, but we don't know the whole story.  Yet there is a call for the scorched earth approach....

Okay - I like Gladden - so you do not.  I question Rocco - you do not.  The training staff is a scape goat - maybe they are guilty.  Nothing can be proved, but at the end of the season if you read the TD posts a lot of very strong Twin followers are ready for the Vikings or some other alternatives and the attendance was down.  Fun to exchange these notes, but in the long run, neither of us will change our minds.

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5 hours ago, TwinsDr2021 said:

If this is true it is a damning statement that there are people turning down a job to be a major league pitching coach. If you can't find people that don't want to coach this way, it bet it would be even harder to find pitchers that want to pitch that way?

Maybe they are turning down the job of pitching coach because they can earn more at other jobs and get to be home every night.

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2 hours ago, roger said:

Be very careful when bring Mr. Lombardi into any discussion here.  To some of us, and certainly those of us who were kids living in the Fox Valley back in the 50's and 60's, he is God.  One of his favorite lines was 'show me a good loser and I'll show you a loser.'  Don't know if that is applicable to this discussion today, but might be.

That is exactly what I am talking about. "Winning is he only thing"...is that really the measure of a good process. I agree that is true in war, but is it true in the entertainment sport of baseball. I really don't know. I'm just trying to determine the definition of success in a baseball team. Is it totally winning and only winning. If so, there can only be 1 successful major league team each year and the other 29 teams are failures/losers every year.  That may be true for some of us, including me. If so, why do we (I)  put our selves through this year after year. Why waste or precious and limited time on earth losing every year. That is the basis of my question. Do I really want to do this year after year and if so, why?

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The decision to man the rotation with Archer and Bundy, and NOT invest heavily in known commodities in the bullpen is just a lack of poor planning.  Even if you want to give them the benefit of the doubt that maybe it'll hold up....the lack of course correction sucked.  The Twins are in an imminently winnable division every year.  And to not go all in when Correa falls into their lap is so sad.

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