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What Can We Expect from Joe Pohlad as Twins New Executive Chair?


John Bonnes
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In a letter today, Jim Pohlad informed Minnesota Twins team employees that he will be stepping down from day-to-day operations of the team. Joe Pohlad, his nephew, will be taking over those responsibilities effective immediately and the role of Executive Chair. So where does that leave the Twins?

Image courtesy of TwinsCentric, LLC

Joe Pohlad has been involved with the Twins since 2007, working in areas of the organization that were preparing him for this leadership role. Most recently, as Executive Vice President, he was involved in the rollout of the new Twins branding, logo, and uniforms, including introducing the changes to the media and fans at the Mall of America earlier this month. He has also been involved in marketing and ticket sales areas within the Twins, and oversaw the Pohlads' media company Go Media. He's also been on the Pohlad Foundation's Board of Directors.

Joe Pohlad has been more visible as a fan of the team than Jim Pohlad, who was viewed as generally hands-off. Joe Pohlad even attended Twins Daily's Winter Meltdown several years ago, and has confessed to being a Gleeman and the Geek podcast listener. He has discussed Twins Daily with me as well, admiring the passion and detail that is contributed by our writers and community.

Joe Pohlad has often been involved in several of the Pohlads' and Twins' more aggressive initiatives, such as Go Media, which included acquiring two radio stations and BringMeTheNews.com. He served as the Executive VP of Brand Strategy and Growth for the Twins, which explains the involvement with the recent rebranding. In that role, he also oversaw the launch of the Minnesota Twins Accelerator by Techstars, an effort to develop startups in technology, sports, and entertainment. 

What this means for the direction of the team is anybody's guess. In his letter, Jim Pohlad said he will remain involved as the Control Owner, which suggests at a high-level (including budget, cough, cough), he'll still be involved. However, Joe Pohlad's track record with the Twins suggests he is more likely to be focused on growth than status quo, perhaps aggressively. 


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More than likely, and hopefully, this move has been in the works for a while now. The "effective immediately" is surprising. No matter what anyone thinks of Jim Pohlad, I'm sure no one would want it to be health related. In my opinion, I'd want Joe Pohlad to be more involved than his uncle seemed to be, more interested in the success of the team, and in more touch with the fan base. Yes, it's a business for them, and their family is in it to make a profit, but we're a long way from our two WS titles. I'd want him...to WANT to win. I guess in general...be as much a fan of the Twins and MLB baseball, as he is an owner. Hope that makes sense. 

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I believe Joe will be a very good leader for the club going forward. He is smart and listens well. He never believes or acts like he is the smartest in the room. He will ask questions and questions that need to be asked. He has been involved in a lot of the more aggressive change in Pohlad businesses in recent years. I believe he will continue to push for innovation as necessary throughout the business. Joe wants to win.

Jim was/is very involved and wants to win. My observation is he wants to operate the club in a smart manner, but he's a fan and wants to win. He's been a very good owner. Owners who get overly involved in player personnel are usually the issue. You can look around all 4 major sports leagues and identify them. He has understood that he is not a talent evaluator, but he doesn't get in the way of something that makes sense and baseball people believe will help the club. I think look at the Correa signing as one example. The Donaldson signing is another. There are many more examples, some behind the scenes. 

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Joe seems to be 40 years old.  I wouldn't rule out that the round-number age explains the move and that the move has been planned for some time.  The "effective immediately" part would be to avoid undercutting any decisions made before or after.  Business-as-usual and continuity.

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1 hour ago, jdgoin said:

I believe Joe will be a very good leader for the club going forward. He is smart and listens well. He never believes or acts like he is the smartest in the room. He will ask questions and questions that need to be asked. He has been involved in a lot of the more aggressive change in Pohlad businesses in recent years. I believe he will continue to push for innovation as necessary throughout the business. Joe wants to win.

Jim was/is very involved and wants to win. My observation is he wants to operate the club in a smart manner, but he's a fan and wants to win. He's been a very good owner. Owners who get overly involved in player personnel are usually the issue. You can look around all 4 major sports leagues and identify them. He has understood that he is not a talent evaluator, but he doesn't get in the way of something that makes sense and baseball people believe will help the club. I think look at the Correa signing as one example. The Donaldson signing is another. There are many more examples, some behind the scenes. 

Those are some good insights.

Attaching "innovation" to Joe seems spot on. It seems like a value that drives him.

I also appreciate the insight about Jim. From the outside, we only seemed to hear from him once or twice per year. I guess your point that "he doesn't get in the way" seems to be about right, but I also didn't get the sense that he was driving change, as much as managing the organization (effectively, I think.)

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Living in Omaha, I would say everything I know about the Pohlads comes from TD and other Twins and Minnesota centric information pages/sources. Personally, I've never thought they were bad owners. IDK, maybe my perspective would be different if I lived in Minnesota. Terry Ryan used to say he could spend more money but didn't. (to this day, huh?!) I think that's been mostly born out with our current FO as they have remained right around middle of the league in team payroll and it doesn't ever appear as though they've been told "NO" very often. 

But, we can agree to disagree as I know there are others who have a different opinion.

Sure looks to me like Joe has clearly been groomed to take over for Jim at some point, 100%. Will Jim still have the final say on payroll? Maybe. I'm sure he'd at least have some input. But as I read the original announcement today I felt he was more of the figure head, the one who sat in on the league meetings and had the Twins' say in league matters, not so much the day to day running of the Twins themselves. Just my opinion of how I read the original release.

It seems Joe is an actual, verified Twins fan. I like that. I would think being a fan would be wanting to be progressive and doing what it takes to win....still within reason, of course. And I would think at his relatively young age he would definitely bring in some different and more progressive ideas. 

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I have never met Joe Pohlad and thus have no opinion on him or what effect his promotion has on the future of the Twins. I will defer to those who have or have had close personal contact with Joe Pohlad. The idea of jumping aboard a train of support or detraction seems derelict. I hope Joe Pohlad is a Twins and baseball fan.

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1 hour ago, John Bonnes said:

Those are some good insights.

Attaching "innovation" to Joe seems spot on. It seems like a value that drives him.

I also appreciate the insight about Jim. From the outside, we only seemed to hear from him once or twice per year. I guess your point that "he doesn't get in the way" seems to be about right, but I also didn't get the sense that he was driving change, as much as managing the organization (effectively, I think.)

I don't understand the fan's need to hear from the owner more than once or twice per year. What are you expecting them to say publicly? It's not like they're going to tell you something you don't know or some insider info that hasn't been released yet. If they do that's BS to the people who work for them. 

Owners that negotiate with Boras or block trades when they've been agreed upon create poor cultures. It doesn't tell me they want to win more when they do that. But it does make me think a bunch of other stuff. There is a reason people want to copy Tampa's culture, Stu Sternberg trusts his baseball people. They've made good decisions mostly. Would they make better decisions with more money? Who knows? Maybe they wouldn't be as creative or forced to make certain choices with a larger payroll. 

Driving change should be the responsibility of the people who work in the business each and every day. Maybe an owner should ask questions, encourage, and create a culture that values innovation. But most owners aren't around daily to push it forward. 

I guess my point is saying the Twins need different ownership or need to "open their wallets" is misguided. The Pohlads take owning the Minnesota Twins very seriously.

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Carl and Jim Pohlad are both businessmen, who owned a baseball team. Since the day Joe graduated from Boston College he has worked in the business of baseball.  First, he worked in NYC in the MLB offices.  Don’t know what he did at the league offices, but he was there for four or five years so it was more than an intern.  
 

Next he returned to the Twin Cities and has worked at various front office jobs since.  Sounds to me that 20 some years ago the Pohlads said, “we own a billion dollar business, it makes sense that someone in the family learns the business to be qualified to run it someday.  Joe volunteered and someday is today.  

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1 hour ago, jdgoin said:

I don't understand the fan's need to hear from the owner more than once or twice per year. What are you expecting them to say publicly? It's not like they're going to tell you something you don't know or some insider info that hasn't been released yet. If they do that's BS to the people who work for them. 

Owners that negotiate with Boras or block trades when they've been agreed upon create poor cultures. It doesn't tell me they want to win more when they do that. But it does make me think a bunch of other stuff. There is a reason people want to copy Tampa's culture, Stu Sternberg trusts his baseball people. They've made good decisions mostly. Would they make better decisions with more money? Who knows? Maybe they wouldn't be as creative or forced to make certain choices with a larger payroll. 

Driving change should be the responsibility of the people who work in the business each and every day. Maybe an owner should ask questions, encourage, and create a culture that values innovation. But most owners aren't around daily to push it forward. 

I guess my point is saying the Twins need different ownership or need to "open their wallets" is misguided. The Pohlads take owning the Minnesota Twins very seriously.

I really appreciate this post. Hearing from someone who knows the people involved is much appreciated. 

I wish Joe the best. Everything I've read it sounds like he has been working toward this for awhile and it sure sounds like he has earned it.

I hope he enjoys this adventure. I will be a long for the ride as a fan with full support. 

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Did "strong and stable stewardship" of the franchise include offering to voluntarily contract the franchise in 2001 ;)!  I think I would have chosen different wording, but actually I like this move.  I do think Joe will take a fresh approach and maybe can even convince his uncle to loosen the purse strings a bit and let the budget drift north by a few million.  Neither Carl or Jim were passionate about baseball,  so having someone who loves the game in charge is a big plus in my mind.  It will be interesting to see if he puts his imprint on the franchise in the next couple of years.  Good news.

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1 hour ago, jdgoin said:

I don't understand the fan's need to hear from the owner more than once or twice per year. What are you expecting them to say publicly? It's not like they're going to tell you something you don't know or some insider info that hasn't been released yet. If they do that's BS to the people who work for them. 

Owners that negotiate with Boras or block trades when they've been agreed upon create poor cultures. It doesn't tell me they want to win more when they do that. But it does make me think a bunch of other stuff. There is a reason people want to copy Tampa's culture, Stu Sternberg trusts his baseball people. They've made good decisions mostly. Would they make better decisions with more money? Who knows? Maybe they wouldn't be as creative or forced to make certain choices with a larger payroll. 

Driving change should be the responsibility of the people who work in the business each and every day. Maybe an owner should ask questions, encourage, and create a culture that values innovation. But most owners aren't around daily to push it forward. 

I guess my point is saying the Twins need different ownership or need to "open their wallets" is misguided. The Pohlads take owning the Minnesota Twins very seriously.

I couldn't agree more. The owner should, IMO, help establish a unified direction and culture, but put people in place they trust and support them but then stay out of the day to day. While there are various "targets" I could reference, I think the Yankees are a great example of how NOT to do things a couple decades ago. The late Steinbrener was too big of a fan and seemed to stick his nose in to everything. He was the face of the franchise, not his players, despite a collection of stars. When he finally stepped back and let good baseball people run things, they started to win divisions and championships again. Now, I know being NY brings a huge advantage most organizations don't have, but it was still when ownership stepped back that they saw real success.

I need/want Joe Pohlad to help establish a culture, and give the FO what they need to be successful. After that, I care what Falvey and Levine have to say, and I don't really need to hear anything from Joe unless it's something about MLB at large, or changes in Target Field for the fans, etc.

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Like a couple other posts, I can only say I have no idea.  Never been over to their home and they have not come and visited with me.  They are rich people with a Ball team.  I am a poor old guy who loves to read and listen to baseball.  I have no way to judge Jim and no way to know about Joe.  

I just want a good competitive team. 

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7 hours ago, DocBauer said:

Living in Omaha, I would say everything I know about the Pohlads comes from TD and other Twins and Minnesota centric information pages/sources. Personally, I've never thought they were bad owners. IDK, maybe my perspective would be different if I lived in Minnesota. Terry Ryan used to say he could spend more money but didn't. (to this day, huh?!) I think that's been mostly born out with our current FO as they have remained right around middle of the league in team payroll and it doesn't ever appear as though they've been told "NO" very often. 

But, we can agree to disagree as I know there are others who have a different opinion.

Sure looks to me like Joe has clearly been groomed to take over for Jim at some point, 100%. Will Jim still have the final say on payroll? Maybe. I'm sure he'd at least have some input. But as I read the original announcement today I felt he was more of the figure head, the one who sat in on the league meetings and had the Twins' say in league matters, not so much the day to day running of the Twins themselves. Just my opinion of how I read the original release.

It seems Joe is an actual, verified Twins fan. I like that. I would think being a fan would be wanting to be progressive and doing what it takes to win....still within reason, of course. And I would think at his relatively young age he would definitely bring in some different and more progressive ideas. 

I couldn't agree more with Doc's comments.  I've lived well away from Minnesota since the season of our 1st WS win in 1987 and about all I ever hear about the Pohlad family originates on this site and other Minnesota-centric sources, same as Doc.  And I take many of those comments and opinions with a grain (or two) of salt.

I've personally never really had any significant issues with how the Pohlads have run the franchise since they bought it from the Griffith family.  I know that there are some out there with a dim view of their ownership.  They're definitely entitled to there own opinions but I, for one, have never seen or heard verifiable corroborating evidence that supports some of their opinions. 

Maybe elevating Joe will help elevate the appeal of the team to a younger fan base and maybe some of the more cynical of the older fan base, too.  However, only time will tell there.

I'm anxious to see how this all plays out.

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Like the majority of posters, I have no real idea what to make of Joe or the change. Reading his interview/profile in the Strib, however, it mainly felt ... odd. I don't know if he's just awkward or actually delusional, but he seems like a guy rather desperate to be liked, and very eager to make friends. He certainly didn't come across as a clear-eyed and inevitable leader whose ascendance to the top of the organization will herald success beyond our wildest imaginations. It is hardly confidence-inspiring that his biggest achievement after so many years with the team was last week's "rebranding" and new uniforms. What I think we're seeing is Pohlad family inside baseball.

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I think that the number one thing this move tells us is that the Pohlad family isn't looking to sell the franchise and is looking to keep it going as a family business. One of the reasons Glen Taylor sold the Timberwolves was there wasn't anyone in his family that was particularly interested in the team and wanted to run the club. Having someone from the next generation stepping into a senior role now suggests that the Pohlad family is looking at continuity. One of the reasons the family kept the team after Carl died was Jim wanted to keep running the team. Now they may have someone in the family that will want to keep running the team after Jim ages out or passes.

Sometimes long-time family ownership works really well. (Rooneys in Pittsburgh are model owners) Sometimes, maybe not (how have the Fords done in Detroit?). Baseball seems to have struggled with family ownership lasting multiple generations in recent years, so it'll be interesting to see if the Twins go to a 3rd generation Pohlad.

I'm sure this will also inspire a level of fury in some fans who think that all of our woes and budget caps will go away if the Pohlads would just sell the team and now it seems like they may have the family in control for the foreseeable future...

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I hope he does a better job in this position than he did designing/approving the rebranding. I still don't understand why that was a need. What is wrong with traditional Logo's? Seems the yankees have done well sticking with the NY caps as long as I can remember, back into the late 50's.

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All you need to know is his last name is Pohlad! He has been trained from a young age that Profit is the key to life. And that's fine for any business. But it collides with the word WINNING in baseball. So don't expect any big changes. Even if they sign Correa and shout "Look what we did" it won't matter if they refuse to spend on pitching!! Look for another .500 season.

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Hoping someone can answer this (or confirm what I am saying).  Jim Pohlad is not THE owner of the Twins, the Pohlad family owns the Twins and I assume Joe is a part of that ownership group.  Jim just happened to be ownership's face of the franchise and core decision maker?  Now Joe Pohlad is the face of the ownership group and decision maker?  So I assume if Joe wants to increase payroll budget (hypothetically to say $175M) he doesn't need to get "permission" from uncle Jim to do that?  

I assume Minnesota Twins LLC are part of the overall Pohlad portfolio of companies and there is some sort of budget for this particular company, but from a running the Twins perspective Joe now has final say on financial decisions.  Is that correct?

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21 hours ago, John Bonnes said:

Those are some good insights.

Attaching "innovation" to Joe seems spot on. It seems like a value that drives him.

I also appreciate the insight about Jim. From the outside, we only seemed to hear from him once or twice per year. I guess your point that "he doesn't get in the way" seems to be about right, but I also didn't get the sense that he was driving change, as much as managing the organization (effectively, I think.)

My impression of Jim is that he had the responsibility for the entire Pohlad family business, the Twins being a relatively minor part. He may have been more a hands off manager out of necessity. Joe being groomed for the role is a positive. Kind of reminds me of Calvin Griffith's situation. He was groomed by his uncle to take over the Twins. A big difference is that the team was their only business so money was tight to an extreme. Joe has worked his way through the organization to get a feel of what is needed. This is a positive in my opinion and his promotion is as well. My one concern is that he states that he is a friend with Falvey (not merely friendly). That could lead to blinders down the road.

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As I know nothing about him at all, John is obviously more informed than I am, but I struggle with calling billionaires that have ideas "innovators". Just because you are rich, doesnt mean your ideas are any better than anyone else's. Like I said, John knows him much better than me, so I may be wrong. 

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On 11/28/2022 at 6:09 PM, DocBauer said:

Living in Omaha, I would say everything I know about the Pohlads comes from TD and other Twins and Minnesota centric information pages/sources. Personally, I've never thought they were bad owners. IDK, maybe my perspective would be different if I lived in Minnesota. Terry Ryan used to say he could spend more money but didn't. (to this day, huh?!) I think that's been mostly born out with our current FO as they have remained right around middle of the league in team payroll and it doesn't ever appear as though they've been told "NO" very often. 

But, we can agree to disagree as I know there are others who have a different opinion.

Sure looks to me like Joe has clearly been groomed to take over for Jim at some point, 100%. Will Jim still have the final say on payroll? Maybe. I'm sure he'd at least have some input. But as I read the original announcement today I felt he was more of the figure head, the one who sat in on the league meetings and had the Twins' say in league matters, not so much the day to day running of the Twins themselves. Just my opinion of how I read the original release.

It seems Joe is an actual, verified Twins fan. I like that. I would think being a fan would be wanting to be progressive and doing what it takes to win....still within reason, of course. And I would think at his relatively young age he would definitely bring in some different and more progressive ideas. 

All I've got to say about "cheap" owners is that the Pohlads have been head-and-shoulders better than Calvin Griffith. Man, I do not miss those days!

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12 hours ago, IndyTwinsFan said:

Based on what verifiable evidence?  Or is this just an example of very sour grapes coming through?

On the Vikings Report with Drew and Ted, they frequently talk about "The ESATT Nation". It's an acronym for everything sucks all the time. There just are some people who are not happy unless they're miserable. I suspect you're replying to one of them.

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