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  1. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Remembering Mike Radcliff   
    It is fairly easy to remember how long Mike Radcliff has been in the organization. He joined the Minnesota Twins as an area scout in 1987 after four years as a scout for the Major League Scouting Bureau. A native of Kansas City, he became the Twins Midwest Supervisor in 1988. In 1993, Radcliff was named the team’s Director of Scouting and was in charge of all of the area scouts, regional supervisors, and cross-checkers. 
    It was in that role that he was ultimately responsible for the Twins draft picks. While no Scouting Director bats 1.000 with their picks, Radcliff had many successes during his tenure. He is the guy who drafted Twins first-round picks such as Torii Hunter (1993), Todd Walker (1994), Mark Redman (1995), Michael Cuddyer (1997), Joe Mauer (2001), Denard Span (2002), Trevor Plouffe and Glen Perkins (2004), and Matt Garza (2005). He found other good players in later rounds as well. 
    In 2007, he was promoted to the team’s Vice President of Player Personnel. It was a step up. He continued to work in the scouting group with new Scouting Director Deron Johnson and his staff, but he also worked more with the international scouting and the pro scouting departments. He traveled all over the world to watch baseball talent. He worked with Fred Guerrero in scouting the Dominican and Venezuela. He played a big role in that 2009 international signing class that included Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano. 
    He has been fighting pancreatic cancer for the past few years but was still involved with Player Personnel decisions. 
    Mike Radcliff was always really nice to me. During the early years of SethSpeaks dot net, I would send him questions for Q&As on players, and he was always generous with his responses. He didn’t just give the short answer to get it done with. He always replied. 
    From those responses, I learned a couple of things about him. First, he was obviously very knowledgeable about every player in the organization. I get that is his job, but he could provide detail on over 200 players plus past players and players from other organizations that he had watched. 
    The other thing I learned from those interactions was that he could be brutally honest. Just because I was a blogger from Nowheresville, it didn’t matter. 
    One example from probably 2006 or 2007. There was a prospect who had experienced several ups and downs in his minor-league career. Frankly, his numbers were not great. There was a second minor-leaguer who played the same position and had consistently outperformed the ‘prospect’. So, one of my questions was about the two and if the second player could be better than the higher-profiled prospect. 
    Radcliff’s response was basically to say that the prospect was clearly the better player, much more highly thought of, and definitely part of the Twins' future. Brutal honesty, but after I posted the article, I got an e-mail from the second minor leaguer's dad just saying that isn’t what he wanted to read from someone whose opinions carried so much weight in the organization. 
    Also, the “prospect” went on to play more than a decade in the big leagues. The other minor leaguer spent parts of three seasons and around 100 games in the big leagues, still a tremendous accomplishment. 
    Remember back when Twins Fest was in the Metrodome? Back then, there was a ‘Down on the Farm’ area where fans could get in line and get autographs from Twins minor leaguers. I would primarily stay right around there and talk to some of the players I’d communicated with. But a lot of times, Radcliff was there too. He was just standing in the area, observing the players and interacting with fans that might have a question. 
    I would always find him there and stand with him and talk about baseball things but also just other things. But I would come up with questions about prospects and he would answer, again, pretty honestly. 
    At Twins Fest 2010, we were standing there talking as one group of players was leaving and a new group was entering the area. Radcliff was observing and said to me, “Danny Valencia... Who would have thought he’d be added to the 40-man roster?” 
    Valencia had mashed throughout the minor leagues, but despite a solid college career at Miami, he fell to the 19th round of the 2006 draft. 
    Oh, and just try to give him credit for a draft pick he made making it to the big leagues, or becoming a star. Radcliff would stop you short and make sure to credit the area scout who was convicted in his belief in the player. 
    I would see Radcliff most years down in Ft. Myers. Not at Hammond Stadium. Not in the press box. But on the back fields watching the minor leaguers. For those familiar with the back fields, there is an observation tower in between the four fields that are together. Radcliff would be up there at times, but usually, he was positioned at ground level, where he would see two fields and a bullpen. 
    Radcliff was quiet, and again, just observing, taking it all in. You could tell he loved it, being at the ballpark, watching young players. He had scouted many of them and was now seeing them going through the development process. It’s not an exact science. He always understood that these are people. People with flaws, and people who have a lot of talent. He understood how difficult the game can be. 
    Again, standing by him, watching him watching ballplayers was interesting. Trying to figure out what he was observing. But again, I could ask him questions, and he would respond thoroughly. 
    It was always funny when a member of the Twins front office staff would throw out a name to him, and without hesitation, Radcliff would respond with “6th round, 2004.” And he was always right.
    In 2011, Mike Radcliff was named the Scout of the Year in the Midwest. In 2014, he was inducted into the Professional Scouts Hall of Fame. In September 2021, he was elected to the Killebrew Root Beer Professional Scouts Hall of Fame. You can see his plaque at Hammond Stadium in Ft. Myers. 
    In 2016, he was given the George Genovese Lifetime Achievement Award in Scouting (given by the Professional Baseball Scouts Foundation). Finally, in 2021, he received the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award at the Diamond Awards. 
    “The Minnesota Twins today mourn the loss of Mike Radcliff. Mike was the heart and soul of our scouting department for over 30 years, a man who was beloved and respected by staff, players, fellow scouts, agents, and his peers alike. One of baseball’s most revered talent evaluators, his character, work ethic, kindness, and sense of humor set the tone for our player development and evaluation processes. His baseball legacy lives on in the number of Twins Hall of Famers, All-Stars, and great teams that bear his fingerprints, while his impact as a person will be forever felt by those that knew him. In the words of his trade, Mike was the epitome of a five-tool player, and he will be greatly missed across Twins Territory. Our deepest sympathies are with his wife Sherry, son Brett, daughter Erin, and the entire Radcliff family during this difficult time.”
    In the Twins' 60+ years in Minnesota, few have had as much of an impact on the organization as Mike Radcliff. Best wishes to his family and all his friends in the Twins organization.
  2. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Conceptualizing a Creative, Realistic, Winning Contract for Carlos Correa   
    The mutual affinity between Carlos Correa and the Twins does seem genuine. He appears very open to returning, and is at the very least giving Minnesota the time of day by entertaining offers, which is something we've rarely been able to say about top-tier free agents in past years. 
    There have been reports of the Twins submitting multiple different proposals to Correa's camp, as the front office gets creative in trying to put forth a framework that entices him away from other monster offers he's sure to receive – while also not being so risk-filled and player-friendly as to defy their sensibilities.
    That's a very difficult line to walk. Signing Correa would obviously be a precedent-shattering move for this franchise, at any level, and by all accounts they are ready to take that step. But it doesn't mean they'll hand Scott Boras a blank check. 
    Is there a way the Twins could win the bidding for Correa without actually having the largest guaranteed offer? Is there are practical structure for a deal that doesn't force Derek Falvey and Thad Levine to abandon their regard for long-term planning?
    I think maybe I've got something. But you tell me if it works for both sides.
    Hypothetical Twins/Correa contract: 10 years, $325 million with two player opt-outs.
    Here's how it breaks down, year by year:
    Year 1: $40M
    Year 2: $40M
    Year 3: $40M
    Year 4: $40M
    Year 5: $30M
    Year 6: $30M
    Year 7: $30M
    Year 8: $25M
    Year 9: $25M
    Year 10: $25M
    It's a frontloaded contract that is essentially broken down into three parts. After earning $160 million in the first four years, Correa can opt out of six years and $165 million at age 32, or three years and $75 million at age 35.
    The reason this feels like a realistic concept is that I can look at it from both sides and talk myself into it, even while accounting for the front office's known tendencies and preferences.
    Why the Twins Like It
    In trying to come up with this theoretical contract, I presupposed two things from the team's point of view:
    They're willing to dish out huge salaries in the short term (they'd have happily paid out Correa's full three-year, $105 million contract), but they're deathly afraid of being burdened by gargantuan commitments for aging mid-30s players down the line. They recognize that player opt-outs are an effective mechanism for making contracts more appealing to players and their agents, but don't want to include them in a way that robs all of the team's upside from a deal. I believe the above framework satisfies their preferences on both fronts. The highest salaries are concentrated at the front of the contract, during Correa's prime years, so they'd be ostensibly paying most for his peak production. The diminishing salaries in the latter part of the deal reduce team downside to some extent should things go awry.
    Meanwhile, the opt-outs probably aren't too inhibiting. If Correa chooses to re-enter the market after four or six great years the Twins will have been happy to have gotten them. 
    Why Correa and Boras Like It
    Well, for one thing, it's a legitimate all-time MLB free agent contract. Correa would tie Giancarlo Stanton and Corey Seager for the sixth-biggest guaranteed sum ever. His salary next year would be the highest for any position player in history, and second overall only to Max Scherzer ($43.3M).
    These things matter to Correa and Boras – not sheerly out of greed, as some would proclaim, but to pave the way for future players and contracts. It's no coincidence the past contract made Correa the highest-paid infielder ever, just by a hair.
    I also could see the frontloaded makeup of this framework having appeal to Correa, if he wants to be on himself an truly maximize his earnings. Should he tear it up while earning $160 million over the next four years, he could easily re-enter the market at 32 and seek another deal approaching $200 million.
    Could It Really Happen?
    Let's be clear: this contract would not only shatter precedence for the Twins, but for baseball at large. Of the 10 contracts that have ever been signed for $300 million or more, none came from teams outside of the major markets in Southern California, New York, Texas and Philadelphia. 
    For Minnesota to be the first flyover mid-market club to break that barrier would be almost hilariously surreal, and yet, if ever there was a time I could see it happening, it's now. The Twins are ushering in a new era with a comprehensive rebrand and ownership shift. Out of sheer circumstance, they stumbled into getting acquainted with Correa and now have a verifiable IN with one of the most talented players in the world. They also have tremendously clear books going forward.
    Do I think it will happen? No, I still don't. But I've talked myself into there being a path. What say you all?
  3. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Get To Know 'Em: Future Twin "PTBNL"   
    So far - and understandably so - there has been very little information released on the future mystery player aside from one tweet from Darren “Doogie” Wolfson. 
    Anything beyond that is complete speculation. 
    But speculation can be fun, so let’s take a closer look at who the Twins might be adding in the next few weeks.
    To give me an idea of players who might be included, I plugged the trade into Baseball Trade Values. Obviously, this isn't an exact science, but it’s probably the least biased way to come up with a list of names.
    Plugging in the trade as it happened, the simulator had the Twins giving up 4.9 more value points than it received. The potential inclusion of any of the Padres top prospects would tip the scale heavily in the Twins favor, but there are a number of prospects in the next tier who could make sense as this “player to be named later.”
    Typically, when a trade like this occurs, the teams agree to a list of players and conditions. It could be as simple as having six names on a list and the Twins get to pick one name off of that list on May 1. It could be something more complex. It could be - and this case might be - something that makes a whole lot of sense.
    Let’s take a look at some names that may be on that list. And why the Twins may want them. Ranked from least likely to most likely to be a Twin, in my opinion. 
    Joshua Mears, Outfield. Ranked in the system’s Top 10 by both MLB.com and Baseball America, Mears was drafted in 2019. His power is his calling card. He already has two home runs in three games this season in high-A, but has struck out in eight of his twelve at bats. As the top-rated prospect on my list and - in my opinion - the likelihood that the Twins prefer pitching, I think the chances of Mears being the player is small.
    Samuel Zavana, Outfield. Zavana checks in on BA’s list at #12, but missed MLB.com’s. Zavala fits the profile of what the Twins like with a scouting report that includes things like “regarded as one of the best pure hitters” in his signing class and having “long possessed a knack for finding the barrel.” The 17-year-old would make a ton of sense. But in trying to sleuth this out, Zavala will be playing in the complex league this year, so the Twins won't even get a chance to scout him between now and then. So if it were to be him, why not just include him in the original deal?
    Victor Acosta, Shortstop. Acosta, like Zavana, will be playing in a complex league this summer. Ranked #11 by MLB and #12 by BA, I put Acosta a notch above Zavana because he has more defensive value. But, again, if you can’t see him in the next month, wouldn’t you have wanted to get him into your complex as soon as possible?
    Robert Gasser, Pitcher. Gasser is ranked #9 on both sites after being selected in the Competitive Balance, B Round in the 2021 draft. After getting 15 innings of pro ball under his belt last year, Gasser, a lefty, made his High-A debut last week. It was brutal. Four walks, four hits, seven outs. I don’t think a single game is a reason the Twins wouldn’t trade for him though, I think it’s because the Padres would be less likely to include him on the list.
    The next guy is a complete wild-card who technically fits Doogie’s profile.
    Adrian Morejon, Pitcher. Morejan, 23, is a highly-regarded Cuban left-hander who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s a “non-roster” guy because he’s on the 60-day Injured List, so he wouldn’t require a 40-man move. Morejan has 16 games of MLB experience under his belt and spent the last five seasons ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100. While not expected to return to the mound until later this season, it’s been a year since his surgery. Being a PTBNL could just be a way of giving the Twins a chance to get a greater feel of how his recovery is going. Remember, this trade all came together very quickly.
    For what it's worth, even though there are over 100 potential players for this to be, I’d bet on it being one of these three over the field. Full disclosure: I like taking long odds. It’s not often successful.
    Victor Lizarraga, Pitcher. Signed out of Mexico last year and ranked #13 by MLB and #15 by BA, Lizarraga is pitching in Low-A ball at 18 this year. He would make a ton of sense as a lottery ticket in a trade such as this. He’s a fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher with shaky command.
    Kevin Kopps, Pitcher. Kopps, currently in AA, ranks #14 on BA’s list and  #16 on MLB’s list. Drafted in the 3rd round last year, Kopps spread his 14 ⅔ innings over three levels, striking out 22 and notching three saves. Kopps is serving as a closer using one big weapon: a breaking ball that has been nearly unhittable. Some call it a cutter, some call it a slider. Baseball America calls it the best slider in the system. The Twins, if I had to guess, would deploy whatever it is in the same way they used Sergio Romo’s and Tyler Clippard’s sliders. Kopps, who turns 25 soon, has Tommy John in his rearview and could soon be a bullpen option for whatever team he is on.
    Jarlin Susana, Pitcher. Susana is ranked #18 by MLB.com and the just-turned-18-year-old has an impressive and imposing 6’ 6”, 235-pound frame. Signed in January by the Padres for $1.7 million, Susana has a big-time fastball that can touch 100 and a slider that is next best pitch (among the four he throws). So what separates him from the other complex league pitchers? Because of when he signed, he can’t be traded until later this month. ? Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe Susana is the player to be named later.
    (The Padres also added many other international free agents in mid-January who become eligible to be traded later this month. Among them are two 16-year-old infielders, Yendry Rojas and Rosman Verdugo. Neither are as highly regarded as Susana, though. Rojas, from Cuba, is a very good hitter with decent size (6' 1", 190) and speed and Verdugo, from Mexico, was considered the top prospect from Mexico.)
    What do you think? Who do you prefer?
  4. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Simeon Woods Richardson's Baseball Journey Leads Him to the Twins   
    Last week, Simeon Woods Richardson spoke to Twins media about coming to the Twins and the circuitous baseball journey that he hopes and believes will take him to Target Field.
    The New York Mets drafted Simeon Woods Richardson in the second round of the 2018 MLB Draft out of high school in Sugar Land, Texas. He split the remainder of that season between two Mets rookie-level teams. In 2019, he made 20 starts for their Low-A affiliate and went 3-8 with a 4.25 ERA. However, he had 97 strikeouts and just 17 walks in 78 1/3 innings.  
    He had been promoted to High-A St. Lucie and spent three days in their uniform when he found out that he was traded from the Mets to the Blue Jays organization in a trade for Marcus Stroman. He headed to High-A Dunedin, where he made six more starts in 2019. Still just 18, he held his own. He went 3-2 with a 2.54 ERA. In 28 1/3 innings, he had 29 strikeouts and just seven walks.
    Then came 2020. The minor league season was lost to the Covid pandemic. While he wasn’t on the 40-man roster, the Blue Jays had him spend the summer at the team’s alternate site. While he never was considered for a call-up to the big leagues, he was getting valuable work with older, more veteran players.  
    As strange as the 2020 season was, 2021 might have been even more strange Woods Richardson. Just 20, and with just six High-A starts on his belt, he was pushed up to Double-A New Hampshire for the start of the season. He made 11 starts for the Fisher Cats. He went 2-4 with a 5.76 ERA. However, in his 45 1/3 innings, he struck out 67 batters (13.3 K/9). Unfortunately, after averaging about two walks per nine innings previously, he walked 5.2 per nine in those 11 starts (26 batters).  
    However, at that point, he joined Team USA and headed to Tokyo, Japan, for the Olympics. While he didn’t pitch in a game, he enjoyed the experience and took advantage of the opportunity to be a teammate of several major-league veterans on the roster. Edwin Jackson, David Robertson, Homer Bailey, and John Jay were some MLB veterans on the Team USA roster.  
    “We had a bunch of guys that were at your disposal for knowledge. So I took that time just to be a sponge. I was the youngest player there. Take that time. Be a sponge. Ask questions. Pick their brains. Be on the field with them. See how they operate. See how they move. See how they get ready for their day. Just take from them and learn from them.”  
    Just days after fellow Olympic teammate and part-time roommate Joe Ryan was traded to the Twins while he was in Japan, Simeon Woods Richardson got a late-night (or early morning) phone call too. 
    He recalled last week, “I get a call at like 3:30 in the morning. Something told me to answer it. I'd normally just roll back over and go to sleep and answer it in the morning. Turned out to be the GM for the Blue Jays talking about the trade. So, I had to call the family, make some moves back in the States while in Japan, get my life situated over there, and when we got back, hit the ground running.” 
    He came back to the States, silver medal around his neck, and took some time to pack up in New Hampshire and get to the Wichita Wind Surge, the Twins Double-A affiliate.  
    After reporting, the Twins put him on the Wichita ‘development roster.” Essentially, after not pitching for so long, the Twins could have their coaches work bullpens with him while he was rebuilding arm strength.  
    He came back and made four starts for the Wind Surge before the season’s end.  
    It’s no surprise, but when he was asked last week for his goals for 2022, he responded. “Honestly, the goal this year is fewer walks, more strikeouts definitely. Making it to the big leagues this year is definitely a big goal of mine. Wherever I start out, it’s where you finish, and that’s been my goal ever since I started playing this game. That will never stop being a goal. Mechanically, I know myself better than I did last year, know my game better than I did last year, know everything that I can do to help the team win. That’s kind of the goals for this year.”
    While he is engaging, personable, and fun-loving off the mound, he finds a different tone when pitching. “Competitive. Aggressive. Four-plus pitches and can throw them at any time in the count. Just aggressive. Competitor. Fast tempo.”  
    And, that last point is exciting. His average time between pitches has been about 15 seconds. In recent years, the fastest workers in the big leagues have come in at 20 seconds. It’s great for the pace of play, but it’s also great to keep his fielders on their toes.  
    Away from the baseball field, Woods Richardson has an excellent perspective. As with most good advice we get in our lives, it comes from our moms. He said, “My mom told me this at a young age. ‘Baseball is a big part of your life, but it’s not you.’ It clicked for me.”  
    For Simeon, those non-baseball interests include, “I love cooking. I love drawing. I love driving around seeing countryside hills. I love traveling.”  
    What does he cook? "Depends what you want, man. If you want some really good Asian food, some barbecue, Italian, Mexican, street food, it just depends, man. Just depends." 
    As for travel, he and his girlfriend made trips to Mexico, Las Vegas, and then to Disney World.  
    As much as he enjoyed that time in the offseason, he’s excited to be back to work. He reported to Ft. Myers for the team’s pitching camps in mid-January and went right to work. “It was mainly mechanics, cleaning up some stuff from last year, seeing if I could get everything in the zone, cleaning up swing-and-miss stuff, just cleaning up little stuff for the season. It helped tremendously. I’m glad I went to that camp because I do see progress. I do see me going in the right direction, and we’re only going up from here, so I’m glad to go in there and get some early work, get some feedback from those guys, some good one-on-one time.”: 
    What kind of feedback has he heard from teammates after bullpens or Live BP sessions? “Pretty much everybody’s telling me it’s hard to pick up some certain things, which is great on my end because I’ve really been working on that. Mechanically I’ve been working on a bunch of stuff, watching video, watching film, watching everything. It’s starting to all click again, so I’m pretty happy.” 
    As for joining a second new team, Woods Richardson has the personality to thrive. “You go to the new team, and you’re pretty much telling your whole life story over again to a different set of guys. You’re describing yourself pretty much all over again.”
    And, after what can only be described as an interesting baseball journey, Simeon Woods Richardson looks forward to a sense of normalcy, as all baseball fans do. After the trades, the pandemic, the Olympics, and other obstacles, he remains focused on that ultimate goal of pitching - and pitching well - in the big leagues.
    What are your hopes for Simeon Woods Richardson in 2022 and going forward with the Twins? 
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  5. Like
    bdodge22 reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get Ready for the Opposite of Joe Mauer   
    In March of 2010, Minnesota inked hometown hero Joe Mauer to an eight-year, $184 million contract extension. He’d played in 699 games to that point and tallied three batting titles along with an MVP. With free agency looming, the Twins did the right thing and signed him to a deal that kept him from being paid by the Boston’s or New York’s of the baseball world.
    Because we know that we can’t have nice things as Twins fans, Mauer’s career would be forever changed due to injuries. He’s still a Hall of Famer, and he was still underpaid, but what could’ve been is something we can always wonder about. Due to those injuries changing production Mauer’s contract was long a point of consternation for fans. Working through revisionist history, detractors will often suggest a desire to have let Mauer walk and watch larger markets pay him more. As luck would have it, those same people may now have their day.
    Coming into 2022, Byron Buxton will have played 493 games for the Minnesota Twins. He’s owned an .897 OPS over the past three seasons and has a Platinum Glove to his credit before turning 28-years-old. An expected prime still ahead of him, this is a player that’s one of the ten best in the sport when he’s healthy. That’s where we pick up this story. Unlike Mauer, Buxton has experienced injury issues early on in his career. Also, unlike Joe, those injuries are the only reason Minnesota has a chance to sign the superstar in the first place.
    Reportedly offering an $80 million deal, Minnesota has not yet pushed to the $100 million asking price even with a valuation that would far exceed that number with an average bill of health. Instead of being asked to pay $250 million or more to keep their home-grown talent, the Twins are being asked to pay pennies on the dollar to factor in the availability, or lack thereof, that comes with Buxton. Instead of jumping at that chance, they are said to be leaning in the opposite direction.
    This isn’t a scenario in which history can be aligned to Terry Ryan’s ultimate gaffe regarding David Ortiz. No one is getting released, and the Twins will undoubtedly get something in exchange for Byron. The problem is that no player as valuable can be had for the same dollar amount, and a move regarding someone so intertwined with the fan base will forever cause ripple effects that only Mauer could’ve mirrored.
    We should know soon how the front office is going to play this situation. Maybe they’ve purposely been leaking misinformation to increase their negotiating stance. However, time is running out on wondering what may happen as we are less than a year from knowing what will.
    Byron Buxton might not be from St. Paul, Minnesota. Still, the Baxley, Georgia, native is every bit as Twins Territory as it gets and there isn’t an opportunity to put the band-aid back on this bullet wound once the trigger is pulled. Target Field was sold as an opportunity to keep the internal stars. That rung hollow when flipping Jose Berrios, and it hits rock bottom in moving on from Buxton. Whether he stays healthy or not isn’t the question for now. It’s whether or not you are willing to keep your best talent or continually recycle it.
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    bdodge22 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, In Defense of the Twins Front Office   
    The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball. 
    The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title. 
    To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four. 
    Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out.
    Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies. 
    What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter? 
    "No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here."
    And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take. 
    Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years. 
    The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season.
    These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors. 
    Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure?
    Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them.
    On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails. 
    Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project. 
    This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season.
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    bdodge22 reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Reflecting on the Best and Worst First Half Ever   
    I love baseball in all of its dissectible minutiae. I delight in overthinking every at-bat, sweating every intense moment, and debating pointless frivolities. I get a kick out of analyzing and opining on the many twists and turns of a marathon season. And offseason. (If you frequent this site, you might have noticed.)
    But more than all that, I just love the baseball experience. Removing all of the stats, trends, trades, analytics, and hot takes, I am plain and simply a baseball fan to the core. I feel at peace in the ballpark, or with sounds of the game droning on my TV or radio.
    When I was a young pup riding the bus down Cedar Avenue to the Metrodome, I didn't care much about Kirby Puckett's OPS or Brad Radke's trade value. I was just happy to be wandering through this majestic Dome, eating a hot dog and staring on at the action alongside thousands of other contented folks. If the game went long, maybe I'd even get to stay out late on a school night.
    Much has changed since those days, but the fundamental source of my passion has not. And I was reminded of this very starkly in 2020, when a cherished annual summer routine – uninterrupted since I could remember (mind you, I was 9 years old when the '94 strike took place) – fell apart.
    As the pandemic unfolded two springs ago, I was highly skeptical a season of record could be salvaged. Happily I was wrong. Major League Baseball managed to pull off a shortened 60-game season, and it was entirely fine. Much better than nothing. 
    But it never quite felt authentic, and was over almost as quickly as it began. (The Twins played their 60th game of this season five weeks ago.) Most crucially, like so many diehards across the country, I never got to attend a game. It's an irrelevant footnote in the face of all the tragedy and trauma faced by so many last year, but losing the ballpark experience was a bummer. I promised myself that when we emerged from it all and congregated once again at the stadium, I'd savor the hell out of it.
    And that I have. I've attended more Twins games at Target Field in the first half of this season than any previous. (And a couple at Kauffman Stadium!) I've run into random friends, heckled opposing outfielders, inhaled messy brats, beat the buzzer on bottom-of-seventh beers, and gazed wordlessly from my seat for indefinite stretches at the beautifully bland cadence of baseball, in all of its calm and rhythmic glory. 
    Lord, did I miss it.
    I attended two games this past weekend, during a sweep of the Tigers to close out the first half. Let's just say it cemented my deep gratitude for the return of (relative) normalcy in the realm of baseball. On Friday I grabbed bleacher seats with high school friends and felt the electricity of the year's biggest crowd. The place was alive. Sunday, I joined up with a whole gaggle of Twins Daily writers – many of whom I'd scarcely had met before, what with the absence of events for 16 months – and we had a ball milling about on the Gray Duck Deck. Considerable Bomba Juice was consumed. 
    These times are golden. They're what fuel my fandom and love for the sport, through thick and thin. I don't know if this year's Twins season would be described as thick or thin (kinda weird descriptors?), but what matters is we're all trudging through it together, and Sunday was an excellent reminder of that: a perfect punctuation to the best and worst damn first half of Twins baseball ever. 
    The return of baseball as we know and love it would be way more fun, obviously, if our favorite team did not fall flat and completely erase any pretense of contention by the All-Star Game. But them's the breaks. 
    The home team hasn't won much, and it's a shame.
    Still, those eternal words ring truer than ever: Take me out to the ballgame. Take me out with the crowd.
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