Warning: Most of this is opinionated
I don’t think anyone within the organization has taken more heat than Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. We’ve seen the, “These guys have no clue what they’re doing,” for the past couple of months.
And I understand that frustration to some degree. I find it frustrating that the pitching pipeline hasn’t produced yet. I find it frustrating that they went from one of the best (no, not better, best) pitching teams in the league to the worst in the span of one year.
But you know what I find frustrating most of all? All of those regular season results and no playoff wins.
Yet, I still cannot get on the same page with all those calling for them to be fired.
I’m going to run through some of the most common arguments I see.
*They have absolutely no idea what they’re doing, fire them*
I think this argument is more people being emotional than using actual reasoning. It’s a disappointing year, yes. But I don’t see why you need to throw out 2019 and 2020. Prior to 2021, they have had a .549 winning percentage. (Multiply that by 162 and you’ll get an average of about 89 wins). The pitching staff had gotten better and better each year since 2019.
Prior to Falvine’s arrival in 2016, the pitching staff ranked 29th in ERA, 28th in WHIP, 2nd MOST HR against. In 2019, it ranked 9th in ERA, 17th in WHIP, and 12th LEAST HR against. And in 2020, 4th in ERA, 4th in WHIP, and fewer HR against than ANY OTHER TEAM.
To me, in terms whether or not Falvine can compose a competent pitching staff, the evidence for ‘yes’ outweighs the evidence for ‘no’ despite the disappointment of 2021.
*They were gifted a loaded farm system and utterly squandered it*
So this kind of depends on how you look at it. While they did have a Top 10 Farm System overall…there was almost no pitching in it. You had your Keplers and your Polancos and your Kirilloffs and your Sanós and, of course, Byron Buxton. What you didn’t have was much of any good pitching prospects in your system.
That’s going to translate to what you see today. A lot of major league offensive talent but little to no major league pitching talent coming from that system. So, it’s not Falvine’s fault that they inherited a team where the bats showed promise but the pitching situation was terrible.
And also, if that squad had so much promise, why were they literally the worst team in Twins history? It’s not like that team was smothered in injuries like the 2021 squad, they were a flat-out terrible baseball team through and through.
*We aren’t seeing pitching pipeline producing yet*
This is a fair argument. Probably the most fair one I see. And if this argument still stands in 2022, then I can start getting on board with this ‘Fire Falvine’ stuff.
But, simply put, it’s too early to come to a conclusion about this. Remember that they completely lost a year of development in 2020. This is their fourth year of development, which is when you usually see your pipeline start to produce. We’ve seen Ober and a little bit of Joe Ryan. There is more to come. While only two pitchers is underwhelming, it’s not nothing. Also, guys like Duran and Balazovic have been injured this year too, which will also slow down their development.
Do I love the work that the Falvine has done? By no means. I’ve questioned them plenty (if you’ve read some of my other threads). I just don’t think that firing them would be a smart move from an organizational standpoint or a technical standpoint.
NOTE: The title says ‘for now’ for a reason. If we don’t see some results from the pitching pipeline next year, then yes, they should be canned.