Twins introduce new executives
MINNEAPOLIS -- It was all smiles on Monday at Target Field, where the Twins introduced the two young executives they've hired to run their moribund baseball operations and, perhaps remarkably, no one lost their job.
MINNEAPOLIS - It was all smiles on Monday at Target Field, where the Twins introduced the two young executives they've hired to run their moribund baseball operations and, perhaps remarkably, no one lost their job.
Instead, new baseball chief Derek Falvey, 33, and right-hand man Thad Levine, 44, put out a help wanted sign, telling reporters their primary order of business will be adding bodies at 1 Twins Way.
Owner Jim Pohlad is on board.
"It's the best money you can spend," he said. "Great organizations are what build championship teams."
That certainly means a larger analytics department, and probably new jobs in areas such as nutrition, strength and conditioning, and scouting and player development.
That doesn't mean no one will lose their job in the wake of a 103-loss season; in fact, it's likely some of manager Paul Molitor's staff will be let go in the next few days. But a front-office staff with roots as far back as the Twins' 1987 World Series championship is expected to remain intact for at least as long as it takes for the new and the old to get to know one another.
Although the Twins have lost at least 92 games in five of the past six seasons, key players such as vice president for player personnel Mike Radcliff, assistant general manager Rob Antony and scouting director Deron Johnson are expected to continue working on the 2017 season and draft.
Falvey did not come to Minnesota wielding a scythe.
"I've seen some people do that," he said. "What we're going to do is introduce a vision and give everyone the opportunity to get on the bus. We're going to build out and go that way, then see who's aligned with that vision."
In short, that vision is a collaborative marriage of analytics - or, as he calls them, "evidence-based values" - and player development. That collaboration starts with Levine, whom Falvey independently hired as the team's general manager.
Levine comes from Texas, where he was part of building the Rangers teams that went to the 2010 and 2011 World Series. Falvey joined the Cleveland Indians as an intern in 2007 and became part of the group that helped build the roster that advanced to this fall's World Series, where they lost to the Chicago Cubs in seven games.
It was former Indians general manager Mark Shapiro, now president of the Toronto Blue Jays, who instilled in Falvey the culture he plans "to replicate here."
"He said, 'Listen, you're going to have 30, 40 hours of work that you just have to get done. It's what you do with the next 40 hours of the week that will determine whether you'll be successful in this game.' I really took that to heart," Falvey said.
In Cleveland, he said, everyone was encouraged to contribute at all levels, in all areas - including an intern like Falvey - even as they focused their efforts in specific areas.
"We need to set that standard here," he said. "I want good ideas for the Twins; I don't care if they come from the guy who's been here 35 years or the guy who's been here a week. So, we're going to find a way to cultivate an environment where we trust and respect each other, no matter what our backgrounds are."
Falvey, Levine and Antony were scheduled to fly late Monday to Arizona, where they would attend baseball's GM meetings in Scottsdale. There, they'll go over the players and field staff to quickly determine whom they want to keep. Manager Paul Molitor is staying, but his staff is vulnerable.
In addition, the major league teams must add players they want to protect from the December Rule 5 draft to their 40-man rosters by Nov. 20, and the deadline to tender contracts to arbitration-eligible players is Dec. 2 - in the Twins' case Eduardo Escobar, Kyle Gibson, Ryan Kintzler, Trevor Plouffe, Ryan Pressly and Hector Santiago.
"We've spent a great amount of time planning for this day and these meetings, but we would expect we're going to go through player personnel decisions and evaluations over the course of the next 72 hours aggressively, and work forward from there," Falvey said.
Inside the front office, the theme remains positive. While there is little doubt that some longtime staffers eventually will part ways with the organization, there is an overriding belief that the current staff has been burdened with too many responsibilities. For instance, one of the team's metrics analysts also worked in player personnel.
Antony said that responsibilities handled by maybe 15 employees in Minnesota are handled by as many as 34 at other organizations. That's a trend the Twins have been slow to follow, not because the team was unwilling to pay for it, but because the front office just kept adding duties to their agendas.
In short, said Pohlad, "Nobody asked."
"We can add capabilities that exist outside the organization that can help us win," Falvey said. "Thad and I have talked in great detail about how we're going to build out departments and add to the staff we have here in place."