Minnesota Twins to Partner with Paul Molitor for 3 More Years

Paul Molitor signs for 3 more years with the Minnesota Twins

The Minnesota Twins sign for 3 more years of partnership with Paul Molitor.

The Minnesota Twins, having come off a very good season where they made the playoffs for the first time since 2010, have re-signed their manager, Paul Molitor, to a 3-year contract. Terms of the 3-year deal have yet to be announced. Now, the 61-year old manager will do his best to get his team to take the next step from being a playoff contender to a championship contender.

Coming off one of the worst seasons in baseball history and the worst in Minnesota Twins franchise history, Paul Molitor was on the hot seat from the season’s first pitch. He never managed for his job, though. He wanted to win and turn this team back to the winning team he had in 2015. Did he know the odds of turning a 100+ loss team into a playoff team or even into a .500 or better team again? That’s doubtful and even if he was told a team had never made the playoffs after a season with that many losses, he most likely wouldn’t have cared.

Managing The Game

Like when Paul Molitor was first hired to be the Minnesota Twins Manager back in November of 2014, there will be fans who don’t like this deal or think 3 years is too long. They are discouraged by the way he manages the game or by certain things he does during the course of a game. Most of this lies in how he handles his pitching staff. Beginning his managerial career only 3 years ago, the pitching side of managing is the area he likely needed to learn about the most.

Fans tend to think that players are finished products when they get to the Major Leagues, meaning there is very little room for them to improve. The biggest argument for that is once they’ve reached the highest level of professional baseball, they now have the best coaches and players to learn from along with the best tools to figure out where they can improve.

As a player, Paul Molitor is one of the greatest examples of improving as you get older. He had his best years after he turned 30, which is supposedly the age players start to decline. As a manager, it’s yet to be seen but he’s going to do everything he can to help this team be successful. He has a lot of support to look to, from CBO Derek Falvey to GM Thad Levine to the rest of the front office to his coaching staff and the analytics department. Ultimately, it always comes down to his decision and if they weren’t happy with what he was doing, they wouldn’t bring him back.

Alignment, Partnership & Collaboration

Watching the Twins Press Conference on bringing back Molitor for 3 years, you can see right away this is a collaborative effort, to use a Derek Falvey/Thad Levine often-used phrase, and Derek Falvey wants Paul Molitor as his manager. That says a lot about what they think of the job he did this season. They didn’t have a choice last year. Paul Molitor was their manager but now, they could’ve gone in a different direction. It also says a lot about how open Molitor is to what they are trying to do to develop the Minnesota Twins into a championship-caliber team.

It’s extremely difficult to have success if the front office, scouting department and on-field staff are not aligned in their philosophy about the game and their building process, how to acquire players, develop those players and develop the team into a winner. Every decision is talked about among all of them before coming to a final decision. This is aside from the on-field and in-game decisions that Molitor has total freedom on.

“We do this as a partnership” said Derek Falvey during the press conference. Then, after being asked if he and Thad Levine were interested in bringing in their own guy, he said, “…when you go through that process…you want to make sure there’s a fit…” and they “…work to make the best decision for the Minnesota Twins, not for me or for Paul…” This is a “partnership all the way through” when it comes to the offseason decisions, too.

New Pitching Coach in 2018

One of those decisions was to fire pitching coach Neil Allen. Molitor said “changing coaches is a hard thing” and he feels Neil is a late-in-life found friend but they will “…pursue someone in that role that will help push our pitching forward.” Falvey said that process has started over the last couple of days and some key elements they look for in a pitching coach is alignment from top to bottom, a Twins Way, not one way but a way that evolves over time and to make sure development continues.

The Minnesota Twins also hired Jeremy Zoll away from the Los Angeles Dodgers to take over as Director of Minor League Operations. He’ll take over for Brad Steil, who was promoted to Director of Pro Scouting. These are new hires could have a significant impact with the Twins.

Closing

We are excited for the offseason to see who the Twins bring in and what they do to help the pitching move forward. Will it include moving Brian Dozier? That would seem to be a bad move, now. He has established himself as a leader of this team and he’s producing at the plate while providing good defense. Trading him could also open up a new problem. Jorge Polanco would most likely move to 2nd Base but then who takes over at shortstop? Sure, they have some options but are any of them ready? Either ready to play in the majors if you’re talking about Nick Gordon or ready to be a full-time SS in the case of Eduardo Escobar or Ehire Adrianza?

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes on Paul Molitor coming back for 3 more years! We’d love to hear your TwinsTakes on the subject! Please comment below or on the posts of this article on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Google+!

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One Game In New York – Yankees vs Twins – 2017 AL Wild Card

One Game In New York - "Anyone can win one game."

One & Done or Won & Some More Fun?

The history of the Minnesota Twins playing the New York Yankees in the postseason for most fans brings up nothing but bad and/or angry memories of lost games and lost series. Unfortunately, the results have rarely, if ever, been good for the Twins when they meet the Yankees in the postseason. Heck, the results have rarely been good in the regular season and they get worse in the postseason.

The Twins have a 2-12 record in the postseason against the New York Yankees. They have met them in 4 playoff series, losing all 4 series either 3 games to 1 of being swept 3 games to none. Strangely enough, the 2 Twins victories came in New York. The frustration when the Twins matchup with the Yankees is at some point, the Yankees take over the game and/or the series and the Twins look just helpless to stop the bleeding. Then once that happens, it just seems to get worse.

So many weird things have happened against New York as well.* There was the ground rule double from Corey Koskie that kept Luis Rivas from scoring and giving them the lead in the top of the 8th inning in Game 2 of 2004. Then a Torii Hunter home run did give them the lead in the top of the 12th but Joe Nathan couldn’t close it out as he tried to go 2.2 innings. There was another ball hit down the 3rd baseline that was foul that the umpire called fair and it wasn’t even close. It was like 6 inches foul, right?
*Ughh…I don’t remember partly because I don’t want to remember. I wish I had one of those Men In Black zapper memory remover thing-a-ma-jigs although I’d like to be more selective than just erase all my memories. There are some good ones in there.

But…here’s the thing! None of that matters, now! Only Joe Mauer has faced the Yankees in playoffs past. The rest of the team doesn’t care about the history against the Yankees. The Minnesota Twins are a young team full of players who don’t know about the postseason and that might be just what they need. They do have some veterans who have definitely helped lead the way this season in Brian Dozier and tonight’s starter Ervin Santana. Expect that to help them tonight. 

The New York Yankees are heavily favored. That’s not really big or surprising news. They are the mighty Yankees. They spend big on everything. They have the best bullpen in the game and one of the best young starting pitchers in 23-year old RHP Luis Severino, who will start for the Yankees tonight. The Twins got to Luis early in New York including a 46-pitch 3rd inning where the Twins took a 3-0 lead. Severino didn’t come back for the 4th inning but his team did as the Yankees went on to win that game 11-3 and sweep the Twins a couple of weeks ago.

Of course, this made a lot of Twins fans think their team just can’t win in New York and a lot of those fans started wondering if it’d be better if the Twins had to face the Boston Red Sox instead. As a team clinging to just making the playoffs, the Twins should not and did not care who it was they had to face in the postseason. They are glad to extend their season and see what they can do in One Game in New York. (See what I did there?)

The Twins have some experience in the one-game format, having played 2 Game 163 tiebreaker games in 2008, a 1-0 loss to the Chicago White Sox with Nick Blackburn going 6.1 innings and John Danks shutting down the Twins for 8 innings, and in 2009, a crazy extra-innings affair that would end with an Alexi Casilla game-winning hit in the bottom of the 12th that scored Carlos Gomez and gave Bobby Keppel the one and only win in his career. (How ‘bout that?) What does that mean? That means anyone can play a part in these games. Anyone can make that game-changing play or get the game-winning hit.

This might not fall into the one-game territory but another interesting part of the history of these two teams meeting in the playoffs is how it began in 2003. The Yankees were overwhelming favorites…yadda, yadda, yadda. The Twins had never faced the Yankees in the playoffs before so that 2003 team didn’t know what to expect and went into it with no thoughts of failing and won game 1, something they would do again in 2004. The Twins only 2 wins in their postseason history against the New York Yankees had given them a 1-0 series lead. Unfortunately, they’d lose the next 3 games both years but the message stands that it’s possible to beat the Yankees AND, a 1-0 series lead would look mighty good this season!

Big Erv should pitch well tonight but in a one-game format, Paul Molitor will have a short leash should things go a little awry early. He will have young RHP Jose Berrios to turn to along with 9 other pitchers for that reason. If they get down early, the veteran leadership will play a big part. A lot of times these postseason games can mirror a team’s regular season. For this Twins team, that would mean a good start, a few bad stretches then responding resiliently in the end.

No Sano Tonight

Well, anyone except Miguel Sano, who is not on the Wild Card playoff roster tonight. I’m somewhat puzzled by this decision even if Miguel did not appear to have his timing right during the last series of the regular season. He’s a nice player to have on the bench as a pinch-hitter to face a lefty or in a big spot. How fun would it have been to see Miguel Sano face fireballer Aroldis Chapman late in a game and see Miguel connect on one of those 100+ mph fastballs?

Closing Time

So, yes, the Yankees are favored because they are supposedly the more talented team or because they’ve won more games but, they are also supposed to be here. They are supposed to win this game because it’s in their park, on their turf and in front of their fans. The Minnesota Twins are the surprise team of the season. Nobody thought they were going to be here. Their own fans (& maybe even their own front office) counted them out several times this season but they just kept responding and coming back to prove everybody except themselves wrong. This is just another case where people are doubting them. They don’t care because any team can win…

One Game In New York!!!

Some further reading on tonight’s American League Wild Card Game:

*This series is also responsible for one of my favorite Torii Hunter plays of all time and it didn’t even result in an out although, it maybe should have. I believe it was Game 3 in 2003(?) so it was at the Metrodome and Hideki Matsui hit a deep fly ball to left center field. Torii got on his horse and went all out to catch that ball. He jumped at the right time, the ball went in his glove but he then hit the hard, very lightly padded wall and the ball came out. It’s a favorite play because Torii Hunter showed absolutely no fear of what might happen if he hit that wall. I don’t remember if it went over the wall or stayed in the park. I thought it went out because I also thought it was a home run. For the life of me, I cannot find anything on it. A highlight, a news article or anything about that play. I was at the game. It was the playoffs. Does anyone else remember that play?

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes on One Game in New York! Let us know your thoughts (or ‘Takes) on the Twins playing the New York Yankees in the postseason! Please comment below or on the posts of this article on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Google+!

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Trusting the Process of Player Development – TTP Part 3

Trusting the Process of Player Development - TwinsTakes.com

The development of players is how teams succeed and win.

The Minnesota Twins are a team that has to rely on player development. They don’t really have the luxury of using free agency to fix their weaknesses or, at least, to use it very often. They have to trust the process of developing players so they always have good prospects coming. If they do that, those prospects will either help the team by becoming good players for the Minnesota Twins or by being pieces the front office can use to trade for the pieces they need to make this team into a perennial playoff team that can challenge for a championship every season.

This is part 3 of our Trusting the Process series. Please check out part one, simply called Trusting the Process, about how the Twins Front Office and CBO Derek Falvey & Thad Levine helped or let the Minnesota Twins compete this season and why what they did, or didn’t do, at the trade deadline was actually showing how they are trusting the process. Part 2 was about Trusting the Process of Acquiring Players, about what tools are available to every team for acquiring players and how they should use them.

You Have A Lot of Makeup

A lot of people believe there is only one way to develop a player. That way seems to be to promote the player as fast as possible and if they don’t do well, send him back down until he figures it out then promote him again. That would mean as soon as a player shows success at one level, move them up to the next level and if they don’t have success there, move them back down until they figure it out. That might work for robots but these are human beings you’re dealing with and they are all different. They all have a different makeup and a different timeline to how or even if they are going to make it to the big leagues and have success. That is the end goal, be successful in the big leagues, not just to make it there.

That means each player has to be handled differently and knowing their makeup (or how they tick) will help decide how hard they can be pushed. Just think, a player drafted out of high school* who starts in rookie ball will most likely have to progress through 6 levels of baseball to finally make it to the dream of playing Major League Baseball.
*A player drafted out of college will most likely start at a higher level but they’ve also played a few years of a higher level of baseball so they should develop quicker but they will still have around 3-4 levels to climb to get to the majors.

So, 6 times they could be playing really well and get the call that they are being promoted to the next level. Then, each time they get a new level, it’s almost like starting all over again, learning that a new level means they have to get better at every part of the game and all of a sudden, they might not be as good as they thought they were because now they’re in a league with better players.

Basically, they are knocked down 6 times and have to get back up 7 times. That’s if they can stay at that level and battle through the frustrations and slumps they might have to keep from being demoted back down to a lower level again. The bottom line is they have to keep getting back up and that is what separates the players that make it from the players who end up giving up on their dream of being professional baseball players.

The mind (or the lizard brain) is the big hurdle. Getting knocked down by not being able to adapt to a new level will get in their heads and make them think they can’t do it or they aren’t good enough. This is where a player’s makeup comes in. The mind will try to trick them into believing they can’t do it so not only do they have to battle through the physical part of the game but the mental part as well. They have to keep going to practice every day and have the confidence they can do it and keep getting better so they can make the next jump.

This is where teams have to be careful how quickly they promote each and every player. If they promote a player too aggressively without knowing how they’ll react if or when they fail at the higher level, they could destroy that player’s confidence and they might never get it back. This is why there’s no one way to player development.

Plant the Seed and Watch it Grow

A player drafted is a seed planted. Coaching, management and the players playing the game are the sun and water that will allow the seed to grow or die. Every franchise should have the same philosophy across their whole organization of how they are going to grow their players, their teams and their organization as a whole.

They have to keep watering the seed so it will continue to grow. The managers throughout the organization’s minor league teams should be teaching the same way to play the game so the players continue to improve their skills and take them to the next level. If they forget to water the seed or give up on a player for whatever reason, the player’s growth will slow down or even stop.

It could take longer for some players because they may have been learned differently either from a different organization or from where they played in high school or in college. They are moving to different and possibly better soil to improve how well and how fast they grow.

This process involves the front office, management, the coaches and the players. Nobody can be left out. They all have to understand how it works and that it’s a process that won’t happen overnight. If they continue to work at it and trust it, they could make it.

The Great Misconception of D…evelopment

Another misconception is the belief that a player has fully developed or reached a point where they can no longer improve. This is more about older players or players who have made it to the major leagues and have carved out a role within a team or in their careers.

Any player can get better at any age and any point in their career. It might not be a huge improvement but they can improve aspects of their game whether it be physically or mentally. It can come from having a different coach or different teammates or a different team that might give them a different view on their skills or adds something to their game. Nobody is a finished product.

Yogi Berra has a famous quote that goes something like, “Half of this game is 90% mental.” That basically means your mind is a crazy thing and can help you or hurt you in a game. Managers always say they don’t mind (there’s that word again) physical mistakes but the mental mistakes drive them crazy.

It’s that mental half of the game that can be the final hurdle to get a player over the hump to having success in the big leagues. That could be anything from realizing they have to think the game better or that their physical skills are no longer elite so they might have to find different ways to having success. That could be learning to become a pitcher instead of just throwing hard or learning they can’t or shouldn’t try to hit every pitch but focus on the pitches that will give them the best chance of getting a hit.

The brain is a computer. Use it for research and development, not for evaluation. Evaluation should come from your results. A lot of times you can trust evaluation from mentors, coaches, teammates and colleagues but, unfortunately, it’s not foolproof.

The Finished Product

In closing, player development is one of the hardest, if not the hardest, parts of building a consistently great team. Every year a team has to make changes. Knowing how to develop players will give them more opportunities of success because free agents and drafted players will know they will have a very good chance of success with them.

In the next article, we’ll delve into Trusting the Process of Team Development. After the series, we’ll see how the Twins have done in Player Development and Trusting the Process and if it’s a part of the reason they’ve had such a terrible run since 2010.

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes on Trusting the Process of Player Development! We’d love to hear your TwinsTakes on the subject! Please comment below or on the posts of this article on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Google+!

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TwinsTakes on Acquiring Players – Trust the Process Part 2

Our TwinsTakes on Trusting the Process of Acquiring Players

Players are the lifeblood of your team. Acquire them well and often.

The Minnesota Twins are finally at a point where they have built a team with a lot of talent. Most of that talent is young and still developing into what they could potentially be. They will go a long way towards making the Minnesota Twins a perennial playoff team now and in the future. All those years of losing are…uhh…finally paying off? Wait…that doesn’t sound right. They are finally seeing the fruits of having the higher draft picks as a result of all those losing seasons.

This is part 2 of our “Trusting the Process” series on what it takes to build a perennial playoff and championship contending team. The first part, simply called Trusting the Process, was about how the Twins Front Office and CBO Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have helped or let the Minnesota Twins compete this season and why what they did, or didn’t do, at the trade deadline was actually showing how they are trusting the process.

At the end of the series, we’ll go over how the Minnesota Twins have done in each area. Maybe we’ll find why they struggled for so many of the last 6 seasons. Today, though, we will continue the series with how a team acquires players and what tools are available to each organization to do it.

4-Tool Player Acquisition

There is a process to developing a team into a champion. The front office of any organization needs to trust that process to become a championship caliber team, not just for one season, for every season. That is every team’s goal, to contend for a championship every season. Acquiring and developing players is how teams compete, how they improve and ultimately, how they win.

Every team has the same tools at their disposal to acquire players. The major tools are the Draft/Drafting, Free Agency, International Signings, and Trades. They have to use any means necessary to acquire players. If they lose focus or don’t do very well on any one of them, they’re probably not going to become that perennial championship-caliber team.

If a team doesn’t draft well, they won’t have many prospects. If they don’t sign good players in Free Agency, they’ll be stuck with bad contracts which will affect payroll and not allow them the flexibility to get other free agents or acquire the players they want or need in trades. If they get nothing from International Signings, they aren’t getting anything from all the time and money they put into their baseball academies and their international scouting and if they don’t make good trades, they’ll either get rid of their best players for nothing or trade their best prospects for very little return.

A team may need to make a few moves to help push an already contending team to the brink of winning a championship but, those moves could also change their team for the worse in the future and if they don’t win that season, they may set themselves back because of it. If they’ve done well in all areas of acquiring players, they should be able to recover from those trades.*
*One name….Matt Capps! Ughh!

First Draft

The best way to get players is through the draft. It happens every year and every organization picks and signs about 30+ players and they don’t have to give anything up to acquire these players. Obviously, the biggest problem with the draft is having to wait for 3-6 years or more for most of those drafted players to reach the majors but, if you’ve consistently drafted well, there should always be players coming or close to ready to contribute to the big club.

Of course, if the organization has done well in the other 4 areas of player acquisition, they won’t need to rely on rookies as much. If they do have players coming consistently every season, they have the opportunity to trade other pieces to either improve the club now by adding a good veteran or in the future by adding more prospects.

We can’t cover acquiring players without talking about scouting. Without scouting or a team’s scouts, they would have no idea how good a player is right now or how good they might be in the future. The movie, Moneyball, taught a lot of us that scouting is now a lot more than just watching a player and seeing their skills in person.

Analytics now play a big part in evaluating a player and their talent. Another area probably not talked about enough is a player’s makeup and how he’ll look on television and in a team’s promotional videos. Noooo….not that kind of makeup! Makeup as in what makes each player tick, how hard they compete, how good of a teammate they are and how they handle adversity. It’s not talked about very much because the fans rarely see that side of a player, especially when it comes in the dugout or in the clubhouse but a player can change the whole team with his makeup.

The draft is the easiest way to acquire players but it might be the hardest way to produce players. You can get a lot of players at one time but, of the 30 or so a team signs, very few of them make it to the majors at all or become impact players once they get there. That being said, the years a team has control over a player and their salary is a big reason why they need to get players from the draft.

Free Agency isn’t Free at All

Free agency is the quickest way for a team to improve. Teams can simply negotiate with a player and give them a better deal or more money than any other team. It’s not that simple, of course, and it doesn’t always work the way teams would like it to. Maybe a player just doesn’t fit or wasn’t as good as advertised so there are risks involved with every signing.

There is the problem of not getting the player you want and then having to go to further down your list and/or maybe overspending to get the player you want. Free agent contracts in Major League Baseball are getting crazier by the year. Because of how long teams have control of their players, the majority don’t hit actual free agency until they are in the high 20s or early 30s. Obviously part of that also has to do with teams re-signing their players and buying out some of their free agent years but it may make free agency even more of a risk.

Depending on many factors, players hit their peak sometime around 30 years old, give or take a year or two. That’s also when most of them hit the free agent market. So, teams are signing players to gigantic multi-year contracts and it’s very likely they end up paying more money as they age and as their play declines. Yoenis Cespedes signed the biggest contract last offseason at 4 years/$110M and he was 31 years old when he signed that contract. Will he get better in the span of that contract or will his play decline as he gets even older? That’s up for debate and it’s different for every player but you might want to keep that receipt just in case.*
*”Umm…this didn’t work like it was supposed to. Can I get a refund?”

Free agency is a great tool to use to quickly strengthen an area of weakness or to get that player a team might need to get them over the hump but it might not work as well as they’d like it to work. I’m sure that won’t matter when the General Managers get their owner’s checkbooks out next offseason, though. 

Foreign Signatures

The MLB International Signing Period is how teams sign players born outside of the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico because there isn’t an International Draft. So, it’s basically International Free Agency but it’s for prospects and players who are as young as 16 years old. That means every team has to trust their international scouts but every team also has Baseball Academies in the Dominican Republic and other countries so they can develop these players and get them into their system.

Look no further than the current Twins roster as proof that International Signings work. 2009 was a good year for the Minnesota Twins on the International market as they signed current players, OF Max Kepler, SS Jorge Polanco and 3B Miguel Sano*. Those players are a part of the core of this young Twins team and it shows how big of a part international signings are for every team.
*Pelotero: Ballplayer (2012) is a highly recommended documentary that is mainly about the signing of Miguel Sano and all of the problems that occurred through that process. A sequel, The Miguel Sano Story, is on the way. No release date is available at this time.

Trading Place

There is also the possibility for any team’s General Manager to pick up the phone and call another team’s General Manager, tell them they’re interested in a player and ask if he’s available. The answer could be no, he’s untouchable, what would you give us or this is what we’d need coming back to us if we were to trade him. It could get done right away. It could take a week, a month or even more. They could get really close to making a deal and then something makes it go wrong.

Look at the Brian Dozier saga from last offseason. The Los Angeles Dodgers were looking for a 2nd baseman. The Minnesota Twins have Brian Dozier and the whole league knew he was on the trading block. Did the Twins want to trade him? Not necessarily but he was the player with the most value at that time. The Twins need pitching. Starting, relieving, sales, any kind of pitching. They need it. They wanted a significant return for their All-Star 2nd Baseman who had 2 years left on a contract at a good salary. The Dodgers did not want to give up more than one of their top pitching prospects, Jose De Leon.

The talks seemed to go on forever. The Twins wanting another top prospect added to the deal. The Dodgers, not wanting to give up another prospect or, at least, a prospect as high as the Twins may have wanted, decided to go in another direction and trade Jose De Leon to the Tampa Bay Rays for 2B Logan Forsythe. Some have said the Dodgers basically traded for Brian Dozier because of how similar they are but, as the season has gone on, you have to wonder if the Dodgers will be kicking themselves if the postseason doesn’t work out like they want it to.

Just like in Free Agency, there’s risk involved in making trades. It’s almost the same thing except teams are giving up prospects instead of money to acquire players in a trade. They can acquire almost any level of player in a trade so if they believe there’s a diamond in the rough and they can get him on the cheap for a low prospect or two, the risk isn’t nearly as steep.

Closing Time
You may already be home and you CAN stay there!

There aren’t many other ways to acquire players but they shouldn’t be considered major tools. Waiver claims are another way to acquire players but I’d consider that either under trades or free agents. Teams may have to waive one of their own players to get the player claimed on the roster or not so that’s pretty much a player for player trade if they do lose the player or signing a free agent if they don’t.

There’s also the Rule 5 Draft. Yes, it’s another way to acquire players but it hasn’t really shown to be a very consistent way to find good players.

In the next article, we’ll delve into Trusting the Process of Player Development. After the series, we’ll see how the Twins have done in all these areas of Acquiring Players and Trusting the Process. There has to be a reason they’ve had such a terrible run since 2010. Was it because they didn’t trust the process?

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes on Trusting the Process of Acquiring Players!  We’d love to hear your TwinsTakes on the subject! Please comment below or on the posts of this article on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Google+!

After all, it is…
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TwinsTakes on Trusting the Process

The 2017 Minnesota Twins currently hold the 2nd Wild Card spot. Trust the Process.

There are no shortcuts to winning. Trust the Process!

The Minnesota Twins are near the end of a season where they are contending for the playoffs. When the Trade Deadline passed on July 31st, Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine had to make a big decision. Buy or Sell? Were the Minnesota Twins ready to compete for a playoff spot? The answer to that question would lead to another question. If they thought there were ready, what do they trade for to help their team make the playoffs? If they thought they weren’t ready, who do they trade away to get help for the future?

After the All-Star Break, the Minnesota Twins, with a record of 45-44, had some playoff caliber teams in the Houston Astros, the New York Yankees and the Los Angeles Dodgers on their schedule. Two of those teams already had 60 or more wins on the season, the Astros (60-29) & the Dodgers (61-29,) so there was a measuring stick to help Mr. Falvey & Mr. Levine make a decision for what to do at the trade deadline. Compete with the best teams in the league and get some help for the stretch run or get overmatched and see some veterans shipped out hurting your chances at the playoffs this season?

Alternating wins and losses, including losing a series at home to the Detroit Tigers, showed they might need some help so a trade was completed for Atlanta Braves LHP Jaime (Hy-me) Garcia. They would proceed to go 1-5 getting swept by the Dodgers and lose 2 of 3 in Oakland with the only win coming from their newly acquired lefty pitcher. They were 3 games under .500 at 50-53, 6.5 games out of 1st place in the American League Central and 4.5 games out of a wild card spot with 5 teams ahead of them on the day before the deadline.

That made Derek Falvey and Thad Levine’s decision pretty simple, trade away some assets and get what you can. This team didn’t look ready to make that push for the postseason. Just acquired LHP Jaime Garcia was traded to the New York Yankees and All-Star closer RHP Brandon Kintzler was traded to the Washington Nationals.

Those trades didn’t make the players happy and they would respond by having their best month of the season with a bunch of guys leading the way, veterans Joe Mauer, Brian Dozier, Eduardo Escobar, Ervin Santana & Bartolo Colon and young core players Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, & Jose Berrios.

A 26-16 record since the July 31st Trade Deadline has put the Minnesota Twins right back into the thick of the playoff race, currently holding the 2nd wild card with the Los Angeles Angels 2 games back, the Seattle Mariners 3.5 games back, the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals 4 games back, and the Baltimore Orioles only 4.5 games back. Being in the hunt for the playoffs is allowing this team to get the experience you’d want a young rebuilding team to get in order to take that next step.

Derek Falvey & Thad Levine had a tough decision to make with their team only 1 game over .500. They decided to send a message thinking their team deserved some help so they acquired a veteran starting pitcher in RHP Jaime Garcia to see if it could help them get over the hump. Even before that, they signed RHP Bartolo Colon to a minor-league contract after he was released by the Atlanta Braves in the hopes he could help a young starting rotation with his veteran leadership and his pitching savvy.

They may have sent another message by only trading players facing free agency and keeping the established core veterans like Ervin Santana & Brian Dozier. They were still giving their team a chance to compete:

“We weren’t looking to tear this thing apart,” Falvey said. “Our goal was to find ways to keep an eye on the future at that moment in time, but no one waved a white flag. No one said, ‘This team can’t compete.’ We just knew that, by and large, we were going to give ourselves a chance to get to the playoffs with the group that we had here.”

With all of these moves, including the moves they didn’t make, Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and the Minnesota Twins are trusting the process of building a winning team, a winning organization and winning players.

“Trust The Process”

The phrase, Trust the Process, is heard a lot in professional sports but it really is a part of everything we do in life. It’s all around us, in our education, in our jobs, in our relationships, and pretty much in everything we see and hear every day. It is probably heard from leaders most often because they’ve gone through the process and they know there is no other way to achieve success. They’ve done it and have seen people, groups, and organizations try taking shortcuts to speed up the process in one way or another and fail.

We’ll get into that process in the next article….

Thanks for reading our TwinsTakes! We’d love to hear your TwinsTakes on this season’s Minnesota Twins. Will they make the playoffs? Do they have the core pieces to be a perennial playoff team and championship contender? Please comment below or reply to this article’s post on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Google+!

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