John Manuel, editor of Baseball America and well-known in baseball circles as a writer/columnist for that publication, will join the Twins in their pro scouting department on Nov. 1.
Manuel posted the news on his Facebook page Tuesday morning, saying he pitched himself as a candidate when Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey called looking for advice.
Here is Manuel's post:
When Baseball America first gave me a column back in 2001, I took it as an opportunity to write more opinionated coverage of the college baseball beat that I covered at the time. I also made a guide for myself that whenever I could, I would work around using the first person. I’d re-write the sentence or paragraph if I had to, and try to keep the focus on the players, not the writers.
That was smart. My ego already was big enough, and it kept growing in a 21st Century media landscape that is often more about branding than substance. For heaven’s sake, I posted this on my personal Facebook page, which is linked off my personal Twitter page. I participated; bigly, in the disturbing parlance of the times.
In the meantime, I did my best to build Baseball America’s brand, and I’m proud of that work. I started working at BA in September, 1996, with Vladimir Guerrero on the cover as the top prospect in the Double-A Eastern League.
The BA crew then was pretty modest, considering the magazine was 15 years old. Founder Allan Simpson was the editor, Jim Callis the managing editor, with Will Lingo, John Royster and Alan Schwarz rounding out an all-star staff. I was definitely the rookie, started off in a converted closet sitting next to an intern, working at a desk that had been made in a high school shop class, filed photos endlessly and was sent on Bojangles runs to keep the staff fed on deadline days.
It was awesome.
Twenty-one years later, I’ve spent nary half of my life growing up at the magazine. I went from drinking the Kool-aid to making it, and I believe in it as if it were an ideology, not a job.
When I was promoted to editor-in-chief, alongside Lingo, in 2005, we had a meeting about the staff with Allan Simpson, and it was understandably contentious. He’d started the magazine in his freaking garage, and here I was now in charge of the editorial product, not him. Allan was lamenting that the staff had too many “journalism guys,” and not enough “baseball guys.”
I asked him, “Which do you think I am?” And he replied, “You’re a journalism guy.”
Not anymore. Oct. 31 will be my last day at Baseball America. I’m becoming a ‘baseball guy,’ taking a job in the pro scouting department of the Minnesota Twins.
Last spring, the Wall Street Journal featured all the BA alumni who work for the Cleveland Indians, and Derek Falvey was the one who started that. Derek called me as a reference for Matt Forman back when he was hiring Matt as an intern in the Tribe’s baseball operations department. Derek and Matt went on to bring in more BA alums—five others so far—to Cleveland’s scouting department. So when Derek inquired to me about candidates to pro scout for the organization he now leads, the Twins, I couldn’t help myself.
I asked him, “What about me?”
I’d never asked that question to a member of a front office before. I’d talked about it with friends who are scouts or BA alums like Josh Boyd, Alan Matthews, Chris Kline or Matt Blood, but everyone in baseball knew I made the BA Kool-aid. My passion for the product and for my work has been obvious, over self-indulgent podcast tangents, or 2003 Rice stories during any random subsequent college baseball games, or any excuse to talk about the 2000 Olympics.
But times change; ardor cools. It’s just not the same job anymore, not in the era of “branding.”
It’s time to find new audiences for all the same old stories, jokes and Jim Callis impersonations. (It must include the word, “joke.”) The best part about working for the Twins will be the same advice about writing the column—it ain’t about me.
The game is about the players, plain and simple. My corollary to the old cliche that baseball is a humbling game always has been that it was true for everyone but the writers. I love to write, and I’ll keep writing, but now it will be reports after a series. Instead of being a scout for the public, as current BA editor B.J. Schechter says, I’ll be a scout for the Twins.
I’m incredibly excited to start a new adventure, working in the game I love for people I respect tremendously. I will miss just about everything about Baseball America, because as an adult, it’s about the only job I know. But I’m very honored that the Twins would have me.
Thanks for reading and listening and following along.
Manuel's litany of work is here.