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The Twins Beat

La Velle E. Neal III and Phil Miller report on the Twins from wherever they make news

Baseball America's John Manuel to join Twins scouting department

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.

Twins try to savor unexpected run to the postseason

When the clubhouse was opened to the media following the game, emotions were still a little raw. Players hugged each other, congratulating each other on a good season - but still lamenting missed opportunities in their 8-4 loss to the Yankees.

"It stinks pretty good right now," said first baseman Joe Mauer, who was 1-for-5 but grounded into a double play and stranded two runners on base. "I told the guys to not let it take away from what we accomplished this year, but its pretty tough right now."

Twins manager Paul Molitor conveyed the same thoughts in the moments after the game, followed by Mauer's remarks. The Twins had the Yankees on the ropes and they let them off in a crazy game in which both starters were knocked out of the game after two innings. They will return to the Twin Cities with that hanging over their heads. But it was a good season in which they served notice that they will be a treat for the next few seasons.

"This team is going to be good," Eddie Rosario said.

"Are we satisfied? Absolutely not," second baseman Brian Dozier said. "But I'm incredibly proud of these guys how we battled and competed. It was unbelievable."

With that, he are a few thoughts from LEN3 after the Twins' season comes to an end:

MOLITOR'S FUTURE: Paul Molitor was asked after the game about his future, but he declined to answer the question. His fate is in the hands of CBO Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine, and I would not be surprised if they let him go after the season. There's been some rumblings about that in recent weeks. Plus, Falvine is unpredictable.

Byung Ho Park was great in spring training, but they still left him in the minors. They changed their minds about being buyers a few days after dealing for Jaime Garcia then shipped him to the Yankees. Then they traded closer Brandon Kintzler. That might have been moves to light a fire under this squad.

Molitor is a leading candidate to win manager of the year. After losing 103 games last season, he should win the award. How is that going to look if he's not brought back? The next two days are going to be very interesting. We were told after the game that there will be nothing announced Wednesday.

THE WALK: One at bat can change an entire game, and I feel it happened in the bottom of the first inning with Ervin Santana walked Brett Gardner. The Yankees had just watched the Twins hit two home runs in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead and serve notice that they came to play. But as soon as Santana walked Gardner on five pitches, the crowd jumped back into the game. The Yanks tied the game. And the Twins were in trouble.

BUXTON'S INJURY: Outfielder Byron Buxton jumped back into the wall while catching Todd Frazier's drive in the second inning and fell down on his back. After reaching base on a fielder's choice and stealing second the next inning, Buxton was seen trying to stretch his back. But his back locked up on him, forcing him from the game. "I was told after he had the at-bat after the collision with the wall that he was locked up on his swing, and when he tried to run, even though he got to second, he just physically wasn't going to be able to go," Molitor said. "So I didn't see him at that point. I was just told by the trainers that I need to make a change."

GRANITE DOES WELL, THEN DOESN'T DO SO WELL: Zack Granite replaced Buxton. He singled to right in the sixth, which had to be a thrill for the Staten Island product, as well as his friends and family. Then came the eighth. Granite hit a ground to first baseman Greg Bird, who flipped to reliever Tommy Kahnle. But Kahnle dropped the throw. Granite was going to be safe, but he inexplicably stepped OVER first base, not on it. He was eventually tagged out in what wasn't his finest moment. He was replaced the next inning. 

GOING TO THE BULLPEN: I had no problem with Molitor sending Ervin Santana back out for the second inning. Some folks on twitter demanded that Jose Berrios take over at that point. But we have to remember that the Twins bullpen is not the Yankees bullpen. And once that bullpen door swings open once, is going to open again and again and again. I could understand why Molitor didn't want to go down that road. Santana ended up giving up another run - but Berrios gave up three runs of his own, so I'm not sure how things would have changed with Berrios going out for the second inning. And, ultimately, the Twins needed to keep scoring runs. They had shots against the best bullpen in baseball but failed to capitalize.

ETC: Eddie Rosario homered during his first major league at-bat - which he did on May 6, 2015 - and on his first-ever postseason at-bat...the Yankees 1-through-4 hitters went 7-for-15 with 3 HR and 6 RBI...Joe Mauer has one extra base hit in 40 postseason at-bats...the Twins are 2-13 in the postseason against the Yankees....the Twins have lost 13 straight postseason games, tying the Red Sox (1986-95) for the longest postseason losing streak.

Keep checking back here over the next few days as we get clarity on the Twins managerial and coaching futures. Eddie Guardado and James Rowson are under contract for 2018, but there could be other moves in the near future.