If the Twins’ pursuit of a director of baseball operations goes as planned, they expect to have the position filled before the first payments are due for 2017 season tickets.
One person out of the running is current Dodgers executive Alex Anthopoulos. Anthopolous, who was in charge of baseball operations with Toronto from 2010-15, was identified earlier in the week as a possibility, but two sources on Friday said he was never a serious candidate.
The Twins remain in the initial phase of their search. Several candidates have been interviewed, and no one has been brought in for a second interview.
This coincides with the release of owner Jim Pohlad’s letter to season-ticket holders this week in which he promised to address the problems on the field. The Twins normally require the first payment on season tickets in early October. This year, it has been pushed back to the end of that month.
Twins President Dave St. Peter is confident that the club will name someone to lead the baseball department by then.
“That’s aimed at giving all of our season-ticket holders an opportunity to see our leadership transition play out,” St. Peter said. “We thought that was important. We’ve heard directly from enough accounts that they want to see where that goes. That’s why we did that.”
The Twins are fighting to maintain their ticket base. They will finish under .500 for the fifth time in six seasons. And they began Friday needing to go 11-11 over their final 22 games to avoid losing 100 games. With a staff ERA of 7.64 this month, that looks like a daunting task.
Indications are that the Twins are bracing to lose 3,000 to 5,000 season-ticket holders for next season, which would lower that base to between 9,000 and 11,000. So the Twins are trying to soften the blow as they head into an offseason of change.
“We understand there’s a lot of focus on our leadership transition, and rightfully so,” St. Peter said. “It is a critical decision for the future of our franchise.
“That said, I don’t think anyone inside of our organization views the naming of a new leader of baseball operations as the end all relative to our season-ticket renewal. We ultimately are going to need to go beyond a front office change and, with some fans, do a lot of things on the field to regain credibility. We understand that. That’s the hole that we have dug ourselves.”
On Friday, Twins players wore T-shirts with the phrase, ‘Fans Of Our Fans,’ circling the Twins logo on the front. On the back was the number of that particular player. But, instead of his name, there was the last name of a season-ticket holder.
“What did you say? Win them back one at a time?” Twins manager Paul Molitor said while looking at senior director of communications Dustin Morse. “It’s a good thing. They are a big part of what we try to do here. It’s obviously been more challenging, with the way five of the last six seasons have gone.”
The season-ticket holders with their names on the backs of T-shirts were scheduled to be on the field for batting practice, so many were surprised.
“We’ll do a number of those during the course of the remainder of the season,” St. Peter said.
That’s not going to be enough for some at-risk fans who are watching the Twins have one of their worst seasons. The hiring of a director of baseball operations — who then will select a general manager — is one big step as the Twins hit the reset button.
“Again, we did this to ourselves,” St. Peter said “The Target Field experience remains outstanding, from a fan perspective. But the on-field performance has not been there. That is going to cause some fans to reconsider their investment. We understand that and accept it. Ultimately, it will be up to us to regain that credibility and build that relationship back. Not just with our season-ticket holders but with all of our fans.’’