A handful of quick thoughts about today’s introductory press conference for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the Twins’ two new baseball bosses.
— They really are behind, and they know it. But they don’t intend to be for long.
Cleveland’s run to the World Series cost Falvey several weeks of preparing to take over in Minnesota, and he and Levine both admitted that they have only modest familiarity with their new players. But neither believes it will be a problem, for two reasons: They intend to do an intense amount of homework over the next 72 hours, they said, going player-by-player with interim general manager Rob Antony; and both (though probably Levine more than Falvey) have spent time examining and evaluating the class of free agents, who can begin signing with new teams on Tuesday. That’s something they would do for their former teams anyway, so they can reach out to agents and players at this week’s general managers meetings in Scottsdale, Ariz. Most players don’t sign for several weeks anyway, so if they have a particular target in mind, they should be able to pursue him during this quick transition process.
— Don’t expect an immediate organizational shakeup.
Falvey and Levine both heaped appreciation on Antony and manager Paul Molitor, and it sounds like any overhaul of the front office will be a slow-moving one, in part because there is no time to evaluate their front office personnel. Levine emphasized several times that they’re looking to add to the front office, not subtract, so I would imagine most jobs — scouting, minor league operations, etc. — are safe for now. Both men said Jim Pohlad had given the go-ahead “to invest in the infrastructure,” as Falvey put it, so expect several more hires to supplement the current staff, not replace it. Deciding who will remain long-term can come later — though again, both emphasized the “family atmosphere” and “continuity” of the Twins’ organization as a strength.
— Falvey sounds sincere about wanting to be the head of a collaboration, not the sole decision-maker.
Perhaps it was a product of having his new chief aide sitting beside him — in most hires, the new leader is introduced alone, giving the impression that he’ll be making all the final decisions — but Falvey spoke at length about wanting input from a host of voices, including Molitor and Antony. He said that he expects nearly every decision to be based on consensus, though he’ll ultimately take responsibility for the final call.
— They’re not ready to predict what the 2017 team will look like.
This one may seem obvious, but it was interesting that they didn’t try to downplay expectations, given the 59-103 season this team just endured. Falvey spoke about how he has been a part of teams that have surprised people — getting to Game 7 last week would be one such example, I’d guess — and he doesn’t believe in putting ceilings on what teams can accomplish.
OK, that’s pretty standard rhetoric for a new leader, and after all, he isn’t entirely familiar with his team yet, not to mention how it might look after he makes changes. But it’s interesting to note that Theo Epstein of the Cubs and Jeff Luhnow of the Astros both made it a point to level with their fan bases when they were hired: They were willing to go backward in the short term to move forward in the future, a strategy that has seemingly paid off for both teams. Falvey and Levine aren’t asking fans to endure a tear-down — in this case, it would probably involve trades of Brian Dozier, Ervin Santana and Trevor Plouffe — at least not yet. They already have a core of young players, not to mention the No. 1 pick in next year’s draft, so maybe such a drastic move won’t be necessary. Falvey did say they’re still formulating how they want to proceed.