Thad Levine showed a quick wit and a smooth delivery during his introductory news conference Monday as the Twins general manager and No. 2 baseball boss under Derek Falvey. Levine, who came to the Twins from the Texas Rangers organization, chatted with the Star Tribune’s Michael Rand:
Q You have a pretty good sense of humor. Where did that come from?
A It started with Arthur Levine, my grandfather, and was passed along to Michael Levine, my father. He passed it along to me, genetically — more so than the male-pattern baldness, which hopefully he will not be passing along.
Q Do you look for opportunities to inject levity into situations as you did at this news conference?
A If we can’t have some moments where we laugh together, I think we’re doing ourselves a gross disservice. I’m wired to look for moments to lighten the mood, especially when things get tougher. I think it’s a valuable part of relationship-building.
Q You talked about the art and science of baseball. What have you learned about marrying those two concepts over the years?
A When you’re young and less experienced in the game, you are disproportionately dependent on the science. You believe the science should carry they day — that A plus B should always equal C. I think the maturation through your career, and certainly one that I experienced, is applying that art to it. There is an art to every decision you make. I think the teams that are slaves to just the science are probably going to fall a little short of the teams that marry up the art and the science.
Q How much does 2010 and especially 2011 with Texas still stick with you, being so close to winning a World Series but not getting there?
A I would say objectively not a single day goes by without reliving something that transpired in the 2011 World Series and thinking about what could have been. It drives me on a day-to-day basis. I think it took a year or two to say this, but I am immensely proud of what we accomplished in 2010 and 2011.
Q People here are going to pound on the need to improve the pitching staff. How do you marry the need to get better in the short term with the long-term approach?
A I think that’s one of the most exhilarating aspects of working with Derek — his experience with pitching. He has already shared with me a lot of the philosophies and documentation they’ve employed. I would say I’m very optimistic in our ability to build a pitching program from the ground up that will give us access to more resources, which will lead to more success. The challenge for us is that’s the wave of the future today — what are we prepared to do to stay one step ahead?
Q How much does the baseball operations department need to be built?
A Our instincts are that there are some great people here and that before we evaluate them we need to give them more resources to succeed. Maybe [the Twins] have been a little behind in the resources we’ve provided our people. Our first investment would be in systems and resources. Secondarily, we’ll evaluate the people once they’re given those resources.