Andy MacPhail was 33 when the Twins officially announced a baseball reorganization in November 1986. MacPhail was set to become the general manager, but the announcement was delayed until Andy was able to convince owner Carl Pohlad that Tom Kelly, then 36, should be retained as manager.
Kelly had been the interim for the final 23 games of the 1986 season.
MacPhail brought in Bob Gebhard, then 43 and with much experience in player evaluation, as a right-hand man.
Ralph Houk, 67 and a longtime manager and then general manager, came in as a consultant. This was done to mollify Pohlad’s concern about the youth of the MacPhail-Kelly combination.
The Twins will announce the hiring of Derek Falvey as president of baseball on Monday or Tuesday. He turned 33 on March 19. The title is different (MacPhail was general manager), but the duties are the same: take charge of the baseball department.
There is such disgust with the 2016 Twins, the losingest team in the history of the Minnesota franchise, that those in the public still interested seem to be expecting immediate change from Falvey.
If key people from Terry Ryan’s baseball operation such as Rob Antony, Mike Radcliff, Brad Steil and Deron Johnson aren’t gone very early, the nothing-has-changed crowd will commence bellowing.
It’s hard to say what type of circle of trusted people a 33-year-old who worked for two other men in Cleveland could be bringing on for key jobs on short notice.
The legend has grown that Falvey was down the list on the Twins’ preferred candidates. Actually, he was on the radar early with the help of the Korn-Ferry search firm.
The Twins would have taken a strong look at Ben Cherington. I’m not sure if it was him wanting to stay in the East that he went to Toronto, or if he wasn’t interested in running the Twins specifically.
There have been reports that Alex Anthopoulos (spread by his agent, you would have to guess) rejected an overture from the Twins. In truth, he wasn’t on the interview list, so the rejection wasn’t a problem for their party.
CEO Jim Pohlad and team president Dave St. Peter conducted the interviews. No matter what optimistic message is delivered in letters and videos to season-ticket holders, they know this will be a process of some length.
There’s a mess here, and nobody comes with a guarantee that he will fix it. All the Twins have for now is confidence that Falvey is the bright young man to do so.
They could be wrong, but that won’t be determined if Falvey takes some time – months, maybe a full season – to make big changes. I don’t think he needs a Houk type to start the transition, but he does need a Gebhard type.
The 1986 Twins were 71-91 and sixth in the seven-team AL West. They also had Puckett, Hrbek, Gaetti, Gagne, Brunansky, Viola, Blyleven, and brought in Reardon and Gladden before the next season.
The 2016 Twins finished up Sunday in Kansas City with the worst record in the major leagues. They have Brian Dozier and … well, probably Erv Santana. The additions of a reliever and a left fielder aren’t going to get this collection out of baseball Hades.
Gebhard’s famous quote early on the Monday morning after Game 7 vs. the Cardinals in 1987 was, “We were just trying to get organized and we won the World Series.’’
The Twins will be fortunate if the quote from Falvey’s front office next fall is, “We were just trying to get organized and we made it to fourth place in the division.’’