Derek Falvey’s first interview with Twins brass lasted nearly seven hours, followed by dinner and socializing.
As team President Dave St. Peter decompressed later that night, he kept thinking about Falvey’s energy and the way he sold his plan.
“He was at a different level the way he could articulate his vision,” St. Peter said Monday. “All of our candidates had great vision. None of them could articulate it quite the way Derek can.”
As evident in his formal introduction, the Twins’ new chief baseball officer holds a strong command of the spoken word.
Falvey and his hand-picked sidekick, General Manager Thad Levine, made a positive first impression by outlining their global strategy in polished corporate talk mixed with a few deadpanned one-liners from Levine.
They discussed the value of “cross-departmental collaboration” and cultivating “world-class processes” and “balanced systems” and making decisions according to “evidence-based practices” and developing pitchers “holistically.”
A simple hello would have sufficed.
The Twins organization needed change, a sea change, and boy did they achieve it.
The Twins have upgraded from dial-up to fiber optics by overhauling their structure and placing their baseball operation in the hands of two outsiders who bring institutional knowledge of winning organizations and deep understanding of analytics.
“They have complementary skill sets,” St. Peter said. “There’s a bit of a yin and yang that other organizations have mastered. I feel like we will be back in the game starting today.”
Nothing guarantees Falvey, at age 33, will have the same magical touch as other young baseball executives. He’s walking into a job with many challenges.
But this new path is necessary for an organization that is stuck in quicksand. The Twins need new ideas and fresh strategy, someone not married to the old Twins Way.
The most revealing moment of the news conference came when owner Jim Pohlad admitted that he didn’t meet Levine until Sunday night. He signed off on his new general manager based on Falvey’s recommendation.
“Derek is responsible for the baseball department, and he can make any decisions he wants to by himself,” Pohlad said.
That’s how things should operate. They’ve entrusted these two men to clean up a sizable mess, so the Pohlad family must give them the freedom and resources to accomplish that.
Both executives repeatedly referenced their desire for collaboration in making decisions. They’re willing to listen and consider differing opinions. That’s admirable leadership, if so.
Without providing many specifics, Falvey and Levine indicated they have changes already in mind in terms of adding more help.
They acknowledged a need to “build out” various departments. In other words, they plan to bolster neglected areas after inspecting the organization during the interview process. Rest assured their analytics staff will receive a significant bump.
The Twins have made advancements in that area but were slow to evolve. Falvey-Levine offer expertise in analytics, but they also seemed eager to dispel preconceived notions about their use of numbers as a decision-making device.
Yes, they will use analytics as an everyday resource. No, they won’t dictate Paul Molitor’s lineup based on their number crunching.
“What I would ask from Paul — and he and I have talked about this openly — is that every decision we make, let’s do it together,” Falvey said. “Let’s be collective, let’s talk about ideas and be open-minded.”
Falvey comes across as a strategic thinker who probably has created a detailed process for folding and putting away his laundry.
Molitor joked that when he asked Falvey a question about pitching, “I got an hour and a half.”
Nothing trumps pitching on Falvey’s immediate to-do list. Terry Ryan’s inability to construct a competent pitching staff doomed his second stint as general manager.
The organization won’t climb out of this abyss unless or until Falvey fixes the pitching staff. That process won’t be easy.
Along with traditional methods (draft, trade, free agency), Falvey also mentioned the need to implement “unique development philosophies.”
“When we view pitching just through the lens of a pitcher and how he pitches,” he said, “we’re missing an opportunity to develop him holistically.”
Not sure what the means exactly, but it sounds better than pitch to contact.