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LastOnePicked

From Big Fish to Bottom Feeders: The Real Trouble with the Twins

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Hello Folks. This is my first blog post on TD, and, as such, it's probably got some holes. Thanks anyway for reading:

It’s been a tough time for Twins fans. Back to back near 100-loss seasons has soured much of the joy of a new outdoor park, and familiar, fan favorite players have made their exits via free agency or trade. Rightfully, the Twins are trying to ready themselves for the coming season, and not dwell on the mountain of on-the-field and front-office failures. Terry Ryan recently cut off talk of the 2011 and 2012 seasons in an ESPN 1500 interview, saying curtly, “We’re past that now -- that’s behind us.” Quickly, he tried to steer conversation to the ways the team is trying to get back on track.

It fairly easy to get the sense that the Twins top brass feel that they’ve only recently come into a streak of some poor play bad luck – that they’re a championship-caliber, successful franchise that is merely going through a short “down cycle.” The problem with this line of thinking is that it keeps the team and its fans in a kind of insular bubble. Focusing on Ron Gardenhire’s winning percentage or the number of AL Central Division Championship flags flapping above right field obscures an uglier reality – one the organization should be facing openly, and should have been dealing with for the last half-decade: The Twins are not a competitive organization, and haven’t been one for quite some time.

Before you run to your closet to pull out your collections of 2000’s era ALDS souvenirs to prove me wrong, consider this: in the last ten years, only four teams in all of Major League Baseball have won fewer playoff games than the Twins: Toronto, Kansas City, Seattle and Pittsburgh. For all of the fanfare over our Twin Titles in ’87 and ’91, the Twins will soon be entering their longest league title drought in franchise history, and that includes their time in Washington DC. To make matters worse, the closest Twins fans have gotten to cheering on their hometown boys in the last twenty years has been watching cast-offs like David Ortiz, Matt Garza, and even (gulp) Delmon Young put up MVP-caliber performances in championship situations.

To be fair, the Twins were within striking distance of a league championship season in 2006 and 2010, but the front office did virtually nothing to address their greatest needs: putting another high-profile strikeout pitcher on the mound and/or another big bopper in the lineup. The actions they did take during this period, however, (see: trading away talented young players like Garza, Bartett, Ramos, and Hardy while replacing them with an assortment of recently DFA’d players, bargain-bin veterans and poorly-scouted international signings) weakened an already-weak system, and treated fans to some of the most poorly played baseball games this side of Midway Stadium. And despite the recent rallying cry that “things are changing” within the organization, the recent signings of Mike Pelfrey and Kevin Correia and the non-signings of Edwin Jackson and Torii Hunter proves that, well, the more things change, the more they stay the same.

So why? Why the continued belief that the Twins are a winning organization? It’s a hard question to answer as an outsider. I don’t have access to the communication patterns in the clubhouse, or the conversations that take place in Ryan’s office. I can only make educated guesses, based on my degree in organizational communication and the countless hours I’ve spent reading and listening to preseason and post-game interviews. But based on what I’ve got, here’s what I think: there are three main problems with this organization, and they have nothing to do with individual failings or character flaws but rather they are rooted in the team’s culture: the “Twins Way” as they often call it.

Problem #1) The Gardy/Andy Formula
A few years back, I read a Sports Illustrated article that laid out the history that Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson shared, and how each of these men, during their stints in the bigs, saw an angle in the game that they thought few others had seen. Indeed, as they became the top coaches for the Twins, their rigid insistence on low-profile, pitch-to-contact pitchers and scrappy, slap-hitting batters has been made the modus operandi for the last decade. And this formula was consistent with the Twins’ 2000-era franchise identity: a low-profile, small market team that might beat you, even if you don’t know how they did it. For awhile, this practice actually enjoyed modest success. The problem, as we all know now, is that it cannot win championships and, like all formulas, it ceases to be effective when others teams know exactly what you’re planning and doing.

Problem #2) Only “Good Teammates” and Nice Guys Need Apply
In 2009, during a heated pennant race, reliever Jose Mijares made a questionable decision in retaliating against the Tigers. However, the pitch Mijares made was a statement pitch, and never hit its target Adam Everett. Delmon Young, however, got plunked in a following frame. This kind of tit-for-tat baseball isn’t uncommon during pennant runs, but the Twins’ reaction was: Gardenhire and Young couldn’t spend enough time pinning the blame on Mijares, calling his pitch a “selfish act,” and throwing Mijares under the team’s proverbial bus. Despite being an effective and affordable reliever today, one the Twins could have used in place of jettisoning a prospect in favor of Matt Capps, Mijares was quickly dropped from the team.

On it’s own it’s nothing more than a personnel move, one of thousands made by all the big league clubs. But it fits a pattern of behavior for the team, one that reinforces either an implicit or explicit rule: no fight, no trouble, play nice.

Listening to Orlando Cabrera’s interview after the 2009 Game 163 against the Tigers, I get chills. Here was a player absolutely thrilled by the prospect of beating a tough team in a close situation. Cabrera was tough, he seemed chatty, he was a competitor and had playoff experience to back up his talk. To no one’s surprise, he did not fit into the team’s plans for the following year, not even as a back-up or mentor to the middle infielders the Twins were grooming for the future. I can’t think of a single interview with a current Twins player that reveals a similar intensity. And their play on the field reflects this rule; the Twins do not and will not protect their own when they get intimidation pitches by the opposition (with the notable exception of Scott Diamond last year, and it may explain why a guy with such a low ceiling gets such support for his spot in the rotation with the fans). The Twins are not vocal or verbal about their territory or their skills, and they are fairly quick to grind down any such “rough edges” on their young players. A low-key, quiet clubhouse would perhaps be understandable on a team with trophies under its belt and little to prove, but its surprising that, even when being robbed of an extra-inning double during a playoff game in New York, Twins players can scarcely be seen mustering a shrug when faced with adversity and challenge from other teams. And that behavior stands in stark contrast to the style of play of the championship teams of ’87 and ’91, when players like Hrbek took every opportunity to irritate baserunners, players like Gaetti celebrated playoff wins with declarations that they would “trash the field” of the opponents and players like Puckett invited teammates to climb aboard their broad shoulders on their way to a pennant or trophy.

Problem #3) Making Them All Fit the Mold
When Livan Hernandez arrived with the club in 2006, Gardy quickly spotted a serious problem with his delivery: his earring. Hernandez broke two team rules during his first warm-up and Gardy was worried about the damaging presence of “bling-blings” on the field. “We’re going to have to mold him into our kind of guy” was Gardenhire’s comment to the press.

Clearly, within the last decade, there has emerged a Twins prototypical player: he’s more likely than not white, he’s fairly thin, he’s “scrappy” but quiet, he stays out of the news, he trusts his coaching staff. Whether he’s a batter or a pitcher, he should avoid strikeouts and keep the bat on the ball. And he should be seen by the team as motivated to play. It’s that simple. The problem is that people are not that simple, and teams are made up of people from different experiences, with different values and modes of expression. This truth has typically made the Twins uncomfortable, and it’s no surprise that, failing to develop Latino/Hispanic talent on par with their rivals (because that would require them to, among other things, work more closely with translators and to understand the way a player’s culture can shape and even contribute to a player’s success), the Twins invested scouting resources in regions of the world more in line with their way of being: Europe and Australia. It’s also no surprise that the Twins have avoided African-American or Latino/Hispanic players in free agency.

I want to make this clear: this is not an accusation of racism; it is natural for organizations to fall into a groupthink mentality, and to seek similarity while expelling difference. And while this process almost always limits an organization’s chances for success, the Twins have been fully convinced that they are already successful, and that this fit-the mold approach has been the reason for their success. Local media figures have even helped this delusion along, often parroting the team’s talking points that their playoff failures and regular season disasters have been brought about by bum luck, big-money competition or natural baseball cycles, rather than abject mismanagement and rigid adherence to a faulty philosophy. All the while, potentially successful players or outstanding prospects have been passed by or pushed out of the system, all because they didn’t fit the mold.

That’s my thinking, anyway. But is it really all bad at 1 Twins Way? The Twins front-office staff often note how much other teams admire and respect the Twins. And I believe them. Not only do members of the Twins organization routinely avoid controversy and criminal proceedings, players and staff alike genuinely seem like nice people. But, and it almost pains me to say this because I’m from the Midwest and I like people who are nice, but I’m not sure that having others like you is a sure sign of your success. Similarly, people like Gardy because, although he’s from the south, he exudes Midwest values and clichés. “Keep your head down and your mouth shut,” “don’t take nothin’ for granted,” “be scrappy,” “get after it,” -- he’s a walking advertisement for a region’s work ethic. But, during this year’s coming postseason, watch carefully. Is this the way you’d describe the management and play of the top teams? No, I suspect you’ll find that some of the players are quiet, some are brash, some are scrappy, and some can’t get enough of the spotlight. The manager of these teams will hold them all together because he keeps his focus on winning ballgames with the players he’s got. The GM of these teams will have brought these players together because he sought the greatest talent and the greatest indications of success from each of them, regardless of reports about whether they’d be “good teammates.” When you watch teams in the 2013 or 2014 postseason, I can guarantee you two things: 1) you’ll notice quite a different style of play than you see in the hometown team and 2) you won’t be watching the Twins.

There is faint hope in the future. The Twins have brought in Brunansky and Cuellar, each of whom represents a dimension the Twins have been missing: a player from the championship years with guts who will now have direct access to player’s approach at the plate and a bullpen coach whose personality and culture may help him connect more closely to the organization’s outsiders. If these men are given a chance to impact the talent on the field, those players then might just impact the organization’s culture. This might allow the highly-touted prospects to develop with a little swagger in their steps and fire in their eyes, all while they learn plate discipline and self-control. And, if the shift takes hold, Ryan can finally step away from his obligations (it’s clear that Ryan is currently staying in the position out of a sense of duty, not because he enjoys being GM, and that’s a bad thing long-term for any organization) and turn the reigns over to a predecessor – perhaps even someone from the Rays or A’s organization, who is willing to place a bit more stock in intelligent player evaluation than in personality scouting reports. And if that happens, the Twins might actually look a lot more like they did in ’87 and ’91 – a raw team of potential champions, and a team most rivals wouldn’t dare to call an “EZ-Pass” in the playoffs. That’s the hope, anyway.
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  1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
    Thanks for blogging. Hopefully you will continue to do so... but, got to add to the discussion:

    1.) Gardy/Andy - you don't think that Gardy enjoys having hitters like Morneau, Mauer, Willingham, Doumit, and Plouffe arround? You don't think they appreciated having a healthy, pre-TJ Liriano or Johan Santana or Joe Nathan or healthy Juan Rincon?

    2.) Mijares was making a statement of some sort for himself, not for the team. Gardy/Delmon were right. He also didn't exactly pitch well before the Twins decided to let him go, so I can't quite get on board with that one. Orlando Cabrera did a nice job for 2 months with the Twins. He was OK at best the following year (2010) and the Twins brought in JJ Hardy to play SS, and Cabrera was horrible in 2011. It's hard to be upset about not bringing him back.

    3.) The Yankees have a no-facial hair policy. How has that been negative for them?

    Also, I'll let others jump on you for the playing the old "race" card. The Twins have a history with black players and have definitely improved their presence in Latin America in recent years as well.
  2. johnnydakota's Avatar
    [QUOTE=Seth Stohs;bt5553]Thanks for blogging. Hopefully you will continue to do so... but, got to add to the discussion:

    1.) Gardy/Andy - you don't think that Gardy enjoys having hitters like Morneau, Mauer, Willingham, Doumit, and Plouffe arround? You don't think they appreciated having a healthy, pre-TJ Liriano or Johan Santana or Joe Nathan or healthy Juan Rincon?

    2.) Mijares was making a statement of some sort for himself, not for the team. Gardy/Delmon were right. He also didn't exactly pitch well before the Twins decided to let him go, so I can't quite get on board with that one. Orlando Cabrera did a nice job for 2 months with the Twins. He was OK at best the following year (2010) and the Twins brought in JJ Hardy to play SS, and Cabrera was horrible in 2011. It's hard to be upset about not bringing him back.

    3.) The Yankees have a no-facial hair policy. How has that been negative for them?

    Also, I'll let others jump on you for the playing the old "race" card. The Twins have a history with black players and have definitely improved their presence in Latin America in recent years as well.[/QUOTE]

    Well i do disagree with you on the race card Seth , me thinks if johan was white he never would have been allowed to leave.
  3. LastOnePicked's Avatar
    Seth, first of all, it's an honor to have you comment. I not only respect your work, I appreciate your upbeat attitude towards all things Twins.

    And good points. I'd just say: 1) Gardy probably does enjoy homeruns from the hitters and strikeouts from the pitchers. For some reason, we haven't had many of these over his tenure. 2) Maybe Gardy was right, but sometimes there's a difference between being right and how/what you say to the press about your guys. I think my larger point on the team's overall agressiveness stands. 3) When the Yankees experience the same run of futility, I will write an article about their team's culture.


    But you're off base on your final comment, I think. Raising questions about the ethnic composition of the team in comparison with other teams isn't "playing the race card." In fact, I have no idea what the "race card" is, except perhaps a way for Midwesterners to express their discomfort about having to talk about ethnicity and culture -- and perhaps even history. Yes, the Twins "have a history" with black players, but it isn't always a happy history, and it isn't perhaps as full as other team's histories. Again, no value judgements or accusatuions towards the team. It just makes me wonder. Perhaps the future will be different.
  4. Willihammer's Avatar
    I can't recall anyone pitching with earrings on. I doubt any team, or umpire, allows it.

    What was the other rule Hernandez broke?
  5. JB_Iowa's Avatar
    First, I want to thank you for a well-written first blog post. And, I agree with much of what you've written.

    I want to point out what has been another "conundrum" for me that ties into your 2nd to the last paragraph.

    I'm am absolutely convinced that Gardenhire's long-term approach ("Keep playing hard boys, we'll get 'em tomorrow), is a significant part of the success that the Twins enjoyed during the 2000's. He generally did not allow them to get too high or too low -- keeping them on an "even keel" with an appreciation for the length of the season. I do believe that it helped them down the stretch.

    But I also believe that it puts them in middle gear and that they were unable to shift out of it when it came to the playoffs -- when time is NOT on your side and there isn't always a game tomorrow. Don't get me wrong, the lack of power pitching and the gaps in the line-up were also a big part of those losses. But sometimes "little engines" do win, even in the playoffs, but they have to have the right mindset. And I just don't think that Gardenhire and the other leaders on this team (whoever they may be cuz I'm not sure I've ever been able to identify them well) were able to shift from a long-season view to the urgency of the playoffs.

    And in a sense, I wonder if the organization's current stance isn't somewhat like that. They were used to sustained long-term success in the 2000's (albeit no playoff wins) and now that they have had a disastrous two seasons, I think they are still stuck in 2nd gear. I hope that they can shift to 1st as some of the prospects develop so that the Twins may eventually be competitive in the post-season but I'm not sure that it'll happen especially if 2nd gear (no substantial changes in the organization) eventually produces regular season competitiveness.
  6. gunnarthor's Avatar
    This is a pretty bad post. The racism charge, even if you aren't brave enough to claim it, is insulting. On the plus side, that means we can ignore the rest of your ranting.
  7. jorgenswest's Avatar
    Just a few questions in my mind as I read...

    By performance, weren't many of the teams of the last decade better than the 1987 team? The 1987 team had the great fortune of home field advantage though they didn't earn it. It rotated in that era. Once in the playoffs, the small sample of games makes it very difficult to assess the quality of the team. An extra home game was huge for the Twins. That assessment is best done by the in season performance.

    Why trade Garza and Bartlett for a known troubled player in Delmon Young? How does that fit with concerns about Twins way or ethnicity?

    More questions come to mind...

    The frequent appearances of Carew and Oliva,
    choosing Buxton over Appel,
    winning the monetary battle to sign Sano...

    Are they consistent with the thoughts in the article?
  8. h2oface's Avatar
    Great blog post!
    "Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds." Albert Einstein.
    Observation of behavior is never racism, and what you have said here is well delivered. You bring out great points. You have hit the nail on the head several times, from several angles. Many will "argue" with you, because that is what they are want to do. But what you said needs no defense. Things won't change until Gardenhire and Ryan are gone, I suspect, and the spirited players, regardless of their talent, will be shipped out for the very reasons that will make them valuable to less mediocre minds.
  9. johnnydakota's Avatar
    2013 is just another game of 3 card monty, Terry keeps shuffling the players , but we never come up a winner
  10. johnnydakota's Avatar
    [QUOTE=gunnarthor;bt5560]This is a pretty bad post. The racism charge, even if you aren't brave enough to claim it, is insulting. On the plus side, that means we can ignore the rest of your ranting.[/QUOTE]

    So your telling me if Kevin Slowey put up Santana like numbers , the twins would have traded him for a handful of magic beans like they recieved for Johan?
  11. birdwatcher's Avatar
    Thanks for posting. But I have to tell you, I disagree with so many of your conclusions, and can very very easily give examples that completely contradict them. First of all Gardy and Andy don't have a thing to do with the draft, so the notion of them having a massive influence on "types" of players, from a talent, skill, personality, cultural, or racial perspective is preposterous. And please look in the mirror. Your generalization thet midwesterners are reticent to talk about race or culture is a bit insulting. And the notion that there is this overt attempt to jettison non-conforming players for reasons other than how they affect team performance (usually by failing to perform as individuals) and to pin it on racial and cultural dynamics fails all tests. you know, most of the most popular players among fans in the Twin's long history refute your argument. And frankly, when we talk about Carew, Oliva, Versalles, Killebrew, Tovar, Puckett, Pascual, Mauer, Tiant, Chance, Santana, Viola---we don't talk about culture, and race, and religion. We don't even talk about whether they were good or bad actors. It's about how much we loved their ability to play the game of baseball.
  12. Han Joelo's Avatar
    Excellent post. I don't entirely agree with you, but consider this paraphrased quote from Einstein: "Prohibition is bad for democracy. Public meeting houses are integral to democracy--where else can you agree to disagree over a few tasty brews."

    The inter web is opposite. Especially when your team sucks. But as a near forty-year old, I choose to wear the rose tinted glases, drink the Kool-Aid, etc. I don't have time in my life with kids and mortgage and whatnot to dissect saber metrically every move the Twins make. I guess I'm just a glassy eyed homer who doesn't happen to pay taxes in Hennepin County.

    One of my best days in the last couple of years was watching Jimmer hit 600 on MLB TV along with my 2 year old. Honestly, I callled it. My boy had no idea what he was cheering for, but boy did he cheer.
  13. Seth Stohs's Avatar
    I'm am absolutely convinced that Gardenhire's long-term approach ("Keep playing hard boys, we'll get 'em tomorrow), is a significant part of the success that the Twins enjoyed during the 2000's. He generally did not allow them to get too high or too low -- keeping them on an "even keel" with an appreciation for the length of the season. I do believe that it helped them down the stretch.

    But I also believe that it puts them in middle gear and that they were unable to shift out of it when it came to the playoffs -- when time is NOT on your side and there isn't always a game tomorrow.
    You realize that this is the exact same approach used by Tom Kelly, right? All it is saying is that you play the game that day, then you play the game the next day then. Any other thinking is what should be considered wrong.
  14. Seth Stohs's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by johnnydakota
    So your telling me if Kevin Slowey put up Santana like numbers , the twins would have traded him for a handful of magic beans like they recieved for Johan?
    If he was saying he wasn't going to sign for less than $120 million and saying hat he didn't intend to stay... yup. The Twins offered Santana $100 million. They also gave Torii Hunter $42 million at the same time in his career that they gave Joe Mauer his $42 million deal. (which was pretty much the same deal they gave to Santana at the same time in his career).
  15. LastOnePicked's Avatar
    Thanks for the thoughtful comments, gang. I'd just reiterate that in no way am I accusing the team of racism. I have not heard any members of the organization abuse anyone on the team or any potential prospects on the basis of cultural identity -- ethnic or otherwise. I am, however, leveling the charges or groupthink and organizational stagnation, which may have the effect of limiting contributions and participation from perceived "outsiders." That the Twins signed Sano was clearly a smart business and baseball decision, and by all accounts the result of a well-constructed relationship between Radcliffe (is that right?) and Sano's contacts and family. I appluded that signing then, and continue to hope for more solid acquisitions.

    But this reminds me of what we see at some of our state's colleges. Some have been great at getting international students to come here for an education. But many of the students don't stay very long, and those that go sometimes refer to being treated like a constant outsider, like a curiosity, like they are supposed to fit in quickly or risk sticking out. I'm just hoping that this is not what some of our prospects have experienced, or will experience. It takes skilled management to do two things at once: help outsiders acclimate to the group and let them feel like can still be who they are. I worry when I read about how Ortiz, Bartlett and Hardy have talked about how the Twins have tried to change them, and not to the benefit of their play. This kind of behavior is a hallmark of organizations that see no need and have no desire to change.

    And, if the last two seasons have made even one thing clear, it's that the Twins MUST change. And quickly. As always, I'll be rooting for them, even when I'm frustrated by what I see.
  16. LastOnePicked's Avatar
    Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa
    I'm am absolutely convinced that Gardenhire's long-term approach ("Keep playing hard boys, we'll get 'em tomorrow), is a significant part of the success that the Twins enjoyed during the 2000's. He generally did not allow them to get too high or too low -- keeping them on an "even keel" with an appreciation for the length of the season. I do believe that it helped them down the stretch.

    But I also believe that it puts them in middle gear and that they were unable to shift out of it when it came to the playoffs -- when time is NOT on your side and there isn't always a game tomorrow. Don't get me wrong, the lack of power pitching and the gaps in the line-up were also a big part of those losses. But sometimes "little engines" do win, even in the playoffs, but they have to have the right mindset. And I just don't think that Gardenhire and the other leaders on this team (whoever they may be cuz I'm not sure I've ever been able to identify them well) were able to shift from a long-season view to the urgency of the playoffs.

    And in a sense, I wonder if the organization's current stance isn't somewhat like that. They were used to sustained long-term success in the 2000's (albeit no playoff wins) and now that they have had a disastrous two seasons, I think they are still stuck in 2nd gear. I hope that they can shift to 1st as some of the prospects develop so that the Twins may eventually be competitive in the post-season but I'm not sure that it'll happen especially if 2nd gear (no substantial changes in the organization) eventually produces regular season competitiveness.
    Thanks, JB. I've read your posts, and have always appreciated your insights. This was no exception. You added something really important that I passed over, and a good reminder that the Twins Way was also responsible for some regular season successes.
  17. johnnydakota's Avatar
    [QUOTE=Seth Stohs;bt5569]If he was saying he wasn't going to sign for less than $120 million and saying hat he didn't intend to stay... yup. The Twins offered Santana $100 million. They also gave Torii Hunter $42 million at the same time in his career that they gave Joe Mauer his $42 million deal. (which was pretty much the same deal they gave to Santana at the same time in his career).[/QUOTE]

    they failed to give johan a 6 year 20 million dollar deal but went 7 years at 23 per for joe? im not saying they goose step to the mound or any thing , but i think you see some slights. Santana should have won 3 cy youngs , and was young and the best pitcher at the time. just like joe was young and the best catcher at the time.

    As all twins fans i hope we get another ring in the near future , and yes i have been a negitive nell, but when we do do things that are positive i am right there cheering ...but i do not know how you can look at this off season and think that the only thing acomlished was cutting payroll, we started off building for the future , then went into the smoke and mirrors mold, a conflicting off season , then to have the front office claim we will contend this year, they lost all credibility
  18. Rick Niedermann's Avatar
    I just don't like the race card thing. The Twins have always had a philosophy of signing the best "signable player". (ex: Ben Revere) They were a little slow getting established in Venezuela but have been catching up. Years ago the Senators-Twins had a great pipeline in Cuba until Castro shut that off. And some guys just won't play in Minnesota. In 1987 they traded for Don Baylor down the stretch. In 1991 they signed Chili Davis. Santana wanted to go to a bigger market. Plain and simple. But it was the Twins who gave him the shot to do the great things he did. And last but not least, sometimes a white guy is just the better player.
  19. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
    I really like this article because it makes one think. Not such a bad thing.

    Got to believe they would have liked power arms, but they went off on their own tangent. Remember that they were high on drafting tall pitchers. Who came up with that one? Sure didn't arrive at that conclusion by looking at Johan.

    And sometimes it would be nice to see someone shoot their mouth off occasionally, Dan Gladden-like.
  20. Kwak's Avatar
    I too would lie to thank LastOnePicked for writing a piece to allow all of us to comment. When an opinion is stated that hits close-to-home the two sides emerge--The True Believers and The Dark Side. As I expected the usual suspects have weighed-in. I agree with much of what you post, though the elements aren't as sinister as some claim.
    Gardy/Andy Formula I actually think it is Ryan's Formula, and these two are simply "True Believers" of it. Those that weren't "True Believers" (e.g. Molitor) are bilged. The GM was informed "this is a business and an acceptable profit is required. Construct a plan to operate the entire team on a budget." Through the years he likely noticed that there are a few pitchers who enjoy a disproportionate amount of success given their limited skills. Ryan simply decided to contruct a rotation of that type (5 people) but include one dominant, strike-out pitcher (closer). He could (and maybe now is in the process of changing) to try to operate with 4 or 5 strikeout guys in the rotation--but that must have less than 5 years of MLB service because salaries rise sharply after three years and explode after 6 years.

    Good Teammates and Nice Guys is actually a subset of Making Them Fit the Mold. This is similar to many other organizations which see very different from a baseball team except that they too are made up of people and a selection rubric is used for them as well.
    Consider other "Minnesota" stuff. Examples: University's hockey team (for many decades) is nearly 100% made up of Minnesota residents. Minnesota Nice--it is repeated endlessly.
    I consider such practices "Marketing"--give the customer what he wants. If the public wants to see choir boys--well the Twins will see to it that the team is full of them. If a lesser-skilled guy but with a dirty uniform is preferred to a better-skilled guy the "steps-out-of-bounds"--you get my drift. It also helps that those guys cost less (supply and demand) than the more skilled player. That concept also fits the business plan.

    The teams are not biased, the community is. There was a comment earlier that was to refute any claim of racial bias--but sadly the comment showed he author's "Whiteness". Black ballplayers are African-American, they were born here like (I presume) we posters. Dominicans, the rest of the Caribbean islands, and South Americans are Latin players--even if their skin is as darkly complected as an African-American. These are two separate demographics and it is a mistake for the White American to lump-them-together.
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