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Thread: Twins and GroupThink vs Accountability

  1. #41
    Twins Moderator All-Star diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
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    Very interesting thread.


    I think the big problem I have is that there seems to be an assumption from some that Ryan's primary goal (rebuilding the farm system) is the definition of insanity. I get that Ryan is using the same methods he used in the late 90s and throughout the early part of the 2000s. The problem as I see it is that the method works (building a strong farm), and I'm failing to understand how baseball has changed such that this no longer would work.

    I've stated repeatedly that right now, I think Ryan is the right guy for the job, but I'm not so sure in a few years. I understand that Smith played a part of this as this process started under him, but our system was at best middle of the pack when Ryan took over. Right now, it is considered at worst a top 5 farm system and a lot of analysts this offseason will have our farm system as the best in the minor leagues. This, to me, is always going to be the core of any successful baseball franchize, and it isn't as though the Twins are targeting future 5 starts like they tended to do during the Dome days. People who are endicting Ryan for repeating the same mistakes over and over again are missing this. You can call it group think if you'd want, but this is always going to be core to any baseball franchize. Even the Yankees invest in the farm, and for good reason.

    That said, I get the FA complaint. He hasn't gone after those guys. But at the same time, even had they gotten Greinke or Sanchez, they would still have been a 90 loss team. That doesn't make sense. Where I'm a bit more concerned is along the point Jokin raised. In 2015, who is starting for this team? Gibson and Meyer should be locks in the rotation and hopefully producing, but the other 3 spots would potentially be taken by guys like May, Worley, and Darnell backed up by Baxendale, Deduno, and Diamond. May is the only one of that group that I think could be a very good ML pitcher, but I am probably in a minority on that one at this point, and while I don't necessarily dislike Worley and Darnell, they are back of the rotation type guys. That leaves little room for injury or ineffectiveness.

    To me, a lot of this is philosophical. What SHOULD a rebuilding team be doing right now? Some have argued to trade the prospects for legit players. I personally think that's a bad idea. Others want to sign everyone. I'm not sure that's smart either. Most I think want some signings, and I don't think that's a bad idea, but the concern I'd have is that paying big money now for a guy who will be under contract but ineffective in 2016-2018 is also a bad idea, as it will handicap the next wave at a time when signing that big name FA will make a lot more sense.

    That brings me back to my original point, Ryan is probably a good fit for the job NOW... 2014 is going to be a transition year when a lot of the next wave starts to graduate. I don't think they will lose 90 again next year, but the actions for next season have to be predicated on aquiring more long term talent for the next wave. That's why I'd spend the money on Tanaka along with some lottery tickets that could be flipped and strongly consider flipping Perkins for some pitching help in the higher minors. Ryan, I think, can do most of that. Come 2015/16 though, I'm not so certain. I'm also think this is where the Twins "group think" will start to bite them.

  2. #42
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kwak View Post
    Addressing the new GM/search issue:

    I don't know (do you?) that there wasn't a "search". For example maybe one or two people were "approached" and their response might have been along a similar line to Smith's--spend a lot of money. Or, "perform major surgery on the organization". Or "...if I'm in charge, I must have complete control..."; or other unacceptable answers according to the owner. The type of close-knit, group-think organization did not happen by accident and change would be considered anathma, outright heresy. Quite likely everything originates from the top, and then change can only happen when initiated from the top. Continued healthy profits would likely prevent any sea change in organization.
    Perhaps they did open the job to others, but if they did, it never got reported. Ryan's retirement and Smith's promotion were announced at the same time. I think it unlikely any external options could have been considered and still maintain absolute secrecy.

  3. #43
    Twins News Team All-Star TheLeviathan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
    One of the most baffling statements in the TR interview was toward the end when he said he doesn't operate any differently now than he did in the Dome days, with the exception of not needing to unload players.
    I don't think I actually posted this, but a few weeks back I thought this exact thing. When have the Twins ever said "Target field will help us retain and attract better players".

    The whole "attract" part is never mentioned. Ever. Always "retain".

  4. #44
    Owner All-Star John Bonnes's Avatar
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    I find it interesting that Bill Smith still being in the organization is such a smoking gun in some minds. He was bumped to a business side job primarily overseeing the development of the new sports complex in Florida. There is no way he's a distraction. He was respected enough to be named GM - I don't know why he wouldn't be respected enough to do that now.

    But back to the groupthink vs innovation debate: I don't think I emphasized my point enough and I don't think I stated the philosophy. The philosophy is this: when you have a need (or a job opening) you first look internally to see if someone can handle it. If you can't, then you look externally, like for an Alex Meyer.

    The advantage is that everyone internal knows that performance and results are rewarded and not overlooked for greener grass on the other side of the fence. And that has a real long-term impact. It's also hard to see from the outside, but from personal experience I find it much more powerful than big announcements or changes in direction that start loud and quickly wither.

    The disadvantage is that over time, an organization can be slow to react to new ideas.

  5. #45
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    I feel sometimes too much emphasis is placed on how successful the Twins were from 2000-2010. The problem I have with this is that this success only worked to the extent that it got us to the playoffs in what was not a particularly daunting division. In the 6 playoff appearances in that span, we've gone a combined 6-19 (and lost the last 12 in a row). Now, dont get me wrong, I'd certainly rather go to the playoffs in any way than not go to them at all, but those numbers indicate a serious lack of success when it comes to playing good teams in high leverage situations, ie: when it counts.

    The biggest problem I have with this, is that this is setting the bar for success incredibly low. If the FO's gauge of success is simply making it to the playoffs and then getting decimated, then we're doomed to repeat ourselves. And I think the lack of action to push our team over the top by adding additional good players in those successful years is quite damning in regards to their willingness to truly be a GOOD team and not just a "competitive" team.

  6. #46
    Senior Member All-Star JB_Iowa's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
    But back to the groupthink vs innovation debate: I don't think I emphasized my point enough and I don't think I stated the philosophy. The philosophy is this: when you have a need (or a job opening) you first look internally to see if someone can handle it. If you can't, then you look externally, like for an Alex Meyer.
    The problem comes in when you seemingly do it almost 100% of the time.

  7. #47
    The King In The North All-Star Nick Nelson's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
    The disadvantage is that over time, an organization can be slow to react to new ideas.
    I'd say that on a more basic level, the disadvantage is that quite often you don't end up with the best available person for the job. And that's a real problem.

  8. #48
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    Why is it better to give up a player to get a player, than to use money to get a player and have two players?
    Lighten up Francis....

  9. #49
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    Quote Originally Posted by John Bonnes View Post
    But back to the groupthink vs innovation debate: I don't think I emphasized my point enough and I don't think I stated the philosophy. The philosophy is this: when you have a need (or a job opening) you first look internally to see if someone can handle it.
    That's not how my company (and it's a big one) or most major companies work. Most positions are open for all candidates. After all, how do you know the internal candidate is best if you don't look at all your options.

    My last two bosses have been brought in from competitors. Inernally, some people grumbled because they don't like the changes that came with them. But really, in the business world is keeping the status quo and placated employees more important than taking advantage of all avenues to put the company on top?

    Things are running fine and now we have the knowledge of how our company has always operated plus the knowledge of how our competitor does things. We now have a much more expansive knowledge base to draw from.

  10. #50
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    Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
    Very interesting thread.


    I think the big problem I have is that there seems to be an assumption from some that Ryan's primary goal (rebuilding the farm system) is the definition of insanity. I get that Ryan is using the same methods he used in the late 90s and throughout the early part of the 2000s. The problem as I see it is that the method works (building a strong farm), and I'm failing to understand how baseball has changed such that this no longer would work.
    I don't think anyone, literally -- not a single person, has said anything close to this on any of the threads I've read here. The point most people make is that the situation the Twins are now in that they can actually build the farm system and have resources to maintain a competitive (not necessarily division winning) team. However, they've been unable to do it and have even seemed unwilling to try.

  11. #51
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
    Second, one could make the argument that the Twins are doing exactly the same thing that brought them a decade of sustained success in the 2000s. Focus on the draft, focus on the international market, and bring players slowly but steadily through the system.
    Maybe off topic, but what product of the international market brought the Twins sustained success in the 2000s? Luis Rivas? The Astros signing Johan Santana?

    Also, maybe back on topic, the 2000s success was preceded by 8 straight losing seasons (6 with TR at the helm, only one of which topped 70 wins). I'm not sure if that's the best blueprint for a rebuilding process...

  12. #52
    Senior Member All-Star Winston Smith's Avatar
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    Weather you think Ryan is great or out dated his record is not nearly as good as many want to remember. He has been the GM for 15 years, 1995-2007 and 2012-13. His overall record is 1155-1254 and if you take out the last two years because they were Bill Smiths fault it is still below .500 at 1023-1062.

    To his credit his teams won 4 division titles in 5 years but only one playoff series. On the other side 11 out of those 15 years they didn't make the playoffs.
    Is that good enough? IMO no.

    On a side note the Twins farm system actually improved it's grading under Smith.
    This comment brought to you from the Rosedale Mall studio by Hamm's Beer, brewed in the land of sky blue waters.

  13. #53
    Owner MVP Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spycake View Post
    Maybe off topic, but what product of the international market brought the Twins sustained success in the 2000s? Luis Rivas? The Astros signing Johan Santana?

    Also, maybe back on topic, the 2000s success was preceded by 8 straight losing seasons (6 with TR at the helm, only one of which topped 70 wins). I'm not sure if that's the best blueprint for a rebuilding process...
    The international market came later, for sure... But it's apparent the Twins have focused heavily on some international markets with guys like Arcia, Sano, Kepler, and Thorpe. They've done better in the international market in recent years than they did the draft.

    As for Ryan's early seasons, he didn't try to actually rebuild until the mid-to-late 90s. The mid-90s teams were full of creaky vets, not young players.

  14. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
    As for Ryan's early seasons, he didn't try to actually rebuild until the mid-to-late 90s. The mid-90s teams were full of creaky vets, not young players.
    No doubt there were some farewell tours etc. but TR was rebuilding from his first season on the job. It just takes a long time when you confine your rebuild to draft picks only at slot (or lower) prices.

  15. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by diehardtwinsfan View Post
    I think the big problem I have is that there seems to be an assumption from some that Ryan's primary goal (rebuilding the farm system) is the definition of insanity. I get that Ryan is using the same methods he used in the late 90s and throughout the early part of the 2000s. The problem as I see it is that the method works (building a strong farm), and I'm failing to understand how baseball has changed such that this no longer would work.
    Actually MLB has changed a lot to HELP Terry Ryan. With the spending caps on the draft and most international guys, the Twins can no longer get beat in those areas based on cash alone.

    They still can and will get beat in MLB free agency and Cuban/Japan free agency, but that's generally nothing new. It's a little maddening that they'd let themselves get beat in those areas when they're well under reasonable payroll expectations -- it seems more like a part of the job that TR just doesn't want to do (identify and buy MLB ready talent), rather than the result of any grand philosophy.

  16. #56
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    Well, here you go, from TR interview with Woflson when talking about maybe bringing in people from TB or other successful orgs:

    Why not hire some of their guys? Find their No. 6 or 7 guy and make him the No.4 guy under you?
    Why don't I just copy what they're doing? I have a lot of trust in our guys. We'll get this thing squared up.

    That pretty much sums it up in terms of whether or not they'll bring in thinkers from other orgs, doesn't it?
    Lighten up Francis....

  17. #57
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
    Well, here you go, from TR interview with Woflson when talking about maybe bringing in people from TB or other successful orgs:

    Why not hire some of their guys? Find their No. 6 or 7 guy and make him the No.4 guy under you?
    Why don't I just copy what they're doing? I have a lot of trust in our guys. We'll get this thing squared up.

    That pretty much sums it up in terms of whether or not they'll bring in thinkers from other orgs, doesn't it?
    And he recently bragged about how other clubs copied his approach early this century.

    The nerve! Suggesting that the Twins should deign to emulate something a successful organization is doing! Be gone blasphemer and take your phony dinosaur bones with you!

  18. #58
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    Not sure how to read that, Nick. I have no issue with copying other orgs, it is a decent business strategy. I was merely copying in a quote that I thought indicated Ryan's stance on bringing in outside voices from other clubs, since that was one of the things being discussed here.
    Lighten up Francis....

  19. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
    Not sure how to read that, Nick. I have no issue with copying other orgs, it is a decent business strategy. I was merely copying in a quote that I thought indicated Ryan's stance on bringing in outside voices from other clubs, since that was one of the things being discussed here.
    No I agree. The sarcasm in my post probably didn't translate properly. Probably because I did it with a snooty British accent.

  20. #60
    Owner MVP Seth Stohs's Avatar
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    I'm 100% in favor of building from within and organizational development, in the real world and in baseball. That never means don't bring in new people. It just means that people that are developing and progressing and doing the right things and getting better should have an opportunity. That's a good thing. But, if the company has holes, with no one internally to take over, they always should bring in new people who can.

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