On August 5 at Target Field, Baseball Prospectus embarked on the bowels of the stadium to have an in depth discussion with General Manager Thad Levine. Speaking on the course of the season as a whole, and the plans for what lies ahead, there were a few key indications as to what changes may be coming for the Minnesota franchise. Arguably chief among them is that the Twins will win as they fine tune their process.
During the course of the conversation, Levine discussed the fact that both he and Derek Falvey didn't immediately ask to skyrocket the Twins payroll. While they are aware funds are available to them, they'll be making a conscious effort to spend wisely on the guts of the organization, to make the on field product improve. This transition began to rear its head recently, as the departures of Jack Goin (head of what amounts to analytics) and a handful of area scouts were moved on from.
Levine noted that the Twins Analytics Department currently consisted of four full time employees, and that it could swell to nearly double in size a year from now. On the scouting front, he talked pregame Sunday that it was necessary to retain those let go through the draft and trade deadline, before transitioning to the future. It's in these internal areas that the Twins can carve out somewhat of a competitive advantage.
Over the offseason, Minnesota will find themselves in a position to spend for the first time in nearly a decade. A team with an opportunity at a realistic playoff run, supplementing from outside makes a ton of sense. While they're almost certain to be out on big name fish like Yu Darvish, they'll land more middle ground options to help the club take the next step. In making sure those brought in both fit, and elevate the club, Minnesota will lean on those internal departments to help dissect decision making.
Minnesota has already been able to employ different practices and strategies brought in by the new front office. It was noted that the Analytics Department played a very integral role in the recently completed MLB Draft. Figuring out the probability of players lasting past a certain round, to deciding what level of success a guy may have, baseball was being married from an eye test to what the numbers also suggested.
It's in this strategy that Minnesota can begin to shape its future. Given the perceived volatility for players hovering in the middle ground, a more forward thinking process will hopefully give the club a higher ceiling for success. Levine and Falvey will look to employ an organization full of forward thinkers looking to squeeze out every bit of advantage the team can find. Although the dollars may not be spent on the big splash free agent, the hope would be that a commitment to spending from all angles will produce more fruit from each acquisition the club makes.
Looking back at how the organization has been run for years, this is a pretty drastic deviation and something Twins fans will likely look upon with favor. There's no doubt the transition will come with some hiccups, but finding a competitive advantage for an organization that has made the middle ground home, is something you'd be hard pressed not to get behind.
We've already seen some of the internal transition begin. I fully expect a new manager and a handful of other positions to experience turnover in the coming months. What will be worth monitoring, is where each player brought in can squeeze out that extra bit of success that the process will have dictated they are capable. This new regime is beginning to put their stamp on things, and in the years ahead, that should prove favorably for fans across Twins Territory.