Can Falvey and Lavine Fix Their Biggest Flaw?

Photo Credit: Vincent Carchietta (USA TODAY Sports)

The Minnesota Twins had a disappointing season. Now it’s time to figure out what went wrong. Part of that process includes observing the front office, whose decisions assisted in turning the Twins from contenders to the bottom of the division.

When asked about Thad Levine and Derek Falvey’s performance, Jim Pohlad had some surprising comments. Instead of channeling his inner Steinbrenner, he told the Pioneer Press that he approved of the job his front office did this year.

“I’d grade them all A-plus,” Pohlad told Charley Walters. “For sure. I mean I’m 100 percent on that with them.”

While we all wish that we had a college professor who graded like Mr. Pohlad, the reality is that the front office fell short of expectations. It’s only logical to focus on the signings of Alexander Colomé, Andrelton Simmons, J.A. Happ, and Matt Shoemaker but the bigger issue was the ability of the front office to evaluate their own talent.

It started during the Rule 5 Draft when the Twins left Akil Baddoo off the 40-man roster. Baddoo had struggled through the 2019 season but was a second-round pick in 2016 and had shown some upside. At just 22 years old, the Detroit Tigers scooped him up and watched him seize a starting outfield job.

Weeks later, the Twins traded LaMonte Wade Jr. to the San Francisco Giants for Shaun Anderson. Wade showed promise as a part-time player in Minnesota but exploded as one of the key contributors on the best team in baseball. While Wade was becoming “Late Night LaMonte,” the Twins designated Anderson for assignment after four games.

But those two moves were the latest in a string of talent drain that has happened under Falvey and Levine’s watch since the 2018 season.

They acquired Jake Cave from the New York Yankees that spring in exchange for Luis Gil. While Cave hit .189 as the Twins’ fourth outfielder, Gil made his major league debut in August and looks like the type of starter Minnesota will be searching for this offseason.

The Twins opened another self-inflicted wound when they traded Huascar Ynoa to the Atlanta Braves for Jaime Garcia a few months later. Ynoa looks like another young starter the Twins could have used, going 4-6 with a 4.05 ERA this season, while Garcia made just one start before being traded to the Yankees for Zack Littell.

Littell appeared to have a future with the Twins after posting a 2.38 ERA during the 2019 season. But his ERA ballooned to 9.95 last year and Minnesota designated him for assignment. Like Wade, he landed in San Francisco and thrived with a 2.92 ERA in 61.2 innings.

While Littell cracked Minnesota’s roster, Nick Anderson never had the opportunity. The Twins left him off the 40-man roster ahead of the 2019 Rule 5 Draft, where he was selected by the Miami Marlins. The Marlins traded him to the Tampa Bay Rays at that year’s trade deadline and he’s posted a 1.85 ERA over the past three seasons.

All of these players could have played some role on a team that should have contended for a division title. Instead, they became key factors elsewhere. This has to be factored into any critique of the front office.

If the Twins want to rebound and eventually break their playoff curse, it will have to start by evaluating their own talent.

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