How much leeway will Falvey have?

During the search for a new organizational leader, Jim Pohlad made it clear that there were two expectations: The new president would have to be lovable, and he would have to keep Paul Molitor at the helm of the big league club. The Twins have made it apparent that they expect Rob Antony too keep his job in the front office as well. How many people within the organization will have a preserved post at the behest of Jim Pohlad?

Terry Ryan has done an excellent job at acquiring talent through the years. He put together a top flight lineup for the future, and there is more talent in the system that simply doesn’t have a spot on the major league roster. Either through his own failing or the failing of his staff, though, Terry Ryan was never able to develop a solid rotation.

Having it buoyed by Johan Santana and Brad Radke for so long made much of the early and mid 2000s look better for Terry Ryan, but they made his missteps all the more stark. Prospects were never coaxed into a starting role (Kevin Slowey) or traded anyone at peak prospect value in order to make a deep playoff run with reallocated resources. Sinkerballers like Carlos Silva and Nick Blackburn were ticking time bombs, but they were treated like top of the rotation starters. Francisco Liriano was driven repeatedly to the disabled list, and never attained his maximum value in a Twins uniform.

In recent years, we have seen free agency function more as an embarrassment. Ervin Santana has been good, but nearly every other starter brought in over the last few years has been an unqualified failure. The Twins have struggled acquiring starters since Rick Reed 15 years ago. While the relief pitching has been fine, that is hardly as important as the rotation.

Derek Falvey has earned his chops developing the Indians pitching staff, through acquisitions and development. He will be restrained in some regards to the organizational make-up, but will he be allowed to instill the infrastructure to acquire and develop pitchers that he wants? If not, the whole transition is a waste of time.

Twins 7, Royals 6 – Finishing strong-ish, I guess

The Moment: This was a roller coaster of a game, and there were a lot of big plays. The biggest was the one that put Minnesota in front for the first time. It was 2-1 when Byron Buxton rolled one to the fence to score two. It ended up as a triple, because Byron Buxton is very fast.

The Hero: Buxton would add a double, a walk and 2 runs to the 2 run triple. Hopefully a strong finish translates to a hot start in 6 months.

The Condolences: I thought Kelvin Herrera was supposed to be good?

The Soundtrack: Run this Town – Jay-Z, featuring Rihanna and Kanye West. I don’t think the town they were talking about was Kansas City.

The Story: We made it to the 7th inning with a pretty dull 2-1 late season game, and then things started to get little wild. It started with a Byron Buxton triple and follow up single. The Twins were in the lead!

That lasted until the bottom of the inning. A Jarrod Dyson triple and follow up single brought the Royals back level. It was tied!

Buxton got things going in the top of the 9th with a double and Jorge Polanco followed up with a single. Robbie Grossman put the Twins in front with an RBI single and he and Polanco would later score to pad the lead. The Twins were in the lead!

Bottom of the 9th, the Royals started inching their way back into it. The bases were loaded without anyone out. Eric Hosmer grounded into a double play, scoring one run, then Salvador Perez singled to drive in another run. Terrence Gore, noted speedster, pinch ran and…. was promptly picked off. That’s how all the best games end. The Twins win!

Royals 5, Twins 2 – The ‘Pen should probably get sorted out soon

The Moment: I think I can officially say that this is the first time that a ground rule double was the Moment this season. Kendrys Morales continued to remind us that we didn’t get as much out of him as we would have liked, and had the go ahead hit off of poor Taylor Rodgers.

The Hero: There were a pair of Vargases in this game, but it was Kansas City’s Jason that had the better night. He was only out there for 5 innings (as he was coming off of injury) but he allowed nary a run and struck out 6.

The Condolences: Really, this loss is all on Taylor Rogers. He gave up 3 runs in 1/3 of an inning. That’s not optimal.

The Soundtrack: Superstar – Lupe Fiasco – Lupe has always tried to ay so much with his music. I think people never have taken him seriously because of his name.

The Story: The Twins were once again locked in a tie as the game moved towards the late innings. This time, it was a clutch home run from Kennys Vargas to put the Twins into their tie. It didn’t last long.

I blamed the entire bullpen for this game, but Taylor Rogers was the only one that had serious issues.Rogers hasn’t been a terrible pitcher, and will likely be leaned on next season to be a go to arm. That’s a scary thought, kind of.

One thing the Twins have done is jack dingers. Kennys Vargas, the home run hitter seems like a prime candidate to find a role with another organization next season. If that happens, it will be because the team is trying to make the pen better, and maybe Taylor Rogers will be able to take a breather.

Royals 4, Twins 3 (11 innings) – Let’s see if he’ll be asked to bunt here

The Moment: Never bunt. 

The Hero: The Twins lost, but it wasn’t for a lack of trying from Juan Centeno. He had a 2-4 night with a walk and an RBI. The Twins then pinch hit for him, and Jorge Polanco struck out. Oops!

The Condolences: Tommy Milone came in for the bottom of the 11th, and couldn’t find the play. Of course, he ultimately ended up intentionally walking a couple of guys and seeing Raul Mondesi run all over the basepaths behind him. Really, the Royals didn’t even get a hit off of him. Tough luck.

The Soundtrack: Prime Cut on SBNation radio. I recently have seen my name on SBNation, for those that didn’t know.

The Story: This was the Dickenbertiest game of the season. It was a tight game against the Royals, who, as you may know, has one of the fastest rosters in the league. The Royals love to steal, and they are known to be fans of the bunt, though they are more restrained with their bunt than they are given credit for.

They had a couple chances to bunt that was less horrible than usual. That Whit Merrifield (he’s been playing since the 1920s) bunt was at least in the 8th inning, and Jarrod Dyson set up the game winner in the best possible situation to bunt: nobody out, runner on second in the bottom of the 9th or later. This naturally led to near conniptions from our local announcing duo, who craved bunts from the Twins. Honest to God, at one point they speculated on whether or not Brian Dozier would square around to bunt.

But it’s not all bad from D&B. Jose Berrios was pulled after getting into a bit of a jam in the 5th inning. Instead of being allowed to work through it, he was pulled for Taylor Rogers. Bert Blyleven openly speculated about the impact on his development. He’s right. Just let them pitch. Time to take off the kid gloves and let him play.

There aren’t many more chances.

Twins to hire Derek Falvey to helm baseball ops

Of the candidates mentioned as finalists, I think Derek Falvey was the least well known. I mean, look at the image that the Star Tribune used for him in their article on the announcement:

falvey

The reason that it is so grainy is because it was pulled from his LinkedIn profile (since altered, but still searchable on Google). The two facts that we have about Falvey are that he was the assistant GM for the Cleveland Indians, and he was promoted to that role only a year ago.

There are two lines of thinking on the hiring of the 33 Falvey (or 32, I’ve heard reports going either way). The optimistic view is that he was hired because of an abundance of confidence in the young man, who comes from a similarly small market, and has a track record of developing pitching staffs.

Of course, there is also the more pessimistic view: They had to hire a 32 year old (or 33) with only one year of experience as an assistant GM because he was the only one willing to take the job. Falvey is out of his element, but there were no other options. This would be particularly frightening, because he is going to be the president, and would still need to hire a general manager.

The rumors are that Falvey has proven his chops in pitcher development, and that LinkedIn profile I told you about earlier tells me he has a degree in economics and came up through the scouting department of the Indians. The resume seems good, and the reputation seems strong. I’ll be looking forward to seeing how the rest of the front office ultimately fills out. We won’t know how Falvey will do until he is doing it.

Mariners 4, Twins 3 – Tragedy hangs over the home finale

The Moment: When I woke up this morning, I turned on the television and literally gasped when I saw the news. Miami Marlins pitcher was dead, killed far too young in a boating accident off of Miami Beach at age 24. The most impactful moment was the moment of silence before the game when the energetic, well liked ace was remembered. I’ll admit that I am very shaken up by this news, and quite saddened, as is the rest of The Rhino and Compass team. So terrible.

On the field, Jesus Sucre hit his first home run of the season, and it put the Mariners ahead by 1 run, a lead Seattle would not relinquish.

The Hero: The light hitting Sucre had the clutch home run, and didn’t really screw much up in his other appearances, collecting one more hit.

The Condolences: Hector Santiago is out here blowing leads, like he just wants to save the bullpen the humiliation.

The Soundtrack: Blues at Sunrise: Albert King and Stevie Ray Vaughn. Seems fully appropriate on a night like tonight.

The Story: Both teams hung a Fernandez #16 jersey in their respective dugouts in an homage to the fallen Jose Fernandez today, and perhaps our of deference to the young man who clearly loved baseball more than most of us can embrace anything, they played a hell of a game.

Both teams were dialed in with this game. The bullpens on each side ensure that a game that saw both starters get chased in the 6th inning ended close, and kept fans engaged. Alex Wimmers and Ryan Pressley combined to strike out 4 and allow only one hit while a trio of Mariners struck out the same and didn’t allow a single hit.

The Twins had a good game from Robbie Grossman who had 3 hits, and Max Kepler, who hit the last Twins’ homer at Target Field this season. Nelson Cruz hit two home runs, but still didn’t manage to earn “The Moment” or “The Hero” because of Jesus Sucre’s timing. Juan Centeno drove in Robbie Grossman for the final run at Target Field this season, a statement that so perfectly encapsulates this season.

Despite how torturous this season was, let Jose Fernandez’ passing remind you what a joy baseball is. Enjoy these last few games. Enjoy life. RIP, Jose.

Twins 3, Mariners 2 – Twins trying to wrap this up quickly

The Moment: It was a 3-2 game, and there was nobody out in the top of the 9th. Miguel Sano had just botched a grounder from Nelson Cruz, and he TOTALLY REDEEMED HIMSELF with a pretty slick 5-3 double play. 

The Hero: Nelson Cruz hit a two run blast to tie the game also put the Mariners in a very good position to at least tie and perhaps even win the game with his error inducing hit in the 9th. Let’s revisit that phrase “hit a two run blast” and revise it to “launched a baseball into the sun.”

The Condolences: Kyle Seager was the poor soul who hit batted after Cruz, effectively ending the Mariners’ chances at victory.

The Soundtrack: Pony – Ginuwine: Victory music.

The Story: The Twins had only three hits in this affair, but two of them were solo home runs from Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano. The last run was scored on a Logan Schafer fielder’s, earning his first RBI of the season.

The real surprise was Tyler Duffey, of course, who went 7 innings and scattered 4 hits. One of those hits was scattered into the third deck by Nelson Cruz, but hey, who’s counting? Taylor Rogers and Brandon Kintzler were effective in relief, which is nice to finally say.

There was a good atmosphere for the final weekend of the season. The game lasting a mere 2 hours and the Twins popping a couple home runs will do that. With a tight win at home in a thoroughly enjoyable affair, it seems like the Twins have at least a little bit of momentum heading into the offseason.

Mariners 10, Twins 1 – Mailing it in

The Moment: I think the actual moment this game turned was around game 5 of the season when they lost again, and it set the pace for the entire year. Boiled down to these 9 innings, though, it was when Robinson Cano singled in the first run of the game.

Microcosm of the season: The scary thing is, Robbie Grossman might be the only player still trying out there.

The Hero: James Paxton is a pretty good young pitcher, but the Twins sure did help his confidence. 9ks and 5 hits over 7 innings.

The Condolences: After a torrid late summer for Brian Dozier, he has now gone hitless in his last two games. Fun!

The Soundtrack: Dream On – Aerosmith – I for one am dreaming of October 3rd.

The Story: Kyle Gibson was fine, working 5 innings and allowing only 2 runs, but the offense, well that was atrocious. As I noted, they had only 5 hits, while the Mariners had many more. Robinson Cano had 4, for Pete’s sake.

I will say, though, a highlight of the season was the one run that the Twins did earn. It came on an RBI single fro Kennys Vargas, which was only possible because Miguel Sano had a stand up triple.

The Twins are always going to struggle if they keep waiting for Miguel Sano stand up triples. Maybe that’s the problem this year?

Tigers 4, Twins 2 – The Twins can’t tame the Tigers

The Moment: After Byron Buxton homered to tie things up, the Twins gave up all pretenses of effort and Erick Aybar grounded up the middle to score the go ahead run. It would be enough because the Twins are done caring.

Microcosm of the season: Late edition

The Hero: It’s always easy when the go ahead run shows up late in the game. Erick Aybar drove in the game winner, and for good measure, he scored an insurance run.

The Condolences: Ervin Santana has come around in my book. He’s somehow managed to be a stable pitcher in an unstable rotation. Shame that this may ultimately be his last appearance at Target Field in a Twins uniform, if the new GM is into selling assets at their peak value.

The Soundtrack: Superstitious – Stevie Wonder. Sometimes I wonder is Stevie Wonder is as great as he is made out to be. Yes, he is.

The Story:

A dog sits in the heavy rains from Tropical Storm Erin on San Antonio's south side Thursday, Aug. 16, 2007. Erin's remnants soaked rain-weary Texas, snarling rush-hour traffic and killing at least one person. (AP Photo/San Antonio Express-News, Jerry Lara) ** MAGS OUT, NO SALES, SAN ANTONIO OUT **

Tigers 9, Twins 2 – Twins need another rain delay

The Moment: After 3 scoreless innings were scrubbed last night, the Tigers and Twins were tied after 6 more innings. Justin Upton, in the 7th inning of today’s first game, hit a solo homerun, breaking a tie that had been 9 innings in the making.

Microcosm of the season.

The Hero: Upton’s home run heroics solidly tipped the balance towards the Tigers.

The Condolences: Max “rally killer” Kepler, they call him.

The Soundtrack: Back to Black – Amy Winehouse – If you remove an L this is the perfect song for a double header. Also, if you remove an L, this double header is a bit more enjoyable.

The Story: If anyone out there was theorizing that the Twins aren’t winning because they get nervous in front of big crowds, I think we can say confidenttly that THAT isn’t the case.

To be fair, this was a surprise game in the middle of the day on a Thursday. It didn’t help that it was between the worst team in baseball and a mediocre team likely to miss the playoffs as well.

There were a couple of good things that happened for the Twins. Brian Dozier homered again. Pat Dean was solid in his five innings of work. It was making a hard charge towards a 2 hour game, but then the 7th inning happened. It wasn’t all bad!

Like, 99% bad, but not all bad!