Minnesota Twins front office willing to explore any angle to find best fit
The Minnesota Twins hire of Garvin Alston once again shows the front office is willing to consider any candidate to find the best fit for the position
The Minnesota Twins announced the hire of new pitching coach Garvin Alston on Thursday. Since the hire of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine at the close of the 2016 regular season, the Minnesota Twins have been developing a reputation for being willing to put aside traditional candidates in favor of the candidate they feel is the best choice for the organization, whether it’s a new hitting coach, a new pitching coach, or even the #1 selection in the draft.
For years, many Minnesota Twins fans grew frustrated with new hires in the organization continuing to come from a very tight group of people that had been associated with the organization for many years. When Andy MacPhail left the Twins, the team promoted Terry Ryan from within.
When Ryan chose to leave the GM position, the team promoted Ryan’s top assistant, Bill Smith, into the role. When the team changed directions from Smith, they went back to Ryan. After assistant Rob Antony took over as interim GM in 2016 after Ryan’s resignation, many Twins fans thought there would be more of the same, likely hiring someone from within the organization.
More from Puckett's Pond
- Minnesota Twins: Does the MLB or the Twins have a Spending Problem?
- Minnesota Twins: 2 Possible Free Agent Reunions for 2023
- Minnesota Twins: Holiday Wish List for the rest of the Offseason
- Minnesota Twins: After signing with the Mets, Correa spurns Twins again
- Minnesota Twins: You Spin Me Right Round, Right Round
The hiring of Falvey and Levine was the start of a new wave for the Minnesota Twins organization, going outside of the box. One of the pair’s first moves was to let hitting coach Tom Brunansky go, a move that drew some ire from Twins fans who were fans of Brunansky from his time with the team as a player.
Their hire of James Rowson was outside of the box completely, grabbing a guy whose only MLB hitting coach experience was in an interim role in 2012 with the Cubs. His primary role in his career had been as a minor league hitting coordinator.
Alston similarly has minimal experience at the major league level, and none of it directly as a pitching coach. He’s worked as the bullpen coach for two organizations and spent time working in a similar role to what Rowson fulfilled, working as a minor league pitching coordinator and a minor league pitching rehab coordinator.
A focus on the whole organization
The commonality between the two hires is an organization-wide philosophy from top on down, using a consistent message throughout the organization for all levels. The combination of Falvey and Levine both have come from organizations where a pitching and hitting philosophy was taught starting at the major league level and had intentional progression throughout the entire system. While most organizations have this to some level, the Indians in particular have been known for having a very integrated pitching program that is planned throughout their minor league system that is adaptable to the pitcher but also has some very intentional methodology that comes from the top in how to best develop arms for health and effectiveness on the long-term scope.
This is also where the selection of Lewis in June comes into play as many have lamented the organization’s high amount of either plodding power guys or uber-athletic up-the-middle prospects with few in between. That is also an intentional organizational philosophy as Lewis could work at SS or 2B or CF, but he absolutely has skills to stay up the middle, and his offensive value is very high. Other players in the draft considered near the top had a much lower ceiling on the defensive spectrum if they were offensive players or were pitchers, where there’s always a much, much lower floor.
Going against the grain
With the recent announcement that Dusty Baker will not return to the Washington Nationals as their manager for 2018, there are only 2 actively hired minority managers in major league baseball. The Red Sox have announced that Alex Cora will be the manager of the team for the 2018 season, but that still brings the number to 3, and only one of those three is African American.
One of the criticisms laid on the Twins upper management when Falvey and Levine were hired was that the Twins went with the “white, Ivy League-educated, business type” for their front office choice. However, the organization has made their two first major coaching choices African-Americans, truly showing that they are looking for the best possible candidate, not the color of the man’s skin.
The Pittsburgh Post Gazette did an excellent article this summer on minorities in baseball, highlighting a former Twins employee, and one of the first “non-player” African-American scouts, Steve Williams, who Terry Ryan hired out of Clemson, and was not a former MLB or minor league ballplayer, which is usually the only way an African-American would get his start in scouting at that time.
Next: Twins Hire Garvin Alston
This hire, along with the hire of Rowson, are a sign that Falvey/Levine are not concerned with race when seeking out the best candidate possible, and that’s a great thing to cheer for!