Sunday, October 25, 2009

The Twins Internal Meetings

So you think the 137-page TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook has a lot of info? Try again. According to Minnesota Twins General Manager Bill Smith, it’s a fraction of the info the Twins generate in their annual internal October meetings to prepare for the offseason.

“We review all of the players in our organization from the Major Leagues down to the Dominican Summer League,” said Smith in an interview last week with TwinsCentric for the Handbook. “Each one of the players gets discussed, some more than others. Some are great prospects that don’t need a lot of discussion because it’s pretty clear what path they’re on; where they played this year and where they’re going next year. And others are organizational players that also for different reasons may or may not need a lot of discussion, but we talk about every player in the organization.”

Smith agreed to an interview with TwinsCentric for an appendix to the Offseason GM Handbook, which is currently available at TwinsCentric.com. In a 30-minute, 14-page transcribed interview, he revealed several details about offseason planning and the Twins future, including:
  • It looks like there won't be a Santana-esque rumor mill this offseason surrounding Joe Mauer. Smith is "very comfortable" going into spring training without Mauer signed to a long-term extension, provided he feels Mauer would like to stay long-term. Nick Nelson talks more about this at www.NicksTwinsBlog.com.
  • The international signings of Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco are the result of a 10-year initiative to be more competitive in the international player markets, and that Twins fans should expect the Twins to continue to be aggressive in the international market. Seth Stohs dives into that at SethSpeaks.net.
(Just an administrative point for those of you who have already purchased the pdf of the Handbook: we are sending out the new version with the appendix attached on Monday morning. And for those of you who have received the free one-third book, we’re sending you a new version too, with a subset of the interview included. That’s also the version available at TwinsCentric.com right now as a FREE download.)

The work doesn't stop once Smith and his team review their own players. "We talk about our free agents – our minor league free agents, our major league free agents," Smith continued. "We go over all of the major league free agents and attach some kind of a role grade to them. And we discuss every major league organization, where we see them, who might be good trade partners, what they need and what we think they need, what they may have available. So it’s a very, very good meeting."

The meeting occurred last week in Fort Myers. But the Twins don't put their information in a handbook. Instead ends up on enormous multi-colored boards in Smith's office. The long wall of his office is a series of big boards, with the names of each MLB team going across the top. Underneath each are names of those teams top major league and minor league players on little plaques that can be moved around.

"We use these boards every day of the year," Smith explained. "They’re color-coded with birth dates and by position and it really gives you an opportunity to look at a team and see strengths and weaknesses. We update transactions on these boards multiple times every day when somebody sees a trade or an outright assignment or an option or something. We try and keep them up to date."

But not all the players on the boards are under teams. Smith pointed to yet another wall. "We’ve got our free agent board behind you on the wall. Those are all what we call 20-D free agents, who are players that were on major-league rosters this year who have elected free agency." Within a couple of weeks, when players file for free agency, that board will change significantly. "That small board will transform into a huge board once all the major-league guys start coming up," Smith confirmed.

But the purpose of the internal meeting isn't to just gather and organize all that information. Its purpose is to gather opinions and gain alignment. Smith explains, "It’s a communication tool that gets everybody pretty much on the same page. We gather all the opinions. And a lot of the opinions are different. That’s why we do it. And then we move forward."

And "forward" means...

“Frankly, I hate to be this way, but I’m not going to tell you. I’m not going to tell you what our plan is," Smith answers politely.

But fortunately, after that statement, there are 4400 more words in the interview for us to dissect.

And infinitely more than that if you read between the lines.

5 comments:

TT said...

The Twins are going to sign Mauer to a long term contract. If you remember, Kirby re-signed even after becoming a free agent. It may be a similar process with Mauer.

It seems to me the first off-season priorities are deciding what to do with this year's free agents, starting with Pavano, Cabrera and Crede. I think Redmond is gone. But they may also be interested in resigning Mahay, depending on the roles they see for Liriano, Perkins and Duensing.

tborg said...

"We gather opinions"
If this meeting and the information gleaned from it is nothing more than a bunch of guys sitting around saying "I like that guy" or "I don't like this about that guy" then I think this isn't as valuable as it might be. Did Smith mention anything about how a players numbers, both short and long term, play into those opinions?

Heineken-77 said...

I'm pretty sure Mauer wants to stay with this team, but I think the Twins need to do something this offseason to show Mauer why he should sign with them. If they go out and trade/sign for a player or two that is going to help this team, it will make it that much easier to sign Mauer to a long-term deal.

shannon said...

Kirby v Mauer, as I recall Kirby's contract did make him the highest paid player in Baseball for a hot minute, although the Twins' offer wasn't the highest offer on his table.

The Twins offer may make Mauer the highest paid catcher in baseball, but he won't be the highest paid player. Not so sure about the NY Hankies wouldn't go so far as to do that.

Shannon

Jack Steal said...

I see Bill Smith continues to be hush-hush about the Twins off-season plans. He is the worst poker player ever!! He tried to bluff the Yankees, Red Sox, and Mets when it came to trading Johan Santana and the Twins ended up with Carlos Gomez and three bum pitchers.

He also waited too long to negotiate with Torii Hunter because he was convinced he would remain in Minnesota. We all know how that turned out. This guy has no idea what he is doing. He is a YES man who used to count nickels and dimes. It's pretty scary to think he is now responsible for trying to re-sign ST. Paul native Joe Mauer long term. The front office believes everybody is expendable in the organization. Let's hope something gets done soon.