MINNEAPOLIS -- After a lengthy search that featured several external candidates, the Twins officially hired James Rowson as their new hitting coach on Friday.
Rowson, who had served as the Minor League hitting coordinator for the Yankees for the past three seasons, replaces Tom Brunansky, who was Minnesota's hitting coach for four years. Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said he met Rowson a few years ago and immediately recognized his people skills. Rowson's ability to build relationships came across in his interviews with the front office and manager Paul Molitor, while those in baseball had nothing but positives to say about him.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Longtime Twins media relations director Tom Mee, widely regarded as the organization's first employee as it made the move from Washington, D.C., to Minnesota in 1961, died Friday at the age of 88.
Mee, who was the club's media relations director until retiring in 1991, was inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame in 2013. Mee also received the Robert O. Fishel Award for Public Relations excellence in 1988, and he was the club's second recipient of the Herb Carneal Lifetime Achievement Award in 2007. At Target Field, the Tom Mee Library in the Twins' communications office is named in his honor.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Winter Meetings begin on Monday, but don't expect the Twins to make any major splashes at the annual event, which runs through Thursday.
The Twins solved their catching situation on Wednesday, signing catcher Jason Castro to a three-year deal worth $24.5 million, and they will mostly be looking for pitching help this offseason. But new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey said he doesn't expect any significant moves to come during the Winter Meetings, as it's more about setting the groundwork with agents and other clubs, while also getting a chance to learn more about the organization internally.
New agreement includes change to home-field advantage in World Series
By Richard Justice
IRVING, Texas -- Major League Baseball's players and owners reached a tentative five-year Collective Bargaining Agreement through the 2021 season on Wednesday night. The parties will follow up today with a formal document, which then must be ratified by representatives of both sides.
At 8:40 p.m. ET, an assortment of happy players, owners, lawyers and staffers poured from meeting rooms to exchange handshakes and hugs. That's how quickly 36 hours of round-the-clock negotiations ended, nearly four hours before today's deadline of 12:01 a.m. ET to reach a deal. Short of an agreement, the sport was faced with the best-case scenario of an extension or owners could have imposed a lockout.
MINNEAPOLIS -- In the first major move under the new front office led by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine, the Twins and free-agent catcher Jason Castro on Wednesday finalized a three-year deal worth $24.5 million.
It fills a crucial need for the Twins, who were looking for a starting catcher with Kurt Suzuki a free agent after his 2017 option didn't vest. Castro, an All-Star in 2013, brings a strong defensive presence behind the plate and is known for his pitch-framing and pitch-calling abilities as well as his leadership skills.
MINNEAPOLIS -- When Derek Falvey was introduced as the Twins' chief baseball officer in early November, one of his major themes was the importance of establishing a better culture throughout the organization.
One major change heading into next year to help address that is the organization's Minor League coaches and instructors will be able to take breaks during the season to attend family-related events. It allows Minor Leaguer staffers a chance to get away from the grind of the baseball season when an important family event comes up.
Baseball players are absurdly busy during the season and, as a result, may not get to shower their loved ones with all the attention and care they otherwise would like. The good news is they can make up for it in the offseason. Just ask Brian Dozier.
For a quarter-century, the Arizona Fall League has helped the top Minor League talent in the game get ready for the big leagues. It's done so with remarkable consistency, sending more than 60 percent of its alumni to the highest level.
The AFL has produced 247 players who have earned roster spots in the All-Star Game, including 33 in last year's Midsummer Classic. There have been 16 MVPs (Mike Trout is a two-time winner), seven Cy Young Award winners and 27 Rookies of the Year to come through the league since it started in 1992.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins announced plans on Tuesday for their annual TwinsFest, which will be held at Target Field for a fourth straight year from Jan. 27-29.
TwinsFest, which began in 1989 and was previously held at the Metrodome until moving to Target Field in 2014, is one of the largest fundraisers for the Twins Community Fund. It's set to feature more than 60 current, former and future Twins players.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins already solved their catching situation by signing veteran backstop Jason Castro to a three-year deal, but they have plenty more work to do at baseball's Winter Meetings, which begin next week in National Harbor, Md.
It'll be the first Winter Meetings for the new front office led by chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine. They made their first splash of the offseason in the week leading up to the Meetings, reaching an agreement with Castro, a three-year deal worth $24.5 million to replace Kurt Suzuki, according to a Major League source.
MINNEAPOLIS -- When the new front office led by Derek Falvey and Thad Levine was officially introduced in early November, both men talked about the importance of bringing back former players to the organization.
The Twins did just that on Monday, hiring former Minnesota stars Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins and Michael Cuddyer as special assistants to baseball operations. All three players, who retired after the 2015 season, will be resources for the front office, coaching staff and players. They'll also report to Spring Training as instructors, which is a role that Hunter and Hawkins filled last year. They'll also visit Minor League affiliates throughout the year.
With the help of the Twins and the American Heart Association, the Heart of 29 Campaign was established to help raise awareness and funds to prevent heart attacks, like the one Carew suffered while golfing near his home in Southern California on Sept. 20, 2015.
While the most talented team doesn't always win the championship, it did in the Arizona Fall League. The Mesa Solar Sox wrapped up the East Division crown on the final day of the regular season before rolling to an easy victory in the AFL's one-game playoff for its first title since 2003.
Mesa had the league's deepest lineup, as evidenced by its seven hitters who rank among the AFL's 20 best prospects below. The Solar Sox had star power with outfielders Eloy Jimenez (Cubs) and Bradley Zimmer (Indians) and second baseman Ian Happ (Cubs), all of whom sit in the 20s on MLBPipeline.com's Top 100 Prospects list. They also had emerging talents such as shortstop Yu-Cheng Chang and outfielder Greg Allen, who have been overshadowed in a deep Indians system, and league home run leader Brian Anderson (Marlins No. 4 prospect), who had support for making our list.
MINNEAPOLIS -- With two weeks left until baseball's Winter Meetings, the Twins have yet to make any outside additions to a roster that lost 103 games last season.
But the Twins did make some surprising moves Friday, when they outrighted third baseman Trevor Plouffe, outfield prospect Adam Walker and catcher Juan Centeno to clear roster space for six prospects to be protected from the Rule 5 Draft.
Some of the most exciting plays in baseball are the results of a fast runner using his speed to apply pressure to the defense. In celebration of the joy that comes from watching speedsters race around the basepaths, let's take a look at a few of the fastest baserunning plays of 2016.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins made some surprising roster moves Friday, as third baseman Trevor Plouffe and catcher Juan Centeno were outrighted off the roster, while outfield prospect Adam Walker was claimed off waivers by the Brewers.
With a corner infield logjam that includes Joe Mauer, Miguel Sano, Byungho Park and Kennys Vargas, the Twins decided to part ways with Plouffe after not finding a trade partner early this offseason. Plouffe was eligible for arbitration for the final time, and was due for a raise on his $7.25 million salary from last season. Walker also found himself the odd-man out among a glut of outfielders, as he's struggled to get on base because of strikeouts in the Minor Leagues despite his prodigious power. Centeno had a solid year offensively as a backup catcher, but has had trouble defensively.
English makes amazing catch in Fall League Championship
By Michael Clair |
The phrase "put some English on it" means to hit a ball with some serious curve on it. But for Twins prospect Tanner English, he wants that phrase to refer to an absolutely absurd catch. Playing for the Surprise Saguaros in the Arizona Fall League championship game against the Mesa Solar Sox on Saturday, English made his best attempt at changing the dialect.
In the bottom of the first, Indians prospect Bradley Zimmer hit a liner to the right-center gap. English simply raced across the outfield moors and, with a hat-losing dive, made the catch:
MINNEAPOLIS -- With two weeks left in the regular season, Major League Baseball approached Twins second baseman Brian Dozier and asked him if he'd be interested in being the league's representative as part of the MLB Ambassador Tour in Taiwan.
Dozier didn't hesitate, as he was excited about the opportunity to promote baseball abroad and always wanted to travel to Asia. Dozier and his wife, Renee, spent last week in Taiwan as part of the Ambassador Tour, and he said it went better than he even expected, especially because of the immense fan turnout.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Fair or unfair, the Twins' reputation under longtime general manager Terry Ryan was one of an old-school organization that valued scouting and the human element over analytics.
But the Twins did have an analytics department under Ryan led by director of baseball research Jack Goin, and used advanced statistics to help with personnel decisions both externally and internally. That department, however, will be expanded under the new regime of chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine.
CLEARWATER, Fla. -- Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer and former two-time Cy Young Award winner Roy Halladay were among nine inducted into the Florida State League Hall of Fame Class of 2016 during a ceremony on Tuesday night.
Mauer, the '09 American League MVP and a six-time All-Star, played for the Class A Fort Myers Miracle in '03 and '04. The No. 1 pick in the '01 Draft, Mauer said that the FSL was his first real introduction to what life would be like in the Major Leagues.
MINNEAPOLIS -- Despite the stereotype that analytically-driven front offices value numbers over the human element, new Twins chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine both said improving clubhouse chemistry is one of their goals heading into next season.
Falvey, in his nine years with the Indians, and Levine, during 11 seasons with the Rangers, both saw firsthand the value of clubhouse leadership. Falvey credited veteran leaders such as Mike Napoli and Rajai Davis for helping Cleveland stay loose on its run to the World Series this year, while Levine mentioned players like Michael Young, Adrian Beltre, Darren Oliver and Colby Lewis as veteran leaders that led Texas to back-to-back World Series appearances in 2010-11.
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mitch Garver has a reputation as an offensive-minded catcher. He's doing nothing to dispel that with his performance at the plate in the Arizona Fall League, though he doesn't like being regarded as one-dimensional.
"I do get tired of hearing that," said Garver, the Twins' No. 24 prospect who shares the AFL home run lead with four. "I take a lot of pride in my defense. If I can catch a win, that's a great day for me. It I get a hit, that's a bonus."
Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.
MINNEAPOLIS -- While improving the rotation is a top priority for the Twins this offseason, the bullpen could use reinforcements as well, especially with closer Glen Perkins still rehabbing his surgically repaired shoulder.
Minnesota relievers combined to post a 4.60 ERA that ranked as the fifth-worst mark in the Majors last year, but they did show improvement in generating strikeouts, ranking 15th in strikeouts per nine innings after finishing last in that statistic in 2015. And they did it all mostly without Perkins, a three-time All-Star who made two relief appearances in April before eventually undergoing season-ending surgery on his left labrum in June.
MINNEAPOLIS -- After losing a Major League-high 103 games in 2016, it's clear the Twins have plenty of work to do to get back to being a competitive club.
But new chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine aren't ready to say how long it will take before Minnesota will be a postseason contender. The Twins do have a strong young core of position players and did win 83 games in '15, so it doesn't appear the new front office will be undergoing a full rebuild with the current roster, but it's clear the there is a goal to build a sustainable winner.
MINNEAPOLIS -- With a new front office led by former Indians assistant general manager Derek Falvey and former Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine, the Twins head into free agency looking to improve a team that lost a Major League-worst 103 games in 2016.
Fixing the rotation is the club's top priority -- especially after Twins starters combined to post a 5.39 ERA, which ranked last in the Majors. Minnesota will also look to give manager Paul Molitor an upgrade at catcher and could look to improve the bullpen, as well.
MINNEAPOLIS -- With their new front office officially taking over on Monday, the Twins did some roster maintenance, outrighting reliever Alex Wimmers to Triple-A Rochester and reinstating closer Glen Perkins, right-hander Phil Hughes and outfielder Danny Santana from the 60-day disabled list.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins had to wait until after the World Series concluded to make it official, but a new era of Minnesota Twins baseball was ushered in on Monday.
The club formally introduced the top two members of its revamped front office at Target Field, welcoming chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine. Falvey, who had served as an assistant general manager for the Indians, was hired on Oct. 3, while Levine, who was an assistant GM for the Rangers, was hired on Thursday.
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins unveiled their new front office at Target Field on Monday, but it led to a quick turnaround, as chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine had a flight to catch to Arizona late Monday for the annual GM Meetings in Scottsdale.
Assistant general manager Rob Antony also joined Falvey and Levine, as he'll remain in the organization and will be counted on to help ease the transition. Antony served as interim GM when longtime GM Terry Ryan was dismissed in July and has helped Falvey and Levine get up to speed on the state of the franchise.