Earlier today Sporting News released their annual ranking of MLB general managers, except now it's a ranking of MLB front offices as a whole. Whatever. The Twins had been making headway in the rankings in recent years, with GM Terry Ryan making the small jump from 21st in 2014 to 17th in 2015. Yay for improvement, right?
Well, in 2016 the Twins front office slid all the way to 28th place, making them the third worst in baseball. Author Jesse Spector gave this short assessment:
This is what happens when you believe in your win-loss record instead of paying attention to the underlying numbers when you go about trying to build for the following season. It’s also what happens when you commit dollars and term to Phil Hughes, Ricky Nolasco and Ervin Santana with expectations that they will be staff leaders.
Meanwhile, the products of a once-ballyhooed farm system have largely failed to deliver, casting player development into question. Fun time.
It’s hard to argue with the point about the Twins’ starting rotation. After 2016, the Twins will still owe a guaranteed $80.6 million combined to a trio of pitchers all in their 30s. Maybe that would be fine in some alternate universe they were providing a strong veteran presence to some up-and-coming youngsters, but in this universe they’ve already all been pitching consistently like poop for awhile. Maybe dealing with one long, bad veteran pitching contract would have been okay, but three of them? Oye ve.
However, I personally think that argument that the Twins’ top prospects failing to deliver reflects poorly on the front office isn’t very fair. The Twins’ toppest of prospects, Byron Buxton, is just 22 years old and still a major league rookie. Jose Berrios, also just 22, has pitched all of four major league games. Miguel Sano, 23, was one of the best rookies in the league last year, and was starting to heat up at the plate before he was placed on the DL with a strained hamstring. So it’s not that the Twins have clearly failed to develop these young players, but that they are still developing. That, to me, is a much more reasonable view of the situation.
(To be fair, Spector does start off the entire ranking by point out that a front office’s ranking did really depend quite a bit on luck going their way. The Twins certainly could use more of that.)
The only glaring caveat I would put on this is the whole Miguel Sano in right field experiment. That has just been a disaster, and it is probably 99.999999% the front office’s fault (if not more).
As for the rest of the rankings, only the Angels and the Reds ranked worse than the Twins, at 29th and 30th respectively. Oh, and big shocker: The Cubs ranked number one.
What do you think of the rankings?