Gleeman: Q&A with Minnesota Twins GM Thad Levine

From SABR member Aaron Gleeman at Baseball Prospectus on September 25, 2018:

As part of Baseball Prospectus Night at Target Field on August 25, Twins general manager Thad Levine joined us for an interview with BP editor-in-chief Aaron Gleeman, followed by audience Q&A. The following is a transcript of the interview portion, which has been edited for clarity and brevity, as the entire session lasted more than an hour and was over 15,000 words when transcribed. You can listen to the unedited, hour-plus Levine audio, including the audience Q&A, on the Gleeman and The Geek podcast.

Aaron Gleeman: Obviously it’s been a frustrating, disappointing year. What are some of the sticking points that you’ll look back on and say were the forks in the road, where it went in the wrong direction? Or do you look at it as this year was never going to happen anyway, that you might have needed to win 97 games to make the playoffs, and clearly, with everything going as wrong as it did, that wasn’t going to happen? Or is that self-defeating to look at it that way?

Thad Levine:  I actually think it’s a blend of the two. First of all, what we try to avoid in the front office is anything that is characterized as “loser talk.” We try not to say beforehand in a season, “Hey, listen, we don’t have any chance of winning, so let’s plan for losing.” That being said, we’ve gotten very sophisticated in terms of prognosticating what a certain roster should be able to do over the course of a season, what that team’s depth should allow them to do as the season progresses, and from that, you derive playoff percentages, playoff odds, win projections for teams. We walked into the season with the feeling that between Houston, New York, Boston, Cleveland, we have four teams that are somewhere between extremely good and just bona fide behemoths in the American League. Our strategy this past offseason was to invest in the 2018 version of the Twins and not do anything at the expense of 2019 and beyond. We ended up, as an impact, signing a number of players who had one-year deals, effectively.

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Originally published: September 25, 2018. Last Updated: September 25, 2018.