February 8, 2006

Krivsky to Cincinnati

I came to an odd realization yesterday after hearing the news that Twins assistant general manager Wayne Krivsky left the team to take the general manager job with the Reds. Basically, I don't know much of anything about Krivsky. Sure, I know that he's been in charge of negotiating contracts and I know that he was Terry Ryan's right-hand man, but beyond that it's pretty much a blank slate. In fact, I'm not sure I'd even recognize Krivsky if I ran into him on the street.

Do we know which big moves Krivsky has specifically been instrumental in over the years? Do we know what his strengths are in the big picture? Do we know what portion of the Twins' short-term and long-term planning can be traced back to him directly? Other than vague mentions of Krivsky's place within the organization here or there, I'm not sure we can really answer any of those questions with much confidence.

In fact, solely from an outsider's perspective it has always seemed as though both Jim Rantz and Mike Radcliff have had higher-profile roles with the Twins. That's not to say Krivsky won't be missed a ton or that the Reds made a poor hire. Quite the opposite actually, because if you go strictly by Krivsky's apparent reputation within baseball and Ryan's effusive praise of him, he seems to be an excellent fit for the job of rebuilding a mid-market team.

This situation is an example of how little we know about the men running teams as opposed to the men playing on teams, which is probably the opposite of how it should be when you really think about it. Is one player -- even someone as good as Johan Santana or Joe Mauer -- any more important to the Twins than Ryan over the long haul? I doubt it. I'd say something similar about Krivsky, but to be honest I have no clue if it's true because he's had such little media attention paid to his job.

Shocking as it may sound, the most I've ever read about Krivsky's actual role may have come from one solitary paragraph written by the Official Twins Beat Writer of AG.com, La Velle E. Neal, in today's Minneapolis Star Tribune:

Krivsky negotiated many multiyear contracts, including ones for Torii Hunter, Brad Radke and Johan Santana. He helped prepare cases for arbitration and was well-versed on the rules concerning waivers, rosters and the basic agreement. Krivsky also scouted the National League and the Twins' minor league affiliates. Krivsky was the most prominent of Twins officials who believed Joe Nathan could become a closer, leading to the trade for Nathan in 2004.

If there's any good news that comes along with Krivsky's departure it's that the Twins have likely just picked up a pretty willing trade partner in the other league. What makes that especially nice is that the Reds are fairly loaded with hitters throughout their organization, yet are completely lacking in quality pitching. That could add up to a great fit should Ryan and Krivsky decide to make one of those "both teams win" deals in the near future.

My dream scenario would involve Adam Dunn, Austin Kearns or Edwin Encarnacion, or maybe even Felipe Lopez or Wily Mo Pena. A slightly more realistic scenario is that Krivsky was the person in the Twins' front office most in favor of keeping Kyle Lohse around for another year and might be willing to swap a lesser hitter like Ryan Freel for him once Ryan is confident in Francisco Liriano being ready for the starting rotation.

Come midseason, when Tony Batista has proven himself incompetent as an everyday player, the Twins could make room for Liriano every fifth day while also grabbing Freel to replace Batista at third base. Hey, a boy can dream, right? Actually, I suppose my real dream scenario would involve Ryan deciding that he should replace Krivsky with some kid who blogs about the Twins from his bedroom. You know, because I think it's time that Twins Junkie got his shot.

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Other Twins notes ...

  • Mauer has decided not to play in next month's World Baseball Classic, which is probably a good thing. As Ryan said, "He wants to make sure that he's strong for the entire 162 games."
  • Over at his blog, Twins fan and prospect guru John Sickels posted his top 20 Twins prospects for 2006. I'm planning my own prospect rankings in a couple weeks, but I'll say right now that you won't find any disagreement with the top spot.
  • ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick picked the Twins as his surprise team in the American League. Crasnick's article includes this amusing quote from Ryan regarding the Batista signing:

    Statistically, the people in "Moneyball" books and Sabermetricians won't like what they see. But if you put him in the 7-8 hole and he gives you 20-plus homers and 80-plus RBI, I think that would probably be OK.

    First of all, it's interesting to note that Ryan has been quoted as saying essentially that same thing in about a dozen different places over the past couple weeks. Second, who exactly are these "people in 'Moneyball' books?" That's an odd thing to say unless you haven't actually read the book -- and despite what Ryan may think, there is only one book with that title -- although I suppose it's encouraging to know that he's at least aware of the existence of sabermetrics.

  • One of my all-time favorite Twins, Matthew LeCroy, signed a one-year deal with the Nationals yesterday. LeCroy seems like an awful fit in Washington, both because there is no designated hitter in the National League and because the Nationals don't really need a platoon partner for Nick Johnson at first base. Unless they plan on using him behind the plate quite a bit, I don't see LeCroy getting much playing time. And yes, considering he went to Washington for just $850,000 I still think the Twins should have found a way to keep LeCroy around.

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