Falvey & Levine Nice Fit for Twins
Falvey & Levine could be the names on the front door of a small law firm. Instead they are the baseball bosses of the Minnesota Twins, and the name of one is seldom mentioned without the other.
“They are a true partnership,” club president Dave St. Peter told Sports Headliners.
It was St. Peter and Twins owner Jim Pohlad who hired Derek Falvey as chief baseball officer and Thad Levine as general manager in the fall of 2016. Falvey came from the Cleveland Indians where he first began his baseball career in 2007 and rose to the level of assistant general manager (the club was in the 2016 World Series). Levine, by contrast, worked for multiple baseball organizations including the Texas Rangers where his title was assistant GM for 11 seasons prior to arriving in Minneapolis.
St. Peter said Falvey repeatedly emphasized during his interview process how important it was to hire the right general manager. While Falvey and Levine knew each other, they weren’t close before coming to the Twins, but there was potential chemistry between the two.
“I think from the very minute he and I got on the phone together, we realized we had a much stronger rapport than we would have ever expected,” Levine told Sports Headliners. “And I think we both walked in the door with pretty limited egos and with a real team-first mentality, and I think that’s allowed for us to co-exist in a very positive way.
“I also think we came from very different backgrounds. The way that the Cleveland Indians built a championship organization was different from the way the Texas Rangers built a championship organization.
“So I think at this stage of our careers we’re both very desirous of learning and contributing concurrently. I think being able to draw on each other’s respective backgrounds and experiences has allowed for us to learn a lot from one another, but also (provide) a forum for us to contribute.”
After last season’s 78-84 record, the Twins have turned a lot of heads this spring while playing some of the best baseball in either the American or National Leagues. Their .684 winning percentage today is the best in the majors and they hold a 10.5 game lead in the AL Central Division over the second place Indians. The Twins, 39-18, have been so consistent they have yet to lose more than two consecutive games.
Falvey and Levine have added impact players to the roster like DH Nelson Cruz, first baseman C. J. Cron, and second baseman Jonathan Schoop, and pitchers such as Jake Odorizzi and Martin Perez. The two executives have also changed managers and coaches who have positively impacted player development. Manager Rocco Baldelli, hitting coach James Rowson and pitching coach Wes Johnson (promoted from college coaching) look like A+ hires so far.
St. Peter, Falvey and Levine will be the first to say there are many contributors in the organization that have stirred such promise to this young season for the Twins. But Falvey and Levine are the organization’s baseball bosses so the leadership and decision making begins with them.
St. Peter said much of what Falvey and Levine do each day is working together on a sizeable list of the same responsibilities. Asked to be more specific, St. Peter offered that Falvey may spend more time on research and development, and analytics than his GM, with Levine looking more at scouting and player development than his colleague. “They work incredibly well together,” St. Peter said.
In any workplace it’s important that people not only have skills but also learn to work effectively with one another. St. Peter said Falvey and Levine have been just a “wonderful one-two punch” who collaborate, complement and challenge each other.
“I just love working with them,” St. Peter said. “They’re both just really fun individuals. Smart (and) they challenge me.
“They’ve been everything we could have hoped for from a character perspective in terms of the respect that they bring, the way they treat people, (and) just the way they interact with the organization. There’s a lot of Twins culture that’s rubbed off on them, and they’ve obviously impacted the Twins culture in other ways that’s made us a better organization.”
Observers who watch Falvey and Levine from a distance are impressed by what seems to be a genuine liking for one another. “It’s very authentic,” Levine said. “What you see in the public is what you see in private.”
Of course, two individuals as talented and driven as the two Twins baseball bosses don’t always agree on everything but their liking and respect for each other and the organization apparently sets a tone that keeps them on track.
“When I wake up in the morning, I am excited to get in my car to come to work,” Levine said. “…I feel blessed to be able to say that because I get to work with people I respect—who have my best interest at heart and who are trying to push me, and who are very close friends.
“And…I have a very great family life. So I feel very blessed to be in the position I am today.”
Falvey is only 36 years old. Levine, at 47, has a lot of his baseball career ahead, too. St. Peter knows it’s his job to keep them with the Minnesota organization as long as possible. That could definitely be a challenge with the success the franchise is having and the recognition that will be coming for Falvey and Levine. Other MLB owners could come knocking and soon, and perhaps targeting Levine since on the organizational chart he ranks No. 2 in the front office. But for now the two have a partnership in Minnesota, almost seemingly joined at the hip as “twins.”