Friday Twins Baseball Oddities

A couple of peculiar items have captured my attention today. One involved MLB as a whole and the other the Twins, specifically.

The latter was the news from Phil Mackey at 1500espn (referring to a Tweet by Roch Kubatko of MASN Sports) that the Twins have denied the Orioles permission to interview VP of Player Personnel Mike Radcliff for the Birds’ vacant General Manager position.

Mike Radcliff (photo: Minnesota Twins)

That kind of thing doesn’t happen often. While it wouldn’t be ideal to lose your VP of Player Personnel just as the free agency market opens, it would still be odd for a team to deny one of their people an opportunity to even interview for a bigger, better job with another organization. On top of that, Mackey reported that the reason was due to, “internal reorganization and promotions.”

The thing is, the Twins haven’t announced any kind of internal front office reorganization or promotions.

Typically, teams don’t refuse other teams to interview their people if the open position would clearly be a step up. One could certainly argue that Radcliff’s current position with the Twins has more authority than what the eventual Orioles GM will have, given their “hands on” owner and a manager who’s been given an awful lot of authority over player personnel decisions. It might be the worst GM gig in baseball.

But the Twins aren’t saying that (at least not publicly). They’re saying the refusal is due to internal reorganization and promotions. The only promotion I’ve read about lately is Tom Brunansky getting the Rochester hitting coach gig. Hard to imagine that affecting Radcliff’s responsibilities, isn’t it?

Could it be that there’s some sort of succession plan in place whereby Radcliff will be taking over for GM Bill Smith in the relatively near future? Stay tuned… maybe someone in the Minnesota media will track down an answer from the Twins.

UPDATE: Subsequent media reports indicate there’s no plan to change Radcliff’s title, but the Twins are looking at bringing Wayne Krivsky back in to the front office as a Special Assistant to GM Bill Smith. Krivsky had been an Assistant GM for the Twins before taking the GM job with the Reds a few years back. He lost that job a couple of years ago and has held lesser jobs in the front offices of other teams since then.

The other odd item today was courtesy of ESPN’s Jayson Stark.

We’re well aware that MLB and its players are trying to work out a new collective bargaining agreement (does this sound familiar, or what?). What little has been written about the negotiations, however, has largely focused on two things… MLB’s desire for a hard slotting system for draft picks’ salaries and vague assurances that neither party sees it as being at all likely that this process will become as problematic as the NFL negotiations were and NBA negotiations have been.

What Stark points out, however, is that the MLB luxury tax system ended with the end of the 2011 season. There’s an assumption that some sort of luxury tax system will be included in whatever new CBA is ultimately adopted, but in the mean time, none exists.

That has to make it pretty difficult for some teams to figure out what they can afford for a 2012 payroll, which in turn makes it all but impossible for some of them to get very active in the free agent market.

Big market teams won’t be significantly affected. If you were going to be paying in to the system, you can just assume you will be under the new system, as well.

If you’re a team that neither pays in nor receives significant luxury tax dollars, you really aren’t affected either. The Twins probably fall in this category.

But if you’re the Tampa Bay Rays or Kansas City Royals, you’ve got to be just a little nervous, don’t you? Even if you are very certain that there will continue to be some form of luxury tax, you can’t be sure of the amount. If you can’t be sure of the amount, it’s kinda tough to put together a budget.

Not only does that prevent you from diving in to the free agent pool (even to try to retain your own free agents), but in some cases, teams need a significant amount of luxury tax money just to be able to afford to keep the players they have under contract. In a worst-case scenario, a lack of luxury tax money could force some teams to hold some interesting fire sales.

At the very least, it seems to me that the low-revenue teams are going to have to hold off on making significant roster decisions until there is some finality on the CBA. That won’t affect the market for high-end free agents (let’s face it, the Royals were not going to be bidding for Prince Fielder anyway), but it may mean a team like the Twins would have less competition for more moderately priced free agents, such as Ramon Santiago, if they act earlier rather than later. That’s not exactly the Twins MO, of course.

Maybe these two items aren’t ultimately big deals. But with Spring Training still over 100 days away, we have to talk about SOMETHING, don’t we?

Finally, speaking of Spring Training, our friend Paul Caputo (from has started a new Facebook page that’s worth checking out. “Countdown to Spring Training” gives us one more option for discussing any manner of Hot Stove issues. Check it out!

With that, I’ll call it a day. Have a good weekend, all!

– JC