For 15 years, Joe Pohlad has worked in a variety of departments for the Twins, from baseball operations to marketing. Now he's in charge of all of them.
Jim Pohlad, who as Twins chairman had run the franchise since the death of his father, Carl, in 2009, on Monday informed team employees that he is stepping away from the day-to-day oversight of the team. Joe, his nephew, is the new executive chair. Jim Pohlad will remain active as an owner and as the team's liaison with Major League Baseball.
Joe Pohlad, 40, is the grandson of former Twins owner Carl Pohlad and the son of Bob Pohlad, one of Carl's three sons and a co-owner of the Twins. Joe headed the Twins' recent rebranding, including new uniforms and caps.
Monday, in an interview in downtown Minneapolis, Joe said he doesn't see much changing in the Twins operation, that he values the key members of the current baseball operation and that he doesn't even see the transition "as a big deal.''
He says he has worked closely with Jim Pohlad and the current Twins leadership for years. If there is one aspect of his management style that might differ from Jim's, it might be that Joe expects to spend more time around the team.
"I'll be in the clubhouse,'' Joe Pohlad said. "I started going in there more frequently last year. Like so many things, I just need to figure it out as we go.''
Pohlad spoke highly of Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey and manager Rocco Baldelli, who came under fire last year as the Twins failed to hold their lead in the American League Central division.
"Rocco and I have a good relationship,'' he said. "A friendship. And I think that if done respectably, being in the new role, I can go down there and interact in a respectful way.
"I'm closer in age to Rocco and some of those guys. Hopefully, I can be a relatable, not-dorky, owner.''
Joe Pohlad was CEO of Go Media, which owned local radio stations, for a few years, but he has maintained an office and a daily presence at Target Field since 2007. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three sons. Team President Dave St. Peter and Falvey will report to him.
Being a Pohlad in Minnesota means running the only major men's professional sports franchise that has won a championship in recent history — and being frequently criticized for not spending more on payroll.
"I certainly understand that this is what comes with the territory,'' Joe said of fan criticism. "I grew up with it, right? So I really don't know any different.''
Under Falvey, the Twins have signed expensive free agents like Josh Donaldson and Carlos Correa. They are negotiating with Correa, the star shortstop, on a potential long-term deal, even though most baseball experts think they have little chance of outbidding large-market teams for his services.
Joe Pohlad said he'll continue to lean on St. Peter, Falvey, Baldelli and Dustin Morse, the Twins' vice president of communications and content.
"It's not like how we're going to operate as a business is going to change on Day 1 because I'm in this chair,'' Joe said. "To this point, we are having all of the same conversations. Dave, Derek and I are operating in the same way. I am certainly not one to all of a sudden blow things up because I'm the guy in this seat.
"Certainly, we don't need any of that going on. In terms of free agency and big-money spending, we would love a guy like Carlos Correa on the team. I know that Jim was not a big fan of long-term contracts.
"We're lucky to have a guy like Byron Buxton. We'd love a guy like Carlos Correa. But there have to be two people who want that; it's not just up to us.''
Jim Pohlad told Joe Pohlad last offseason that he was planning to lessen his daily involvement with the team. "Then, as the conversations picked up, we brought Dave in the loop,'' Joe said.
Joe Pohlad has been preparing for this move for years. He worked in the Twins' baseball operations department, and in marketing and retail. Morse said that Joe is known in the organization for spending copious time at the office, chatting with employees about baseball and parenting.
Asked if he had hobbies outside of baseball, Joe said, "I run, and I go to the office. I think if you work every day and have kids and have a lot of hobbies, you're probably not spending enough time as a dad.''
Joe Pohlad said he would continue to lean on two people he views as mentors: Jim Pohlad, and St. Peter. As he spoke during the lengthy interview, he and Morse needled each other on a variety of topics.
Asked specifically about Falvey, Joe Pohlad said "We are a better organization and a better baseball ops team with the ops team that we have in place.''
He also said that Falvey is still in the process of building the baseball department in a way that has not been fully revealed publicly.
"The system, the operation that Derek and his team are building, and have built — nobody would, should or could be privy to that, because they don't work in the organization,'' Joe Pohlad said. "That stuff takes time. We've never really talked about it. I'm supremely confident that that stuff will bear fruit over time. We'll get there.''
Joe remembers piling into the family car to attend the 1987 and '91 World Series. Now he's running the franchise and his sons are yearning for a title, and one of them will probably replace Joe eventually in the family business.
"There's a whole generation of Twins fans, my kids included, that haven't experienced that,'' Joe said of the championships. "They've just experienced frustration that I've experienced, right? Just getting to the playoffs and not making it past the first round, we need to solve that. And I know we're working hard at that.''