Twins Daily Roundtable: Grading Molitor
Image courtesy of Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY SportsSeth Stohs
I think he's doing fine. A manager's role in wins and losses is vastly overstated (wins or losses). As for the lineup, I'd say he does just fine. He mixes it up pretty well and isn't married to certain hitters in certain spots. Bullpen usage is where most find fault. I definitely think he has a tendency to overwork the reliable relievers which, practically, is understandable. But he will need to find a way to trust others to try to keep those top guys from wearing down. He's obviously well respected in the clubhouse, but I don't know what we can really comment on his role in there. We just don't know. A manager can't be at all places. In terms of analytics, he certainly has the people around him that will encourage it.
This is an impossible question to answer with any certainty. Managers usually get too much credit when the team wins, and they get too much of the blame when things go bad.
I'd give him a D. We're not at the point where I'm demanding he be fired, but I definitely think the team would be better off with someone else running the show.
I'm happy to see the Twins are bunting much less frequently this year, but I'm still depressed at how inefficiently the bullpen has been managed. There's also no shortage of strange lineup decisions. He seems to have no interest in providing opportunities for younger players and caters to the veterans far too often.
I have a lot of respect for Paul Molitor. He's certainly knows more about baseball than I do, but expertise doesn't always translate to management.
Expectations were high for the Twins heading into the 2018 season and things haven’t exactly gone as planned. Falvey and Levine seemed to have put together some strong pieces to build off of last season’s playoff run. However, no one could have predicted the lack of production from Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Brian Dozier. There’s little a manager can do if the team’s best players aren’t performing or aren’t even on the roster.
I honestly think the front office will decided to go in a different direction this off-season. I believe Falvey and Levine are going to want to bring in someone younger that fits the mold of “being their guy.” They could give Molitor one more chance to see what he does with the club next year but Minnesota won’t have the likes of Sano and Buxton around forever.
If the time isn’t now, when will it be? Overall grade, C- but he moves to a C+ with extra credit for AL Manager of the Year.
Molitor was put in a difficult position, but he also hasn’t done himself any favors. This front office likely would’ve hired their own guy had they not been mandated to do otherwise. He saved his skin by winning Manager of the Year in 2017, but he’s continued many of his poor habits this season. Bullpen usage has been questionable, in-game strategy leaves something to be desired, and lineup configuration has been head-scratching at times.
Nothing he’s done has been egregious, but the sum of all parts seems average at best. It’s hard to gauge his relatability to this roster without being in the clubhouse, but I tend to believe there’re better options in that department. On a grading scale, I’d tag him with a C-. Regardless of his three-year deal, which did seem odd, I don’t know that Falvey and Levine won’t move on this winter anyways.
I'll begin this one by pointing out the cliche that managers get too much of the credit for winning and too much of the blame for losing. The players hit, pitch, and play defense while managers really can only make personnel decisions and have situational influence. But that is where good managers can make their mark.
As far as personnel decisions go, Molitor doesn’t get a passing grade from me. Overuse of bullpen pitchers has quite clearly affected their performance. Platoon advantages have not been utilized enough. At times I've thought it was like he's spinning a roulette wheel with players names on it to figure out the lineup order he'd throw out. The up and down records of his his teams during his tenure also tells me he may not have that special sauce that extracts the best out of most of his players consistently. That's one idea I do think the great managers accomplish.
When it comes to the situational side during a game, outside of his use of the bullpen, I do think Molitor does well. He's embraced shifting on defense, I don't think they've done much bunting, and based on his Hall Of Fame playing career I know he’s seen it all. I trust him to make the correct decisions in that sense.
Overall, I’d rank him around the middle of MLB managers, but his time is running out.
This is really a tough question.
Obviously, you can’t say Paul Molitor has been an incredibly good manager at this point, based on the results on the field, even though last season’s second half was certainly encouraging.
But I’m not really sure you can lay the lack of success this season purely at his feet, either. While most of us were looking for a strong year as they prepared for spring training, I think if you’d have told us then that Polanco and Santana would each miss the entire first half of the season and Sano and Buxton would spend so little time on the active roster, our expectations might have been more muted. I’m not sure you can blame the manager for not winning more games when those major pieces were absent.
Personally, I’d probably give him an overall grade of C+ and, based on that, I won’t really have any objection whether the front office decides to keep him around or bring in someone new.
If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Hall of Fame Impact
Baseball in 2028