Jump to content

Providing independent coverage of the Minnesota Twins.
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

The Forums

Front Page: Arizona Fall League Preview: Royce Lewis Head...

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 04:26 PM
As of your reading of this article, the Arizona Fall League season has gotten underway for the 2019 season. If you’re thinking that seems...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Should Eddie Rosario Be Benched for Not Hustl...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:25 PM
Eddie Rosario is one of five Twins hitters to hit 30 home runs or more this season to help the team set a new standard at the big-league...
Full topic ›

Game Thread: Twins vs KC 4:40 PM PST (6:40 PM CDT) 9/19/19

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 04:25 PM
The Twins took two steps forward toward the goal of winning the division during the series of games against the Sox. Unfortunately, after...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Mission Accomplished: An Elite Twins Bullpen

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:13 PM
As the month of July came to an end, Minnesota Twins fans watched with anticipation hoping that their club was going to make the necessar...
Full topic ›

Front Page: Twins Game Recap (9/18): Twins’ Offense Absen...

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 03:54 PM
After a 12 inning game and the White Sox using a bullpen game, it looked like the Twins’ offense would have some fun at the plate tonight...
Full topic ›

Baldelli and Buxton: The Power of Parallels

There are many reasons to like Rocco Baldelli as Minnesota's new managerial choice. One attribute that's being thrown around frequently right now: 'he's just relatable.'

As I wrote last week, that's been a key trait in many recent (successful) hires around the league. And in this case, a specific relatability to one colossally vital Twins player may be especially noteworthy.
Image courtesy of Jasen Vinlove, USA Today
The Twins have a bevy of tasks in front of them, but none are more important to their short-term outlook than getting Byron Buxton back on track. His game-changing ability makes him an elite difference-maker in the game, and Buxton's total lack of contribution in 2018 was one of the biggest reasons Minnesota went nowhere.

“When you have a staff that can relate to different players in different ways, I think you have a much better chance of touching these guys and helping them in their careers and getting them where they need to be," said Baldelli during his introductory press conference at Target Field on Thursday.

Buxton's career up to this point has been one of huge upside, sky-high expectations, and physical setbacks. In all three of those areas, his new manager can provide an empathetic perspective and relate in some unique ways.

Rocco Baldelli Knows About Being Gifted with Incredible Talent

Like Buxton, Baldelli was a nationally recognized talent from a young age, and became a Top 10 draft pick out of high school. Both quickly developed into elite prospects and reached the major leagues at age 21. As players, they were of a similar mold: spectacular defensive center fielders and aggressive right-handed swingers with power.

Few people throughout the game's history have been blessed with the kind of pure athleticism and ability Buxton has. I'm not sure even Baldelli makes that cut, but he's closer than most.

Rocco Baldelli Knows About Dealing with Pressure and Expectations

Of course, being a top draft pick (Buxton was second overall in 2012, Baldelli sixth overall in 2000) brings with it a burden of its own. These two blue-chip studs were subject to extreme levels of pressure and expectation, which only grew as they dominated the minors and rocketed to early big-league debuts.

Buxton's perpetual stumbles and regressions have been made ever more frustrating by the Hall of Famer we all know resides within him. We've seen glimmers at times, but for various reasons, it just hasn't all fully come together. And that clearly weighs on him – why wouldn't it?

Baldelli's been there. As a Rookie of the Year candidate in 2003, there was hoping he'd help lift a still-fresh Tampa Bay franchise – last-place finisher in each of its first six years – out of the cellar. He knows that level of scrutiny, which can often be fiercest from oneself.

And that leads us to the most important thing:

Rocco Baldelli Knows About Being Derailed by the Uncontrollable

In a career that was sabotaged by physical breakdown, Baldelli faced maladies of all manners. He tore his ACL playing basketball during his third offseason. While rehabbing, he injured his elbow and required Tommy John surgery. Once he made it back he started experiencing chronic fatigue.

Upon undergoing tests, he was diagnosed with "metabolic and/or mitochondrial abnormalities." Doctors attempted to work out a plan to manage it, but the inexplicable ailment sapped and drained him. He battled on for years, participating in Tampa's first World Championship in 2008, but was finished as a player by age 29.

Which brings us to Buxton. He's had it bad up to this point, with major injuries scattered throughout his ascent and now casting doubt on his once brilliant outlook. But he's a long way from going down Baldelli's road.

It's often said that great players don't make great coaches, because they can't empathize with the adversity and tribulations experienced by lesser talents. In a way, that dynamic is at play with this managerial transition.

As a legendary ballplayer and No. 3 overall draft pick back in 1974, Paul Molitor shares the first two commonalities mentioned above, but not this one. His career wasn't without speed bumps but over 21 years of playing, he stayed mostly healthy and forever productive en route to the Hall of Fame.

Buxton is currently at a crossroad between the best-case scenario where he turns it around and realizes his potential as a top player in the game for many years (the Molitor path), or the worst-case scenario where that potential is squashed by endless time spent in the trainer's room (the Baldelli path).

To a large extent, it's out of his hands. And who better than Baldelli to get that message across? Focus on the big picture, manage what you can control, and don't let the setbacks get you down.

Buxton doesn't need more heart, or determination, or motivation. That's all there. But he might benefit from a fresh perspective and a new type of mentorship that Baldelli can seemingly provide.

  • brvama, USNMCPO, Monkeypaws and 4 others like this

  • Share:
  • submit to reddit
Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

Subscribe to Twins Daily Email

38 Comments

I guess we're supposed to pretend Molitor wasn't blessed with immense talent, didn't know how to deal with pressure/expectations, nor has anything not gone according to plan.


Huh? The OP explicitly said the first 2 of those 3 applied to Molitor as well.
Photo
Nick Nelson
Oct 26 2018 04:01 PM

 

I guess we're supposed to pretend Molitor wasn't blessed with immense talent, didn't know how to deal with pressure/expectations, nor has anything not gone according to plan.

From the article: "As a legendary ballplayer and No. 3 overall draft pick back in 1974, Paul Molitor shares the first two commonalities mentioned above, but not this one. His career wasn't without speed bumps but over 21 years of playing, he stayed mostly healthy and forever productive en route to the Hall of Fame."

Huh? The OP explicitly said the first 2 of those 3 applied to Molitor as well.


I don't read too good. Just the comments.
    • ashbury, gil4 and h2oface like this

 

I don't think that's true, and if it is, that's the problem, not Buxton's lack of production.

 

If the team is built with a lynchpin player and if that player struggles or gets injured the team falls apart, then I don't think your team is very good.

 

I'd love for Buxton to get on track and I don't care who's responsible for doing it, but he nor Sano, nor Berrios, nor Rosario nor Lewis nor anyone should be viewed as some kind of must-have player who's the fulcrum between success and failure. There are thousands of ways to win a baseball game. 

A team can win with a lineup with a couple of stars and a bunch of other guys who don't suck.Finding the stars is the hard part; patching the holes once you have the stars is easier.Buxton still looks like the best candidate for 2019 to me (although the team has $60M or so to make that change.)

    • Dantes929 and snap4birds like this
Photo
TheLeviathan
Oct 26 2018 06:41 PM
Buxton's injury issues are often blamed on his mentality.

He might just be brittle.

Buxton's injury issues are often blamed on his mentality.

He might just be brittle.

He might also combine an average propensity for random injuries (broken toe from a foul ball) with a propensity to hurt himself by going a little too much all-out (crashing into walls and other outfielders).

    • DocBauer likes this

He might also combine an average propensity for random injuries (broken toe from a foul ball) with a propensity to hurt himself by going a little too much all-out (crashing into walls and other outfielders).


I have this habit of repeating myself at times, but will do so again here.

Buxton might have just had some bad injury luck in 2018, with the toe, etc. And I hope that's what it was. I mean, he wasn't injured running in to a wall, Right?

But I remember Robert Smith, the great Viking RB, who was also "injury prone" his first couple of years. HOF RB Tony Dorsett once had a conversation with Smith concerning protecting his body. Basically, he told him about laying down or going out of bounds once in a while to protect himself, because an extra yard or two here and there simply wasn't as important as being available to play and contribute weekly to his team.

Now, maybe Smith learned something from that. Maybe he built his body up. Maybe he was just unlucky his fist couple of seasons. But he took off after those first couple of seasons.

Migraines are tough to deal with, I've suffered in the past from them. But answers can be found. Weird broken toes and wrist injuries happen. Sucks when they do, especially after you had the best stretch of your young career!

What I know and think I know:

1] From Span-Hunter-Puckett on down, I don't know in 45+ years I have ever seen a more talented or exciting player than Buxton. Whether it's just waiting for good karma to offset weird injuries in 2018, Baldelli being able to identify and connect with him, or Hunter spending time mentoring him,(which I have advocated repeatedly), but I would do everything I could to work with him. He doesn't have to be "babysat", but being "nurtured " by the organization is not a bad thing.

2] For whatever reason, blame who you will, the Twins have been blessed and cursed for some time now with talented CF who have been rushed through the system, and needed time to figure it all out. Sometimes they did with us, sometimes they did elsewhere. I would absolutely run with a healthy Buxton in 2019 as far as i could in 2019 for his development and potential.

Aptitude, talent and coaching are all important. And he needs to step forward, learn and grow. But there remains so much here to wait for and watch.
    • gil4 and Dantes929 like this

 

I shake my head at all the fault finders and unfair critics.  Throw 2018 out. Its not fair to cite a year filled with injuries. 

 

Buck showed what he could do in 2017.  I hope he returns to that level once healthy.

 

Buxton started the year healthy and the hope was the last two months of 2017 would carry over. He sucked in 2018 until he got hurt, and then he got hurt and sucked. Lots of players hit well for a couple of months in the show. Even Danny Santana for more than 2 months. Buxton really needs to perfrom now. It is really past time to do his thing, if it is going to happen.

    • TheLeviathan likes this

I don't know what the future holds for Buxton and have no interest in speculating. With that said, I sincerely hope he is doing what he can this winter to give him the best chance possible to get back to being that player he was the last couple months of 2017.

I think you hit it on the head, Nick, that Baldelli could be a boost in Buxton's efforts to recover from whatever has been ailing him.

The one positive from last season was that none of his physical ailments were caused by his seemingly reckless method of playing in the outfield. Hopefully, he will report to spring training healthy and remain so throughout the spring and 2019 season.

that dang hamate bone injury keeps flaring up. I hope Buxton gets his wrist cleaned up early in the offseason.

Baldelli's first order of business - get a catchy slogan that the troops can rally behind."Roc the Boat" seems tobe a natural.

    • ashbury and gil4 like this

 

2] For whatever reason, blame who you will, the Twins have been blessed and cursed for some time now with talented CF who have been rushed through the system, and needed time to figure it all out. Sometimes they did with us, sometimes they did elsewhere. I would absolutely run with a healthy Buxton in 2019 as far as i could in 2019 for his development and potential.

 

I agree. Buxton floundered up here because he was promoted too fast. Same with Gomez, Span, Hicks, Revere. Fans demanded to see them, they weren't ready, and fans turned on them. In every case, they had good years later, at an age they should have been peaking for the Twins. But we'd already burned through their early years and given up on them.

 

Now there will be pressure to do the same with Gordon, because they didn't re-sign Dozier or Escobar, even though he has shown no signs of being ready either.

 

All the outrage at not promoting Buxton at the end of a lost year was completely backwards, IMO. They haven't been stingy with his service time, they squandered it, hampering his development to boot. He clearly lost his confidence; facing big league pitching too early made him constantly change his stance and swing. He shouldn't have been promoted till he improved his pitch recognition and learned to handle outside breaking balls. Then, when promoted, he might have taken off.

 

He still might. But personally I'd want to see him do it consistently in the minors for a while before dumping him into fire. I'd rather see him spend another whole year in AAA than fall apart again in the majors.

 

Same with Sano. Earn your spot on the roster by showing you have learned to cut down the strikeouts. If you don't give them time to change bad habits in the minors, they might never change them.

Photo
Battle ur tail off
Oct 29 2018 11:43 AM

 

I agree. Buxton floundered up here because he was promoted too fast. Same with Gomez, Span, Hicks, Revere. Fans demanded to see them, they weren't ready, and fans turned on them. In every case, they had good years later, at an age they should have been peaking for the Twins. But we'd already burned through their early years and given up on them.

 

 

Span was good right away when he came up. In fact, his first couple years in the league were some of the most productive of his career. 

 

    • gil4 likes this

 

Span was good right away when he came up. In fact, his first couple years in the league were some of the most productive of his career. 

That was following a minor-league career that gave little hint that he could be that good. 

    • Battle ur tail off likes this

Similar Articles


by Cody Christie , Today, 03:17 PM
Photo


by Cooper Carlson , 16 Sep 2019
Photo


by John Bonnes , 10 Sep 2019
Photo


by Cody Christie , 10 Sep 2019
Photo


by Cody Christie , 09 Sep 2019
Photo