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Playoff Hate-watch

Other Baseball Today, 11:23 AM
Hi gang!     Had a whale of a busy August-September, so couldn't spend much time on the threads. But things now leveling o...
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Article: Supplementing the Twins: Tyler Chatwood

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:53 AM
Continuing on with the Supplementing the Twins series, it’s time to take a look at another pitcher. Last week, the subject was Lance Lynn...
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Cubs Pitching Coach fired. Buddy of Molitor.

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 10:26 AM
Guess who was a Molitor teammate on the Brewers? Chris Bosio. He was just let go by the Cubs and Molitor looked at getting him on his sta...
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Go get Verlander

Minnesota Twins Talk Today, 06:55 AM
http://www.espn.com/...astros-audition   Best possible combination of help in 2017 and help in the next couple years, right where th...
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Twins to hire John Manuel

Twins Minor League Talk Today, 06:47 AM
Didn't see that coming.
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Decision On Paul Molitor Looming

UPDATE (5:30 p.m. on Thursday) - According to Charley Walters (former Twins pitcher and Pioneer Press writer), Paul Molitor WILL return to the Twins under a new contract. A tweet from Mike Berardino said 'I'm told Paul Molitor has indeed been invited back for 2018, but source w/direct knowledge says 'nothing has been decided or agreed to' yet.
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When Paul Molitor was hired as the Twins manager, he was given a three-year contract. His contract ran through this season, so he is technically approaching free agency. The legend from St. Paul has been in the Twins organization for most of the nearly 20 years since he retired from his Hall of Fame career.

Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took the helm of their new positions with the understanding that Paul Molitor would be the manager for at least the 2017 season, finishing his contract. That season is now over and the front office must decide whether they want to keep Molitor as manager or bring in their own choice for skipper.
Image courtesy of Daniel Mick
In the very near future, the Twins organization will make a decision on Paul Molitor. They will either sign him to another multi-year deal, or they will tell him that they are not going to renew his contract and a search will begin.

One of the reasons given for letting Doug Mientkiewicz know right away that he was not going to be brought back as a minor league manager was so that he would have time to look for and potentially obtain another job. Managers and coaches are generally fired or let go within days of the end of the season so that the team can start its search right away.

So the big question that the Twins have to answer in the very near future is whether or not to bring back Paul Molitor as the team’s manager. By all indications, Molitor would like to come back and continue the progress made this season. Darren Wolfson reiterated on 1500ESPN’s Wild Card post game show Tuesday night that as of very recently, Molitor had not yet been approached about an extension.

So should the Twins bring back Paul Molitor, or should Derek Falvey and Thad Levine move forward with their own managerial choice?

There are many ways to look at it, so I did a little research to try to find out what makes a good manager. While it’s easier to think of what makes a good baseball manager, some principals required for a good manager in the business world should also be considered. The front office has said on several occasions that they hope to bring in people and ideas from a variety of disciplines in an attempt to obtain new ideas and new ways of thinking.

So here are a few characteristics that make a good manager in business or on the baseball field. As you read them, think about which Molitor may or may not fully meet the requirements of.

Here’s the reality, however. Much of what makes a good manager in any business can not be seen by outside observers.Much of what makes Paul Molitor a good manager (or not, if that's the thought) happens behind closed doors. I am fortunate to have spent some time in the clubhouse during spring training and a couple of times each year at Target Field. I see a cohesive group. I see a manager who has the respect of his players. I talk to players who speak very highly of their manager. But we see and hear only a small part. What happens in the clubhouse or on the phone or when no media is present and no fans are around is where much leadership tends to happen. So as much as we hear and as much as I may present below, it is only a small part of what makes a good manager or leader.

#1 - Goals and Results Oriented

In the “real” world, companies set goals for sales, revenues, safety and more. Often managers are judged by how their groups perform relative to those goals. A performance review may have categories such as Doesn’t Meet Expectations, Meets Expectations and Exceeds Expectations.

While Twins players, Molitor and the front office often said that they didn’t want to set any sort of Wins expectations or limitations for the season, you have to think that Molitor and the Twins exceeded expectations in 2017. You can also say that they didn’t meet expectations in 2016, and that they met expectations in 2015 when they were in playoff contention until the final weekend.

What we don’t know in this category is what goals and results and expectations were presented by Falvey and Levine to Molitor. Wins and losses are ultimately what matter in the big leagues, but the front office may have other metrics or data points that it will factor into their decision. Talent level factors in as well.

Clearly the big picture goal as laid out by the front office from the time they were hired and introduced is a sustainable, championship-caliber team and organization. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine need to determine if it is Paul Molitor who can take them there.

#2 - Assertiveness

Does a manager have to be assertive? I guess there can be several levels of assertiveness, but in the end the key is that everyone knows that the manager is in charge. While Molitor generally exudes a quiet, calm demeanor, his players understand that he’s in charge. He has clearly gained confidence leading this team, and the team responded.

On the other side, Molitor certainly is aware of who his bosses are and works well with them too.

#3 - Delegation

While the manager has to understand and pass on the organization’s goals while being in charge, he also has to delegate responsibilities. The Twins brought in a few new coaches in 2017, and Molitor certainly seems to have allowed them to do their jobs.

There appeared to be clear responsibilities for each coach. There appeared to be more communication. We read and heard about how Molitor worked closely each day with the front office and his coaches in developing game plans, understanding the advanced statistics and how to implement. The challenges have been taking the numbers, making them meaningful and figuring out how to present them to the players to make them usable.

Sure, the global vision for the organization now comes from Derek Falvey. There was a lot of oversight and evaluation in his first season. How that vision was forwarded to Molitor and from him to the players is how Molitor’s delegation abilities will likely be evaluated.

#4 Leadership

It’s a very broad term and ties to the areas above, but Molitor was the leader. He seemed to understand the strengths of his players and coaches and worked with them individually to bring out their best. He showed good patience through player struggles, delegated work to his coaches and motivated the players. Several players had tough stretches and yet look at how many Twins players had breakout years or returned to form.

Any worker will respond best to a boss who they believe is real, is authentic. They need to believe that their boss has their back and truly cares about them. They need to know that their boss has been where they are. They need to believe that their boss (manager) is working as hard at his craft and understanding the game and preparing as they are. They want to know that he has a passion for what he does and a will to be great.

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Those four characteristics are filled with things that we as fans can’t know. We don’t know how Molitor would grade in these categories. We see pieces of them when FSN shows him in the dugout. We get snippets of Molitor’s personality and thought-process from his post-game interviews or the quotes he provides to the media before and after the games.

We can’t see what is happening behind the scenes, but we do see what happens in a game, at least on the field.

We can see the lineups every day. Obviously. But that gives us 162 (and with the Wild Card game, 163) data points. While we aren’t going to agree with every spot in every lineup, there can be trends. Brian Dozier stayed in the leadoff role. Joe Mauer was primarily batting second. After that, it would change from month to month, week to week and sometimes game by game. Molitor was clearly developing and showing a willingness to go with the hot hand, to play matchups, to break up lefties, to use platoon splits and more. He gave Jorge Polanco four games off and had him working on things ,and when he returned to the lineup, he took off. By season’s end, he often had Polanco, Rosario, Escobar and Buxton hitting 3-6. Think about that. That’s a willingness to adapt. Of course there are several unknowns that go into it, such as family situations, minor illnesses, who is taking great rounds of batting practice or impressing the coaches with extra work.

Bunting… yes, we all hate bunting. At least we hate bunting in most situations. The Twins bunted as much as (OK, more than) any team in baseball. How did the front office feel about that? Obviously Falvey, Levine, that analytics folks, Jeff Pickler were involved in those daily discussions, and I’m certain it would have come up in discussions, yet Molitor continued to bunt quite often. Does that mean that the front office approved of that strategy, or they could use it as a negative data point for Molitor? And even if it is, relative to everything else, how important is it?

Many question Molitor’s bullpen usage, much as they questioned Ron Gardenhire’s bullpen usage. I wonder if Tom Kelly’s bullpen usage (or Sam Mele’s) would have been questioned to this extent had Twitter and other social media been around in those years. That’s pretty normal.

To be fair, there were not a lot of givens in the Twins bullpen this year. Brandon Kintzler earned his closer’s role and did well. Taylor Rogers was fantastic against lefties and righties in a great first half. He probably was used too much, but things were going so well. It took Molitor a few too many outings to realize that his splits against right-handers caught up to the mean, but that’s also understandable. Molitor stood behind Matt Belisle through his early-season struggles and that paid off. He didn’t use Trevor Hildenberger or Alan Busenitz in high-leverage situations for a while, but as they got the job done in low-leverage situations, Molitor trusted them more and they responded well. Over 162 games, it’s going to be impossible for any manager to use a bullpen in an ideal manner. And, how much of a role does (or should) the pitching coach have in bullpen assignments?

These are just some of the in-game decisions that a manager can be judged upon, and even for each of them we don’t necessarily understand the full picture.

So, Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have a tough decision to make. Or maybe they don’t. What do you think? Should Paul Molitor be brought back? Should Paul Molitor be brought back? Will he? At this point, only Falvey and Levine know, but the rest of us will learn soon. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that the Twins front office has given it more thought and likely had many more data points than we do.

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130 Comments

My question is to the FO, is he worth a 3 year contract, if not who do you replace him with?I would guess, if allowed and they had an obvious replacement he will be transformed into a different Twins role.  

I think he overused his good bullpen and only went with the newbies when his main men where overworked and needed a break.  

I respect Molitor, just think that maybe there is a different place for him in the organization and let the new FO bring in their own guy.Next level will be much harder to get to(Cleveland is in the way) and need someone who can get us there without a fallback next year.

    • Jerr, bighat and Cadillac Ranch like this

To me it is a no brainer - I would bring him back.The team plays hard- never quits. His bullpen usage would be better if he had the Yankees bullpen. Falvine did very little to fix what was an obvious weakness on this team. The Indian left McCallister, Otero and Goody OFF their playoff roster.No room. Compare that to what Molitor had to work with. 

 

Twins style is fun to watch. They play hard and aggressive. 

    • rukavina, messed up, jbissell and 6 others like this

I know, I'm well aware that life isn't fair. Neither is baseball. I would just like to see him back with new roster additions to see what he does. 

    • messed up, bluechipper, bizaff and 1 other like this

My question is to the FO, is he worth a 3 year contract, if not who do you replace him with? I would guess, if allowed and they had an obvious replacement he will be transformed into a different Twins role.
I think he overused his good bullpen and only went with the newbies when his main men where overworked and needed a break.
I respect Molitor, just think that maybe there is a different place for him in the organization and let the new FO bring in their own guy. Next level will be much harder to get to(Cleveland is in the way) and need someone who can get us there without a fallback next year.


I predict 2 year contract, a few coaching staff changes. I suspect Neil Allen is not long for the org.
    • Mike Sixel, LA VIkes Fan, Otwins and 2 others like this
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Cory Engelhardt
Oct 05 2017 06:39 AM

Seth, you mentioned that the Twins bunted as much or more than any team in baseball. Is there a source somewhere to show how much the Twins did bunt as a team, either sacrifice or otherwise, to compare to the rest of baseball? I'm curious if it really did happen more than other teams do. I'd almost have to imagine national league teams bunt more often with the pitcher hitting, but I don't know how to find that data.

Thanks!

I don't believe there is any doubt in Molitor's leadership and communication skills. He is well regarded on those two skills, and this season showcased them well.

 

I think it comes own to Molitor's ability (or willingness and ability to learn how) to implement the vision of the front office.

 

The rumors have ben that Molitor has put in a great effort to learn the new FO's tools and align to the vision. I wonder if effort and willingness to learn is enough.

    • Mike Sixel, brvama, LA VIkes Fan and 3 others like this

I'm split fairly evenly on the "keep" and "let go" sides of the equation - and I think it ultimately comes down to two points. 

 

1. Do you believe Molitor's strategic thinking can be coached? His propensity to bunt is frustrating, his lineup decisions are inconsistent, and his bullpen usage is Gardenhire-like (not a compliment). If the FO believes this is due in large part to a relatively new manager still feeling things out, I think you bring him back and keep providing him with the resources to make better decisions. 

 

2. Where do you attribute the improvements this team made defensively, at the plate, and on the bases? There's no doubt that there were massive improvements all around during this last season - does the credit for that go to Molitor's coaching, or others on the staff? (Rowson obviously gets credit for the offensive improvements). If the improvements were in spite of Molitor, you move on - keep the coaches who contributed to the success, and replace with a better fit at the top. 

 

These are both tough questions to answer, but that's why I'm commenting on a Twins site and Falvey and Lavine make the big bucks. 

I would like to see him move into a different role with the players, and a new guy as manager. And that is a tough call to make. And it would need his wanting, to accept a slightly lesser role. He really has looked "aged" in his videos as the season went on, stress????

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Old Twins Cap
Oct 05 2017 07:14 AM

Falvey and Levine are trying to run a new operation, using metrics, sabermetrics and the whole data-driven baseball thing.

 

Molitor is smart, but I don't think he's able to fully embrace the young thinking on what makes a baseball organization competitive year after year.

 

I hope they let him go and continue their drive to reshape the Twins culture, which has been left to turn in the wind slowly over decades.

 

Remember, we need to win playoff games, not just qualify to play in them.

    • beckmt, bighat and Cadillac Ranch like this

Falvey and Levine are trying to run a new operation, using metrics, sabermetrics and the whole data-driven baseball thing.

Molitor is smart, but I don't think he's able to fully embrace the young thinking on what makes a baseball organization competitive year after year.

I hope they let him go and continue their drive to reshape the Twins culture, which has been left to turn in the wind slowly over decades.

Remember, we need to win playoff games, not just qualify to play in them.


Molitor isn't smart enough?
If you switched bullpens on Tuesday, I suspect Molitor would have lead the team to victory.

Data is nice, but it doesn't trump talent.
    • Kevin, messed up, Otwins and 6 others like this

I can be as critical as anyone, especially towards Molitor, but I don't see what he is culpable for when it comes to bullpen management.It's not like there was a clear bridge from the middle to the end of the game, especially after Kintzler was moved.It was all bubble gum & duct tape.If anything, I'd give Molitor props for piecing it together as successfully as they did given the rag-tag bunch he had to work with.

 

I'm not sold on Molitor as a manager, and I realize I may re-think that if someone new is brought on to replace him.But any fault with bully management lies with the front office not only failing to address it, but choosing to weaken it with the Kintzler move.Not that he's Mariano Rivera in his prime, but losing him was a blow to an already existing weakness. 

    • Otwins, Dman, crop duster and 1 other like this

 

If you switched bullpens on Tuesday, I suspect Molitor would have lead the team to victory.

Data is nice, but it doesn't trump talent.

I don't know about that.Would Molitor have removed his best starter in the top of the first after recording 1 out?

 

I sincerely doubt it.It's one of his primary weaknesses...his strong tendency to wait until his starter has suffered max damage, and THEN remove him.And it has nothing to do with the quality of his bullpen.If it did, he'd leave the starter in after the 3 run HR too.

 

 

    • ChiTownTwinsFan, Mike Sixel, nicksaviking and 1 other like this

 

Molitor isn't smart enough?

 

Yeah, I don't think anyone in baseball would agree with that. He's a very smart man, and a very smart baseball man. I think it's just a matter of aligning "smartness" with Falvey's vision... and we know they worked together nearly everyday this year, so you have to think that's been developed, at least to some extent. 

    • Mike Sixel and brvama like this
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Old Twins Cap
Oct 05 2017 07:30 AM

 

Molitor isn't smart enough?

 

He comes across as plenty smart and articulate in my book.

 

That's not the same thing as embracing data, video and metrics as the decisive fulcrum over which personnel decisions are weighed.

 

There is a lot of data in baseball these days, some of it generated by video analysis, all of it predicated on percentages/likelihoods/odds.

 

Pretty easy to look at all that and say:"It's a sport I have known all my life and I done all right with looking at it the way I do."

    • Platoon likes this

I don't know about that. Would Molitor have removed his best starter in the top of the first after recording 1 out?

I sincerely doubt it. It's one of his primary weaknesses...his strong tendency to wait until his starter has suffered max damage, and THEN remove him. And it has nothing to do with the quality of his bullpen. If it did, he'd leave the starter in after the 3 run HR too.


This is of course the long disagreement. When he has victory in his sights, he is plenty agressive witg his bullpen. Proved it over and over and over again.

When he has mediocrity, he indeed tries to get extra outs.

I don't think he would have pulled Santana right after the 3 run homer, but do think he would have pulled him if two guys got on - he was prepared to do that with Busenitz!

I personally think he handled his pitching staff as well as he could have on Tuesday. So yes, with better pitches he would have gotten better results.
    • ThejacKmp, tarheeltwinsfan, WLFINN and 1 other like this

Yeah, I don't think anyone in baseball would agree with that. He's a very smart man, and a very smart baseball man. I think it's just a matter of aligning "smartness" with Falvey's vision... and we know they worked together nearly everyday this year, so you have to think that's been developed, at least to some extent.


I think you saw shifts in the way Molitor ran the team in various ways. I do wonder about bunts though. But if he was going way off the reservation I have to imagine it would have been addressed.
    • Sconnie and SF Twins Fan like this

He comes across as plenty smart and articulate in my book.

That's not the same thing as embracing data, video and metrics as the decisive fulcrum over which personnel decisions are weighed.

There is a lot of data in baseball these days, some of it generated by video analysis, all of it predicated on percentages/likelihoods/odds.

Pretty easy to look at all that and say: "It's a sport I have known all my life and I done all right with looking at it the way I do."


I think there is significantly more evidence he adopted changes than pushed back against them.

The main way incorporating data manifests itself in a game is defensive positioning and game plans on how to attack hitters. Those seemed quite improved to me.
    • LA VIkes Fan and SF Twins Fan like this

 

This is of course the long disagreement. When he has victory in his sights, he is plenty agressive witg his bullpen. Proved it over and over and over again.

 

Yes, this is the disagreement.IMO he lost plenty of games by leaving his starter in until the damage was done.

    • wsnydes likes this
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MileHighTwinsFan
Oct 05 2017 07:45 AM

To me the issue is who is the right match for the talent they have on the roster.With a young, athletic team - you want a manager that fully leverages those assets.  

 

At face value, Molitor would fit the bill - he is not afraid to use a running game - both bunting and base stealing to force the action on the field. His calm demeanor creates a stable force in the clubhouse.His overall knowledge of the game allows him to convey his wisdom to young players.

 

What is he lacking that keeps him from being viewed as one of the premiere managers in the game?What do Maddon and Francona have that Molitor doesn't?I would say experience and confidence.There have been times where I don't feel like Molitor is completely comfortable in his own skin. They show up in bungled double switches and attempts to remove a pitcher when there has already been a visit to the mound during an at bat.Those incidents are not deal breakers on their own, but they might signal that Molitor lacks a certain intuition about the game when he is managing.  

 

Girardi made the managerial move of the game when he pulled Severino.He acted confidently and decisively.Molitor might have waivered on making the same move with Santana.  

 

I think the question is whether Falvey and Levine want to give Molitor the time to continue to grow as a manager or if they need someone who they have confidence in on day one that they will be able to lead this team to the next level. 

    • Longdistancetwins and Hosken Bombo Disco like this

To me the issue is who is the right match for the talent they have on the roster. With a young, athletic team - you want a manager that fully leverages those assets.

At face value, Molitor would fit the bill - he is not afraid to use a running game - both bunting and base stealing to force the action on the field. His calm demeanor creates a stable force in the clubhouse. His overall knowledge of the game allows him to convey his wisdom to young players.

What is he lacking that keeps him from being viewed as one of the premiere managers in the game? What do Maddon and Francona have that Molitor doesn't? I would say experience and confidence. There have been times where I don't feel like Molitor is completely comfortable in his own skin. They show up in bungled double switches and attempts to remove a pitcher when there has already been a visit to the mound during an at bat. Those incidents are not deal breakers on their own, but they might signal that Molitor lacks a certain intuition about the game when he is managing.

Girardi made the managerial move of the game when he pulled Severino. He acted confidently and decisively. Molitor might have waivered on making the same move with Santana.

I think the question is whether Falvey and Levine want to give Molitor the time to continue to grow as a manager or if they need someone who they have confidence in on day one that they will be able to lead this team to the next level.


Molitor would not have wavered in pulling Santana. He was fully prepared to do it if the jam ever got as bad as it did for Severino.

Molitor was plenty confident and aggressive with his bullpen when a victory was in sight and his best relievers were available.
    • WLFINN likes this
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Tom Froemming
Oct 05 2017 08:00 AM

I think it's entirely possible that the Twins will want him back, Molitor will want to come back, but they won't be able to come to an agreement on length of contract/balance of power. I would think it'd be likely Molitor would request a three-year deal and increased influence over roster decisions. And I see nothing wrong with that. Why come back on a short-term deal and be at the mercy of the front office?

 

That's all speculation, of course, but I could definitely see a scenario in which both sides desire a reunion, but the fine details prevent it from happening.

    • Mike Sixel, brvama, beckmt and 3 others like this

I think it's entirely possible that the Twins will want him back, Molitor will want to come back, but they won't be able to come to an agreement on length of contract/balance of power. I would think it'd be likely Molitor would request a three-year deal and increased influence over roster decisions. And I see nothing wrong with that. Why come back on a short-term deal and be at the mercy of the front office?

That's all speculation, of course, but I could definitely see a scenario in which both sides desire a reunion, but the fine details prevent it from happening.


If Molitor won't sign a two year deal then he only has himself to blame.

The one issue I could see is control over his coaching staff, but he was open last year so I doubt he gives up his job to save Neil Allen (for example).
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tarheeltwinsfan
Oct 05 2017 08:19 AM

 

Yeah, I don't think anyone in baseball would agree with that. He's a very smart man, and a very smart baseball man. I think it's just a matter of aligning "smartness" with Falvey's vision... and we know they worked together nearly everyday this year, so you have to think that's been developed, at least to some extent. 

It is my belief that Molitor and Falvey working together everyday, communicating and learning was, and will continue to be, beneficial to both men's knowledge. Falvey is newer to his job than Molitor is to his. Molitor has been in various baseball jobs about as long as Falvey has been living. I submit Molitor's Hall of Fame plaque grants him immediate respect from the players. The two men's respective attributes combined are better than two "old school" experienced baseball minds or two like-minded, brilliant "metrics minds". 

    • WLFINN likes this

If Molitor doesn't follow basic requests from the FO, he's not going to stay. If they say bunt less and he refuses, he'll probably not stay. If the FO says to stop burning through your bullpen in the 5th inning and Molly doesn't do it, he's not going to stay.

 

My guess is that if Molly was that obstinate with the FO, he would have been gone yesterday. So, I guess I'm saying he's been somewhat on the same page with FO. That said, if the FO is in love with someone else, Molly might be negotiating his role as Twins Executive Assistant GM of blah, blah, blah. 


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