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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

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terrydactyls1947
Oct 05 2017 08:53 AM

 
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.


It's a lot easier to make quick moves when you have a couple dozen pitchers in the bullpen who are all better than any one pitcher in the Twins bullpen. Give Molitor some MLB-quality arms and he might manage a whole lot differently.
    • Otwins, WLFINN, SF Twins Fan and 2 others like this
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LA VIkes Fan
Oct 05 2017 09:03 AM

I started off in the fire Molitor camp early in the year.Hi failings just seemed to obvious - too deferential to veterans, can't handle a bullpen, too set on defined bullpen roles, unwilling to trust younger players and give them a chance to fail and then succeed, etc.I have to admit that I was wrong. I think we all have to recognize his capacity for and willingness to change. He embraced the younger players and gave them rope when they failed so they could learn and succeed.He was flexible with his bullpen and even gave key roles to two fuzzy cheeked guys in Hildenberger and Busenitz. He didn't defer to vets and changed the lineup so the crucial 3-6 spots were all filled by developing players. He has the respect to his players and control of the clubhouse. I think he learned, improved and deserves a shot going forward. Two years seems right. Three is a problem if this year was a mirage. 

 

But what about the bunting? He does bunt too much but I think we should recognize why he does that. How many times this year have the Twins had a runner on second with no outs and not gotten him home?How many times have we stranded men on third with less than 2 outs? The yin and yang of young players is that they tend not to be good situational hitters and on this Twins team, they all stink at situational hitting except for Mauer. He bunts because his players aren't good at that skill. You watch the good teams play and are good situational hitters up and down the lineup and we just aren't.It is the second biggest difference between the Twins and the elite teams behind our pitching. Molitor bunts because he has to.Hopefully that will change as the team and young hitters mature and I don't think we should over criticize him for bunting or have it cost him his job when part of the reason for the bunts is he's trying to mask a flaw in the team by doing so. 

 

Bottom line - new 2 year contract at a respectable salary. 

    • Oldgoat_MN likes this
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nicksaviking
Oct 05 2017 09:11 AM
I just hope there isn't any kind of internal strife where the front office says he doesn't fit and Pohlad says tough luck, he stays.

That could sink the ship pretty quick. Pohlad has to concede to the baseball guys whatever their position might be.
    • glunn, Mike Sixel, Oldgoat_MN and 4 others 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. 

 

Literally the opposite was typed last year. Are we sure we aren't using results to assess process?

    • nicksaviking and Sconnie like this

 

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!

 

there are entire threads on the site dedicated to this, and yes, they led the American League in sacrifice bunts, and that doesn't count all the failed attempts....

I know this isn't how it is done, but if I were Falvine, I'd give Molitor a 1 year extension and tell him whether he is brought back for additional years will depend in large part on whether he continues to constantly bunt in stupid situations. I'd say, if you can dial that back, we'd be happy to have you for the longer term. If not, you're gone.

 

The bunting simply has to stop. I know it is kind of cliche now to make this criticism, but it really is no joke. It is putting the team in a statistical disadvantage and just CANNOT continue. I think Molitor's other attributes make him worth keeping, but if the bunting doesn't stop, he needs to go.

 

 

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.

He had the bullpen warming up and if the Yankees would've kept on hitting Molitor would've made the switch, but Santana retire the next 2 batters after giving up the 3 run homer.

 

Severino wasn't pulled until after the single and double following Rosario's 2 run dinger.1 more hit and it would've been a 5 run lead with 1 out.Giardi had to pull Severino at that point.

    • Broker likes this
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Hosken Bombo Disco
Oct 05 2017 09:43 AM
I love the No Surrender story in San Diego. I softened on Molly over time. He seems to have the pulse of the team, and I don't know if another manager could have gotten them to the postseason this year.

The FO has bigger fish to fry (pitching) than conducting a new manager search, or worse, installing the manager candidate they had in mind when they took the job. They were wrong about the team once already when they sold at the deadline. Just my opinion.
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howieramone2
Oct 05 2017 09:48 AM

 

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

You can say the same thing about every manager there has ever been. I personally felt he did a very good job protecting Mejia this season.

My problem is you have to give a three year contract(that is the standard) at this time.I just am not sure I want to commit to Paul for 3 years and then have to have Pohlad cut the checks if things go sideways.I feel if there is to be an extension it will be announced today or tomorrow(it may have to wait due to baseball rules), but if there does not seem to be activity in that direction, they are working on a new position for Molitor.

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.

 

 

Statistically, a baserunner bunted over to 2nd is more likely to score. Molitor is using analytics. Those who don't like watching bunts on their TV and vent about it here are not using analytics. So what would the front office be saying to Molitor in this instance? Be more popular with the kids at home, or keep using analytics?

 

The number of managers and front offices in major and minor league baseball who don't like statistics or analytics is at or near zero. When Ryan was quoted saying otherwise, he was really saying that what you see on Fangraphs is mostly useless data. He wasn't wrong about that. The Twins were always collecting statistical data and using it to make decisions. Even Griffith was into it. Sure, in the past what was looked at was often wrong or irrelevant, but the same is true today.

 

Statistically, a baserunner bunted over to 2nd is more likely to score. Molitor is using analytics. Those who don't like watching bunts on their TV and vent about it here are not using analytics. So what would the front office be saying to Molitor in this instance? Be more popular with the kids at home, or keep using analytics?

 

The number of managers and front offices in major and minor league baseball who don't like statistics or analytics is at or near zero. When Ryan was quoted saying otherwise, he was really saying that what you see on Fangraphs is mostly useless data. He wasn't wrong about that. The Twins were always collecting statistical data and using it to make decisions. Even Griffith was into it. Sure, in the past what was looked at was often wrong or irrelevant, but the same is true today.

 

And, you reduce your odds of scoring more than 1 run. You completely left off the part of the argument that disagrees with your stance. 

 

there literally years and dozens of studies showing that sacrifice bunts early in game decrease your odds of scoring more runs, and of winning. So, yes, we are using analytics. 

    • nicksaviking, GCTF, Sconnie and 3 others like this
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ToddlerHarmon
Oct 05 2017 11:00 AM
Coming in to the season, Falvine had to consider whether these players would blossom, how long it would take, and whether Molitor was the right guy to make it happen.

It happened, in one season, and with visible, measurable in-season improvements in approach, mechanics, and results by several key players: Buxton, Rosario, Berrios, Gibson, Polanco.

That only leaves the question of whether the talent could also turn into wins. It did.

I don't see how this adds up to anything but a new contract for Molitor.
    • howieramone2 likes this

 

 

 

But what about the bunting? He does bunt too much but I think we should recognize why he does that. How many times this year have the Twins had a runner on second with no outs and not gotten him home?How many times have we stranded men on third with less than 2 outs? The yin and yang of young players is that they tend not to be good situational hitters and on this Twins team, they all stink at situational hitting except for Mauer. He bunts because his players aren't good at that skill. You watch the good teams play and are good situational hitters up and down the lineup and we just aren't.It is the second biggest difference between the Twins and the elite teams behind our pitching. Molitor bunts because he has to.Hopefully that will change as the team and young hitters mature and I don't think we should over criticize him for bunting or have it cost him his job when part of the reason for the bunts is he's trying to mask a flaw in the team by doing so. 

 

 

If the Twins aren't good situational hitters, why would you waste an out bunting, to put the team in a situation calling for situational hitting?

 

If they're not good at getting a runner in from third with 1 out...you bunt to put a runner on third with one out??

 

 

    • nicksaviking likes this

http://www.tangotiger.net/re24.html

 

"Statistically, a baserunner bunted over to 2nd is more likely to score."I don't know if there's any data to specifically support this.What the tables show, all things being equal:

 

1) If you sac bunt a guy from 1st to 2nd, you will score less runs in that inning

2) If you sac bunt a guy from 1st to 2nd, you will be less likely to score 1 run in that inning

 

I read these as both contradicting the quoted statement.

 

The problem is, in game situations all things aren't equal.If you approach this from an EV (expected value) point of view, situations involving the current batter, current pitcher, and next batter will tweak the numbers somewhat.If someone hits bad, the bunt may improve either 1), 2) or both.The thing we DON'T have is context specific information about this batter/this pitcher/next batter.I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the analytics department HAS calculated these and hands them to Molitor.

 

It's pretty rare you see 2/3/4 bunt; if it's someone that is a worse batter, it may be the best play you have.

 

I'm the first to say, in general, all the bunting is bad.I am willing to consider that analytics Molitor has that we don't make it the best option.

    • spinowner likes this

Haven't had a chance to read the thread yet, but I just wanted to say that if his contract is not renewed I predict that he handles it with grace, as opposed to how the High-A manager handled it when that happened to him.

    • Craig Arko and Sconnie like this
There are so few plain to see, easy to discuss looks inside a managers mindset. The bunting is one. I am not against sac bunting. But there are a lot of caveats, most of them related to the inning, who's AB, who's next, score, location, and opponent of that day's contest. I cannot fathom one that would include a sac bunt in the first 7 innings, let alone early on, or by my 3 hitter. This indicates someone who plays for one run, while owning a pretty poor pitching staff. Odd! Pulling the IF in early seems to give the same impression. Lastly, IF Molitor had say, 3 stellar RP? What's to make anyone think he won't turn them into toast before the trade deadline? Sometimes in a 162 game season, you have to walk away from a game, and let pitchers have that day off. He talks about it, but his game time actions dispute his talk. The team had a nice year, but bringing him back because of the W/L record ignores the fact that this was a weak division, and that when we stuck our heads above the .500 level opponents, we didn't exactly strike fear in anyone's heart.
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yarnivek1972
Oct 05 2017 01:40 PM

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.


After two homeruns and a double? Yeah, I think any manager takes the starter out in the playoffs in that situation.
    • Dozier's Glorious Hair likes this

It's really, really, really, hard to assess a manager from the outside......on this one, I'll have to just go along with the FO and their decision. IMO, that decision should bebased on whether the manager and the FO are aligned on the plans for the next 2--3 years, and how a team should be run. They don't have to totally agree, that's potentially bad, but they have to be on the same page.

    • brvama, Sconnie, bizaff and 2 others like this

Why even ask this question? The players are probably going to get better as they mature. He managed a playoff team this year. It's not like there is a bunch of experienced managers looking for work.

 

Who knows he might want to retire. He's at retirement age and baseball is a very time consuming business.

    • Jerr likes this

I'm all for replacing Molitor. The virtually inactive new front office needs to implement their own system as soon as possible, and DO IT! Molitor is not part of that. I don't know or care who it will be, but they have been cleaning house in their way from the bottom up. Molitor got his three years. There was no excuse for last year. That counts. I am excited for the future, and hope the new regime surprises me, and actually starts to do something.

    • Jerr likes this

 

They were wrong about the team once already when they sold at the deadline. Just my opinion.

The trades they made at the deadline had no effect at all on whether this team would win the WS this year. I think they made the trades because they felt they were coming out ahead by making them. Just my opinion.

    • bizaff, Hosken Bombo Disco, Platoon and 1 other like this

There are so few plain to see, easy to discuss looks inside a managers mindset. The bunting is one. I am not against sac bunting. But there are a lot of caveats, most of them related to the inning, who's AB, who's next, score, location, and opponent of that day's contest. I cannot fathom one that would include a sac bunt in the first 7 innings, let alone early on, or by my 3 hitter. This indicates someone who plays for one run, while owning a pretty poor pitching staff. Odd! Pulling the IF in early seems to give the same impression. Lastly, IF Molitor had say, 3 stellar RP? What's to make anyone think he won't turn them into toast before the trade deadline? Sometimes in a 162 game season, you have to walk away from a game, and let pitchers have that day off. He talks about it, but his game time actions dispute his talk. The team had a nice year, but bringing him back because of the W/L record ignores the fact that this was a weak division, and that when we stuck our heads above the .500 level opponents, we didn't exactly strike fear in anyone's heart.


Regarding your point about relievers, you are aware Giminez made multiple appearances this year right?

A new manager would have a hard time improving on the complaints offered in this thread, that he simultaneously used his bullpen too much and also not enough.

I'm all for replacing Molitor. The virtually inactive new front office needs to implement their own system as soon as possible, and DO IT! Molitor is not part of that. I don't know or care who it will be, but they have been cleaning house in their way from the bottom up. Molitor got his three years. There was no excuse for last year. That counts. I am excited for the future, and hope the new regime surprises me, and actually starts to do something.


What do you think these systems are that the front office wants to implement and that Molitor would be incapable of executing?
    • Dozier's Glorious Hair likes this
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yarnivek1972
Oct 05 2017 03:13 PM
I’ve said this before in another thread, but it is worth repeating.

Falvey is in charge. He deserves to have a guy of his choosing in the dugout. That’s the bottom line IMO. The decision is less about Molitor and more about Falvey,I think.
    • h2oface and Platoon like this

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