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Article: HAYES: Twins to Hire Wes Johnson as Pitching Coach

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Baseball America's Top Ten Twins Prospects

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Article: Rundown: Mauer Being a Pain, Prospect Lists, Phi...

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Is Paul Molitor the Right Man to Lead the Twins?

Shortly after they hired Paul Molitor as manager in November of 2014, the Twins invited me to Target Field for a one-on-one interview with him. They had asked if I'd write a feature on the newly minted skipper for their season preview publication, and I gladly accepted.

Upon meeting Molitor, I was impressed with the man. That continues to this day. But I've never really been able to figure out how impressed I am with the manager. Right now, it's difficult to assuage the nagging doubts.
Image courtesy of Doug DeFelice, USA Today
Molitor was still getting accustomed to his new office when we chatted in it that January afternoon. I don't think he'd done many media interviews yet, and his burgeoning excitement was easily detected.

The hardball lifer genuinely enjoyed being asked thoughtful questions, and answering them thoroughly. I noticed – especially upon transcribing – that his responses were eloquent, intelligent, and enlightening.

This would become a recurring trend in my experience with him.

Molitor's intellect is undeniable. The term "baseball IQ" gets bandied around a lot but this Hall of Famer embodies it. In my first interaction, and many others I've had with him during spring training scrums since, he has always exuded a deep knowledge of the game. With no disrespect to his affable predecessor, I gain actual insight from talking to Molitor, in a way I never did before.

As someone who coaches young kids during the summer, I'm beyond impressed with Molitor's ability to articulate concepts and break down strategic intricacies in a way that makes total sense. These are, seemingly, the hallmarks of an impactful coach.

But unfortunately there is little evidence of Molitor being able to move the needle effectively while at the helm

THAT FAMILIAR FEELING

We all understood that Minnesota was taking a gamble when Molitor got the nod to replace Ron Gardenhire. The finalist he beat out for the job, Torey Lovullo, was a seasoned MLB coach who'd been serving as bench coach for John Farrell's Red Sox, one year removed from a championship.

Molitor, on the other hand, offered little substantive experience. He briefly served on the coaching staffs for Minnesota and Seattle after retiring as a player, and he was in Gardy's dugout during the 92-loss 2014 season, but Molitor had never managed at any level.

The Twins opted for their guy, a known favorite of the Pohlads. Hiring Molitor made sense in that, as a longtime roving minor-league instructor, he was very familiar to the organization's rising young core. But his lack of a track record was conspicuous.

Lovullo ended up joining the Diamondbacks as manager two years later. From all appearances it's been a great move for Arizona. They made the playoffs as a wild-card last year, improving by 24 wins in Lovullo's first season, and are currently in first place.

Molitor's tenure with the Twins thus far has been much more of a mixed bag.

UP, DOWN, UP, DOWN

This section is not an advertisement for one of my favorite spots in my Uptown (though I highly recommend Up-Down to fellow enjoyers of beer and video games).

It is instead an apt description of this team under Paul Molitor the manager.

So it goes, right? As Ernie Halwell put it so well: "Baseball is a lot like life. It's a day-to-day existence, full of ups and downs."

The problem is that, under Molitor, Minnesota's "ups" haven't risen all that impressively high. And the "downs" have been harrowingly low.

In 2015, Molitor led the Twins to their first winning season in five years. Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton debuted. Brian Dozier made his first All-Star team. The future was very bright.

Then: Total. System. Failure.

That 2016 campaign was an unmitigated disaster. A team that was expected to – at the very least – hang on the fringe of contention instead spiraled uncontrollably, losing 103 games in the franchise's worst season since transplanting from Washington.

There's really no need to rehash it. We all remember.

Because of that catastrophe, Minnesota's jump to 85 wins in 2017 looked like a momentous achievement, rather than a modest improvement from their 83 wins in 2015. And that drastic turnaround, punctuated by a brief postseason run, earned Molitor the distinction of AL Manager of the Year. (Naturally, Lovullo won it in the National League.) Then came the three-year contract extension, almost a formality at that point.

And this context makes it strange to be discussing the possibility of Molitor's dismissal.

A reigning Manager of the Year? Less than three months into a new deal? With forceful support from ownership?

In many ways, the notion of firing Molitor seems absurd. But frankly, it would be more absurd not to seriously assess it as an option.

The fact is that, as much as I may sympathize with the Pohlad family's affinity for Molitor, he just doesn't have much of a leg to stand on when it comes to managerial chops.

IGNITING A FIRE

Without question, Paul Molitor was one of the greatest baserunners in MLB history. Despite lacking elite speed he pilfered 504 bases with a 79% success rate in his playing career, and he stole home 10 times.

I think anyone who's watched this 2018 team regularly would agree they run the bases as sloppily as any in memory. They've been thrown out, picked off, and caught adrift countless times.

Molitor was a sharp and versatile fielder prior to becoming primarily a DH in his 30s.

Miscues are all too common for this year's defensive unit, as they were in 2016.

At the plate, Molitor's discipline was legendary, his power surprising, his bat relentless. He was known as "The Ignitor."

This offense has most often failed to launch, with astoundingly mediocre numbers across the board. The Twins have hit fewer home runs than all but three AL teams, which seems unfathomable after the way they finished 2017.

Suffice to say, knowledge and expertise don't transfer directly. We knew that.

But if Molitor isn't – in some way – passing along his strengths, then what are we doing here?

The jury is out on him as a tactician. Molitor's designed plays – steals, hit-and-runs, going on contact – haven't worked out very often. His bullpen, while capable, hasn't performed in leverage, as evidenced by mop-up longman Matt Magill leading the relief corps in WPA.

Ryan Pressly has appeared in 36 of the team's first 68 games and has seen his performance decline. Meanwhile Magill works once a week, while looking perfectly capable of taking on more. The bullpen decisions have sometimes been baffling.

I hesitate to attribute these things entirely to Molitor. He's not making decisions on an island. He receives input from his coaches, specialized pitching analyst Josh Kalk, and the players themselves. From my understanding, it is a more sophisticated system than one might assume. "Collaborative," as its mastermind Derek Falvey would undoubtedly say.

And that's sorta the trouble with trying to gauge Molitor's culpability. He's only one piece in a very complex puzzle. Would making a change really be worthwhile?

I do know this: It takes some contorting not to see him as part of the problem. In 2016 a reasonably talented team tanked to the dregs of franchise precedent. And right now a more talented team – built to win, with a record payroll – is sputtering along, incapable of capturing any kind of sustained momentum despite an incredible window of opportunity.

There's no question that Molitor understands and – most endearingly, I think – continually studies the game to an obsessive degree. I trust his judgment on baseball decisions and could never really doubt his acumen. Few rightfully could.

But given what we saw in 2016, and now are seeing in 2018, one must question his ability to rally the troops and become a uniting force.

I'll be honest: typing that last sentence felt nauseatingly cliché. What does it even mean? These vague and intangible leadership platitudes in sports have always driven me crazy, but there's simply no denying their reality. Managers matter.

Players aren't "quitting" on Molitor, as I've seen a few people ludicrously suggest. His bullpen management, if occasionally odd, isn't a fireable offense. And it'd be tough to make the case that Molitor has wrongfully alienated certain players, or the clubhouse at large.

But something is out of whack with this team's engine, which simply hasn't been able to ignite. And while I fully believe the players bear the brunt of that burden... you can't fire the players.

Speaking of fire, and ignition, maybe these words hint at what is amiss.

As I pondered this subject, I went back and listened through that first interview I conducted with Molitor, still filed away in my phone's audio log.

I had asked him to explain, from his view, what differentiated him from his predecessor and friend Ron Gardenhire.

Naturally, Molitor opened with a complimentary remark about his general sameness with Gardy, but then addressed the question head-on:

"If there's a difference that pops into my head, it would be that he wears his emotions on his sleeves. Whether it's protecting his players, going out on the field and dealing with umpires and things. And I have a tendency to be a little bit different in my demeanor in that regard.

"Not to say one is better than the other, but again, you can't try to be someone you're not."

A part of me wonders whether pushing this team to the next level requires something that Molitor – by his own earnest admission – is not.

Another part of me thinks that's all a bunch of hooey.

Needless to say, I'm conflicted. But I'm curious to hear what others think.

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155 Comments

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Old Twins Cap
Jun 18 2018 09:24 PM

I agree, Molitor is surprisingly cerebral.

 

But the AJ Hinch's, the Madden's, the Martinez's, the Lovullo's, the Cora's, all those guys are about relationships with players.

 

I have no window into the Twins' Clubhouse, but you wonder, given that the Twins' core is now young, Latino players, if there is enough connection there to carry the team forward.

    • glunn, Blake, Jerr and 9 others like this

"Because of that catastrophe (2016), Minnesota's jump to 85 wins in 2017 looked like a momentous achievement, rather than a modest improvement from their 83 wins in 2015."

 

Yup. Absolutely. Not overlooked by many here as we were chastised for suggesting he was no manager of the year last year. 

 

And where is Doug Mientkiewicz?

 

For those of us that wanted to see the younger, fiery, Doug Mientkiewicz get the manager's job instead of Molitor, and stuck up for him when fired this off season and when he was run out of the Twins' org ..... how is he doing? 40-28 (and that is after recently going 1-3 in the last 4) for Detroit's AAA team, the Toledo Mud Hens, leading the AAA International League West, with the best record in all of the IL. Still winning, inspiring his players who love to play for him, no matter where he is. But not good enough for this FO. Very telling.

    • Jerr, frightwig, Twins33 and 14 others like this

Nice, even-handed look, Nick.  As a side by side comparison, the D-Backs and Lovullo have some similarities.  They've endured quite a few injuries.  In a year when the Dodgers are down, they're seizing the moment.

 

Molitor seems like a guy who trusts his players and sticks behind them.  It's pretty easy to remember his mistakes, less easy to note the things he's done well--good news is no news, so to speak.

 

I don't see a midseason firing as doing any good; it would kind of be like trading Dozier--better to do like Molitor would do, ride it out, and see what happens.  As disappointing as this team has been, this is no 2016.

    • h2oface, DocBauer and howieramone2 like this
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KirbyDome89
Jun 18 2018 10:10 PM

I think the bullpen criticism of Molitor is more than fair. It's one part of the game he directly influences and IMO his management of the pen has been suspect during his tenure. 

 

The poor base running, defense, situational knowledge, bunting, ect is much more difficult to pin on him. I've said it in other threads but I don't think it's the job of a major league manager to teach fundamentals that these guys learn in rookie ball, if not before that time. That doesn't mean he can't reinforce those fundamentals or impart his own knowledge in those areas but I have a hard time believing that isn't being done. 

 

If Buxton, Sano, Dozier, Morrison, ect. weren't imploding this thread doesn't exist. It's really that simple. Molitor has had largely the same warts throughout his tenure with the Twins. I don't consider myself a big supporter, and I won't shed any tears if he's gone at some point during/after the season. If things continue as they have been change is inevitable. I get that the manager is always the fall guy for the players, I just don't think we're suddenly seeing a worse version of Molitor than the one that won 85 games last year. 

    • glunn, Blake, h2oface and 10 others like this

Great article, Nick. I share the concern that something is missing.

    • Jerr, nicksaviking, Sconnie and 4 others like this
Best, most thoughtful, and analytical article written describing the state of the Twins. It is obvious that Nick struggled to find the defining reason their play has been so dreadful, and carefully looked at Molitor’s impact as manager fairly, from both a positive and negative standpoint. I think his conclusion that Molitor bears some degree of criticism for the Twins play this season, or maybe he doesn’t, is spot on. There is something missing from this team, and it’s hard to make a definitive judgement on Molitor ‘s contribution. I think ‘Old Twins Hat’s’ idea is one very definite possibility. In addition, I’ve always thought that a team took on the personality of its manager, and his lack of outward emotion might have translated to his players in a negative way. IMHO, that might be another possibility for this teams’ sloppy play and lack of complete concentration for an entire game.
    • glunn, nicksaviking, h2oface and 2 others like this
I hate to drive in the middle of the road, but I think here in year 4 the jury is still out. I never thought Molitor was a great choice, but never thought he was a bad choice either. No questioning his career, of his baseball IQ, or his relatownships and knowledge of the young core players scheduled to arrive in Minnesota. But he also had zero experience as a manager at any level. I still believe he's learning as he goes along. That's a good thing, but also a bit frightening as were talking about MLB and not being groomed in the minors to lead the parent club.

He lead the team to surprising competition in 2015. He lead the team to the horrific 2016 finish in which it seemed all the wheels came off. We can talk modest improvement in record from 2015 to 2017, but not only are they different teams/season's, there was a whole year in between!

Rowson was given tremendous credit for the work he did last season. Now that our offense resembles a weathered skelton in the desert, he's a poor instructor? Just using him as another example of good vs bad and where does the responsibility and culpability reside with Molitor, and his coaches, vs injury and the performance of the players themselves?

This team was built pretty impressively, top to bottom, if simply looking at the pieces put in place. Please don't talk to me about other teams dealing with slumps and injuries. Every team is it's own microcosm unto itself. And every team weathersm or doesn't weather, poor season's and injuries differently. One team collapses, another has a top prospect emerge and a couple guys with career seasons to compensate. 5 supposed fixtures in the Twins lineup have missed significant time and/or attempted to play with injury, or been lost to suspension. Add to that the rotation's elder statesman and best pitcher the past few season's has yet to make even a single appearance. (Less of a factor now, maybe, but is part of the equation).

Sano is so talented, and things have come so easy for him, maybe he was due to have a reboot, "come down to earth" moment. But the keg injury, surgery, rehab and off season situation is not Monitor's doing. Nor is Castro. Nor is Polanco. Nor is Mauer. I seriously doubt either Molitor or Rowson told Morrison to underperform well below his career numbers. Or tell Dozier to have the coldest start he's ever had. Take away the toe injury, and maybe Buxton just started slow and would already have shaken his funk and be hitting the same way he did last season.

Maybe this just isnt our season. Baseball is funny that way.

If it sounds like I'm defending Molitor, I am not. I am simply taking a long look at the realities of this season.

Again, this team is built better, overall, than any we've seen in some time. Especially in the area of pitching. And the responsibility still falls, mostly, fair or unfair, on his shoulders. I think he's been stubborn at times to play with his lineup. I still think he falls in love with and abuses guys in the pen instead of asking for re-inforcements. Maybe with all the offensive struggles the team has had, this was the wrong time to abandon some of his small ball principles. And the team, as a whole, seemed more fundamentally sound in 2017.

So what is the answer? Mauer is back. Polanco will be back soon, perhaps with some rust. Buxton will be back, hopefully, healthy this time. Erg should be back in the second half to help. There are some arms in Rochester to help. This is the best staff Molitor has had. Rosario and Escobar are very good, and keepers. Dozier and Morrison are just not this bad. It all comes down to the next 3 1/2 months of play. There is something to be said for an even keel. And there is something to be said for tossing the bats in to the shower!

If this team rights itself and plays ball the next 3 1/2 months like we've seen them play before, (and have at times this season), playoffs or not, I'd say he's earned next season. If not, I'd say he's a highly intelligent, articulate, HOF ballplayer who just doesn't translate to being a ML manager.
    • glunn, Blackjack, h2oface and 6 others like this

"Because of that catastrophe (2016), Minnesota's jump to 85 wins in 2017 looked like a momentous achievement, rather than a modest improvement from their 83 wins in 2015."
 
Yup. Absolutely. Not overlooked by many here as we were chastised for suggesting he was no manager of the year last year. 
 
And where is Doug Mientkiewicz?
 
For those of us that wanted to see the younger, fiery, Doug Mientkiewicz get the manager's job instead of Molitor, and stuck up for him when fired this off season and when he was run out of the Twins' org ..... how is he doing? 40-28 (and that is after recently going 1-3 in the last 4) for Detroit's AAA team, the Toledo Mud Hens, leading the AAA International League West, with the best record in all of the IL. Still winning, inspiring his players who love to play for him, no matter where he is. But not good enough for this FO. Very telling.


Great post!

I won't hide, I have been mostly supportive of most all moves the FO has made while in charge. While certainly arguable, I think most personnel moves have been smart. I really liked last year's draft, FA and trade moves made both seasons, and most of the Rochester shuttle moves made at times. I think they've been intelligent and long-sighted when it comes to building the organization for the long haul. But I still don't understand the Mientkiewicz move. Clearly, there was some personality or philosophical difference that couldn't be resolved. And that's too bad. Is it damning to the FO? I would say no. In any business, change brings about change, even if it means change we don't always like to see.

But I think we lost a good baseball man there.

Further exasported by the loss of Mauer. But that still seems to be a personal choice, and not a decision by the FO.
    • h2oface, CUtomorrownight, howieramone2 and 2 others like this
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nicksaviking
Jun 18 2018 11:00 PM
I know most of us aren't accustomed to it after seeing three decades of Kelly/Gardenhire, but a four year stint as manager is a pretty common run as far as most of the league is concerned.

I'll bet there's much less consternation with these kinds of discussions regarding Jeff Bannister and the Rangers.
    • gil4, markos, Minny505 and 1 other like this
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Brock Beauchamp
Jun 19 2018 12:23 AM

 

And where is Doug Mientkiewicz?

 

For those of us that wanted to see the younger, fiery, Doug Mientkiewicz get the manager's job instead of Molitor, and stuck up for him when fired this off season and when he was run out of the Twins' org ..... how is he doing? 40-28 (and that is after recently going 1-3 in the last 4) for Detroit's AAA team, the Toledo Mud Hens, leading the AAA International League West, with the best record in all of the IL. Still winning, inspiring his players who love to play for him, no matter where he is. But not good enough for this FO. Very telling.

Mientkiewicz is a manager born into the wrong era. In today's game, his outright disdain for analytics does not make him a fit with two-thirds of MLB teams.

 

Thankfully for him, Detroit is one of those teams that doesn't seem to care.

 

I wanted to like Mientkiewicz the manager because I liked Mientkiewicz the player. I have no use for Mienkiewicz the manager at the MLB level. If he can teach fundamentals and win at the MiLB level, good for him.... but I have zero interest in seeing him at the MLB level where the game has evolved and the managerial demands are different.

    • gil4, TheLeviathan, LA VIkes Fan and 8 others like this

I can understand Mientkiewicz if that is what the FO is looking for.Jake Mauer is more puzzling. I feel he already knows that Joe is not going to be here next year and chose to leave because of that feeling.Family does matter.  

I do feel that the Latinos on this club wear there emotions on their sleave and maybe a manager with more fire would have an easier time reaching them.I could be that this Twins farm system was overrated and most of their players have not reached their potental.Some of that is on the coaches and some of that is on the manager.A bigger part may be on the minor league staff, which is not doing the job of training the players the right way.

The area which I feel I can address is the mental end of things.It is not one size fits all.Some players need to be pushed and kicked a bit, many of them know their mistakes and do not need to be thrown under the bus or chewed out and made to worry about their jobs.  

This is the area that I don't feel that Molly is the correct person for and therefore feel that he should go.

    • Platoon likes this
Good article, and lots of thoughtful comments. Molitors knowledge of the game may be expansive. But that doesn't make him a good manager. I know a lot of big words, but that doesn't make me a good writer. Simply neither he nor I can transfer our 'knowledge' across a divide.

That said, by rights I should be a Molitor fan, he is somewhat of the persona I like in a manager. Low key, calm, and outwardly unflappable. Think Bud Grant Jr. But something is amiss. Bud was a disciplinarian. A guy of basics. You didn't get to repeatedly screw up, nor were you publicly castigated. You just disappeared. Yet he was flexible in his approach to changes in the game. Molitor has the same outward feel to him, but he doesn't seem to be able to get his players to follow. MLB player know how to run bases, they know where a cutoff man is. These are things you learn in high school or before. Some players do them by rote. A Mauer, Kepler, Escobar. Some are more loose with their decisions. Rosario being the poster child. Adrianza on the bases. If you can't clean up those blatant issues, then no one will pay any real attention to other declarations you make.

Like I said above I have always been a low key managerial fan. But as another poster noted, maybe that doesn't work in today's baseball. Frankly Latin players, and fans, view the game differently and play the game differently. But just acknowledging that fact and adjusting to it are harder to do than one would think.

Mientkiewicz? Maybe Brock is right, maybe Mientkiewicz would fight analytical managing to the bitter end. Then again maybe he wouldn't. But one thing seems obvious. He wins. His players seem to like him, he has their back. He also seems a disciplinarian. Simply saying an analytically challenged manager won't win in MLB baseball is the same as saying an analytical manager will win. Managing is way more complicated than that. Otherwise go to MIT and grab the best math major on campus. But we all know that won't work.

What does seem obvious, if we simply stick to the simple choice of Molitor v Mientkiewicz, is that for some reason Doug wins consistently, and Paul doesn't. Joe Madden wins a lot. Talent has of course much to do with it. But someone has to make that talent coalesce. So far that hasn't happened here.

As mentioned, there have been some very good takes posted above and in the OP. But sadly I fear mine, like the others is a waste of digital ink. There just doesn't seem, to me, to be any scenario short of a voluntary resignation where Pohlad makes a change. With the well documented personal relationship that is in play here, the infamous "Molitor stays" decree, and the new contract, Paul Molitor will remain your Twins manager for the foreseeable future. Those of us looking for consistency in the Twins operation will have finally found one.
    • CUtomorrownight likes this

I never liked the Molitor hiring.I always, and still do, feel that it was simply placating a fanbase that wanted him as the manager.I've always respected his playing career and his baseball IQ was widely known even during his playing days.However, I was always worried about bringing a rookie manager into the dugout to manage and oversee the emergence of what was supposed to be the future core of this franchise.I've seen nothing to sway me from that initial opinion and I honestly believe that things are worse than I could have imagined.Not all of that is on Molitor.Buxton and Sano struggling is more on the player than the coaches, but they do have a hand in it.I think it's a valid, and frankly indicting, statement that Molitor has been unable to pass along his own strengths to his players.If he can't do that, what has he actually gotten through to his players?That might be the most telling part of his tenure.Game management is one thing, what he's able to impart on his players is another.His game management is suspect at best, so if he can't teach these guys effectively, how effective as a manager can he possibly be?

    • frightwig, gil4, Longdistancetwins and 4 others like this

I feel both compelled to comment and unqualified to comment.Managers are now part of a system.I don't even know all the coaches and what they do and all the communications and what they are.Molitor is like a traffic controller.  

 

Who are the batting coaches and do they feel any heat?Who are all the pitching coaches and consultants.Who is the analytics specialist and what does he say?What does the bench coach say, do?What is the input of the FO who provided Molitor with this roster?  

 

I do not know if Molitor is a good or bad manager, but I would like to see the entire coaching, analytic network.I agree that Molitor burns out relievers.Does the FO say anything, do any of the multiple pitching geniuses say anything?Does the bench coach say - wait a minute Molly?Does the analytic coach say - not tonight Molly?

There are 10 coaches on the staff - http://m.mlb.com/min/roster/coaches/ -http://m.mlb.com/min/roster/coaches/ What do all of them do?What are their responsibilites?Who is Derek Shelton and why is he coaching a bench?

 

There are six special assistants.Do they assist each other?What is their contribution? 

 

The answers used to be a lot simpler.Now I give Molitor a plus grade if he can list the entire coaching staff.

    • Platoon likes this

 

I never liked the Molitor hiring.I always, and still do, feel that it was simply placating a fanbase that wanted him as the manager. 

 

I think the hiring was intended to placate a fanbase but it was a complete misread.

 

Sure, some fans in the over-60 rural market probably got excited while munching their Product 19 when the Molitor hiring was announced. But I don't think many die-hard Twins fans were too thrilled with the move. He was a low-level hitting coach and a "roving instructor" before getting the job. No experience with analytics, no real management experience...I'm surprised they didn't make Dave Winfield the hitting coach while they were at it!

 

The Molitor hire was an insult to the intelligence of many Twins fans, it was RED MEAT and just an attempt to get more butts in the seats. Those days are over, we should expect more from this outfit. Paul Molitor should be fishing in Brainerd this summer, not sitting in the dugout as the Twins drop series to Chicago, KC, and Detroit.

 

When the team caught fire last year in a very, very down year in the American League and made the Wildcard Game, it really hurt our chances to get rid of Molitor. Like many, I don't see the F.O. doing anything - unless the Twins lose 15 straight or something.

 

    • Jerr, frightwig, notoriousgod71 and 3 others like this
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Tommygun921
Jun 19 2018 06:48 AM
I think it's safe to say the Twins would have more wins with a different manager. If you switched Terry Francona and molitor there's no doubt in my mind we'd be reversed in the standings with the Indians. His handling of the pitching staff is terrible. Whether it be the starters or the bullpen. He's done a better job lately of letting the pitchers go deeper into games but still miss handles the bullpen. Presley is wearing down and he brought him into a game that was easily won against Cleveland the other day. Could've easily given him the day off. From what I've gathered this is an area Francona excells at. Managing the pitching staff. I also don't care for his constant lineup shuffling and don't believe he's very good at rallying the troops. Although I'm saying that as never having been in the clubhouse. At the same time, if it wasn't for Rosario and Escobar we'd be done already this year, so hard telling how much you can pin on him.
    • Jerr, frightwig, David HK and 1 other like this

A slightly different point but.... I don't understand why, in 2018, the Twins haven't put more emphasis on bilingual (English/Spanish) major league coaches. They currently have Rudy Hernández (who's not allowed to be on the bench for games), Eddie Guardado and the MLB mandated translator.

 

No matter what happens with Molitor, I'd like to see the Twins bring in some coaches who can connect better with the Spanish-speaking players. And, if they do fire Molitor, they should absolutely put a high priority on hiring someone who can speak Spanish and make meaningful connections will all the players on the roster.

    • beckmt, Longdistancetwins, Sconnie and 5 others like this

I believe Molitor has no idea how to lead a team. Or, as some might put it, inspire.

    • Jerr, notoriousgod71, David HK and 1 other like this

Wow. The comments. 

 

Let's take a step back here and look at what's happened in 2018:

 

1. His biggest power threat spent the offseason recovering from surgery on his shin and getting investigated for sexual assault and has been terribly ineffective all year;

2. His No. 1 starter had offseason surgery and still hasn't thrown a slider;

3. His shortstop was busted for taking drugs and is out until July;

4. His catcher is out for the season;

5. His otherworldly centerfielder has been injured, is currently at rehab, and has been ineffective when he's been in.

 

As I count it, that's five -- FIVE! -- starters that are currently out of the lineup. Add to that the ineffectiveness of Logan Morrison and Addison Reed, two big free-agent signings, and you have a recipe for a team that is not doing well.

 

Hit the brakes on the bad manager talk. For crying out loud I think it's a wonder they're close to first place as it is. 

 

And for those of you yearning for Doug Mientkiewicz just stop. Stop.  

    • Kelly Vance, bizaff, dbminn and 5 others like this

A very thoughtful and well written article, Nick. 

 

Baseball fans love to speculate and put themselves in the manager's or FO shoes. We are a fickle bunch, sometimes, because of our love of the game. 

 

The baseball season is long and much can and will change over the course of a year. The baseball gods have seemingly been against us so far this year. The FO has done a good job improving the pitching staff. IMO, the pitching have produced about what we could expect so far this year. The hitting is a completely different story. We only have two hitters batting better than expected, Rosario and Escobar. Maurer has been ok, but has missed a month. Sano, Buxton, Dozier, Morrison and Kepler have all preformed well below what we would have predicted. Add to that, Polanco has not even played yet this year and Castro being out for the year has all added up to a dismal offensive showing thus far. Things often even out and I think that we will see a much improved offense in the second half of the year. I don't blame Molitor for the offense underperforming. He will look like a better manager when the offense comes around like I think it will.

 

 

 

 

 

 

    • glunn likes this
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TheLeviathan
Jun 19 2018 07:14 AM
In my opinion the vast majority of the impact a manager makes is beyond our ability to see. We can criticize bullpen management and some other aspects of their job but for the most part what they do is behind the scenes. I'm not sure Molitor is the problem but this is at least a valid attempt at some criticism. Too often the manager gets all the blame for things going wrong and none of the credit for things going right.

Personally, I put the vast majority of the blame for Sano and Buxton on the previous FO and their criminal neglect of the development process. And those two guys (And Dozier going pumpkin) are the biggest culprits for this mess.
    • bizaff, DocBauer, KirbyDome89 and 1 other like this
I never would have hire someone with no managerial experience to this level. It has often showed. While it would be great to hope the minors finish all the teaching, they don't anymore. Other managers have said as much. So, yes, some of the blame for their issues with fundamentals does fall on his shoulders.

I didn't like the hire then, and haven't really seen any reason to change my mind.
    • Jerr, Twins33, LA VIkes Fan and 3 others like this
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nicksaviking
Jun 19 2018 07:45 AM

Had the Twins hired Lovullo and had he put up the same kind of sketchy track record there'd be much less resistance to replace him. 

 

It looks like the team is starting to do it now, but this is the biggest reason why they should usually be looking to hire people from outside; people without built up organizational equity and emotional attachment. These guys should be earning that equity with their current role, not with what they did for the organization in past roles.

    • glunn, Mike Sixel, TheLeviathan and 5 others like this

Reply to curt1965 who posted ...."I think his conclusion that Molitor bears some degree of criticism for the Twins play this season, or maybe he doesn’t, is spot on. There is something missing from this team...."

 

So no conclusion is spot on? As often is the case there is way too much analysis or lack thereof in this whole thread. The conclusive answer to the thread title is NO. The biggest single individual on any big time sports team is the coach/manager. With all of the injuries and turnover the glue and the game to game attitude has to come from the coach/manager. Molitor provides neither.

    • David HK likes this

"I do know this: It takes some contorting not to see him as part of the problem."

 

Bingo.

 

My personal opinion: His baseball IQ actually works against him. He takes things for granted--when/how to take an extra base for example--because they are second nature to him, and always have been. He just assumes others view things as intuitively as he does. The result is, details get ignored, and it shows in the quality of play. And I don't think it's unfair to say the quality of baseball this team plays is not upper level MLB. 

 

Also my opinion: really poor at pitching decisions. Reactive, rather than proactive. Removes pitchers immediately after disaster, rather than anticipating it and reacting before disaster strikes. No manager can avoid having his pitcher give up runs. But when a starter is obviously tiring, and you watch a lead disappear, over and over again...well, that's on the manager, not the pitchers. I also think it's fair to say he overuses certain relievers, and ignores others. 

    • glunn, Mike Sixel, frightwig and 9 others like this

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