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Twins Daily Roundtable: Grading Molitor

Twins Daily Roundtable is a weekly series. As part of this series, a question will be posed to the site’s writers and they will respond in 200 words or less (Some writers don’t like to stick to this limit). This will give readers an opportunity to see multiple points of view and then add their own point of view in the comments section.

Paul Molitor is nearing the end of his fourth season as the Minnesota Twins manager. During his first season, the Twins pushed for a playoff spot into the season’s last weeks. There were over 100 losses in 2016. He won AL Manager of the year in 2017 after the Twins bounced back to earn a Wild Card spot. Now in his fourth season, the club is sitting below the .500 mark.

This week’s roundtable discussion question is: “How would you rank Paul Molitor’s managerial performance? Why?”
Image courtesy of Marilyn Indahl-USA TODAY Sports
Seth Stohs
I think he's doing fine. A manager's role in wins and losses is vastly overstated (wins or losses). As for the lineup, I'd say he does just fine. He mixes it up pretty well and isn't married to certain hitters in certain spots. Bullpen usage is where most find fault. I definitely think he has a tendency to overwork the reliable relievers which, practically, is understandable. But he will need to find a way to trust others to try to keep those top guys from wearing down. He's obviously well respected in the clubhouse, but I don't know what we can really comment on his role in there. We just don't know. A manager can't be at all places. In terms of analytics, he certainly has the people around him that will encourage it.

This is an impossible question to answer with any certainty. Managers usually get too much credit when the team wins, and they get too much of the blame when things go bad.

Tom Froemming
I'd give him a D. We're not at the point where I'm demanding he be fired, but I definitely think the team would be better off with someone else running the show.

I'm happy to see the Twins are bunting much less frequently this year, but I'm still depressed at how inefficiently the bullpen has been managed. There's also no shortage of strange lineup decisions. He seems to have no interest in providing opportunities for younger players and caters to the veterans far too often.

I have a lot of respect for Paul Molitor. He's certainly knows more about baseball than I do, but expertise doesn't always translate to management.

Cody Christie
Expectations were high for the Twins heading into the 2018 season and things haven’t exactly gone as planned. Falvey and Levine seemed to have put together some strong pieces to build off of last season’s playoff run. However, no one could have predicted the lack of production from Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, and Brian Dozier. There’s little a manager can do if the team’s best players aren’t performing or aren’t even on the roster.

I honestly think the front office will decided to go in a different direction this off-season. I believe Falvey and Levine are going to want to bring in someone younger that fits the mold of “being their guy.” They could give Molitor one more chance to see what he does with the club next year but Minnesota won’t have the likes of Sano and Buxton around forever.

If the time isn’t now, when will it be? Overall grade, C- but he moves to a C+ with extra credit for AL Manager of the Year.

Ted Schwerzler
Molitor was put in a difficult position, but he also hasn’t done himself any favors. This front office likely would’ve hired their own guy had they not been mandated to do otherwise. He saved his skin by winning Manager of the Year in 2017, but he’s continued many of his poor habits this season. Bullpen usage has been questionable, in-game strategy leaves something to be desired, and lineup configuration has been head-scratching at times.

Nothing he’s done has been egregious, but the sum of all parts seems average at best. It’s hard to gauge his relatability to this roster without being in the clubhouse, but I tend to believe there’re better options in that department. On a grading scale, I’d tag him with a C-. Regardless of his three-year deal, which did seem odd, I don’t know that Falvey and Levine won’t move on this winter anyways.

Steve Lein
I'll begin this one by pointing out the cliche that managers get too much of the credit for winning and too much of the blame for losing. The players hit, pitch, and play defense while managers really can only make personnel decisions and have situational influence. But that is where good managers can make their mark.

As far as personnel decisions go, Molitor doesn’t get a passing grade from me. Overuse of bullpen pitchers has quite clearly affected their performance. Platoon advantages have not been utilized enough. At times I've thought it was like he's spinning a roulette wheel with players names on it to figure out the lineup order he'd throw out. The up and down records of his his teams during his tenure also tells me he may not have that special sauce that extracts the best out of most of his players consistently. That's one idea I do think the great managers accomplish.

When it comes to the situational side during a game, outside of his use of the bullpen, I do think Molitor does well. He's embraced shifting on defense, I don't think they've done much bunting, and based on his Hall Of Fame playing career I know he’s seen it all. I trust him to make the correct decisions in that sense.

Overall, I’d rank him around the middle of MLB managers, but his time is running out.

SD Buhr
This is really a tough question.

Obviously, you can’t say Paul Molitor has been an incredibly good manager at this point, based on the results on the field, even though last season’s second half was certainly encouraging.

But I’m not really sure you can lay the lack of success this season purely at his feet, either. While most of us were looking for a strong year as they prepared for spring training, I think if you’d have told us then that Polanco and Santana would each miss the entire first half of the season and Sano and Buxton would spend so little time on the active roster, our expectations might have been more muted. I’m not sure you can blame the manager for not winning more games when those major pieces were absent.

Personally, I’d probably give him an overall grade of C+ and, based on that, I won’t really have any objection whether the front office decides to keep him around or bring in someone new.

If you missed any of the most recent roundtable discussions, here are the links:
Closing Time
Prospect Promotions
Hall of Fame Impact
Baseball in 2028
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296 Comments

Why are we keeping someone with a C grade?

Are we aiming for .500? Is that the goal?

It shouldn't be the goal, but it's realistic. Do you honestly think Molitor is getting fired this season if the team finishes around .500?

The 'hands-off' owner will most likely view that as a success after years of terrible baseball.

Regardless how we personally feel about this team's performance, Molitor could finish with a .500 or better record 3 out of 4 seasons.

What has Molitor done at an average to above average rate?

I can think of nothing; therefore I give him an F.


What does any manager do at an average or above average rate? They make the lineups, and make calls to the bullpen. Everything else is intangible stuff we can't see as fans.
    • TheLeviathan likes this

 

What does any manager do at an average or above average rate? They make the lineups, and make calls to the bullpen. Everything else is intangible stuff we can't see as fans.

I'd argue we've been seeing lots of awful base running and awful baseball in general the last few days. Am I to understand that is all intangible and the manager has nothing to do with making sure his team knows how to do a run down or knowing how to run the bases?

 

Edit: Also, he is awful at making lineups and bullpen management. So, if we're only going by those two factors then he is an atrocious manager.

I'd argue we've been seeing lots of awful base running and awful baseball in general the last few days. Am I to understand that is all intangible and the manager has nothing to do with making sure his team knows how to do a run down or knowing how to run the bases?

Edit: Also, he is awful at making lineups and bullpen management. So, if we're only going by those two factors then he is an atrocious manager.


I don't hear Molitor yelling to the players "Take 3rd base, right now! I don't care if you screw up!!" Why are the 1st and 3rd base coaches absolved of this criticism?

Can you quantify if his bullpen management and lineup selection is atrocious compared to other managers? Or is he just not playing your favorites?

 

I don't care that Austin has struggled against righties, Grossman is not part of the future, Austin might be. 

Grossman is a good role player, as long as the role isn't too big. He takes good at-bats. I said at the beginning of the year that a good team can use 150-200 at-bats from a guy like Grossman over the course of the year; a bad team gives him more than 200. Um, let's see...yep, the Twins this year are a bad team.

    • David HK likes this

 

I don't hear Molitor yelling to the players "Take 3rd base, right now! I don't care if you screw up!!" Why are the 1st and 3rd base coaches absolved of this criticism?

Can you quantify if his bullpen management and lineup selection is atrocious compared to other managers? Or is he just not playing your favorites?

The fact is he is the manager. If his team constantly makes stupid errors on the base paths and in the field, which they do, then he should be remedying the situation in practices. There is no excuse for the amount of embarrassing play we've had this year. These are professional baseball players. Yes, they make mental mistakes sometimes and that is to be expected once in a while, but the last 2 games have been full of plays that would be getting players on high school teams benched. And no where did I absolve any of the base coaches, but they aren't the ones running the show in practice and in games. They are base coaches. How are they to blame that our team is playing like a bunch of little leaguers and don't know how to do a basic run down? How are they to blame for Garver standing there and not throwing to any base today? If the base coaches are the ones responsible for base running management in practice, then they are absolutely to blame for that too.

 

And this isn't absolving the players either because they're at fault too, but if a manager can't get his team to do simple **** that even a little league coach would expect their team to be able to do, then that is on him too. How many times this season has Rosario thrown to the wrong base? How many times have we made stupid mistakes on the bases? How many times in the last two games have our players looked like they have 0 clue what they're supposed to do with the ball in the field?

 

If the manager isn't responsible for any of that, then what exactly is it that Molitor does besides give canned statements to the media?

    • David HK likes this
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yarnivek1972
Aug 22 2018 04:52 PM

I don't hear Molitor yelling to the players "Take 3rd base, right now! I don't care if you screw up!!" Why are the 1st and 3rd base coaches absolved of this criticism?

Can you quantify if his bullpen management and lineup selection is atrocious compared to other managers? Or is he just not playing your favorites?


Isn’t that what W/L record kinda does?
    • David HK likes this

 

Isn’t that what W/L record kinda does?

To be fair, the roster definitely plays into that too. And various other factors. But anyone who has watched a lot of Twins games this season knows that Molitor completely overuses some bullpen arms and completely neglects others. And its not like he kept going to some top tier RP in high leverage situations, he kept going to Matt Belisle. 

    • David HK likes this

Isn’t that what W/L record kinda does?


If people think this team can finish .500 this year they'll be .500 or better in 3 of his 4 seasons. Something that hasn't been accomplished this decade.

If you're Falvine asking for a new manager, Jim will ask what that person does differently than Molitor. And why is that worth the rest of Molitor's salary plus the salary of the new manager?

How can Falvine quantify that?
    • ashbury, TheLeviathan, LA VIkes Fan and 2 others like this

 

If people think this team can finish .500 this year they'll be .500 or better in 3 of his 4 seasons. Something that hasn't been accomplished this decade.

If you're Falvine asking for a new manager, Jim will ask what that person does differently than Molitor. And why is that worth the rest of Molitor's salary plus the salary of the new manager?

How can Falvine quantify that?

The goal isn't to be a .500 team though. The goal is to win the world series or at the very least make a strong playoff run (getting swept in the first round or mashed in the wild card doesn't count as a "run"). Being .500 isn't an accomplishment. Are we supposed to be proud of the fact that we still suck but not quite as bad as we used to suck? Is that supposed to be a strong point in the argument of keeping Molitor? Well, we still aren't doing anything good but boy, oh boy, we almost were .500 in a division that is so bad that we're soundly in second place.

    • David HK and wsnydes like this

The fact is he is the manager. If his team constantly makes stupid errors on the base paths and in the field, which they do, then he should be remedying the situation in practices. There is no excuse for the amount of embarrassing play we've had this year. These are professional baseball players. Yes, they make mental mistakes sometimes and that is to be expected once in a while, but the last 2 games have been full of plays that would be getting players on high school teams benched. And no where did I absolve any of the base coaches, but they aren't the ones running the show in practice and in games. They are base coaches. How are they to blame that our team is playing like a bunch of little leaguers and don't know how to do a basic run down? How are they to blame for Garver standing there and not throwing to any base today? If the base coaches are the ones responsible for base running management in practice, then they are absolutely to blame for that too.

And this isn't absolving the players either because they're at fault too, but if a manager can't get his team to do simple **** that even a little league coach would expect their team to be able to do, then that is on him too. How many times this season has Rosario thrown to the wrong base? How many times have we made stupid mistakes on the bases? How many times in the last two games have our players looked like they have 0 clue what they're supposed to do with the ball in the field?

If the manager isn't responsible for any of that, then what exactly is it that Molitor does besides give canned statements to the media?


Your last paragraph is the crux of my argument. What exactly does a manager do? What value do they provide during a game?

They're not the ones making stupid baserunning mistakes, and throwing to the wrong base. You can lead a horse to water, but you can't make them drink it.

If Molitor is sitting in his office streaming Netflix instead of instructing his players on fundamentals, we can raise pitch forks. I'm going to assume Molitor is a professional and does everything he can to win a game.

Baseball has been around for 100+ years, and millions of fans have debated this topic. Yet no one has come up with a way to measure and quantify what a manager does.

In the past there was more strategic moves made by a manager. Now we're in the three true outcomes era, and their strategic hunches are going away. Now their strategy is, "Hey, try to hit a home run here. Or take a walk."
    • TheLeviathan likes this

The goal isn't to be a .500 team though. The goal is to win the world series or at the very least make a strong playoff run (getting swept in the first round or mashed in the wild card doesn't count as a "run"). Being .500 isn't an accomplishment. Are we supposed to be proud of the fact that we still suck but not quite as bad as we used to suck? Is that supposed to be a strong point in the argument of keeping Molitor? Well, we still aren't doing anything good but boy, oh boy, we almost were .500 in a division that is so bad that we're soundly in second place.


That's your goal to win a World Series. My goal is to be competitive and make the playoffs. We don't know what Mr. Pohlad's goal is.
    • bizaff likes this

 

Your last paragraph is the crux of my argument. What exactly does a manager do? What value do they provide during a game?

If a manager cannot get professional players who have made it to the MLB to play baseball at a fundamental level that you would expect from high school players, then he is a bad manager. Either he is incapable of providing coaching to the players, or the players no longer listen to him. Either way, that is not a manager I want. Obviously, that is my opinion and people can argue it is all on the players and the manager has 0 impact, but these are pro players. They all know how to play at a fundamental level or they would not have made it to the majors. If they continuously fail to do so, then to me that implies there is a problem at the core of things. And the manager is the core of things when it comes to coaching and training and fixing problems.

 

That's your goal to win a World Series. My goal is to be competitive and make the playoffs. We don't know what Mr. Pohlad's goal is.

I guess we have different definitions of competitive, because in my opinion competitive means you can compete with good teams. In the last 15 years we've been 2-15 in the playoffs. That is not competitive.

 

 

Edit: I assume it is a given, but since these types of threads tend to end up with opinions running pretty hot, I figured I'd mention that none of this is a knock on you, and lots of posters on this board have different goals, expectations and points of view, none of which are necessarily right or wrong. Probably doesn't need to be said, but figured it might be worth mentioning because I've seen plenty of other threads like this turn a bit more personal than they should. AKA, I disagree with you but I respect your right to your opinion.

    • SQUIRREL, Oldgoat_MN, notoriousgod71 and 5 others like this

 

Austin has an .833 OPS against RH starting pitching, which is better than his hitting against LH starters. He struggles against RH relievers, probably because RH relievers tend to throw harder.

 

 

I hear that the Chicago starter last night throws pretty hard. hmmm Austin sits. Rodon not as hard, Austin plays

Here is my beef with Molitor:

 

- He lost the clubhouse.This has been a very unmotivated team.

- He has been playing favorites.For example, he kept a sub .300 OBP guy hitting lead off for 3 months, because that was his preference

- Bullpen usage has been bizarre to say the least.

 

That said, I'd take him over Gardenhire any day of the week.

Still, he has to go.The Twins need some new blood, preferably outside the organization and preferably with a huge aversion to losing games

    • Twins33, LA VIkes Fan, DocBauer and 1 other like this

If a manager cannot get professional players who have made it to the MLB to play baseball at a fundamental level that you would expect from high school players, then he is a bad manager. Either he is incapable of providing coaching to the players, or the players no longer listen to him. Either way, that is not a manager I want. Obviously, that is my opinion and people can argue it is all on the players and the manager has 0 impact, but these are pro players. They all know how to play at a fundamental level or they would not have made it to the majors. If they continuously fail to do so, then to me that implies there is a problem at the core of things. And the manager is the core of things when it comes to coaching and training and fixing problems.


I don't know if the players stopped listening to him. That's a judgment call for Pohlad to make. If true, that's a reason for firing him. I assume Molitor is a professional and is providing feedback for his players.

Are the fundamental errors more than the average team? How much responsibility falls on the manager vs. the player himself? MLB caliber players as you said know the fundamentals, and they should be able to do it day in, day out, regardless of the manager.

As far as coaching, training, and fixing problems, that's also not just on the manager. Especially in this era of baseball. Wasn't it Falvine that drew up the plan to fix Sano earlier this season? They have an analytics team to dig up video and data to help coach, train, and fix problems.
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yarnivek1972
Aug 22 2018 05:55 PM

If people think this team can finish .500 this year they'll be .500 or better in 3 of his 4 seasons. Something that hasn't been accomplished this decade.

If you're Falvine asking for a new manager, Jim will ask what that person does differently than Molitor. And why is that worth the rest of Molitor's salary plus the salary of the new manager?

How can Falvine quantify that?


Overall, he’s 227-259.
Two things about his bullpen management.

First, fans from every team rag on how thier managers utilize the pen. Just need to spend some time on other boards to see that.

Second, we shouldn't pretend he was given a lot of talent in the bullpen to begin with.
    • TheLeviathan, Rigby, Vanimal46 and 2 others like this

I guess we have different definitions of competitive, because in my opinion competitive means you can compete with good teams. In the last 15 years we've been 2-15 in the playoffs. That is not competitive.


Edit: I assume it is a given, but since these types of threads tend to end up with opinions running pretty hot, I figured I'd mention that none of this is a knock on you, and lots of posters on this board have different goals, expectations and points of view, none of which are necessarily right or wrong. Probably doesn't need to be said, but figured it might be worth mentioning because I've seen plenty of other threads like this turn a bit more personal than they should. AKA, I disagree with you but I respect your right to your opinion.

That's the beauty of fandom! We all have our own expectations. As far as the playoff failures, I place that burden more on the higher ups... The manager can only play what's on his roster. It's up to ownership and GM to take chances and sacrifice some of the future when the team has a chance to win it all...

No hard feelings at all, btw. I enjoy these types of discussions a lot more than talking about why Bobby Wilson is on roster. :)
    • Don Walcott likes this

Overall, he’s 227-259.


A total system failure will do that to your overall record.

83 wins in 2015
Total System Failure
85 wins last year
?? this year
    • Don Walcott likes this

Unless the MLB equivalent of Steve Kerr is just sitting out there somewhere, replacing Molitor isn't the most pressing concern facing this team. (Or necessarily a concern at all.)

 

This Twins' front office philosophy has looked to emulate an Astros-type model built around a core of high draft picks that the team can control for a number of years. I don't know why this should be lauded as it is definitely the least work and cheapest thing an organization can do.

 

1. Suck for a number of years.

2. Stockpile a lot of high draft choices 

3. Develop them (The only aspect that requires skill or effort)

4Sit back and control their MLB careers for six years.

 

Unfortunately, the part involving the skill and effort the Twins appear to be reasonably bad at. We've waited long enough, haven't we?

 

More than a manager change, the front office needs a philosophical change. They may have begun to show an admission of these shortcomings with the number of minor league players from other organizations that they've been adding. Additionally, the front office should now be a lot more willing to trade higher-ceiling prospects for lower-ceiling established players. I realize this adds more opportunity to look bad as a GM and requires more deft maneuvering than just sucking, drafting and waiting. Hopefully this front office is as impatient as we are.

    • LA VIkes Fan, Rigby and Vanimal46 like this

Molitor C - Front off F.Who creates the roster?Who sets teh 25 and 40 man lists?Who signs Belisle, Motter, Lamatte, Grossman, Lynn, Reed, Rodney, Duke, Odorizzi, Morrison?  

 

I think Managers are only there to post a lineup and keep everyone on an even keel.There is only so much to be done.How many coaches are there and what do they do?  

 

On another entry I posted - I think our problem is that we are homers - we think our team is better than it really is.We are five games below 500 but we have played the Orioles and are 6 - 1, the Tigers where we are 7-6, the White Sox 9 - 6, and KC 6 - 6. We are 28 - 19 against these terrible teams.I will let you do the math with the rest. team has one player challenging 300.

I know we like our team, but we stink.Today we messed up in the field, on the mound and at bat.It is who we are.We rank 10th in pitching in the AL, 8th in hitting, and 8th in fielding.We are 12 in homeruns, 11 in slugging.How do we expect anything more than where we are?

 

we can pretend that we have some real talent, but nothing really stands out.Blame Molitor if you want, but that is not going to make a difference.Blame the FO - they give us the roster.

 

I think this is significant to the discussion.  

 

What did the FO give Aaron Boone?Is he a better manager?  

 

How managers have been hired and fired in the history of MLB and how many of them have been hired and hired and hired? Billy Martin was hired five times by the Yankees alone.What does that mean?  

 

https://www.cbssports.com/mlb/news/when-it-comes-to-firing-mlb-managers-nobody-really-knows-what-they-are-doing/  It is the most difficult job to judge and no one judges it well.Was Casey Stengal the Mets losing manager or the Yankees championship manager?  

 

I would want to work in the front office, no one holds them accountable, rather than in the dugout. 

 

Is Molitor a good or bad manager?Noone knows although everyone thinks they do?Would you want Sam Mele?Was Gardenhire as good as his good teams or as bad as his bad teams?The same with Tom Kelly.  

 

So step up Falvey and Levine.Give Molitor truly good players and then we can judge, otherwise, my thought is that you two are the ones who have screwed up. 

    • ken likes this

I go with a D,Mostly because of the use of Sano and Morrison in the Middle of the line-up every day. Two guys back to back in the Middle of the order struggling to hit .200WHY did it take so long to get the better hitters together?Yes on paper it Looks good, but it wasn't working, so you have to make changes.Also, the lack of any moving runner into scoring position, either by stealing or hit and run.Molitor also, seem to lack any feel for players being Hot or Cold.He missed his chance with LaMarre when he was hot, the little use of Gaver and the overuse of relief pitchers that were cold while other Hot pitchers sat.To me he managed like he had favorites and the favorites were failing and he just sat and watched, running the same team and line-up out there every day.I saw little Managing.But most of all playing Morrison EVERY DAY and batting him in the Middle of the order expecting a different result all the way through July???? Mostly the lack of using the Roster propery. 

    • David HK likes this

For those posting the players are making dumb plays, what is the Manager to do.Well, I remember Reggie Jackson not chasing down a ball he misplayed.What did Billy Martin do?He ran in a new outfielder and jerked Jackson out of the game in the middle of the inning.That ended up in a fight between the two.Now, I'm not saying that's the thing to do, but a little discipline is needed. Small fines by the players could go on to without us knowing.In the end the Manager puts together the Line-up and handles pitching changes, with a little strategy mixed in. 

    • Riverbrian and notoriousgod71 like this
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nicksaviking
Aug 22 2018 07:40 PM
I'm just tired of the inconsistency, not just year-to-year, but month-to-month. They hit some high points on occasion but I don't think well managed teams bottom out so deeply and as often as this one.

And where the heck is the energy at? I remember when Vargas and Arcia and Danny Santana got up here and they were hanging at the top step of the dugout laughing and cheering every game even though the team stunk.
    • Mike Sixel, Riverbrian, mikelink45 and 1 other like this

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