Your Turn: What Do You Want From A Manager?
Image courtesy of Peter G. Aiken, USA TodayInstead of regurgitating old, tired discussions about why the Twins needed to fire Paul Molitor (or Ron Gardenhire before him), let’s be a little more productive. Let’s not jump to hyperbole and automatically bash everything about the Twins brass. Like all of us, there is good and not-so-good in everybody. People have strengths and areas for improvement. What are the areas of strength that you find most important for a manager?
So, for the sake of important, meaningful discussion, let’s limit this discussion to the manager role. Today, I’m going to post several qualifications that I think are either important for an MLB manager or that come up often in discussions. Feel free to discuss the qualifications in the comments, but mostly, use this article to start thinking about who you would like to see replace Paul Molitor.
MANAGERIAL EXPERIENCE (BACKGROUND)
Do the Twins need to hire someone with experience as a big league manager? If so, does it need to be a manager who has put together World Series championships, or could you consider a candidate who wasn’t good in his first manager job but meets many other requirements? (Note that none of the three men generally presumed to be the Twins finalists have any major league managerial experience.)
How about minor league managerial experience, and if so, how much? Do you prefer a candidate who has been second-in-command in a winning organization, for instance, a respected bench coach? Can the candidate be a former player, or would the negate him as a possibility for you? While they probably couldn’t officially ask, does age factor into the decision?
This is one that people think that the Twins are so far behind on, but with Derek Falvey on board, it’s now known as an organization that embraces analytics. So what level of analytical skill or curiosity is enough, or maybe even too much?
And how do you evaluate that? A manager may not always go by the analytic book. A manager has to go by the gut sometimes, based on factors that we as fans may not see or ever know about. Players need rest. Players may have other things going on.
Which leads to a pretty important topic; how does the manager communicate?
How should the manager communicate with the front office? How much voice should he have in the conversations about any number of topics?
How should the manager communicate with his coaching staff?
How should the manager communicate with the players? We often hear the term “lose the clubhouse.” That didn’t happen with Paul Molitor, but it is always a topic when a team loses. How much screaming and yelling do you want from a manager? Or do you prefer a manager be more laid back and professional in his communication? In other words, do you want someone with "fire in his belly" like Ron Gardenhire, or someone generally more calm and collected like Paul Molitor?
While less important than the above, what would your expectations be for a manager with the media? Ron Gardenhire was great, gave good, fun answers, and often didn’t say much. Paul Molitor was terrific with the media as well, very smart and thoughtful in his responses. As fans, we want to know everything and we want to know the real reasons for whatever situation, but that’s not always best for the team. So, what would you want?
How much input should the major league manager have in the development of philosophies on the minor leagues and player development?
How can the manager be helpful in the transition from minor league baseball to the big leagues? How much of this is delegated to the coaching staff?
How can a manager help players continue to develop once getting to the big leagues, and how do you evaluate that? Player development is rarely linear. For example. Miguel Sano came up in July of 2015 and played so well that he was named the Twins MVP. In 2016, he took a step backward. But then in 2017, he played well in the first half and was an All Star. And then he got hurt, and 2018 was a mess. How much of that is on the manager? Every manager (and hitting coach, and pitching coach) will have his successes and failures, so how should it be evaluated?
Bullpen usage has been a topic as it relates to Ron Gardenhire and Paul Molitor. Both were often accused of not being very good at it. How do you expect bullpen arms to be used? How much usage is too much usage? How much negativity would come up when a top reliever is given an extra day off and a secondary reliever comes in instead and gives up a lead? But over the long haul, was it the right thing? How is it evaluated when there are only three or four reliable options in the bullpen? How do the manager and the pitching coach share responsibility in this?
WINS AND LOSSES
At the end of a day, Wins are what any manager will be evaluated by, right or wrong? What are the expectations for Win total in 2019, and how does that change if the Twins front office makes more July deadline deals, or if a couple of major contributors get hurt?
How long are you giving a manager to ‘Win”? Two years? And does that mean winning an AL Central title, or are you talking about a playoff series, or even a game? Or, a World Series title?
How do you define “Success” with the next manager?
What should the clubhouse atmosphere be like under a new manager?
What should the atmosphere between the manager and the front office personnel be?
How does the managerial candidate feel about building from within?
How does that manager candidate create a culture of accountability with his players, coaches and himself?
Which current major league and minor league coaches would be let go, and who would you bring back?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
All right, now it’s your turn? What are the most important qualities that a Manager can bring to an organization? I brought up a lot of topics, and how do you go about acquiring those kinds of players?
Put yourself in the shoes of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. You need to decide which manager will lead your vision. What does that look like, and how embodies that?
Again, I appreciate this thread not turning into yet another negative, bashing thread, but instead, let’s be productive and each of us jot down our thoughts on what makes a good manager, and what type of candidate we would support for the Twins.
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