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Four things I am watching this week

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The Twins sit at 8-10 through their first 18 games.


The Twins are in a much better spot than last season, but considering that opening series sweep against Kansas City, the Twins have been heading in the wrong direction recently.


The Twins begin a six game road trip in Texas tonight. I want to get my hasty thoughts down for the upcoming week.


There's not a lot the Twins can do about the starting pitching right now (yes there is, but anyway), so I will set that aside. There is also specific information we do not have access to, as fans. However, in my opinion, there are four general things I would like to see the manager do this week to improve the team's present and future outlook.


Here they are, as addressed to Molitor, in no particular order (except for the number one thing, which is unquestionably the number one thing, in my mind):



# 4 : Hold the outfield together.


Rosario-Buxton-Kepler should start all six games. They will not need rest, as there is a day off after each series. If you feel compelled to make a starting lineup substitution, then it needs to be Grossman, and probably as a right fielder. Kepler can move to left field or DH.



# 3 : Move Mauer down the order.


These are the players that should be batting ahead of him: Dozier, Polanco, Grossman, Sano, Kepler. Against a lefty, Mauer can sit (Hamels pitches Wednesday) and Vargas can slip into that sixth slot as a RHB first baseman.


I liked the early lineup experimentation, but things are coming into a little more focus. Polanco and Grossman are OBP machines. Take advantage.



# 2 : Manage pitching changes as if it's August.


Manage them as if the Twins are in a pennant race, too. I understand it's pretty slim pickins out there, but there's no need to bring in a guy like Breslow to face a guy like Castellanos, as you did on Saturday. Granted neither of those two has a strong platoon split, but mind the splits anyway. Also, I like how you used the mop up guy for three inning stretches when necessary. Tepesch is that guy this week.



# 1 : Let Buxton bat.


This might be the week Buxton gets on track.


Do not pinch hit for him, do not pinch run for him, do not ask him to bunt. In fact, tell him not to bunt. Just let him hit.


The Twins have played mostly afternoon games to this point. Oddly, the Twins have played one night game on the road so far. It is April, and it has been the cold weather schedule. Beginning tonight, they will start their normal schedule. They will play three consecutive night games, followed by a day off, followed by two more night games this week, and then the Sunday day game before heading home for an evening series beginning Tuesday.


These are good conditions for establishing a routine.


Often, teams do not take batting practice ahead of day games. I'm sure Buxton is being coached well and doing tee work and getting swings off the machine. It's the real stuff out on the field where he needs to be this week, standing tall (DeRosa), and keeping his eyes on the ball (Reynolds). Lots of repetitions. Minimum distractions. Sound mechanics, same approach, swing after swing. Then into the clubhouse to think about it, grab a bite, get dressed, and get ready. Let him carry his batting practice work into the games.


Buxton was slotted third in the batting order to start the season, a show of confidence. Removing him from a game for a pinch hitter is probably a contradictory message. Imagine if Buxton is allowed to bat in those late innings and comes up with a big hit, instead of being pinch hit for. That might be the biggest affirmation of his work and confidence boost of all.


Tell Buxton he has 12 plate appearances in Texas, and 12 more in Kansas City, and as long as he's doing things correctly, there's no pressure to change or make it all up in that first at bat. He's got 4 at bats tonight, 4 tomorrow, and just go out there and do it. Unless of course the Twins clobber the starting pitcher tonight, in which case he might get 5 at bats. Or 6, if it really goes off the rails.


Go Twins!



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I agree with all, especially 1 and 4.  Those guys are the future.  Plan B is start all over again.  They need to give them every opportunity to succeed, because plan B isn't very pleasant to think about.

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#5  Fill the bottom 3rd of the order with OBP guys.  I've been kinda saying this for a while.  LEN3 posted the same thing early this morning:  "As the leadoff hitter, he is dependent upon the bottom third of the order to get on base for him."


I'd move Mauer to the latter half of the lineup, Buxton to 7th, and Grossman and Polanco 8th and 9th.  Or something like that.  Using the bottom 3rd as a hitters graveyard should be a thing of the past.

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Unfortunately our handling of Buxton has been the premier chapter from the book, "What No To Do".  I like what your are saying and for the most part it appears the Twins are following that advice.  All of but one of Buxton's PA's were good in the opener with Texas and all looked really good last night. I really liked his last AB even though it resulted in an out.  He took a pitch on the outside part of the plate and hit hard the other way.  Very Nice!  Of course, the pitching last night for Texas left much to be desired, but progress nonetheless.  

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