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Fan Forum with Paul Molitor


glunn
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Tonight the Twins had another fan forum for season ticket holders and group leaders, this time with Paul Molitor.  The format was the same as the recent forum with TR.  This was a conference call where people took turns asking questions.  This time, I actually got to ask a question -- more on that later.

 

I took notes as fast as my hand could move, but I am old, so that's not very fast.  Thus I will focus on the key points.

 

The first question was about selection of coaches.  PM said that there are lots of names to consider, but the Twins have to be careful about people who are under contract with other clubs.  He has discussed this with TR for 8 or 9 hours during the past 2 days.  PM then mentioned that the Twins lead all MLB in runs scored during the last 2 months of the season and that he loves Gardy and they have a good relationship.

 

The next question was about the benefits of a Latino coach.  PM said that the Latin influence has grown exponentially during the past 10-15 years and that bilingual skills improve communication.  My sense was that he wants a Latino coach.

 

The next question was about instilling greater discipline in fielding and baserunning.  PM said that this must be emphasized in spring training and that teams that do fundamentals well tend to be around in October.

 

The next question was about clubhouse culture.  PM wants to create a culture of moral conduct where players decide for themselves and their teammates and there is accountability.  He will give freedom within parameters, but when at the ballpark the focus of players should be mainly on work, not social media.

 

The next question was about the influence of his former managers.  PM said that his manager in Toronto taught him about respect, TK saw things that other managers don't see and paid attention to all details and Gardy had his own style, maintained some of TK's approaches and stayed true to himself.

 

The next question was about PM's Xmas list for the roster.  PM said that this has begun  to be discussed and his priority is depth in the rotation, but we need people who want to come here and are the right fit.  He then said that bullpens are important but they come together on their own, and it's good to have Perk at the end.

 

Now for my question.  I asked about PM's plans to speak with players during the offseason, for example to let Santana know whether he should prepare to play SS or CF or to urge Arcia to work on his defense.  Yes, I did actually throw that in.  PM said that he plans to be transparent and forthright about what he expects from each player, and speak with them about their strengths and areas where they need to improve.  He then talked about having a pyramid of potential leaders, and that he expects that his own mindset will pass through to the coaches and players.  He then said that he will reach out to the core guys in the near term (more on this later in the call).

 

The next question was about PM's ability to influence callups and free agent decisions.  Basically, PM's answer was that TR makes these decisions but will listen to PM.  They get along.

 

The next question was about the over/under on ejections next year.  There was some humor here, and PM mentioned that Gardy's record is not in danger and that the instant replay has reduced ejections.

 

The next question was about the timetable for Buxton/Sano.  PM said that Sano has medical clearance but they don't want him playing because his elbow is vulnerable if he falls.  He also said that Buxton is a little reckless, but they sorta like that.  The timetable will depend on them and PM will concentrate on the players he has and welcome the new players when they are ready.

 

The next question was about pitch counts.  The answer was long and detailed.  PM wants to develop starters who can go deep into games and who he has to fight to take the ball away, but this will be on a case by case basis because the team needs to protect its assets.

 

The next question was about lineup construction.  PM talked about sabermetrics and traditional lineup construction.  He then said that Jack Goin is the main man on this and PM will consult with Jack.  He also said that lineup construction is important.

 

The next question was about what needs to happen in 2015 for PM to view it as a success.  PM said that the veterans need to bounce back, the middle range now seem over the hump in establishing themselves and need to provide more leadership and the young guys have been impactful and can only get better.  PM sees reasons for optimism.  He then said that the Twins were competitive in most games last year.  He plans to plant the seeds of winning in every ear at spring training.

 

The next question was about positioning of Santana and Rosario,  PM said that he has been around Santana since he joined the Twins' system and thinks that he has a high ceiling.  He thinks that Santana is a SS, but Escobar proved to be a valuable SS and left his mark.  Regarding Rosario, he said that they tried him in the infield but lots of people think he will end up in the outfield.  PM hopes that Rosario's AFL performance will continue.

 

The next question was about using the shift and countering it.  PM talked about batters setting a priority for each at bat and that he plans to speak with Arcia and Parm about improving their bunting skills and bunting more.  He then said that even in the case of David Ortiz it might make sense to ask him in a particular situation to hit a single to LF.  He then said that batters need to be mentally strong to deal with the shift.  I think that PM at some point suggested that the Twins might shift more, but this is not in my notes.

 

The next question was about pitch to contact.  PM said that this was part of the Twins scouting/drafting for a long time and it was successful for quite a while, but the Twins are now drafting more for velocity and you can see this at the lower levels.  Such pitchers often do not pan out, but the margin of error for hitters goes up (down?) if there is greater velocity.  He also likes pitchers who will push hitters who crowd the plate.  He then said that Trevor May has 4 good pitches but needs to learn to use them better -- when to throw for strikes and when to throw for chase pitches.

 

The next question was about helping Mauer.  PM said that he's glad Joe is on the team and that Joe was unsurpassed when he played catcher.  Last year was not great for Joe and he felt some pressure to make the All Star team, but Joe was better in the second half and PM will meet with Joe soon to discuss how he can help Joe.  Joe has a quiet demeanor but burns inside.

 

The next question was about leaders on the current roster.. PM said that Mauer leads by example, Perk has influence in the pen, Hughes is the leader of the rotation guys (he was well-taught by the Yankees system) and Zuke and Dozier are leaders.  People follow Dozier.  There are also other potential leaders.  Good player leadership is important.

 

The next question was about Perk's health. PM sad that he had an elbow problem but PM is satisfied that it won't continue.  He also talked about how the closer is important and that Perk knows how to get ready for next year.  

 

The next question was about the importance of bunting and small ball in the American League.  PM said that the trend is to bunt less due to Billyball and sabermetrics, but PM likes to score first and expects guys to know how to bunt and to practice this.  The Twins also have some guys who can bunt for hits and this keeps players out of slumps.  PM then said that Santana, Dozier and Hicks need to bunt more.

 

The next question was whether PM will follow formulae and play percentages or instead adapt to each situation and follow his gut.  PM said that the manager gets a huge information package about the opponent at the start of every series and he will study this and often follow it, but he will also know his guys and go against the book so that a player can get better.  In particular, he likes players to play every day so he may not platoon much.

 

The next question was about Hicks and Plouffe.  PM said that Hicks is still part of the mix and PM believes in him and he was better late last season and became competitive in OBP.  There will be competition in CF.  As for Plouffe, he had a good year, the Twins were very pleased with him and he will be our guy coming in.

 

The next question was about confidence and PM thinks he can lead these men and be successful.  PM has a plan and ideas that he is organizing in his mind and should have this all worked out by spring training.

 

The FINAL question was about PM's vision for the Twins brand.  PM said that winning is the most important thing, but helping the community is also important.  PM's ultimate goal is to win a World Series ring with the Twins.

 

My overall impression of PM was very positive.  I was hoping for an outsider, but now I am optimistic that the changes that are needed may come from within.

 

 

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Thanks for this....not a fan of "bunting early to score first", but we don't really have any idea how that will play out. Hopefully, Goin has influence on that also. Interesting that a "SABR" guy would be the expert on lineup construction, since it supposedly (other than high OBP guys first) has so little actual effect on how an individual hits.

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Thanks for this....not a fan of "bunting early to score first", but we don't really have any idea how that will play out. Hopefully, Goin has influence on that also. Interesting that a "SABR" guy would be the expert on lineup construction, since it supposedly (other than high OBP guys first) has so little actual effect on how an individual hits.

 

It should help the team score more runs, not change how any single guy hits. Basically, put the best hitters at the top of the lineup. Don't give worse hitters more at bats than good hitters because they're fast or they can "handle the bat well".

 

However, Molitor's "bunt early to get a lead" strategy does conflict with the SABR-constructed lineup idea. It'll mean either you're having one of your best hitters bunting in the first inning, or you've gone with the "handles the bat well" guy batting second.

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Thank You for being so detailed.  Sounds like he was reasonably candid.

 

Did you get a sense of confidence dealing with the fans/media?

It seemed to me that PM was confident and relaxed, as well as very focused on what he wants to do and how he wants to do it.

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Thanks for the report, Glunn!

 

So, did Molitor say anything here that was unexpected? Seems like he's very solidly in-line with the traditional mindset of the organization. Meet the new boss, same as the old boss. I wonder how long it'll be before he starts ripping into young players in the media. :)

 

I was a little surprised that that PM was so positive about Hicks.  My impression was that he thinks that Hicks has great potential and he is hopeful that Hicks can realize that potential.

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Glunn, I am impressed by your fan forum for season ticket holders threads. They are very informative, whether the interviewee is smoke and mirrors or transparent - they have been the best threads I have read on this site for what I like to read or gather.

 

Thank you my friend.  I was intentionally omitting my own opinions and merely reporting the key points, as reflected in my notes.  

 

Although there were no major surprises, I liked how PM seems to have thought a lot about every aspect of managing and how much he seems to want to win more games.  I also appreciate the fact that the Twins are having these calls and allowing fans to ask hardball questions.

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I was a little surprised that that PM was so positive about Hicks.  My impression was that he thinks that Hicks has great potential and he is hopeful that Hicks can realize that potential.

 

I think you might have pinpointed the one thing that shows how Moliter might differ from Gardy. When was the last time Hicks was talked about in a positive light? Seems like any time his name was mentioned to Gardy it would ruffle his feathers. Aaron always seems a bit stiff out there, especially at the plate. Hesitant and a bit unsure of himself. Then the whole switch hitting drama this year...Gardy was obviously very frustrated with the situation. A fresh start with a new manager could be exactly what Hicks needs to make things click. Hopefully PM can get him to relax and have fun.

 

Now back to hammering on Mauer...has Moliter been asked the "what position should Joe play" question yet? I know it's probably a moot point, but do we know his opinion?

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I think you might have pinpointed the one thing that shows how Moliter might differ from Gardy. When was the last time Hicks was talked about in a positive light? Seems like any time his name was mentioned to Gardy it would ruffle his feathers. Aaron always seems a bit stiff out there, especially at the plate. Hesitant and a bit unsure of himself. Then the whole switch hitting drama this year...Gardy was obviously very frustrated with the situation. A fresh start with a new manager could be exactly what Hicks needs to make things click. Hopefully PM can get him to relax and have fun.

 

Now back to hammering on Mauer...has Moliter been asked the "what position should Joe play" question yet? I know it's probably a moot point, but do we know his opinion?

 

I agree with you that Molitor seems more likely than Gardy to get Hicks to play better.  As for where Mauer should play, no one asked about that in the forum.

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