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What was Rocco Baldelli Thinking?!


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The Minnesota Twins suffered one of the most discouraging losses you are ever going to see on Wednesday afternoon. There is plenty of blame to go around for what happened, but the Minnesota Twins’ skipper deserves some of it.The Minnesota Twins again suffered a loss in a game in which they were in a prime position to win. Kenta Maeda had an uncharacteristically rough start, the bottom of the Twins’ order was inept, and the defense failed to convert routine plays. Additionally, though, Rocco Baldelli made some questionable decisions that contributed greatly to the Twins losing Wednesday’s series finale in Oakland. Let’s dive into the three head scratching moves.

 

Questionable Move #1: Letting Alexander Colomé Throw 49 Pitches

 

Though he had been shaky to start the season, bringing in Alexander Colomé in the ninth inning for the save was the clear move for Rocco Baldelli. Colomé was signed to the club to close out games and was the last high-leverage arm that Baldelli had remaining in his bullpen. Even bringing Colomé back in the 10th inning was defendable. Although he blew the save, Colomé threw 19 pitches in the ninth inning, and two right handed hitters were due up in the 10th for Oakland with the Twins owning a two-run lead.

 

The problem with Rocco’s decision-making was just how long he allowed Colomé to stay in the game in the 10th. After Colomé got the first two righties to make outs in the 10th inning, left hander Seth Brown was due up with Colomé now at 29 pitches. After cruising through the first two batters, Colomé began to show some clear signs of tiring, throwing a five-pitch walk to Brown to put the tying run on base. Left in to face Elvis Andrus, Colomé, clearly exhausted, walked his second straight batter to load up the bases. After not having walked a batter all season, Colomé just walked two consecutive batters and was now at 40 pitches. Although ineffective and running on total fumes, Baldelli inexplicably left Colomé in the game with the bases loaded to face Matt Chapman, arguably Oakland’s best hitter. At this point Colomé was now throwing the most pitches he had thrown in an appearance since 2015 (!!) when he was still a starting pitcher.

 

In Devin Smeltzer and Jorge Alcala, Baldelli may not have had the greatest options remaining in the bullpen, but it was clear to everyone that Colomé was tiring quickly and that a lesser name would give the Twins a better chance at that point than Colomé throwing a pitch count that he hadn’t thrown since Barack Obama left office.

 

Colomé was clearly going to be in the game until the end, and while he did produce grounders that should have turned into outs, the reckless handling of allowing a tired Colomé to walk the bases loaded and continue facing the heart of the Oakland order was inexcusable.

 

Questionable Move #2: Pinch Running Travis Blankenhorn for Josh Donaldson

 

Heading into the top of the 10th inning with the “Runner on second” rule in effect, Rocco Baldelli made the questionable move to swap out his Gold Glove-winning third baseman in favor of utilityman Travis Blankenhorn as a pinch runner. This move was questionable from the jump as Blankenhorn, a well-built corner position fielder, is not exactly the fleetest of foot and is only marginally faster than Josh Donaldson on the basepaths. If a play occurred where there was a blooper into the outfield and Blankenhorn were to need to score on a bang-bang play at the plate, then any speed advantage you can get on the basepaths is an advantage. Majority of the time, though, that runner on second will score in a different manner, and one where a very marginal difference in speed isn’t going to make a huge difference. That runner on second could score easily on a double in the gap. Or on a couple of sacrifices. Or a home run (like was the case on Wednesday). Or potentially not even get a chance to score at all.

 

There were so many variables at play that substituting a pinch runner in that spot for a very minimal gain in speed was not worth the subsequent consequence of taking Donaldson’s glove out of the game for the bottom half of the inning with a pitch-to-contact pitcher on the mound and plenty of ground balls incoming. While it didn’t come to fruition, the swap also removed Donaldson’s bat for a potential later inning, should extras have continued past the 10th inning.

 

The decision came back to haunt the Twins in a big way, too, as the domino effect of Josh Donaldson’s removal from the game caused two new players to enter the field on defense, each of them making consecutive errors that caused three runs and lost the Twins the ballgame. Which leads to questionable decision number three...

 

Questionable Decision #3: Moving Luis Arraez to Third Base and Putting Blankenhorn at Second

 

Rather than making the clean swap with putting Travis Blankenhorn in the field at third base for the bottom of the 10th, Baldelli decided to completely mix up the defensive alignment in extra innings by moving Luis Arraez to third base and slotting Travis Blankenhorn in at second. This now put the Twins in a situation where they were not only without their Gold Glove third baseman, but they had two defensive players playing in a totally new position that day, one of them completely cold, in a high leverage situation with a tiring pitch-to-contact player on the mound.

 

This decision reared its ugly head quickly as Blankenhorn botched a ground ball to second base to allow one run to score before Luis Arraez made a throwing error on the next at-bat to allow the tying and winning runs to score.

 

Sure, Major League Baseball players should convert those plays 95% of the time, but in a high leverage situation with all of the pressure in the world, a manager is not setting up his team for the best chance at success by taking out his Gold Glove veteran in favor of two young, stretched defensive players.

 

Rocco Baldelli was not the only reason that the Minnesota Twins lost to the Oakland Athletics on Wendesday afternoon. Baldelli is still the best manager for this ballclub, and better days and decisions are ahead. He did make some poor decisions, though, that contributed to the Twins losing Wednesday’s ball game, and does deserve some of the criticism for those decisions.

 

What did you think of Rocco Baldelli’s decision-making on Wednesday afternoon? Were there any other questionable decisions that stuck out to you? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

 

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Last year the Twins two most used bench players were Ehire Adrianza and Marwin Gonzalez. Both of these players are versatile and dependable glove men wherever they are put on defense. For the 2021 Twins, the versatile players are not defensive assets--Arraez, Astudillo, Garlick and Rooker are all bat-first players and when they get on the field, the ball seems to find them. So far, the results have been close to disastrous.

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95% of the time? More like 99%, given fielding stats, higher, even.....but yes, I don't get that decision.

 

I also did not like the pinch runner decision.

 

I endorsed starting the 10th with Colome, but I didn't understand leaving him in after the 2 walks......but I can squint and understand it.

 

But, really, they lost because they couldn't pitch or field simple plays, something not on the manager at all.

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Yesterday was a disaster on many fronts as a team with title aspirations such as the Twins can't be gifting wins to opponents.

 

Every coaching decision can have multiple outcomes and there is a chance factor to the results. However, the thinking behind the moves has to be sound and in these instances I too question Rocco's reasoning especially allowing Colome to throw so many pitches and removing JD for a pinch runner who is inexperienced and frankly not much faster than JD.

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What did you think of Rocco Baldelli’s decision-making on Wednesday afternoon?

 

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I didn't like the way he had used Dobnak in the beginning of the season but I hope he has came to his senses.

His Donaldson substitution, I can understand, he wanted to spare him any risky situation. If he knew that Buxton was going to hit an HR, he'd never do it.

The Colome decision, what other option did he have? Do we have an impact fireballer to strike out the side? With this present defense, that's what we needed. I can't really fault Baldelli with what he has to work with.

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The Minnesota Twins suffered one of the most discouraging losses you are ever going to see on Wednesday afternoon. There is plenty of blame to go around for what happened, but the Minnesota Twins’ skipper deserves some of it.The Minnesota Twins again suffered a loss in a game in which they were in a prime position to win. Kenta Maeda had an uncharacteristically rough start, the bottom of the Twins’ order was inept, and the defense failed to convert routine plays. Additionally, though, Rocco Baldelli made some questionable decisions that contributed greatly to the Twins losing Wednesday’s series finale in Oakland. Let’s dive into the three head scratching moves.

Questionable Move #1: Letting Alexander Colomé Throw 49 Pitches

Though he had been shaky to start the season, bringing in Alexander Colomé in the ninth inning for the save was the clear move for Rocco Baldelli. Colomé was signed to the club to close out games and was the last high-leverage arm that Baldelli had remaining in his bullpen. Even bringing Colomé back in the 10th inning was defendable. Although he blew the save, Colomé threw 19 pitches in the ninth inning, and two right handed hitters were due up in the 10th for Oakland with the Twins owning a two-run lead.

The problem with Rocco’s decision-making was just how long he allowed Colomé to stay in the game in the 10th. After Colomé got the first two righties to make outs in the 10th inning, left hander Seth Brown was due up with Colomé now at 29 pitches. After cruising through the first two batters, Colomé began to show some clear signs of tiring, throwing a five-pitch walk to Brown to put the tying run on base. Left in to face Elvis Andrus, Colomé, clearly exhausted, walked his second straight batter to load up the bases. After not having walked a batter all season, Colomé just walked two consecutive batters and was now at 40 pitches. Although ineffective and running on total fumes, Baldelli inexplicably left Colomé in the game with the bases loaded to face Matt Chapman, arguably Oakland’s best hitter. At this point Colomé was now throwing the most pitches he had thrown in an appearance since 2015 (!!) when he was still a starting pitcher.

In Devin Smeltzer and Jorge Alcala, Baldelli may not have had the greatest options remaining in the bullpen, but it was clear to everyone that Colomé was tiring quickly and that a lesser name would give the Twins a better chance at that point than Colomé throwing a pitch count that he hadn’t thrown since Barack Obama left office.

Colomé was clearly going to be in the game until the end, and while he did produce grounders that should have turned into outs, the reckless handling of allowing a tired Colomé to walk the bases loaded and continue facing the heart of the Oakland order was inexcusable.

Questionable Move #2: Pinch Running Travis Blankenhorn for Josh Donaldson

Heading into the top of the 10th inning with the “Runner on second” rule in effect, Rocco Baldelli made the questionable move to swap out his Gold Glove-winning third baseman in favor of utilityman Travis Blankenhorn as a pinch runner. This move was questionable from the jump as Blankenhorn, a well-built corner position fielder, is not exactly the fleetest of foot and is only marginally faster than Josh Donaldson on the basepaths. If a play occurred where there was a blooper into the outfield and Blankenhorn were to need to score on a bang-bang play at the plate, then any speed advantage you can get on the basepaths is an advantage. Majority of the time, though, that runner on second will score in a different manner, and one where a very marginal difference in speed isn’t going to make a huge difference. That runner on second could score easily on a double in the gap. Or on a couple of sacrifices. Or a home run (like was the case on Wednesday). Or potentially not even get a chance to score at all.

There were so many variables at play that substituting a pinch runner in that spot for a very minimal gain in speed was not worth the subsequent consequence of taking Donaldson’s glove out of the game for the bottom half of the inning with a pitch-to-contact pitcher on the mound and plenty of ground balls incoming. While it didn’t come to fruition, the swap also removed Donaldson’s bat for a potential later inning, should extras have continued past the 10th inning.

The decision came back to haunt the Twins in a big way, too, as the domino effect of Josh Donaldson’s removal from the game caused two new players to enter the field on defense, each of them making consecutive errors that caused three runs and lost the Twins the ballgame. Which leads to questionable decision number three...

Questionable Decision #3: Moving Luis Arraez to Third Base and Putting Blankenhorn at Second

Rather than making the clean swap with putting Travis Blankenhorn in the field at third base for the bottom of the 10th, Baldelli decided to completely mix up the defensive alignment in extra innings by moving Luis Arraez to third base and slotting Travis Blankenhorn in at second. This now put the Twins in a situation where they were not only without their Gold Glove third baseman, but they had two defensive players playing in a totally new position that day, one of them completely cold, in a high leverage situation with a tiring pitch-to-contact player on the mound.

This decision reared its ugly head quickly as Blankenhorn botched a ground ball to second base to allow one run to score before Luis Arraez made a throwing error on the next at-bat to allow the tying and winning runs to score.

Sure, Major League Baseball players should convert those plays 95% of the time, but in a high leverage situation with all of the pressure in the world, a manager is not setting up his team for the best chance at success by taking out his Gold Glove veteran in favor of two young, stretched defensive players.

Rocco Baldelli was not the only reason that the Minnesota Twins lost to the Oakland Athletics on Wendesday afternoon. Baldelli is still the best manager for this ballclub, and better days and decisions are ahead. He did make some poor decisions, though, that contributed to the Twins losing Wednesday’s ball game, and does deserve some of the criticism for those decisions.

What did you think of Rocco Baldelli’s decision-making on Wednesday afternoon? Were there any other questionable decisions that stuck out to you? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!

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As for Colome, it was a lot of pitches but the cupboard was pretty bare after the pen through 4+ innings yesterday and Colome was the 5th reliever today.  My only question is why was Duffy used in the 4th inning?  If the starter is going to go 3, why not use someone who can go more than an inning that early...like Smeltzer and save Duffy in case you need him later.

 

With Donaldson's calf issues I find it defensible that he would get run for there.  I get taking his glove out was a risk, but I would rather see that than having your 35 year old, $23M dollar player re-aggravate or re-injury himself trying to score from 2nd or some collision at the plate when it was avoidable.  It's April.    

 

I'm not sure where you are getting your numbers, but Blankenhorn has a lot more experience at 2B than he does 3B.  1900 defensive innings to 1200 in the minor leagues, and using advanced fielding stats he is a lot better at 2nd than 3rd.  Yes, Arraez doesn't have a whole lot of experience at 3rd, but it was a throwing error.  If Blankenhorn can't field routine grounders in the majors, maybe he doesn't belong here.  Using Rocco as a scapegoat for 2 routine fielding plays is a reach for me.

 

 

 

 

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Rocco may be too much of a player's manager.  I cite these reasons:

1. Players rarely held accountable.  Seems to soft soap a player's mistakes or deficiencies.

2. Players are coddled at the slightest chance of being hurt, rather than an outright injury.  Rather than putting the best team out there when possible, players are given that 'extra' day or 2 off.

3. Players are expected to be versatile to play a variety of positions or bat anywhere in the order, yet not required to learn how to bunt, hit the other way to advance a runner.

4. Batting practice not always a daily requirement (especially when there's a day game)

5. Regular infield prior to games is inconsistent.

6. Have not heard of one episode of discipline handed out.  Hard to believe in 2+ years, no one has broken or skirted a rule.

 

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While I wouldn't be using Colome in a closing role at this point, Rocco is. I can understand why Rocco brought him out for the 10th, but I would have gone with another option. And I'd have yanked him after back to back walks. He was gassed. Probably would have brought Alacala in at that point given what was left in the pen. I wasn't really a fan of the PR for Donaldson, but even so, those plays that were booted were routine. Those plays have to be made and neither Arraez or Blakenhorn were put in a defensive position that they were unfamiliar with, so I don't have an issue with that. Players have to execute too.

 

Plenty of blame to go around in this one. Rocco has to make better decisions. Colome has to execute better. Blackenhorn needs to field the grounder hit right at him. Arraez needs to make a good throw on a ball that he had time to set and fire on.

 

The manager needs to put players in a position to succeed. The players need to execute regardless of the situation they're put in. None of them got it done.

 

The last two innings of the game were a microcosm of the Twins season so far.

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I haven't been a fan of Rocco for some time. Mostly because of frequent shifts, etc. But there was another pitching decision earlier in the game that caused the problem in the late innings. 

 

Isn't Randy Dobnak a 6th starter who is stretched out to pitch multiple innings? Well, he got used for one inning earlier in the game and had a nice clean inning. With Maeda having a short start, shouldn't Dobnak been kept out there for 2 or 3 innings at the minimum? Had he done that, Rogers wouldn't have been pushed to one of the longest outings of his career and the game just might have not been as close come the ninth inning.

 

But count me among those who questions what seems like several decisions every day that just don't make sense to this old guy.

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Except that he chose to take a superior defender out of the game ... Usually, you want to get your superior defenders into the game late.

While true, it's still up to the player to make the plays. The manager can't do that for them. Both players were in positions familiar to them and were tasked with making routine plays.

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let's be real:

 

2019 was a year where the club hit the most home runs in the history of the sport. multiple guys had what may end up being career years. they simply bullied teams with 3, 4 and sometimes SEVEN home run games. 101 wins and cruised to the playoffs where they promptly got outclassed and outmanaged by the yankees and lost their 14-16 straight postseason games. 

 

2020 was a year that almost shouldn't even count. not just for the shortened schedule, but for the fact that the twins played half their games against the tigers, royals, pirates and brewers. teams that went a combined 97-141 (.407). yes the schedule was not their fault, but they played some of the worst teams in baseball for half their entire season, and still needed a late surge to overcome the white sox.

 

then, they were essentially gift wrapped a golden opportunity to finally break their postseason drought by drawing the universally-hated astros (who barely qualified for the expanded playoffs after a sub .500 season) AT HOME no less. and they laid a giant egg and were promptly eliminated without a single victory.

 

and now here we are in 2021 and the baffling managerial decisions and the over protection of players are already old, 2 weeks in. rowson is long gone and the offense is terrible. the team has an overall soft look to it. if this year spirals down the tubes and the club ends up with 90+ losses, how much of the good vibes from those "two division titles" will still be around?

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Nothing will ever change until there is an ownership change.  Berrios, Kenta and Big Mike are decent, but not great.  Pohlad will never spend anywhere near enough to bring the caliber of players in to actually compete with good teams.  Like all of the past really good players, the few we have now will have to go elswhere to get paid what they are worth.  Maybe even Buxton however, he might get a giant contract extension only to find himself surrounded by average to below average players and a few "Tomato Cans" like Mauer was.  The game has changed but the Twins have not.  Anybody remember Santana's comments on his way out of town?  He was absolutely correct.   Twins fans have been brainwashed by three decades of losing. Oh, those greedy players!

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Rocco may be too much of a player's manager.  I cite these reasons:

1. Players rarely held accountable.  Seems to soft soap a player's mistakes or deficiencies.

2. Players are coddled at the slightest chance of being hurt, rather than an outright injury.  Rather than putting the best team out there when possible, players are given that 'extra' day or 2 off.

3. Players are expected to be versatile to play a variety of positions or bat anywhere in the order, yet not required to learn how to bunt, hit the other way to advance a runner.

4. Batting practice not always a daily requirement (especially when there's a day game)

5. Regular infield prior to games is inconsistent.

6. Have not heard of one episode of discipline handed out.  Hard to believe in 2+ years, no one has broken or skirted a rule.

 

Do we know number 1 is true non-publicly? Because most leaders say to handle that non-publicly. 

no, they aren't coddled. 

Hitting the other way is not good strategy. Not even a little (other than the 9th or later, and even then...)

 

Why do you expect to hear about discipline, publicly?

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let's be real:

 

2019 was a year where the club hit the most home runs in the history of the sport. multiple guys had what may end up being career years. they simply bullied teams with 3, 4 and sometimes SEVEN home run games. 101 wins and cruised to the playoffs where they promptly got outclassed and outmanaged by the yankees and lost their 14-16 straight postseason games. 

 

2020 was a year that almost shouldn't even count. not just for the shortened schedule, but for the fact that the twins played half their games against the tigers, royals, pirates and brewers. teams that went a combined 97-141 (.407). yes the schedule was not their fault, but they played some of the worst teams in baseball for half their entire season, and still needed a late surge to overcome the white sox.

 

then, they were essentially gift wrapped a golden opportunity to finally break their postseason drought by drawing the universally-hated astros (who barely qualified for the expanded playoffs after a sub .500 season) AT HOME no less. and they laid a giant egg and were promptly eliminated without a single victory.

 

and now here we are in 2021 and the baffling managerial decisions and the over protection of players are already old, 2 weeks in. rowson is long gone and the offense is terrible. the team has an overall soft look to it. if this year spirals down the tubes and the club ends up with 90+ losses, how much of the good vibes from those "two division titles" will still be around?

 

Two great years don't count....but a few bad weeks do? 

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"Baldelli is still the best manager for this ballclub..."

 

I saw no justification for this statement. Why? Because he's the guy under contract? I want his job. He gets the credit for success and every failure is someone else's fault. 

 

Rocco was touted as a genius from the day he was hired. It's time to earn the accolades by turning this club around, pronto. 

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Two great years don't count....but a few bad weeks do?

Just giving context to the “two division titles” stuff. Again, last year was a sham and certainly far from great. It would be like crowning a divisional champ at the end of May. We literally played like 9 teams last year and most of them stunk to the high heavens. Perhaps if Rocco’s teams weren’t 0-5 in the postseason I’d give a little more leeway to the two great years thing.

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"Baldelli is still the best manager for this ballclub..."

 

I saw no justification for this statement. Why? Because he's the guy under contract? I want his job. He gets the credit for success and every failure is someone else's fault. 

 

Rocco was touted as a genius from the day he was hired. It's time to earn the accolades by turning this club around, pronto. 

 

You only have to read a few posts up to see he gets little credit for the last two years....somehow. Really, all I see on this board is that the players won the last two years, despite Rocco, so I don't know what you are reading.....

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When you have players with high expectations that don't perform, the Manager is usually, if not always, held accountable. That's why they get fired. How many Managers get fired when the team isn't expected to win? 

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I do not understand Rocco's faith in Colome.  We have other relievers.  Don't tell me they are not trustworthy in tight situations - if not why do we have them. 

This was going to be the year of defense and I know Simmons is out, but to weaken all the positions in an extra inning game makes no sense. 

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I do not understand Rocco's faith in Colome. We have other relievers. Don't tell me they are not trustworthy in tight situations - if not why do we have them.

This was going to be the year of defense and I know Simmons is out, but to weaken all the positions in an extra inning game makes no sense.

Alcala might have been a better option for the 10th. Could he have honestly been worse than walking the 8/9 hitters??

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I haven't been a fan of Rocco for some time. Mostly because of frequent shifts, etc. But there was another pitching decision earlier in the game that caused the problem in the late innings.

 

Isn't Randy Dobnak a 6th starter who is stretched out to pitch multiple innings? Well, he got used for one inning earlier in the game and had a nice clean inning. With Maeda having a short start, shouldn't Dobnak been kept out there for 2 or 3 innings at the minimum? Had he done that, Rogers wouldn't have been pushed to one of the longest outings of his career and the game just might have not been as close come the ninth inning.

 

But count me among those who questions what seems like several decisions every day that just don't make sense to this old guy.

Concur.

 

With Maeda out of the game so early, Dobnak should have gone at least 2 innings.

 

Low and behold, both Rogers and Colome get pushed pretty hard.

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"You only have to read a few posts up to see he gets little credit for the last two years....somehow. Really, all I see on this board is that the players won the last two years, despite Rocco, so I don't know what you are reading....."

 

There are plenty of posters who say Rocco either was dealt a bad hand or isn't responsible. "MLB players need to hit and make plays - the manager doesn't hit or field" condenses the sentiment. Those are the folks I was responding to. 

 

If you manage people - not just baseball, but if you've ever supervised employees - you know you're responsible for the results. You can't point at the folks who work for you and pass the blame. You're getting paid to get them to do the job properly. It doesn't matter why they're failing - poor training, poor attitudes, poor working conditions - it's on you to make it work. Right now it's not working and it aggravates me when I read posts absolving Rocco of most or all of the blame. Yes, there are plenty of people criticizing the manager right now. I was addressing the others. 

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"You only have to read a few posts up to see he gets little credit for the last two years....somehow. Really, all I see on this board is that the players won the last two years, despite Rocco, so I don't know what you are reading....."

 

There are plenty of posters who say Rocco either was dealt a bad hand or isn't responsible. "MLB players need to hit and make plays - the manager doesn't hit or field" condenses the sentiment. Those are the folks I was responding to. 

 

If you manage people - not just baseball, but if you've ever supervised employees - you know you're responsible for the results. You can't point at the folks who work for you and pass the blame. You're getting paid to get them to do the job properly. It doesn't matter why they're failing - poor training, poor attitudes, poor working conditions - it's on you to make it work. Right now it's not working and it aggravates me when I read posts absolving Rocco of most or all of the blame. Yes, there are plenty of people criticizing the manager right now. I was addressing the others. 

 

There is a massive difference between "Rocco is bad at his job" and "Those two plays weren't his fault". Massive.

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