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The Baldelli narratives need to die


A few days ago, I started a thread on why, in my opinion, the Twins coaching staff has been holding them back the most. And in the comments, I saw a few comments following a recurring theme.

It’s no secret that Rocco Baldelli has made a lot of questionable in-game decisions this year, some of them directly CONTRIBUTING to losses. Notice I didn’t say LEADING to, because sometimes his decisions that “lose” the game are him making the right decision based on the situation and it still blowing up because, IDK, because he’s the Twins manager.

If you’ve read the Twins Twitter/Facebook and have listened to the sports radio, or heck, read many comments on this site, tell me if you’ve heard some of these before:

1) Baldelli is stupid
2) Baldelli has no feel for the game
3) Baldelli doesn’t emphasize fundamentals, only analytics
4) Baldelli doesn’t hold players accountable
5) Baldelli has “no fire” and “no personality”

Why are you writing this, cHawk? We’ve won 6 of 7, how about a positive topic? Because we still see it, even when the team is winning. We saw it during the 5-2 start. We saw it last year, particularly in game threads. And if I had a dollar for every time I’ve seen some variation of “Fire Baldelli” or some variation of one of the five sayings above, on this site, on Twitter/Facebook and whatnot, I could probably buy a giant 8K TV with that money.

I’ll shoot these down one by one:

1) “Baldelli is stupid”
This statement, aside from being offensive, is straight up false. This is probably the least common I see of the five, but it isn’t “nonexistent.” If Baldelli was stupid, he wouldn’t have been successful in 2019-2020. He wouldn’t have been hired in the first place. If he was stupid, it wouldn’t have taken until 3 years into his tenure for people to be saying this. If you think Rocco is stupid, imagine what it would be like if an actual stupid person was the manager. What if a Patrick Star was the manager? The team wouldn’t even show up for the games (not mentally, physically) half of the time. He would forget to attend the press conference, and even when he would show up he wouldn’t be able to provide an explanation for a win or loss. Not that Baldelli’s press conferences are good, but he at least can give an explanation of what went wrong.

2) “Baldelli has no feel for the game”
This is a slightly tamer version of #1. Again, if he had “no feel for the game,” the team wouldn’t have won 100 games two years ago. You can call me a hack for this point all you want, but it is relevant: He played the game himself. And he was a good player before he got injured. Good players aren’t just the ones who have a lot of muscles, they are the ones who understand the game. People pretend like Baldelli only spent two weeks learning how to use a spreadsheet and reading a “basic” guide to baseball. That is false, he played the game himself.

3) “Baldelli doesn’t emphasize fundamentals, only analytics”
This argument falls in the ballpark of “mere speculation at absolute best, rather than something you can even go off of.” Those who say this, how do you know this? One could argue that, for example, the catcher always being on two knees even with runners on, that Baldelli doesn’t emphasize that as a fundamental of the game. Problem is, that isn’t a “fundamental” or, when people refer to “fundamentals” in this context, they are talking about something completely different, with little to no connection whatsoever. That’s a way of playing the game. When we refer to this team’s “poor fundamentals,” it refers to the likes of:

- Luis Arraez (who has shown he can make accurate throws from third to first) well...you already know
- Josh Donaldson (who is a gold glove infielder) booting the routinist on ground balls, and dropping the routinist of throws that would’ve been an inning DP, and in the 9th inning too.
- Ben Rortvedt (who is at the very least a MiLB caliber player, and MiLB caliber defensive catcher) botching a rundown that any HIGH SCHOOL catcher would get right
- Andrelton Simmons (one of the greatest fielders ever) botching ground balls and dropping throws left and right

And that’s just referring to the defense. How about scoring a grand total of TWO RUNS against Trevor Cahill and Wil Crowe? How about not being able to hit a damn thing in the 10th Inning against ANY reliever? Funny enough, all of this isn’t the point.

What is the point of this: Do you have cold, hard evidence that Baldelli is “deemphasizing” the fundamentals of the game? Do you have access to the clubhouse, or do you have regular chats with Baldelli? Show of hands please. Because if you do, you should be writing front page articles for this site. You should be writing articles for the Athletic. I bet Aaron Gleeman would love to have you on his show. If you have no evidence for your claim, you shouldn’t make it, bottom line. And what exactly is the problem with his analytics? Yes, he pulls his starters almost entirely based on analytics. He chooses his bullpen matchups based on analytics. Problem is, with pulling the starters, seemingly every button is wired to implode.

On April 15, Pineda is cruising through 7 scoreless against the Red-Hot Red Sox. Baldelli pulls Pineda for Hansel Robles. (Not a decision I would’ve made, but Robles had a 0.00 ERA and a <0.50 WHIP going into that, so I can’t blame Baldelli for trusting him) His control issues get the better of him and he walks the bases full. Taylor Rogers comes in and is 

Weird_Al_Yankovic_-_Even_Worse.jpg

About a month later...Pineda has been pitching well through 5 innings against the White-Hot White Sox at about 90 pitches. Baldelli lets Pineda continue. Since the yank logic didn’t work out the first time, go with the opposite, right? Well guess what. Pineda walks the first two batters of the inning. One of which scores. So what do y’all have to say about that? When seemingly every pitcher Baldelli puts in a big spot ****s himself, no matter what pitcher it is, why do you blame Baldelli?

4) “Baldelli doesn’t hold his players accountable”
Anything that can be said about this was already said in #3. Unless you have regular chats with Baldelli, or have access to the clubhouse, you cannot use this point. If you want to see players demoted or cut when they’re performing badly, the problem is is that wouldn’t actually help the situation. Like when Donaldson boots a routine ground ball. Is Baldelli supposed to take him out of the game and put Arraez or Astudillo over there? Because certainly that would make sure that it doesn’t happen again. *NOT* Do you know what Baldelli says to a player that is playing badly in the clubhouse? I think not.

5) “Baldelli has no fire and no personality”
Once again, you have no evidence of this. Those who want Rocco yelling at his players to get them going probably watch too many baseball movies. If your boss constantly yelled at you, would you work harder? Or would you go and find yourself a new job, with a boss that treats you with RESPECT? I don’t know about you, but I think I know my answer. 

You might say, “Baldelli is a lifeless robot, and we see it in press conferences.” Problem is, how else is he supposed to act in press conferences? You want him to absolutely lose his **** in front of the press when the team loses? Would that really make you think he’s a better manager? I hope not, because it’s a basic street smart that you don’t lose your **** in front of the press.

————

I am by no means letting Baldelli off the hook. You forget how many times you’ve visited a mound in one inning, like, seriously? WTF? Baldelli had a bad first few weeks. Thing is, even good coaches and managers have bad stretches. Baldelli never looked this bad in 2019-2020. When you say “Baldelli is an absolutely horrible manager, who needs to be fired,” and all you can come up with are reasons that you can’t even back up, it doesn’t work. That’s not how the insiders of the baseball realm think.

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Nobody outside the clubhouse can say what the preparation for the season was like or how he handles things behind closed doors. But when your entire team is playing below their skill level and making

Some combination of #2 and #3 would be my complaint if I have any w/Rocco. Has everyone noticed we put on the contact play 100% of the time? I've watched nearly 100% of the innings this year and I can

A few days ago, I started a thread on why, in my opinion, the Twins coaching staff has been holding them back the most. And in the comments, I saw a few comments following a recurring theme. It’s

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Some combination of #2 and #3 would be my complaint if I have any w/Rocco. Has everyone noticed we put on the contact play 100% of the time? I've watched nearly 100% of the innings this year and I cannot remember even one time the contact play wasn't on with a man on 3B and less than 2 outs. I also cannot remember one time it worked. Small peeve amongst many this year along the lines of feel for the game and analytics. 

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I have been a big critic of Baldelli this year.  My criticism comes only from the perspective that his decisions objectively seem like bad decisions.

On the other hand, Baldelli has earned the right to make his own decisions and make his own mistakes.  It's what happens next that matters.  If I gave the impression that I want him fired or that he is stupid, that was a mistake on my part.  

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25 minutes ago, In My La Z boy said:

Some combination of #2 and #3 would be my complaint if I have any w/Rocco. Has everyone noticed we put on the contact play 100% of the time? I've watched nearly 100% of the innings this year and I cannot remember even one time the contact play wasn't on with a man on 3B and less than 2 outs. I also cannot remember one time it worked. Small peeve amongst many this year along the lines of feel for the game and analytics. 

I’ve noticed a ton of contact plays as well and I also am not much of a fan. Maybe with some guys at the plate but I wouldn’t call them nearly as often as this team does. 

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38 minutes ago, Dodecahedron said:

I have been a big critic of Baldelli this year.  My criticism comes only from the perspective that his decisions objectively seem like bad decisions.

On the other hand, Baldelli has earned the right to make his own decisions and make his own mistakes.  It's what happens next that matters.  If I gave the impression that I want him fired or that he is stupid, that was a mistake on my part.  

You didn’t; it’s fine. I wasn’t defending Baldelli, his decision making has been problematic this year, I was just shooting down the lazy arguments I see far too often.

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Nobody outside the clubhouse can say what the preparation for the season was like or how he handles things behind closed doors. But when your entire team is playing below their skill level and making basic mistakes I don't think it's outrageous to question whether or not Rocco's stated approach of nothing being mandatory has been effective. It's entirely possible it was just a crazy situation where everybody was pressing and making bad decisions and committing basic errors, but when it's a teamwide phenomenon you need to look at the big picture approach.

That certainly doesn't mean Rocco is stupid, has no feel, doesn't emphasize fundamentals, doesn't hold players accountable, or has no fire, but it should draw scrutiny. Rocco and the FO have a certain approach they like (analytics, letting players prepare themselves because they're professionals, etc.) and when things aren't going well and there's reasonable connections that can be made between results and approach things need to be looked at critically. 

1. The idea that Rocco is stupid is ridiculous.

2. I think there's a balance of analytics verse "feel" that Rocco and the Twins are still working on perfecting.

3. Team wide regression of fundamentals is very concerning, but hard to know how much to put on Rocco for that.

4. Only kind of accountability fans have real access to is lineup positioning and on field use. Fair to question how long guys like Kepler, Polanco, and Sano stayed in prominent positions, but also plenty of reasons why (whole lineup sucked). 

5. I think there's a little to this one. Rocco is very much a laid back person. I don't think it'd be reasonable to assume his public persona is drastically different than his clubhouse persona. That'd be a lot of change in personality. Most likely answer is he is who he is. You can debate whether or not that effects the players or on field performance. I was at the game Duffey got tossed and Rocco got tossed. There is something different about the way he argues and how hard he had to work to get tossed from that game. It just doesn't seem to be part of his personality (he's no Bobby Cox). I think it's fair to question the connection that has to his team when they show a general lack of fire. That's all outside perception and no real conclusion can be drawn from things, but I think it's fair to question what outwardly looks like a team without a great deal of fire or sense of urgency. Even if that's mostly just fans wanting their teams to show they care as much as the fans do.

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33 minutes ago, chpettit19 said:

Nobody outside the clubhouse can say what the preparation for the season was like or how he handles things behind closed doors. But when your entire team is playing below their skill level and making basic mistakes I don't think it's outrageous to question whether or not Rocco's stated approach of nothing being mandatory has been effective. It's entirely possible it was just a crazy situation where everybody was pressing and making bad decisions and committing basic errors, but when it's a teamwide phenomenon you need to look at the big picture approach.

I think most people were questioning the coaching staff to some extent; I know I certainly was during that abysmal stretch of ball.

But it also appeared to be temporary and nothing goes right 100% of the time (but boy, that month of baseball was hard to watch). The Twins faced some pretty ugly stretches in 2019 ad 2020 and came out the other side as division champions (anyone remember that terrifying climb up the standings by Cleveland in 2019?).

I think the core of this conversation is "calm the **** down, we don't know what's wrong yet, give it time" when things go completely sideways like they did this season. If that horrible stretch of baseball continues through June, it might be time to consider coaching changes because something is wrong and sometimes, change needs to happen for change's sake.

To me, a lot of this conversation comes down to arrogance and tone; a little humility and acceptance of personal ignorance goes a long way, particularly with the tone/certainty with which some people speak about things they simply don't know much about (like the inside of a clubhouse or internal operations of an organization). I can glean a little information about how Baldelli views the game of baseball by watching him nightly but it's just that, "a little information". It's nowhere near what I would even consider "good information", only fragments and snapshots that are obviously incomplete and probably inaccurate in a lot of cases.

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2 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I think most people were questioning the coaching staff to some extent; I know I certainly was during that abysmal stretch of ball.

But it also appeared to be temporary and nothing goes right 100% of the time (but boy, that month of baseball was hard to watch). The Twins faced some pretty ugly stretches in 2019 ad 2020 and came out the other side as division champions (anyone remember that terrifying climb up the standings by Cleveland in 2019?).

I think them looking pretty awful in ST and starting the year with a month+ of horrid baseball lends itself to question the preparation for the season. Now is that on Rocco and his staff or the players? Coming off the craziness of 2020 I tend to think it's mostly on the players with a side of the coaching staff not doing enough to get them ramped up. Every team hits low spots in their season (Dodgers just went through one), but I think it's different when the year starts this way as opposed to things like 2019 with Cleveland running them down. If this is an isolated slow start coming off a crazy year I think you shake your head about it and move on. But either way I'd hope Rocco and his staff took note of ST and early season performances and arrive in FL next year with some altered plans.

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Just now, chpettit19 said:

Coming off the craziness of 2020 I tend to think it's mostly on the players with a side of the coaching staff not doing enough to get them ramped up.

I honestly have no idea how to view basically anything about baseball and the pandemic. All of our lives changed so much in such a short period of time, I can only imagine how hard it was for organizations to stay on top of it all and for players to maintain discipline when deprived of so many resources.

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7 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I honestly have no idea how to view basically anything about baseball and the pandemic. All of our lives changed so much in such a short period of time, I can only imagine how hard it was for organizations to stay on top of it all and for players to maintain discipline when deprived of so many resources.

It is starting to look like it was the trip to California, the covid outbreak, and the subsequent Oakland series that rattled and broke us. We obviously didn't handle our business, and the covid challenges as well as most teams did early in the season. 

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5 minutes ago, In My La Z boy said:

It is starting to look like it was the trip to California, the covid outbreak, and the subsequent Oakland series that rattled and broke us. We obviously didn't handle our business, and the covid challenges as well as most teams did early in the season. 

I thought that might be the case but looking back at the timeline, it doesn't really jibe with reality (though the covid situation not happening could have ended the already-existing slide). Here are the results from the two series leading up to the California trip. Things had already gone pear-shaped before the Twins left town.

Gm# Date   Tm   Opp W/L R RA Inn W-L Rank GB Win Loss Save Time D/N Attendance cLI Streak Orig. Scheduled
7 Thursday, Apr 8 boxscore MIN   SEA W 10 2   5-2 1 up 1.5 Berrios Gonzales   3:27 D 9,675 1.06 ++  
8 Saturday, Apr 10 boxscore MIN   SEA L 3 4 10 5-3 1 up 0.5 Graveman Rogers Middleton 3:14 D 9,817 1.05 -  
9 Sunday, Apr 11 boxscore MIN   SEA L 6 8   5-4 2 0.5 Steckenrider Colome Montero 3:28 D 9,792 1.09 --  
10 Tuesday, Apr 13 boxscore MIN   BOS L 2 4   5-5 3 1.0 Ottavino Dobnak Barnes 3:17 D 6,724 1.01 ---  
11 Wednesday, Apr 14 (1) boxscore MIN   BOS L 2 3 7 5-6 5 2.0 Eovaldi Maeda Barnes 2:40 D   .99 ----  
12 Wednesday, Apr 14 (2) boxscore MIN   BOS L 1 7 7 5-7 5 2.0 Rodriguez Berrios   2:31 N 7,074 .93 -----  
13 Thursday, Apr 15 boxscore MIN   BOS W-wo 4 3   6-7 3 2.0 Colome Ottavino   3:25 D 7,925 .87 +
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1 hour ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I honestly have no idea how to view basically anything about baseball and the pandemic. All of our lives changed so much in such a short period of time, I can only imagine how hard it was for organizations to stay on top of it all and for players to maintain discipline when deprived of so many resources.

Not sure about you but my life basically didnt change at all the past year. Was pretty nice. 

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Just now, KFEY93 said:

Not sure about you but my life basically didnt change at all the past year. Was pretty nice. 

I have two children, one of which with significant trauma history. My life was completely flipped on its head as all our resources were taken away in basically one week's time.

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This season so far has been really frustrating, and I'm not saying he's been perfect, but here are my two thoughts on Baldelli:

1. Ryan Saunders was fired early on in the Wolves season, and it didn't seem to help. I'm not saying Saunders is a basketball guru, but sometimes a underperforming team is an underperforming team

2. Who else is gonna manage if he gets canned? Do we trust anyone else on the coaching staff in the interim?

 

 

 

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54 minutes ago, Brock Beauchamp said:

I have two children, one of which with significant trauma history. My life was completely flipped on its head as all our resources were taken away in basically one week's time.

Sorry to hear about that. I wont ask you to go into detail. 

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the white sox have also had significant injury issues, they have survived.  Maybe Rocco is too much a player's manager and this ballclub has a fair number of Latin ballplayers and they tend to be a little more fiery.  Could be the clubhouse needs a temperament change.  

Some of it is FO related, where putting together a bullpen seems to have failed this year.  But everyone failing at the same time.  All I see is the excuses for this happening.  You need to have someone take responsibility.  

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Rocco? I have no idea what type of person he is or how he relates to or gets along with the players in the dugout. What I can say is that he is inexperienced and makes some decisions that Francona or past Twins skippers like Kelly, Gardenhire, or Molitor might shake their head at, but would never publicly second guess. The bulk of TD likes Rocco and he doesn't pitch, hit, or field any more. I'm not seeing the intangibles from Rocco. Does anyone remember when Paul brought a batting T out on the field and set it on the plate to punctuate a disagreement with the home plate umpire? That was classic. Rocco has a long way to go and while i am interested in seeing him develop his skills as a. manager and do not question his passion nor knowledge of the game, Baldelli remains a work in progress and is not among the better managers in baseball currently.. He may be in time, but the time has not arrived yet.

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4 hours ago, beckmt said:

the white sox have also had significant injury issues, they have survived.  Maybe Rocco is too much a player's manager and this ballclub has a fair number of Latin ballplayers and they tend to be a little more fiery.  Could be the clubhouse needs a temperament change.  

Some of it is FO related, where putting together a bullpen seems to have failed this year.  But everyone failing at the same time.  All I see is the excuses for this happening.  You need to have someone take responsibility.  

Why? What good does "taking responsibility" do? Do you think the players will try harder? Maybe it is just bad for no reason.

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