MLB managers have a direct impact on the game, from line-up construction to in-game decisions. However, a good manager can lose a lot of games if the talent on the field doesn’t perform. Players and the front office that compiles the roster have a more significant impact than the manager, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things to point out about Rocco Baldelli this season.
The team didn’t quit, which would have been easy to do following a trade deadline where the team sold away veteran players. For most of the second half, the Twins rotation was composed of unproven players that weren’t expected to impact the 2021 big-league roster. Things didn’t go perfectly, but the team certainly didn’t fall apart.
Minnesota went 29-28 (.509) following the trade deadline, which included going 8-4 to end the season and avoid 90-losses. There was little to play for in the season’s final months, but that’s when the Twins were playing their best baseball. If Baldelli gets some of the blame for the team’s early-season struggles, he should also get credit for the club not completely falling off the rails.
Minnesota had a chance to have an incredible, feel-good story, but Baldelli didn’t put a player into the game. Drew Maggi was a 32-year old rookie having a career year at Triple-A. Minnesota called him up for a weekend series in Toronto and had him talk to the media before the game about being in the big leagues. Unfortunately, Baldelli never put him in a game.
There were opportunities with Jake Cave, Rob Refsnyder, and Willians Astudillo all getting starts in the series. Even giving him a late-inning at-bat would have been enough. Instead, the Twins demoted him following the weekend series, and the team never recalled him. Minnesota was a bad team going nowhere in 2021, and Maggi should have gotten the opportunity to appear in a game.
There were a lot of ugly moments throughout the 2021 season, especially with expectations being so high entering the year. This year’s Twins were one of the most disappointing teams in franchise history, but how much of that falls on the manager. In April, the Twins dug a hole that was impossible to get out of with Alex Colome blowing multiple late-inning leads. It’s easy to point at the manager and say he left Colome in too long or stuck with Colome too far into the season.
Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ pitched poorly and were allowed to continue starting games well into the season. Andrelton Simmons had a terrible offensive season, but he started at shortstop until the season’s final games. Some of these decisions came from the front office, and some rested squarely on Baldelli’s shoulders.
After the season’s first month, many fans would have given Baldelli an F grade. June and July were also tough as the team was eight games under .500 in those two months. In the end, baseball has a long season, and Baldelli was able to redeem himself in the final months. The team didn’t quit, and they helped to earn the manager a C-.
What grade would you give Baldelli? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
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