September 30, 2016

Is Paul Molitor’s job with the Twins really safe? After Tuesday’s loss, I’m not so sure

Jim Pohlad, the owner of the Twins, has said that he remains committed to manager Paul Molitor for the 2017 season. For Molitor’s sake, let’s hope he didn’t watch Tuesday’s 4-3 loss to the Kansas City Royals, because if he did, he might be having second thoughts after the Twins finally collapsed in the 11th inning.

After listening to that game, it sounds as if Molitor could have avoided the loss, or extended the game at least.

And I can already hear the complaints: Who cares after you’ve already lost 100 games?

Well, I’d like to believe that the best managers find ways to keep players motivated and to focus on something to end the year, such as spoiling another team’s playoff chances, or winning a certain number of games before it’s over, or playing winning baseball during the final month of the season, for example.

But the moves Molitor made late in the game on Tuesday seemed overly cautious and unnecessary — the moves of a manager unwilling to trust his pitching and defense. Yes, both have been bad for the Twins this season, but after 100 losses, let ‘em play, Molitor.

Here’s how the game ended:

The Royals’ Raul Mondesi walked, stole second base and was sacrificed to third base on a bunt for one out. Then it got interesting.

Rather than face a rookie with a name straight out of the 19th century — Whit Merrifield — the Twins decided to walk him. Now, there are runners on first and third base, still with one out.

Up next is Eric Hosmer, who has had success against the Twins in his career, yet his 2016 batting average vs. the club is .231. What did they do? They decided to walk him as well, loading the bases with one out to face Billy Burns and his .235 batting average.

The Twins’ play-by-play tandem of Cory Provus and Dan Gladden reacted with horror (mostly Gladden, I should say), questioning why you would put that much pressure on Twins reliever Tommy Milone after he started the inning with a man on third and one out.

Despite Burns’ .235 average, he had no problem lifting a ball to the outfield, otherwise known as a sacrifice fly, and the Twins lost, 4-3.

Extra innings…

-The Twins are 57-102 going into Friday’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

-Good riddance to the Royals. The Twins finished 4-15 vs. the club.

-The errors keep coming after Jorge Polanco committed his 15th of the season at shortstop on Wednesday. That’s 126 errors for the Twins with three more games to go.

-The Twins turned four double plays in Tuesday’s 11-inning, walk-off loss to the Royals.

-Rookie outfielder Byron Buxton appears to have finally found his stroke at the plate. He doubled and tripled in the Twins’ 7-6 win over the Royals on Thursday.

-It has been widely reported that the Twins are set to hire, Derek Falvey, 33, as the team’s new head of baseball operations, although the team has yet to confirm the hire. Falvey comes to the Twins from the Cleveland Indians where he was assistant general manager. The Indians have already clinched the American League Central title.

Falvey continues a trend of young hires, steeped in baseball analytics, who have found jobs throughout the majors. Despite the “whiz kid” background, sportswriter Jon Heyman questions whether Falvey has enough experience for the job.

Of course no one should blame Falvey, a very bright exec by all accounts, but it’s questionable how qualified he is to run an entire baseball ops department when he’s never run any department and has only been an assistant GM for one year.

 

 

 

 

 

COMMENTS

Hi, I’m Rolf Boone and I love the Twins.

I became a fan of the Minnesota Twins after a friendly wager in the early 1980s. I survived Ron Davis, the meltdown in Cleveland, Phil Bradley at the Kingdome and then marveled at a rising generation of stars and two World Series wins in 1987 and 1991. Brad Radke made the 1990s bearable, while Kirby Puckett’s eye injury, exit from the game and eventual death made it almost too much to bear. The new century ushered in more talent — Joe Mauer, Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Torii Hunter, Justin Morneau — and consecutive seasons of playoff baseball, followed by consecutive seasons of losing baseball. A winning season returned in 2015. So here we are. Go Twins.