Monday, April 13, 2015

Molitor Struggles To Innovate With Twins

Today marks the Minnesota Twins home opener. A game that represents the first sellout of Target Field in quite some time, may be more a letdown than originally expected. With no Ervin Santana, and a team that owns a 1-5 record on the season, expectations have already plummeted. In the early going however, the Twins have seen less innovation and more of the same from Paul Molitor, and it hasn't been a good thing.

When hired, Molitor was regarded as an elite baseball mind, and someone that embraced what the game had transitioned into. While not a full blown sabermetrics guy, he appeared to be someone that would be up to date on any new way to win. Hired from within, Molitor seemed to buck the trend of the Terry Ryan cloth and bring a fresh bit of insight to the bench. Thus far, the Twins have seen anything but, and their record struggles to deter from more of the same as well.

Down in Fort Myers, Molitor mentioned being open to the idea of batting Joe Mauer (a high on base percentage hitter) second, while moving Brian Dozier (a power guy) into the third spot. This happened once during spring training, and has yet to take shape since. With Torii Hunter batting in the cleanup spot, the Twins have struggled to get much going from the bulk of their order, and the run production hasn't been there.

Over the weekend, the Twins decided to place starting pitcher Ricky Nolasco on the disabled list. The move cleared up a spot on the active roster. It was announced that Trevor May would be called up to pitch the home opener on Monday, but as a starter, he didn't need to be added back until the end of the series with the White Sox. Instead of calling up a bullpen arm that could have helped the club in Chicago, the Twins added Trevor May immediately on Saturday. Instead of having a fresh bullpen arm (because no doubt the pen had been taxed in Detroit with starters only going just over 12 innings in three games) Minnesota had May on the bench sitting in a windbreaker.

On top of that move, Eduardo Escobar headed to Minnesota and missed a game due to the birth of his child. The Twins failed to call up a bench bat in his place for the day, and Jordan Schafer was forced to look overmatched against David Robertson to end the game on Saturday (while Josmil Pinto hit a 2 run walk-off home run for Rochester).

Really what it all adds up to is just a curious set of circumstances. While the Twins touted a changing of the guard for much of the offseason, Molitor has more often than not deferred. Whether Ron Gardenhire or Molitor is on the bench, it would seem hard to differentiate at this point. It's probably still to early to be grabbing pitchforks, but there's no doubt that a change of thinking needs to be implemented. For the Twins to accomplish heights they have not in recent years, a shift in the thought process needs to take place. It may start above Molitor at the Terry Ryan level, but there's no doubt on field execution needs some fine tuning.

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