Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Minnesota Needs To Stop Compounding Mistakes

The slog through the 2016 Major League Baseball season has continued for the Minnesota Twins. After yet another loss, the club sits at 10-27, while being more than 13 games back in the AL Central division. Paul Molitor's club looks as lost as he does at times, and there's plenty of blame to go around. At this point, what the Twins need to do is stop compounding their own mistakes.

Recently hired by Baseball Prospectus, Aaron Gleeman penned a piece that I have to imagine has been a long time coming. Hardball Talk wasn't ever going to be the avenue for such a dissection, but his focus on Terry Ryan and the Twins was a worthy entrant into his new venture. You can the read piece in its entirety here.

While the highlights, err lowlights, of the article touched on the mediocrity that has been Terry Ryan's career, there was a key point that stuck out to me. Gleeman writes, "The question is not whether a Ryan-led organization can successfully rebuild and return to contender status within the next 2-3 years, but rather whether Twins fans should want Ryan and his right-hand men leading the organization when that happens." There probably couldn't be a better summary of where the Twins currently find themselves at.
"...whether Twins fans should want Ryan and his right-hand men leading the organization when that happens."
Through the first month and a half of the big league season, we've looked on as Paul Molitor, Terry Ryan's pick to replace Ron Gardenhire, has looked all but inept in year two. He's stunted prospects at the big league level, afforded oddly long leashes to struggling players, and has been overmatched by his counterparts in picking his spots more often than not. Whatever good graces Molitor created a season ago, have all but come to cease as he's now the owner of a 93-106 record (.467 winning %).

It's a nice concept to suggest that the Twins be afforded the luxury of hope, or benefit of the doubt. It's fair to suggest that Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor could potentially right the ship if given enough time. It's maybe even fair to suggest that we may be a bit premature on suggesting a need for change. The reality is though, can you really make an argument against any of those things?

Ryan has fumbled his was through nearly 20 years as GM of the Twins, yet has virtually nothing to show for it. His heralded farm system is a by-product of his shrewd scouting ability, but that is really where his expertise ends. You'd be hard pressed to find a prospect that turned out as expected not named Joe Mauer, and are we actually going to suggest that Ryan is the man to get the most out of what is to come?

That brings us full circle on Molitor, who's continued to show an inability to understand, relate, and grow his youth. Alex Meyer, Jorge Polanco, Max Kepler, Michael Tonkin, even Byron Buxton at times have been the unfortunate recipients of Molitor's lack of a plan. Considering this roster and team is going to need to be a reflection of the youth performing in a return to relevance, Molitor has done very little to suggest he's capable of fostering that.

Sweeping changes mid season are never easy, and they're rarely suggested. I'm not sure there's any saving 2016, and frankly I don't expect that to be the case. I haven't been on board with moving on from this group quite yet, but that notion is becoming harder than ever to get over. If Minnesota is serious about capitalizing on the talent they've stockpiled, changes sooner rather than later need to be made.

The big league club needs a manager that can relate to its core, a youthful group, while holding them accountable. It's maybe fair to assume that Doug Mientkiewicz, the man that's dealt with many of these kids on the farm, would be capable of the job. He was a runner up to Molitor in the 2015 selection process, and is likely going to be given his due by someone at the highest level. It'd be quite the organizational shift to move on from a "one of us" type in Molitor mid-season, but it's the "Twins Way" that needs to be distanced from.

On the GM front, Ryan makes things a bit trickier. There's a ton of moving pieces when it comes to the head man, and with the season underway, rocking the boat that heavily could cause it to tip. I'm not sure if I'm more for allowing a new GM to pick his guy, or wanting to usher Ryan out at the most immediate moment. Regardless of how any GM change is handled, I firmly believe that Minnesota is not capable of winning with Ryan at the helm, and equally incapable should his replacement come from within.
"Is this really the duo you want to put faith in returning the Twins to relevance?
At the end of the day, it's time for the Twins to begin asking themselves a pretty simple question. Based upon what you've see from a GM and Manager with winning percentages in the .400's and roster moves that make you scratch your head more often than not, is this really the duo you want to put faith in returning the Twins to relevance?

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