Monday, June 6, 2016

Twins Have Seemingly Learned Little

May 6, 2016 the Minnesota Twins graced headlines as owner Jim Pohlad called the season a "Total System Failure." The club had started 0-9 and now owned a 6-20 record on the year. By all defining terms, "Total System Failure" seemed accurate. The problem is that it doesn't seem to have resonated all that much.

Fast forward to June 6, and the Twins find themselves in similar territory. They own a 16-40 record, meaning they responded to Pohlad's comments by replicating the ugly 8-20 output. What's worse than the record itself however, is how it's been achieved.

In their latest loss, the Twins went down 7-5 to end a four game series at Target Field with the Tampa Bay Rays. Forget the fact that Minnesota pitching gave up 11 home runs (5 to Evan Longoria alone) in those contests, and dwell on the idea that the rolled over. In the 6th inning of a tie game, leading hitter (.331 average), Eduardo Nunez dropped down a sacrifice bunt. He had decided that the club needed to play for one run, with Byron Buxton on first, and gave himself up.

Following the game, manager Paul Molitor noted that Nunez acted on his own accord with his sacrifice. What Molitor didn't do was show any sort of anger or discipline for the decision. Nunez made a poor baseball decision, and the Twins went on to leave the 6th without a run. Compounding problems, a similar position presented itself in the very next inning. Still tied, Robbie Grossman walked, and Molitor called upon Eduardo Escobar to drop down a sacrifice bunt. Again the Twins didn't score, and their decision to agree that they weren't capable of generating a base hit came back to haunt them.

In a vacuum, there's been plenty of these situations over the course of the season. Despite being an elite baseball mind, Paul Molitor has looked like the stage is above him quite often. The Hall of Famer seems confused to best practices during in game scenarios, and there's been far too many head scratching opportunities.

That brings us somewhat full circle on Pohlad's comments. Despite being an indictment of what had taken place, the response from the Twins has been to stay status quo. They record is an exact replica on both sides of the quote, and the execution has been similar as well. Molitor has been poor in his own right, and Terry Ryan has followed suit.

If it isn't happening on the bench, then it's been in Ryan's hands. His star slugger hit the disabled list due to a pulled hamstring, and currently has an outfield spot to return back to. Former top pitching prospect Alex Meyer was made to wait 28 days prior to an exploratory MRI, only to be placed on the DL some 30 days after he last pitched. For all Ryan has done well in roster manipulation over his tenure, I don't remember a time with more negatives packed into a brief period of time than now.

What it all comes down to isn't a quote, but rather a direction. No negative public comments from an out-of-touch owner are going to turn this dumpster fire around. The Twins need to commit to some changes, and they have to be made sooner rather than later.

Sure, I believe both Paul Molitor and Terry Ryan need to go. It appears neither are capable of doing their jobs to a satisfactory level. Even before that though, Minnesota needs an identity. With underperforming veterans littered across the roster, a purge or shift should take place soon. It's time to move on from what you can, and allow the Buxton's, Sano's, Kepler's, and Polanco's to make this team theirs. Bring them up, let them invest in the process, and do what they can to put their stamp on 2016. The results aren't likely going to turn much for the better, but it would suggest a shift in process that should prove beneficial in the long run.

For this club, things have gone far from as expected or desired. While that's unfortunate in and of itself, Pohlad, Ryan, Molitor, and the rest of the organization have done nothing to turn the tide either. At some point, it can't be about the newspaper fodder; there has to actually be actionable change.

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