Monday, September 26, 2016

A Solid 2015 Masks Twins Reality

In 2015, Paul Molitor's first season as manager for the Minnesota Twins, the club cruised to an 83-79 record. They were in the playoff hunt deep into September, and they led the AL Central on multiple occasions throughout the campaign. With the 2016 season ending in 100 loss territory, it's fair to wonder whether that near playoff miss didn't mask bigger issues for the Twins.

A year ago, the Twins pitched and hit the ball well enough. They competed on a nightly basis, and most importantly, they got a good deal of luck. In one run games, the Twins went 23-22. They had winning records against two of the four AL Central teams, and Molitor's club squeaked by it's 81-81 Pythagorean projection.

During 2016, Molitor has had a roster of nearly the same players. He's watched his youngsters such as Jose Berrios and Byron Buxton struggle at points, while players like Trevor Plouffe, Miguel Sano, and Joe Mauer have all dealt with injuries. This club has set new levels of futility when it comes to pitching, and aside from Brian Dozier, there's been next to no bright spots.

Now ready to announce that former Indians front office member Derek Falvey will be named the new Head of Baseball Operations for the Twins, a turnaround needs to begin. As the news has started to break however, there's been comments immediately made about the Twins being better in 2017. While that's true, it's probably not worth putting much stock in.

The reality that Falvey will be dealing with is the 2016 Twins will almost assuredly be coming off of the worst record in franchise history. If the club wins an extra 10-15 games a year from now, that puts the 2017 record somewhere in the high 60's for a win total. Out of 162 games during a season, that number should still be seen as unacceptable.

As for his manager, Molitor has been given a vote of confidence from Jim Pohlad. He's been told he'll be back in 2017, but there's almost no reason for him to have been told as much. While 2015 was fun, the level of set back that has been 2016 can't go unnoticed. He's failed to develop virtually any of his youth, more often than not he's been unable to simply get them into games. Then there's the head scratching lineup decisions, and the criticism that has been loudly proclaimed by plenty of national names.

A year ago, three managers were fired, and none of them lost more than 94 games. With the Twins destined to top that mark by a possibility of ten, Molitor sticking around would seem to be nothing more than allowing the futility to continue.

Sure, Derek Falvey can't be expected to step in and change things over night. If the Twins do win 10-15 more games a year from now, it's progress. What has to happen though, is a commitment to revitalizing progress, or progress that allows for some real sustainability. For that to take place, Falvey cleaning out what left over fodder there is, seems to be a good ask.

I think Falvey sounds like a guy that could be a very great fit for the direction the Twins need to take into the future. Asking him, a 32 year old, to fire Paul Molitor as a first point of business would take some serious cajones. Separating 2015 from the underlying realities that Paul Molitor has been tied to makes the decision easier though, and one I think has merit in being made.

No matter how 2017 plays out, progress needs to take place, and doing so without Paul Molitor could help to speed things up as well.

2 comments:

  1. I've lost faith in Molitor. Great player, but not a good manager or teacher. For one, how is it that players on Paul Molitor's team are so awful at bunting?

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    1. More often than not this season, Molitor has been bad. He has made odd lineup choices, his in game strategy has been poor, and the backbone of this team is youth that he doesn't know how to get the most out of.

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