Monday, March 3, 2014

The quest for "attitude"

Oswaldo Arcia pulls in a fly ball
during Sunday's game.
On Sunday, a Tampa Bay minor leaguer named Adam Liberatore twice buzzed Oswaldo Arcia. Two pitches later, Arcia took Liberatore deep.

For me, the significant aspect of this is: A left-handed hitter homered off a left-handed pitcher. Second time in two days, really; on Saturday Chris Parmelee homered off Jose Mijares, the former Twins lefty specialist now with the Red Sox.

Two at-bats are just two at-bats — and it's early March — but for the record: In 2013, Arcia's OPS vs. lefties was 110 points lower than against righties, and Parmelee's was 170 points lower.

For Ron Gardenhire, the significant aspect was/is Arcia's personality — his "attitude." "We need attitude," the manager said. "Attitude wins baseball games too."

Talking about "attitude" is like talking about "chemistry."  It's nonsense. Arcia should be in the lineup not because he's cocky, but because he has more talent as a hitter, and a brighter future, than the alternatives.

More than "attitude," the Twins need some outfielders who can go get the ball, some infielders who can do something useful at the plate, and some pitchers who can go seven, eight, nine innings. Those are tangible things that have been missing, or present only sporadically, for three years.

Attitude is only useful if it comes with production.


  1. What they say: We want attitude and edginess.

    What they do: Sit a prospect for a few games because he runs too slow after hitting a homer off a former teammate. That's not the "Twins way".

    There are more examples of what they do. Sometimes it feels like they try to drive the cockiness out of younger players. Rather than focusing on a players strengths you see more comments about the parts of the game where they are deficient. Thus they tell a David Ortiz to try to hit the ball to the opposite field more. They end up with players who ignore their strengths to focus on raising up to mediocrity with their weaknesses.

  2. There are different ways that an attitude or edginess is a desirable trait ... when it leads to player self-confidence that allows that player to perform to their ability it is a great thing. If it leads to them becoming a cocky jerk it is not.