Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Molitor presser

Paul Molitor at Tuesday's press conference.
Parsing the statements made in a baseball-hiring press conference is a fool's game. So I'm a fool.

Some thoughts after watching the Paul Molitor press conference Tuesday morning:

* In recounting Molitor's bio -- which probably wasn't necessary -- Terry Ryan said something about the impressive or great managers Molitor had played for. This amused me, because in my view, Molitor's managerial list was among the weakest in the field of candidates.

Ryan cited four names in particular: George Bamberger, Harvey Kuenn, Cito Gaston and Tom Kelly. 

Kuenn and Gaston are an interesting pair to bring up, because they are oddly similar -- they each were put in charge of a talented but underachieving club that was at odds with the previous skipper, and each won, initially, by maximizing the playing time for the regulars, marginalizing the bench and basically making as few moves as possible. Kuenn got the Brewers to their one World Series tht way, and Gaston won it all in 1992 and 1993, the latter with Molitor.

That is, emphatically, not the situation Molitor is inheriting.

Bamberger is a more interesting figure. He inherited a chronic loser and immediately won 90-plus games the first two years, in part by putting Molitor in the lineup right out of A ball. Bamberger also stuck Gorman Thomas, who had been kicking around for years, in center field and lived with the strikeouts, something previous managers had been unwilling to do.

There are potential parallels to the Twins there. Molitor said he's not waiting on the prospect train, that he wants to win now; but the winning might be easier if they hurry the prospect train to the station.

* Pat Reusse, who has been railing for some time about the Twins taking too many pitches, gave Molitor a leading question about how he, Molitor, liked to swing at first pitches. Molitor gave a much more nuanced answer about the evils of predictability. I have no argument with Mollie's response, but I found myself wishing he'd say: I'd a fool to expect every hitter to hit the way I did. 

This, after all, is the crux of the argument against hiring great players as managers: That they expect lesser players to perform the way they did. Eduardo Escobar isn't Paul Molitor, and Kurt Suzuki isn't either. It's not a reasonable standard.

Anyway, the Twins were seventh in the majors in runs scored. The hitters, in short, weren't the problem. The defense and the pitching were. And, to be sure, it's possible that moves to improve the defense will hurt the offense.

* Terry Ryan was quite explicit: He did talk to Joe Maddon, and the Cubs were simply a more attractive offer. 

* Less explicit, but strongly implied: Ryan has had more payroll space to work with than he has used. He hasn't used it all because he hasn't seen anything worth using it on.

Which is fine with me. Spending money just because you have it is silly.

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