A couple of times in the last two years, I've had to move and change jobs to places where I didn't know anyone. It was difficult starting over from scratch, without a support network. Much more difficult than it would have been to stay in the same place and continue doing the same things. But ultimately, ripping off that bandaid has proved rewarding for me, both personally and professionally. The fresh start helped me move forward, and leave some of my baggage behind.
Last night, I realized it was time for the Minnesota Twins to do the same thing. Oh, I don't want them to move. But I do want them to start from scratch, sweeping the front office and coaching staffs clean of any remnants of the current regime. The baggage that's holding them back is simply becoming too heavy for them to carry as they try to move forward.
I reached my breaking point as I followed along with the Twins' loss to the Kansas City Royals. It was their seventh loss in eight games and their sixteenth loss in 20 May games. They are now 11-33, still on pace to match the 1962 New York Mets, one of the most famously atrocious teams in baseball history.
It wasn't the poor hitting by leadoff hitter Eduardo Nunez (who went 0-for-5) that got to me. It wasn't that Ricky Nolasco gave up six runs in fewer than three innings or that Trevor May and Kevin Jepsen got bombed again. It wasn't even the lack of effort shown by Miguel Sano on defense.
No, for me, the key moment came in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Twins were down 8-4 with two runners on and just one out when Ned Yost brought Kelvin Herrera into the ballgame. The Twins had a full bench, with young left-handed power-hitter Oswaldo Arcia, 2015 All Star righty Brian Dozier, and red-hot lefty catcher Juan Centeno all available.
Instead, with the game on the line, Twins manager Paul Molitor elected to leave those crucial late-inning at bats in the hands of Kurt Suzuki and Danny Santana, two of the 20 worst hitters in Major League Baseball since the start of 2015 according to OPS+ (minimum 350 PA). Neither can get on base. Neither hits for any kind of power. Suzuki struck out on three straight pitches without removing the bat from his shoulder and Santana lined out to left field. The rally killed, the Royals easily closed out their win in the ninth.
In that 8th inning, Paul Molitor gave up. He surrendered. He refused to manage, which is a basic function of being a team's manager. And that's when I lost it. It's one thing to watch your team lose. It's another to see the person responsible for leading them throw in the towel. It reminded me that Molitor, and his boss Terry Ryan, have done nothing to demonstrate that they're still fit to run the Twins.
Molitor continues to manage on autopilot, running promising young relievers like Trevor May (22 appearances in 44 games) into the ground and refusing to make strategic decisions. Terry Ryan and his lieutenants, who are responsible for crafting this disaster, push the deck chairs around on the Titanic without showing evidence of any kind of original thought.
He is blunt about the dire situation, telling La Velle E. Neal,
"We're in dire straits here. This just isn't going well at all. So I have to be prepared to change it up and move some pieces. Whether you call it shuffling the deck or shaking it up.
"Some people are calling it panic. I get that, OK. We're in a mode here where I better be creative enough to do some things to help along the cause. We're struggling to a point where we haven't been able to right it. So I'm going to have to do some things."
But there's no evidence that they can be creative without destroying what they should be building. Every move they make continues to highlight their organizational struggle to reach guys who are not stereotypical "Twins players," veteran mediocre hitters and pitchers who can't generate strikeouts. They have brought in Robbie Grossman, and recall Darin Mastroianni. They bring up Pat Dean and install him in the starting rotation when he couldn't even strike out five batters a game at Rochester.
Meanwhile, every young player the team has counted on to help them take a step forward in 2016 has regressed and been sent back to the minors. It's an amazing list of names: Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios, Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco, Eddie Rosario, Alex Meyer, Tommy Milone, and John Ryan Murphy have all been banished and it isn't even May.
Ultimately, the Twins leadership seems to be out of ideas for how to move forward. Terry Ryan talks about doing something, but doesn't yet know what to do beyond contracting a private shuttle to ferry all the players back and forth between Minnesota and Rochester. With so little innovation coming from the same group who created this problem in the first place, it's clear to me that it's time for the entire Twins management team to be shown the door. Bring me somebody, anybody, with a fresh perspective to run this team going forward. Because, by definition, it can't really get any worse than what we're seeing now.