Rocco Baldelli Should Hope Less, Manage Better

Photo: David Berding - Getty Images

The Minnesota Twins lost their third-straight game on Tuesday, a 10-4 debacle vs the Boston Red Sox. It also stands as their fifth loss in six games, a stretch that has dropped them two games below .500 and just one game up on Cleveland for 1st place in the tragic AL Central.

Bats remain cold, Pitching slows

The bats are still cold, something that’s gone on for months now. We’re approaching the end of June and the Twins rank 22nd in team OPS (.709) and 24th in batting average (.231). Then, there’s the strike outs. So many damn strikeouts. 762 of them so far, to be exact. That’s 61 more than the Oakland Athletics, who have the 2nd-most this season, 261 more than Washington, who strikes out the least.

Unfortunately, on days/nights when the bats have gotten hot, and they have been a bit better recently, the pitching has failed to hold up its end of the bargain. In fact, the offense has produced four runs or more in four of the team’s last six losses.

Rocco Baldelli hopes things get better.

But if you think you’re befuddled by how pathetic the Twins have played lately, just listen to their manager, Rocco Baldelli, after last night’s loss vs the Red Sox. If Michael Scott was a baseball manager or had to act out a postgame interview during his evening improv class, I’d imagine this is exactly how it would go.

“I don’t have too many words to go into the way we’re playing right now. Especially that ballgame right there. Umm… I’d be lying if I told you I had anything interesting to say about that. It’s… we know it’s not good baseball. It’s not, uh, the baseball we’ve become accustomed to from our team. Umm… yeah, I honestly don’t have a lot to say about it. We have to muster something up that’s not currently there. And this is… this is… I’m hoping that this is just the worst day that we’re going to see right now, in this stretch of games.”

“Hope isn’t a good plan in professional sports. But the truth is, the players we have, the collective at-bats we had before the eighth inning, I don’t think our group is capable of having those at-bats for too much longer. I mean that. It is infectious when it goes well and it can also be a little infectious when it’s not going well. Umm… we’re capable of a lot more than what we’re showing right now and, uh, I’m waiting to see it. It’s going to come. I… you know, I want it to come soon. But… uh… I can’t talk about what I just saw in that game. I don’t think any of our guys want to sit there and try to put words to it. It wasn’t good. It wasn’t good. There are going to be better days ahead and we just need to keep our heads up and just keep playing.”

Rocco Baldelli (video above)
Hope over action???

So, Rocco’s season-saving plan is to hope the team right out of its current dumpster fire? That’s right, one of the only humans in position to actually do something that positively impacts the Twins’ current lot in life has come to the conclusion that their best chance is “hope”. Wow, I feel better now, don’t you?

Following Baldelli’s strange monologue about ‘hoping things improve’, the obvious question was (thankfully) asked. ‘Is there anything actionable that can be done beyond just “hope”?’ Rocco’s answer? No, because he doesn’t want to make decisions based on one game or one series of at bats… even though this team’s biggest problems have existed for most of the season and, in some cases, longer.

“Not… not today. Not after watching that. I’m not going to watch, you know, probably one of the rougher games that we’ve had all year long and discuss anything actionable based on the, you know, based on that. We don’t do a lot based on one particular day or watching a particular group of players take, you know, five at bats each and make decisions. That’s not that’s not what’s going on here.

Rocco Baldelli (video above)
Action over hope.

So… I guess we can’t DFA Max Kepler in order to make room for a smoking hot Matt Wallner or young power bat like Trevor Larnach. And we’ll just hope Emilio Pagan becomes a worthy bullpen arm, even after a full career of proof he isn’t. At least LaVelle E. Neal still believes in him.

Definitely make sure to write Christian Vazquez into the starting lineup as often as possible, too. And obviously, continue to platoon and pinch hit for your best young batters, like Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Because why would we want them to develop and learn to produce in clutch situations?

Or maybe… just maybe… Rocco Baldelli & Co can change their thinking a little bit. You know, stop worrying so much about how many pitches Sonny Gray throws in one inning or how many consecutive games your best players have played.

Turn your attention, instead, to obvious moves that might improve clubhouse morale and immediately make the roster better, younger and more energetic. Stop trotting out the same veterans to fail in the same ways we’ve already seen over and over again.

Stop hoping things change. Instead, do your job better and help make the change happen.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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