Sunday night, I was in the Inside Edge office in Bloomington when I was asked about the Twins' chances against the Tigers on Opening Day. "Well, it's the Twins, so the Tigers (will win)," I said. That was meant to be a joke because, come on, these Twins have been pretty awful since they kicked off the 2011 season. However, I also was saying that because the Twins were facing David Price, one of the few legitimate aces in the major leagues.
My pessimism ended up ringing true as Price blanked the Twins for 8 2/3 innings Monday afternoon before giving way to Joe Nathan. But, my negativity was also led by a sarcastic prediction I made that ended up being correct as well.
Back on Sunday, I had also made a remark in jest about the Twins having lefthanded hitters Oswaldo Arcia and Jordan Schafer in the lineup against the tough Price. I expressed frustration because neither guy has had much success against lefthanded pitchers in the past and Price was a difficult draw. Arcia has hit .222/.263/.343 and Schafer has posted a meager .170/.250/.224 against lefties in their respective careers, and putting them in the starting lineup against David Price was simply setting them up to fail.
Still, I realized that I said what I said because I had gotten used to Ron Gardenhire's ways. When he was manager, he would put players in the lineup even if they didn't have much of a chance against the opposing pitcher. Once I had my revelation that Paul Molitor was actually at the helm, I thought that the Twins would start Shane Robinson and maybe even Eduardo Nunez in center and left field instead of the aforementioned Schafer and Arcia.
Now, I understand that Molitor is no Joe Maddon or Bob Melvin,* but upon his hiring it sounded as if he would be more forward-thinking than Gardy. After all, he was often cited as the mastermind behind the Twins' increased use of defensive shifts last year. Yet 12:08 pm came on Monday and there taking their hacks against David Price in Detroit were Oswaldo Arcia and Jordan Schafer.
* Though Melvin's frequent use of platooning may actually be more a function of his GM, Billy Beane.
Let's be honest, the normal Twins lineup should have Arcia batting in the heart of the order and Jordan Schafer offers a little more promise than Shane Robinson. It was also Opening Day, and I don't think it's much of a stretch to say that a manager would likely put his regular lineup on the field on the first day, so I bet Molitor delivered his "A" lineup to the home plate umpire on Monday even though he knew Schafer and Arcia would have to face Price.
At least, I'm hoping that this was a rare occurrence. While Shane Robinson and Eduardo Nunez aren't great with the bats, they're still better against lefties than Arcia and Schafer. The idea of platooning is a horn that I've been tooting for years now, and the introduction of Molitor as manager gave me hope that this would finally occur. Mike Berardino did mention that Schafer and Robinson would be in a "loose platoon" and I would love to see Molitor minimize his players' weaknesses instead of forcing them to overcome them when even an outsider can see that it's not going to happen.
It's been one game thus far. As the Gleeman and the Geek podcast has said on multiple occasions, we should give it time to see how Molitor differs from when Gardy was manager. I'm hoping that Oswaldo Arcia and especially Jordan Schafer sit on the bench against the tougher lefties in the majors, because even though these small changes won't turn the Twins into a playoff team this year, developing those habits would serve the team well in the coming years.