Losing 103 games will put a coach or manager under the microscope in a heartbeat. Twins manager Paul Molitor knows as much after a disastrous season in 2016.
"It's fine," Molitor said of Twins naysayers in an interview with GoMN Sports. "Some of the baseball that we put out there and things that we did weren't acceptable. We're going to try to fix that to the best of our ability.
"I understand the naysayers, but we're going to do the best we can to get them on the positive side of the ledger this spring."
Molitor's 2017 lineup isn't the problem. The likes of Brian Dozier (if he doesn't get traded) along with a motivated Miguel Sano and young, rising stars like Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario should help the Twins score plenty of runs. It's the pitching staff that needs work.
"I always have believed – in all the years I played, coached, whatever – there's a fine line," Molitor said. "Last year gets off to a little different start, young players gain a little bit more confidence, momentum. I'm not sure where it eventually would have went, but I know that for a young team, how you come out of the gate seems to be a little bit more critical. We're going to try to focus on being ready."
Relief pitcher Ryan Presley told GoMN Sports that fans need to understand how young the team is.
"It's a lot of guys who are still getting their feet wet in the big leagues. You kind of have to be patient," he said.
If the young guys can get off to a good start and the pitching staff can hold its own, Minnesota has a chance to do some damage right away. They start the season with 19 straight games against AL Central opponents. They were 24-52 in divisional games last season, so it's critical they don't don't duplicate what they did in 2016 by losing 13 of their first 15 games against AL Central teams.
It all starts in a about a month when pitchers and catchers report to spring training the day after Valentine's Day.