It’s time to trade Trevor Plouffe.
Thursday, the Minnesota Twins sent the former first-round pick back to Rochester…again.
Out of the many things that have been exposed about the Twins during a 17-37 season to this point (lack of farm-depth, mismanagement of Joe Mauer’s injury, lack of preparation in bullpen, etc.), one is that Twins manager Ron Gardenhire is not a good fit for Plouffe; which means Plouffe is not a good fit with the Twins.
Sure, the infielder hasn’t hit lately. But, he’s been battling not only pitchers who throw 95 mph, also his own manager.
Even at this high of a level of professional sports, players still respond to differently to different styles of coaching. Some players respond positively by being yelled at or benched. It’s all different motivation, and each players’ preference should be respected. Gardenhire elected to be stubborn in his coaching of the 25-year-old shortstop rather than get the most out his player.
Gardenhire doesn’t see it that way, apparently. After a two-error game against the Mariners, the manager slammed Plouffe to reporters. “I don’t really know the thinking there,” Twins manager Ron Gardenhire said via 1500ESPN after the game. “I know the ball’s got to be caught in the air. Those are two plays that have to be made. That cost us a lot. It cost us our bullpen, it cost us the ballgame. And those plays have to be made, that’s all I can say.”
Plouffe started 11 of his first 14 games since being recalled to the Twins May 4th at short stop and his offensive performance carried over from his start in Rochester: .289/.404/.579 with a .983 OPS. To nobody’s surprise, after Gardenhire’s media thrashing and subsequent benching, Plouffe’s offensive output diminished, resulting in his eventual demotion.
It reminds me of Phil Jackson. Regardless of the players he’s worked with in his career, Jackson is a talent coach who understands the psychology of athletes. He’s referred to as the “Zen Master” because of his ability to positively utilize mind games to understand his players on a deep, mental level so he can most effectively coach them to success.
I’d doubt any athlete thinks it’s justifiable for a coach to slam a player in the media. It’s not a motivation technique: it’s mean-spirited, and accomplishes nothing besides making the player’s confidence dip lower than Drew Butera’s OPS.
Former Major League Baseball player and manager of the triple-A affiliate of the Detroit Tigers, Phil Nevin, said in an interview with writer Jeff Pearlman that managing personalities is key to successful coaching.
“The relationships part of it—the everyday dealing with the guys in this room, is I think what separates the good ones. How they perceive you, the respect you get from the players. Because, at the end of the day, it is a reflection on you. How a club does…But I think, the good ones, it’s a little bit of the psychological side.”
Gardenhire doesn’t think that way. And the Twins have demonstrated that they think Plouffe is not a permanent solution in the middle infield during this lousy season or in the future. It’s time to trade him. It’s time to send him to an organization who can coach him the way he needs to be coached.
He needs management who can correct his issue with charging the ball or who can move him to second base or left field. He needs someone who won’t screw with his head. It’s time to trade Trevor Plouffe, for his good and the good of the organization.
The Rochester Red Wings were left with a day game after a night game and five pitchers to use. A former first-rounder for a couple of serviceable relievers, maybe? Better than a miserable shortstop with no confidence.