Chris Gimenez on Non-Sugar-Coated Communication (and Analytics)

Chris Gimenez is an effective communicator. It’s not the primary reason the journeyman backstop keeps finding a job, but given the importance of that trait to his position, it’s certainly a factor. Along with versatility and catch-and-throw skills, forging a relationship with a pitching staff is very much one of his strong suits.

Gimenez is wearing a Minnesota Twins uniform now, one year after playing a meaningful role on Cleveland’s AL championship club. It wasn’t his first season on a winner. Prior to joining the Indians, the 34-year-old veteran suited up for Texas Rangers and Tampa Bay Rays teams that tasted October baseball. As you might expect, he had quality role models at each of those stops.

Gimenez talked about the value of not sugar-coating communication and the importance of embracing analytics, at the tail end of spring training.

———

Gimenez on being honest and not coddling: “Communication, between all parties, is something that all good teams have. It’s the same in the dugout and on the field. That open line of communication where somebody can say something freely, at any time, and not have people take it the wrong way.

“You get into some heated situations during a game. Whether it’s a catcher going out to talk to a pitcher, or a manager or coach coming to talk to somebody in the dugout, you need that open line of communication. If you’re sugar-coating something, you’re not doing anybody any favors.

“On the mound, you have to know which guys you can go out there and get on their rear ends a little bit. You also have to know which guys you have to coddle. But at the same time, you’re coddling in a way that you’re getting on their rear ends a little bit. It’s an art form.”

On managers, coaches, and nut-cutting time: “Two tremendous communicators I’ve been with are Mickey Calloway and Tito [Francona]. Same thing with Joe Maddon. Mike Maddux was also really good. He had a particular way of doing it, which works for him, and it worked for the group of guys we had in Texas.

“Mike wouldn’t sugar-coat. Some coaches might sugar-coat things, but that’s not how Mike does it. I appreciated it, because that’s kind of how I try to be. I want to tell you like it is. At the same time, I don’t want it to be an issue, because I want us both to get better because of it.

“Mike could do that because he’s an extremely established pitching coach. Guys respect how he goes about things. It’s the same way with Mickey. He’s done a tremendous job in Cleveland. He has every single pitcher’s back. That’s another big part of it — knowing that when it’s nut-cutting time, guys will have your back.”

On appreciating analytics: “Communicating analytics is a little newer aspect on the bench, and again, Cleveland does a tremendous job. They do a very good job of hybrid-ing the old-school baseball terminology and the new-school analytical approach. I think a lot of organizations are really starting to get on that. Analytics are becoming a part of our game. There is a lot of unbelievable information out there that can help a team in a lot of different ways.

Jeff Banister was big on that when he got hired in Texas. He was a little more analytical with things than the guys I’d been around. It’s good to get a different perspective, a different set of data, a different way of looking at things. If you can tweak something here and there because of what data tells you, it’s only going to make everybody better. The ultimate goal is to win baseball games, so whatever way you can do that is… I think everybody is open to it, to be honest.”

On the Twins’ new catching tool: “We’ve been approached here with a new… I don’t remember what the program is called, but it’s a way of tracking receiving information. I’m open to it, because it’s a tool I can use to get better. It’s not necessarily perfect, but it’s a different avenue. It’s a different set of eyes, I guess you could say. Again, the data, the numbers, will tell you something.

“Maybe I’m not the best at framing pitches inside to a righty. Okay. Now I can go about preparing my work plan to try to make myself better at that. It’s presented as both video and data. Even if it’s not foolproof, it will lead us in the direction we need to go.

Jeff Smith, our catching coach, is the one who introduced me to it. I think it’s new to him, too. He’s learning the in and outs, and the nuances, of the program, and he’ll communicate the most important parts of it to the catchers. I’m looking forward to learning what I can from it.”





David Laurila grew up in Michigan's Upper Peninsula and now writes about baseball from his home in Cambridge, Mass. He authored the Prospectus Q&A series at Baseball Prospectus from December 2006-May 2011 before being claimed off waivers by FanGraphs. He can be followed on Twitter @DavidLaurilaQA.

3 Comments
Oldest
Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
mike sixelmember
5 years ago

I really enjoy these interviews! And, as a Twins’ fan, I like this one even more, even if I have questioned why he is on the roster, and not Garver. Probably a good thing for everyone I am not a GM….

LHPSU
5 years ago
Reply to  mike sixel

I was going to make a snide comment about performance of actual Twins GMs, then I realized the Twins are actually in 2nd place. Though this says more about the state of the other teams in AL Central than it does about the Twins.

But there are too many articles about the Twins. This needs to stop.

Sammy Sooser
5 years ago
Reply to  LHPSU

So instead of making a snide comment, you made a… snide comment?