The Minnesota Twins, having come off a very good season where they made the playoffs for the first time since 2010, have re-signed their manager, Paul Molitor, to a 3-year contract. Terms of the 3-year deal have yet to be announced. Now, the 61-year old manager will do his best to get his team to take the next step from being a playoff contender to a championship contender.
Coming off one of the worst seasons in baseball history and the worst in Minnesota Twins franchise history, Paul Molitor was on the hot seat from the season’s first pitch. He never managed for his job, though. He wanted to win and turn this team back to the winning team he had in 2015. Did he know the odds of turning a 100+ loss team into a playoff team or even into a .500 or better team again? That’s doubtful and even if he was told a team had never made the playoffs after a season with that many losses, he most likely wouldn’t have cared.
Managing The Game
Like when Paul Molitor was first hired to be the Minnesota Twins Manager back in November of 2014, there will be fans who don’t like this deal or think 3 years is too long. They are discouraged by the way he manages the game or by certain things he does during the course of a game. Most of this lies in how he handles his pitching staff. Beginning his managerial career only 3 years ago, the pitching side of managing is the area he likely needed to learn about the most.
Fans tend to think that players are finished products when they get to the Major Leagues, meaning there is very little room for them to improve. The biggest argument for that is once they’ve reached the highest level of professional baseball, they now have the best coaches and players to learn from along with the best tools to figure out where they can improve.
As a player, Paul Molitor is one of the greatest examples of improving as you get older. He had his best years after he turned 30, which is supposedly the age players start to decline. As a manager, it’s yet to be seen but he’s going to do everything he can to help this team be successful. He has a lot of support to look to, from CBO Derek Falvey to GM Thad Levine to the rest of the front office to his coaching staff and the analytics department. Ultimately, it always comes down to his decision and if they weren’t happy with what he was doing, they wouldn’t bring him back.
Alignment, Partnership & Collaboration
Watching the Twins Press Conference on bringing back Molitor for 3 years, you can see right away this is a collaborative effort, to use a Derek Falvey/Thad Levine often-used phrase, and Derek Falvey wants Paul Molitor as his manager. That says a lot about what they think of the job he did this season. They didn’t have a choice last year. Paul Molitor was their manager but now, they could’ve gone in a different direction. It also says a lot about how open Molitor is to what they are trying to do to develop the Minnesota Twins into a championship-caliber team.
It’s extremely difficult to have success if the front office, scouting department and on-field staff are not aligned in their philosophy about the game and their building process, how to acquire players, develop those players and develop the team into a winner. Every decision is talked about among all of them before coming to a final decision. This is aside from the on-field and in-game decisions that Molitor has total freedom on.
“We do this as a partnership” said Derek Falvey during the press conference. Then, after being asked if he and Thad Levine were interested in bringing in their own guy, he said, “…when you go through that process…you want to make sure there’s a fit…” and they “…work to make the best decision for the Minnesota Twins, not for me or for Paul…” This is a “partnership all the way through” when it comes to the offseason decisions, too.
New Pitching Coach in 2018
One of those decisions was to fire pitching coach Neil Allen. Molitor said “changing coaches is a hard thing” and he feels Neil is a late-in-life found friend but they will “…pursue someone in that role that will help push our pitching forward.” Falvey said that process has started over the last couple of days and some key elements they look for in a pitching coach is alignment from top to bottom, a Twins Way, not one way but a way that evolves over time and to make sure development continues.
The Minnesota Twins also hired Jeremy Zoll away from the Los Angeles Dodgers to take over as Director of Minor League Operations. He’ll take over for Brad Steil, who was promoted to Director of Pro Scouting. These are new hires could have a significant impact with the Twins.
We are excited for the offseason to see who the Twins bring in and what they do to help the pitching move forward. Will it include moving Brian Dozier? That would seem to be a bad move, now. He has established himself as a leader of this team and he’s producing at the plate while providing good defense. Trading him could also open up a new problem. Jorge Polanco would most likely move to 2nd Base but then who takes over at shortstop? Sure, they have some options but are any of them ready? Either ready to play in the majors if you’re talking about Nick Gordon or ready to be a full-time SS in the case of Eduardo Escobar or Ehire Adrianza?
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After all, it is…