This past Monday the Minnesota Twins announced that they had concluded their search for a manager and that coach Paul Molitor would slide into the Twins driver’s seat. The Twins then held their introductory press conference on Tuesday. Molitor is a Hall of Famer and played from 1978-1998 with the Milwaukee Brewers, Toronto Blue Jays and the Minnesota Twins (1996-1998).
Molitor becomes the 13th Minnesota Twins manager but only the third since 1986. The St. Paul native has no managing experience on any level but has served as a coach with the Twins in 2000 and 2001 before moving on to coach with the Seattle Mariners in 2004. Molitor was also on the Twins coaching staff in 2014. Prior to 2014, he served as the Twins minor league baserunning/infield coordinator for 10 seasons (2003, 2005-13). The 58 year-old Molitor has agreed to a 3 year contract that runs through the 2017 season.
The Twins interviewed numerous internal and external candidates before narrowing the field to three finalists, Torey Lovullo, Doug Mientkiewicz, and Molitor. My preference from this list was Lovullo and my second choice was Mientkiewicz and Molitor was last on my list. Joe Maddon who opted out from his Tampa Bay gig would have been great but he ended up going to the Chicago Cubs.
I was sure, more than sure, I was positive the Twins would not hire Molitor since they could have easily have given him the job when Ron Gardenhire was let go and saved everyone a lot of time, angst and money. The fact that Molitor had substantial baggage (drinking, drugs, womanizing) from his time as a player I though would work against him but apparently that was discussed but didn’t seem to matter. The word is that Twins President Dave St. Peter and owner Jim Pohlad are big Molitor boosters so that probably helped persuade GM Terry Ryan to recommend Molitor for the job. I don’t like the choice but it is what it is and I hope I am wrong and that Molitor can turn this Twins team around and get them back on the winning track. Having said that, I won’t be purchasing any Twins season tickets until I see this team improve dramatically and start putting up some games in the “W” column. I am in the “you have to show me first” camp right now. Molitor claims to have the passion needed to do this job, let’s see what a losing team in 2015 will do to that passion.
Now the Twins have announced that former hitting coach Tom Brunansky is coming back to fill the same role for Molitor in 2015. Again, I disagree with the choice. I though that Tom Brunansky should have been fired after his first season as the Twins hitting instructor in 2013 when the team scored just 614 runs and struck out a franchise record 14,30 times and hit for a putrid .242 average. Now after the Twins again finished with 90 plus losses and the Twins scored 715 runs the Twins make Brunansky sound like the best hitting coach ever. 715 runs scored is mediocre at best, the team still struck out 1,329 times so his teams now hold the two highest strikeout records in franchise history going back to 1901. The team batting average jumped to .254, whoopy dooo.
It will be interesting to see who the Twins pitching coach will be and who will fill the remaining coaching vacancies. Who will be the guy on the staff that Molitor goes to talk with and confide in when the going gets tough? We shall see.