The Minnesota Twins had an awful season last year — they finished with a record of 59-103 — the worst in Twins franchise history and the worst record in the majors last year. This performance by the club prompted a front office overhaul with Derek Falvey hired from the Cleveland Indians as the Chief Baseball Officer and Phad Levine hired from the Texas Rangers as General Manager.
Rewind time 17 months. End of March. 2015.
It’d been a rough four year stretch at 1 Twins Way entering the 2015 campaign. Since finishing 94-68 and making the playoffs in 2010, the Twins had lost 90+ games in each of the next four years, becoming all too familiar with the cellar in the AL Central Division — they finished in last three out of those four seasons.
Enter Hall of Famer (and former Twin/Gopher great) Paul Molitor, who took over as the Twins’ manager for the 2015 season.
Last week saw the shocking announcement that Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan had been fired from his duties with the organization. While at the helm as GM from 1995-2007 and then from 2012-2016, he saw the Twins to four American League Central Division Championships, finished second and third place twice each, finished fourth four times and finished in last place five times. This season, the Twins appear to be headed to another last place finish which cemented Ryan’s fate.
When I look at Ryan’s tenure as GM, I see plenty of good, as well as plenty of bad. Let’s take a look at some of the good and the bad that stand out.
On Friday, the Minnesota Twins upgraded their bullpen by acquiring right-handed reliever Kevin Jepsen from the Tampa Bay Rays for two pitching prospects before the non-waiver trade deadline. Jepsen is expected to be the Twins top setup man behind closer Glen Perkins.
Jepsen, 31, has an ERA of 2.81 with 20 walks and 34 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings with 6 saves this season for the Rays. In his career, both with the Rays and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Jepsen has a 3.80 career ERA with 305 strikeouts and 130 walks in 322 1/3 innings. He figures to help strengthen a relief core that is ranked 24th in the majors with an ERA of 3.97.
Last week, the Minnesota Twins won 5 out of 7 games, including a four-game sweep of the Chicago White Sox this past weekend. The Twins are above .500 for the first time this season — now with a record of 14-12 with a win yesterday. They currently sit in third place in the American League Central Division, 3.5 games behind the Detroit Tigers.
While the Twins were in the midst of their most successful week so far this season, there was plenty of shuffling around of pitchers both on and off the 15-day Disabled List. When all was said and done, 1/3 of the Twins 12-man pitching staff had been changed. I thought I’d get you caught up on the changes to the Twins pitching.
One of the big storylines of the season so far for the Minnesota Twins has been the offense. Ranked near the bottom in the American League in almost every category, the offense has sputtered like a motor running out of gas for the duration of this short season. There have been signs of the offense waking up, but then when you think that it was going to last, the offense then seemingly takes a step back.
2010 was a sweet summer for the Minnesota Twins and their fans.
Target Field opened and the return of outdoor baseball seemed to have everyone in town excited. The Twins went 94-68 — including a 53-28 record at their new grassy, un-domed home — during the regular season. They won the American League Central and Ron Gardenhire was honored with a Manager of the Year award that was long overdue.
The Minnesota Twins have officially hired a manager that players can look up too. It was announced that Paul Molitor is their new manager, signing a three-year deal through the 2017 season. Molitor becomes the 13th manager in Twins franchise history, succeeding Ron Gardenhire, who was let go following the 2014 season, after having four consecutive 90 loss seasons.
Inducted into baseball’s Hall Of Fame in 2004, Molitor has had plenty of coaching experience with the Twins organization, both at the Major and Minor League levels. He was on Tom Kelly’s coaching staff as a bench coach in 2000 and 2001. He also served as the Twins Minor League base stealing and infield coordinator for ten seasons, (2003, 2005-2013). He was the Seattle Mariners hitting coach in 2004.
Last season, Molitor was on the Twins coaching staff in charge of in game strategy. After the All-Star break, he took over coaching first base when third-base coach Joe Vavra had hip surgery.
Molitor, who hails from St. Paul, has had an extremely successful playing career. In a career that spanned 21 seasons, he had a batting line of .306/.369/.448 with 3,319 hits in 2,683 games. He had 234 home runs, 1,782 runs scored and 1,307 runs batted in with 504 stolen bases.
Molitor is one of four players with 3,000 hits, 500 stolen bases and a .300 lifetime batting average. The other three are Eddie Collins, Ty Cobb and Honus Wagner, none of whom played after 1930.
Molitor and Dave Winfield are the only players in Twins franchise history to record their 3,000th hit with the Twins. Molitor is the only player in the history of the league to record a triple on his 3,000th hit. Interestingly, both Molitor and Winfield reached their 3,000th hit milestone on the same date, September 16, with Winfield recording his in 1993 and Molitor recording his in 1996.
It’s no wonder why players look up to Molitor. He has achieved excellent career numbers, whether batting, base-running or even fielding. Generally, Hall Of Fame players that are managers don’t have very good success. I think that with Molitor’s all-around performance, his experience as a coach and the fact players look up to him, makes him an excellent choice as the next Twins manager.
Not only that, the choice of Molitor should excite the Twins fan base.
Photos by: Paul Morse — Brent MacAloney