The Minnesota Twins began their offseason by hiring Rocco Baldelli from the Tampa Bay Rays to be their new manager, replacing Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, 2017’s AL Manager of the Year. The Twins’ dismal season was not Molitor’s fault, and no one found particular fault with anything he did, except not winning more games, which is really up to the players. We should also note that the Twins finished second in their division, ahead of Detroit, Kansas City and Chicago – none of which fired its manager. The Twins will offer Molitor another job and hope he remains in their system, another sign that he didn’t really mess up.
Nevertheless, I am totally on board with the decision, if for no other reason than it gives me, and all Twins fans, something new to look forward to. I’m not aware of any hot rookies on the way, and no one expects the Twins to deviate from their policy of not entering the sweepstakes for big-name free agents. As to the core of remaining players, none appear to be on a trajectory toward major improvement. In short, if the Twins began 2019 with the same-old, same-old, there would have been a major excitement deficiency, not to mention a fall-off in ticket buyers. The easiest way to inject interest is to introduce a new manager, who may have a new way of doing things or connecting with his players, even if turns out he is just putting lipstick on a pig.
Of course, the easiest way for the Twins to regain relevance is to resurrect the careers of their potential superstars, Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. You could be fairly sure it wasn’t going to happen with Molitor. Maybe Baldelli can strike a chord and offer them a fresh start. As I see it, their problems are not physical: Sano has lacked maturity and Buxton confidence. If a new manager cannot make a difference, it will be time for the Twins to move on. The simple possibility that he will make a difference is enough for me to look forward to the season ahead.