The Minnesota Twins have hired a new manager, and they’ve gone away from their typical convention with Rocco Baldelli.
Tom Kelly. Ron Gardenhire. Paul Molitor. Those are the Minnesota Twins managers dating back to the late in the 1986 season. Molitor was let go after the season, despite winning AL Manager of the Year in 2017 and getting a contract extension. After a fairly exhaustive search, the team announced the hiring of Rocco Baldelli as the next manager on Thursday morning
Baldelli has worked in the Tampa Bay Rays organization in multiple roles over the last several years. He first worked as a special assistant to vice president Andrew Friedman (2011-2014), then he moved down to the field as first base coach (2015-17) and as field coordinator during this past season. He also spent most of his playing career (2003-2010) with the Rays, so he’s well-versed in the operations of an organization that has had to find ways to win in margins most don’t have to consider.
The Twins were notably behind the curve in the analytics movement, but vice president Derek Falvey and general manager Thad Levine have accelerated changing that since taking over. By all indications Molitor was open to using lineup recommendations and such from upstairs. But he was not hired by the new guys in the front office, and a disappointing 2018 campaign opened the door for a change.
The Twins need someone who can reach young players, as Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano in particular have faded from highly touted prospects to disappointing major leaguers. At 37 years old Baldelli will now be the youngest manager in the big leagues, so that alone should help along with the general idea he worked in a player development capacity for the Rays.
Through the years the Twins have had a prevalent dose of nepotism, for lack of a better word. Kelly, Gardenhire and Molitor all worked in the organization in some capacity before being elevated to manager, and former general manager Terry Ryan should not have been allowed back for a second stint. But there’s a fresh perspective in the front office, which will now trickle down to the dugout with Baldelli in charge.