With Paul Molitor no longer the Twins manager, how could that affect the return of one of his longtime confidants in Eddie Guardado — as well as fellow Cretin-Derham Hall alum Joe Mauer?
Guardado owes his coaching career to Molitor. It was Molitor, and then-General Manager Terry Ryan, who brought the popular ex-Twins reliever on before 2015 to be the bullpen coach.
“He’s not only a buddy, he was my teammate and coach at one time,” Guardado said. “I owe him a lot for just giving me the opportunity to coach.”
But if Guardado continues in his role, it will have to be without Molitor, who was fired Tuesday after a four-year run.
“I think he’s going to be missed,” Guardado said. “He’s going to be missed by a lot of people.”
The move with Molitor throws the staff’s future up in the air, and Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey said coaches are free to pursue other jobs. With a managerial search expected to take several weeks, some staff members might choose to leave to pursue other opportunities rather than wait to see who the new manager is.
And the new manager will have input on the new coaching staff, so Guardado, whose contract is expiring, could be among some coaches who are not brought back for 2019.
Guardado, who appeared in 648 games for the Twins, joked that he didn’t even know how to go about looking for another coaching position.
One concern about Molitor was that there are old-school coaches and new-school coaches on his staff — sometimes resulting in dissenting views on the application of analytics — and he could have managed them better. Guardado is an old-school coach, preferring to motivate pitchers to execute in key situations.
“Trust your stuff,” he often says, and he pointed to the progress relievers Taylor Rogers and, until a late slump, Trevor Hildenberger have made over the past couple of years.
But if the Twins want him back, and he likes the new hire, he would like to continue as bullpen coach.
“I’ll have to wait for it and see what happens,” Guardado said. “I’d like to come back, but I have to see who they hire first. I like doing what I’m doing.”
Mauer was cleaning out his garage Tuesday when he learned of Molitor’s ousting.
“I was really surprised,” said Mauer, who first met Molitor while participating in a youth baseball camp at Cretin-Derham Hall. “It caught me off guard and wasn’t a move I anticipated. I think there were many things that happened this season that were out of his control and I believe he did the best job he could, given the circumstances.
“Paul is an amazing manager and leader and I’m lucky to have been a part of his team for the past few years. I hope to see him stay with the Twins in some way because he has incredible baseball knowledge and brings so much to the organization.”
Mauer played Sunday in an emotional season finale and is contemplating retirement. He even donned his old catching gear for one last time — for one pitch — in the ninth inning. He fought back tears as he received numerous standing ovations.
It sure looked like someone who was playing in his final game, but Mauer said he plans to take a few weeks to ponder his decision. He will consider his family, his health, the state of the roster — and returning to a team with a new manager.
“There are many factors that will go into my decision going forward,” Mauer said, “and Paul’s absence as our manager is another thing I will be adding to my list of things to consider. He’s been an incredible leader and role model and will be greatly missed by all who have played under him.”