Paul Molitor knows he wasn’t selected to manage the Twins in 2017 by his new front-office bosses, but by team owner Jim Pohlad. So one might guess that the third-year manager will feel some pressure to turn the Twins around quickly, to produce a winning record, or at least a big improvement over last season’s 59-103 record, right away.
But what if Derek Falvey and Thad Levine determine that a tear-down of the roster is in order? What if they trade off the most valuable (and moveable) veterans, like Ervin Santana, Trevor Plouffe and especially Brian Dozier, and receive only young prospects in return?
That’s a scenario that has spelled doom for managers in other cities. Brad Mills and then Bo Porter served as managers in Houston while general manager Jeff Luhnow stripped the team of veterans, but A.J. Hinch was hired as soon as the team returned to respectability. Theo Epstein hired Dale Sveum to manage the Cubs when he arrived in Chicago, and Rich Renteria as the team improved, but jumped at the chance to hire Joe Maddon as the young talent emerged.
Yet Molitor said Monday, at the introductory press conference for Falvey, the Twins’ new Chief Baseball Officer, and Levine, the new general manager, that he understands that the Twins’ new braintrust must explore every potential route back to contention. If that means taking a step back before they take steps forward, Molitor sounded supportive.
“I don’t think we can afford to not be open-minded about any of those things. We have assets — we can debate how many and how large — but we have big needs, too,” said Molitor, who owns a career 142-182 record with the Twins. “To start building a sustainable future, we have to be ready to listen to anything that might get us there quicker.”
Falvey has remained noncommittal about his strategy, pointing out Monday that he and Levine don’t know their roster yet to make any judgements. Trades may not be the way to go.
And Molitor was quick to add that he’s not advocating trading away his best players, just that he understands it might be necessary.
“I have people I like and people I trust more than others, but if someone tells me I can get this player for this one,” he would not reject anything out of hand, Molitor said. “I might hate to lose what I have to give up, but I can see the advantage to what we’re doing.”