As far as I know, Twins manager Paul Molitor doesn’t have a magic wand that has transformed the 2015 Twins into a much better club than they were a season ago, or even from when they started the season 1-6.
But Molitor knows as much about baseball as anybody in the business. Nobody was more deserving of getting in the Hall of Fame, as he did in 2004, than he was.
One factor that I think has a lot to do with the Twins’ success is that for nine years, Molitor traveled all over the team’s minor league system and spent countless hours helping young players become better.
Now Molitor sees some of those same players every day on the Twins, and the teaching continues before, during and after games.
The Twins caught another break, my sources say, when there was a delay in naming Molitor manager. By the time his hiring was announced, some of the coaches he wanted to hire were not available.
That led him to hire Neil Allen, who has the signs of being a great pitching coach. Then Tom Brunansky has become a better hitting coach in his second year, and Joe Vavra has proved to be a great bench coach. The addition of Gene Glynn, who was the Class AAA Rochester Red Wings manager, has been great at third base, while Butch Davis has done a standout job as the first base coach. Also, according to Patrick Reusse and LaVelle E. Neal III of our staff, former Twins pitcher Eddie Guardado deserves a lot of credit working with the relievers as the bullpen coach.
Closer Glen Perkins is 15-for-15 in save opportunities and has a 1.40 ERA. Aaron Thompson has a 3.27 ERA in 20 appearances. Blaine Boyer had a rough start but in his past 16 games, he has a 0.48 ERA. And J.R. Graham, the Rule 5 draft pick from the Atlanta Braves, has a 3.63 ERA and on Wednesday night, he pitched three innings of one-hit relief to allow Joe Mauer to hit the go-ahead home run in the 13th inning to beat Pittsburgh 4-3.
Last but not least, the addition of outfielder Torii Hunter has been one of the great moves General Manager Terry Ryan has made. Hunter, like Molitor, is a great teacher, brings great morale to the clubhouse and is a winner.
The big question is can the Twins continue at this pace? They could if Ricky Nolasco continues to pitch better. He is 2-0 in his past two games. Then the addition of Ervin Santana, when he comes back July 4 after an 80-game suspension for a positive steroid test, should boost the club.
Peterson to report?
Vikings coach Mike Zimmer said this week that he has an idea of when Adrian Peterson will show up to camp.
The rumor around Winter Park is the star running back will definitely report when the mandatory minicamp begins June 16. The only thing that could hold up Peterson reporting would be if the rumored salary negotiations, which would restructure his current non-guaranteed deal, were not completed before camp starts.
The media is speculating about how the relationship between NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the Patriots’ Robert Kraft, one of the most powerful owners, will deteriorate after the big penalties the commissioner issued to quarterback Tom Brady and the team over underinflated footballs.
Now that Kraft has decided not to appeal his punishment, Goodell will hear Brady’s appeal.
A similar clash occurred in the NBA in 2000, when Commissioner David Stern threw the book at Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor after the Wolves made a deal to bring in power forward Joe Smith on three less lucrative one-year contracts with the understanding that once they were awarded his “Bird rights,” a designation that meant the Wolves could go over the salary cap without incurring a penalty, they would sign him to a deal to pay him up to $86 million.
The deal became public when Smith and his agent parted ways, and a lawsuit was initiated that released documents revealing the Wolves’ under-the-table deal.
The NBA penalized the organization, taking away five first-round draft picks and fining the team $3.5 million — still the highest fine in NBA history by $3 million. Taylor was suspended for nine months, while then-General Manager Kevin McHale was forced to take a leave of absence for eight months.
Once the penalty was announced, I called Stern at home in New York to get some reaction, since we had a relationship from when I was involved with the NBA. Even though he wouldn’t comment for our paper, he made it clear how irritated he was with Taylor, as indicated by the severity of the penalties.
Well, 15 years later, Taylor is chairman of the NBA owners, having been appointed by Stern and continuing in that role under present Commissioner Adam Silver, and is on most of the important committees for the league.
Kraft and Goodell were close friends before the penalties were announced, and they will continue regardless of whether or not Goodell reduces Brady’s four-game suspension. Kraft will continue to be a power in the NFL and serve on several important committees.
Having a longtime good relationship with Goodell, I believe he is unfairly taking a lot of heat from the media. He is respected by the owners for doing a job similar to what former MLB Commissioner Bud Selig did for his sport by making a lot of money for the owners. Goodell had reliable information on Brady or he wouldn’t have acted as he did.
If anybody wants a reference on Goodell’s character and ability to govern, they should check with Ted Mondale, the chief executive of the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority who grew up with Goodell while Mondale’s father, Walter, was in Washington, D.C., as a U.S. senator and vice president.
What could happen is that Goodell will get fed up with his job, just like his predecessor Paul Tagliabue did, and quit.
• Indications are that the only part of the Target Center remodeling that will be done this summer is the installation of a new scoreboard, comparable to the one at Xcel Energy Center. … The Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal reported that the Wild’s TV ratings were fifth in the NHL and their total attendance was seventh in the league.
• The word around Ames, Iowa, is that former Timberwolves executive and player Fred Hoiberg is considering leaving his alma mater, Iowa State, for the Chicago Bulls if they decide to fire coach Tom Thibodeau.
• Really tough news out of Colorado: Former Twins first baseman Justin Morneau suffered a concussion while making a diving stop at first base about a week ago and he still is experiencing symptoms. Morneau missed the better part of two seasons dealing with concussion symptoms in Minnesota.
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. firstname.lastname@example.org