NATIONAL HARBOR, MD. – Paul Molitor is assimilating the way his new bosses think.
At the winter meetings Wednesday, the Twins manager was describing how involved he has been with Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey and General Manager Thad Levine when he dipped into the Falvey lexicon.
“When we’re sitting down and kind of hashing out our roster and other rosters and all the different categories of players that are out there, you know, I’ve been pretty heavily involved with my input in that regard,’’ Molitor said. “Probably get tired of hearing that, but it’s just one of those things where you try and work on collaboration.”
“Collaboration” has been Falvey’s major word since leaving the American League champion Cleveland Indians last month to run the Twins baseball operations. Molitor was not Falvey’s choice to make as his manager; he stayed in place at the insistence of owner Jim Pohlad.
So how the relationship between Molitor and Falvey evolves will be worth watching in 2017. For now, Molitor has been more than willing to listen to the new voice coming out of the big chair. Building that relationship means bringing Molitor in on any conversation that involves his players.
“Any time we’re moving down a path or having some conversations about players or an update from an agent,” Falvey said, “we will bring Paul in on that conversation.”
It was Molitor’s turn to meet the media Wednesday at the Gaylord National Resort and Convention Center. He covered a number of topics as pitchers and catchers report in only 68 days.
It included his thoughts on second baseman Brian Dozier. He has credited Molitor for helping him take his game to the next level, but the Dodgers and other teams are calling with trade offers.
“When you talk about valuable pieces that clubs would have interest in, it’s not surprising that his name has been brought up quite a bit,’’ Molitor said. “Him coming back would certainly be a good thing for me. He and I have a really positive relationship in all regards. I’m kind of following it along and, you know, just kind of see where it goes.
“As Derek and Thad have said, we have to be open-minded about just about anything that people would bring to us just to try to increase our chances of doing what we need to do both in the short term as well as going forward.”
When center fielder Byron Buxton was brought up, Molitor wondered if he will be as much of a power hitter as he is a speed demon.
“I was, somewhat jokingly, at the end of the year saying I might have misgauged him a little bit in terms of what he could do because I was focused on bunting and putting the ball in play and cutting the swing down and strikeouts, and then he comes up and hits eight or nine home runs in September,” Molitor said.
“So we know there is some hit-it-over-the-fence skill that I thought might come over time, but we saw potentially it might be more frequently.
“So you start to measure how that’s going to play out. We all know it takes a while for a player to establish his identity, whether it’s more power, more average, more combination of everything, including speed and baserunning.”
He also was asked about bringing Neil Allen back as pitching coach. The staff ERA was the second highest in baseball, plus Allen was arrested on the suspicion of drunken driving. Instead the ones let go were hitting coach Tom Brunansky and first base coach Butch Davis.
“There’s a lot of ways you can look at trying to judge how Neil does it,’’ Molitor said. “I look at him day to day, the respect I think our pitchers have for him and I think he has the ability to teach and set up game plans. And maybe more importantly, I have tremendous comfortability there. Our in-game communication, the plan we try to put forth every day and how we’re going to set up, who we are going to use and how we’re going to use them.”