When a team is having a season like the Twins are, someone has to be held accountable.
The Twins are closing in on 100 losses for only the second time in franchise history and have a chance to tie or pass the 102-loss 1982 team. Attendance is not expected to top 2 million for the first time in Target Field history.
While the club announced that manager Paul Molitor will return for 2017, the same has not been said for any of the coaches. With all the coaches’ contracts set to expire Oct. 31, the expectation is that changes are coming.
What’s not clear is who will make the changes.
The Twins are approaching the end of their initial phase of their search for a president of baseball operations. A source confirmed Wednesday that Cubs executive Jason McLeod recently interviewed, and that the Twins are near the end of their list of candidates.
Whoever is hired will have say-so in which coaches stay or go. Interim general manager Rob Antony, himself a candidate, will not make those decisions unless he’s hired.
“That’s not fair to the person that has that job, and it is not fair or right for the coaches,” Antony said. “So they are kind of in limbo right now, as are a lot of people.”
Twins President Dave St. Peter said he and owner Jim Pohlad are sensitive to the situation.
“There’s a number of people who are dealing with uncertainty and perceive themselves as in limbo,” St. Peter said. “Clearly, it is our intent to move our search process as quickly along as possible.”
The staff consists of pitching coach Neil Allen, hitting coach Tom Brunansky, bench coach Joe Vavra, bullpen coach Eddie Guardado, first base coach Butch Davis, third base coach Gene Glynn and assistant hitting coach Rudy Hernandez
Allen has expressed a desire to return. But the Twins’ staff ERA of 5.11 entering Wednesday was the worst in the AL and second worst in baseball. A club-record 28 pitchers have been used. Of the 12 Opening Day pitchers, seven have either been injured, traded or waived.
In addition to the staff underperforming, Allen was arrested May 26 and charged with drunken driving. He was away from the team until July 7 while getting treatment. He knows that is something he can’t get away from.
“They could have thrown me to the wolves or under the curb then,” Allen said. “Instead, they chose to help me get my life back on track again. And I’ll always be indebted to them and thankful to them for that. [But] there’s got to be a little something in the background of that situation that has scarred some thoughts. At the same time, if they are willing to go forward with me and give me the opportunity again, I would love that.”
Brunansky has seen his offense sail at times, fail at others. The Twins averaged 4.06 runs a game over the first three months but 5.2 in July and August.
It was the first month of the season — remember that 0-9 start? — when the offense was particularly anemic, and Brunansky already is plotting a strategy to avoid a repeat in 2017.
Provided he returns.
“My mind-set is when I come into a year, regardless if you win or lose, you always say, hey, there is always a chance you can be let go,” Brunansky said. “It’s not one where you feel very secure and strong, but you have to be able to deal with reality.”
It was business as usual at Target Field on Wednesday, as the coaches met with Antony to go over the 40-man roster. Perhaps the next time they meet with him will be to get an update on their job status.
“What I have told the coaching staff is that they should plan on flying back to Minnesota after our last game and be available to me that Monday or Tuesday,” Antony said, “whether it is with me or somebody else. If things are not resolved, I will give them as much direction as possible. And if it is resolved, we can move forward and do a lot more.’’