Finding a New Pitching Coach
Rick Anderson held that role through Ron Gardenhire's tenure, and he oversaw some very effective staffs during that time. In recent years, however, pitching has been a constant problem for the club.
Anderson's "pitch to contact" mantra, though often misinterpreted and overblown, did manifest in several areas -- most notably the stat sheet. Minnesota has ranked last in the American League in strikeouts every year since 2011, with 500 fewer whiffs than the next-lowest MLB team during that span.
The pitching staff needs to reinvent its identity, so there will be great interest in the Twins pick to run this unit.
It is possible that they will look inward once again. Here are a few names worth watching on that front:
Stu Cliburn: He has spent the last five years working as a pitching coach between Triple-A Rochester and Double-A New Britain. He has familiarity with many of the young arms that will comprise Twins staffs in the next couple years.
Marty Mason: Replaced Cliburn as Red Wings pitching coach in 2012 after spending a couple of years in the Cubs organization. He helped Trevor May make massive improvements this year and also worked extensively with Alex Meyer, who might be the most important piece in the Twins' short-term pitching plans.
Eric Rasmussen: If you're looking for someone with wide-reaching knowledge of the upcoming pitchers you could hardly do better than Rasmussen, who has been the organization's minor-league pitching coordinator since 2008. Before that, he was a pitching coach for various Twins affiliates for 17 years.
While these could all be fine choices, the Twins may be more inclined look outside for a candidate at this spot given the depths of their struggles with developing pitchers recently.
If so, one intriguing name is Frank Viola. He came up with the Twins back in the 1980s, won a Cy Young here in 1988, and is a member of the team's Hall of Fame. He was mentioned in a recent Sid Hartman column as a possible candidate and he would make some sense.
Viola has been working as a pitching coach in the Mets system for the past four seasons. He underwent open heart surgery in April this year after an issue was discovered during his preseason physical, but recovered fully and joined Triple-A Las Vegas two months later. His name is very much on the rise.
Molitor and Viola never played on the same team (they just missed each other in Toronto) but their careers spanned the same era so they likely have familiarity with each other. Both bring a marketable recognition factor while also the promise of fresh perspective.
It would be an interesting direction for the Twins' new regime.