Reports: Twins to Hire Rocco Baldelli as Manager
Image courtesy of Rick Osentoski, USA TodayRocco Baldelli is replacing Hall of Famer Paul Molitor as the Twins manager. Baldelli’s playing career was unfortunately cut short due to mitochondrial channelopathy, a rare disease that caused injury and fatigue. Baldelli finished third in Rookie of the Year voting in 2003 when he hit .289/.326/.416 (.742) with 32 doubles, eight triples, 11 homers and 27 stolen bases for the Rays. He missed all of 2005 with a knee injury and later Tommy John surgery. It was at this time his rare disease was first identified. He retired at 29 in 2010.
At that point, Baldelli joined the Rays organization in a coaching capacity. He spent three years as a roving minor league instructor and was a special assistant to the Baseball Operations. That's the same title Minnesota's front office has given to former players Torii Hunter, LaTroy Hawkins, Michael Cuddyer and Justin Morneau.
In 2014, Baldelli joined the big-league coaching staff as first base coach, a role he kept through the 2017 season. After that 2017 season, he was named the Major League Field Coordinator. In that role, he worked on defensive skills with players.
According to a recent Tampa Bay Times article by Marc Topkin, Baldelli is "young, bright, sharp, communicative, confident, humble, versed in analytics — all characteristics that fit well with what teams seem to be looking for now in managers. Plus, he has the perspective of four years in a front/office scouting role.”
In the same article, Topkin explained why the Texas Rangers consider him a good candidate for their job. “The Rangers seem high on Baldelli, with some chatter that after picking tough-guy Jeff Banister over Cash going into 2015 they now want to go the other way for a leader, and see Baldelli in that culture-building/positive-thinking mold.”
In addition, Baldelli is very smart. He posted a 4.25 GPA in high school and scored 1300 on the SAT. Among the colleges he was considering before the Rays made him the sixth overall pick in 2000 were Princeton and Yale.
“Baldelli also would seem a good fit with the analytic-driven execs running the Jays and Twins, who came from the Indians, where, for what it's worth, Cash coached for two years before getting the Rays' job. (In Minnesota, Baldelli is competing against former Rays hitting coach Derek Shelton, who spent 2018 as the Twins bench coach).”
In a response to a Brandon Warne tweet about Baldelli, former Twins infielder Trevor Plouffe tweeted, “Rocco would be an awesome manager.” Plouffe spent about half of the 2017 season with the Tampa Bay Rays.
Shelton was believed to be a leading candidate for the job as well before Baldelli impressed the front office. Others who were considered and received interviews include Twins hitting coach James Rowson, Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens, Cubs bench coach Brandon Hyde, and Astros bench coach Joe Espada. In recent days, the Reds named David Bell their new manager, and the Angels named Brad Ausmus as their new manager.
The Twins are coming off of a 2018 season curtailed by injuries, unexpected poor performances and a PED suspension. The team finished strong to end the year with a record of 78-84.
On Thursday morning, the Minnesota Twins officially announced that Rocco Baldelli will be their next manager.
He is flying to Minneapolis this morning and there will be a press conference at 3:00 this afternoon.
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