Paul Molitor's coaching snub is puzzling
When the Twins announced the retooling of their coaching staff at the conclusion of the regular season, one of the first names to come to mind for most Twins fans was former Twins player and Twin Cities native Paul Molitor. The Hall of Fame player is currently employed by the organization as a roving minor league instructor and he served as bench coach for Tom Kelly from 1999 to 2001. In interviews since the Twins cleared out their coach staff, Molitor expressed interested in coaching with the team if he was asked. General Manager Terry Ryan has come out publicly and stated Molitor isn't a fit with the major league version of the Twins. When asked about the issues in another interview, Ryan said, "It's not a fit right now."[PRBREAK][/PRBREAK]
So the question floating through the minds of Twins fans has to be, why isn't Paul Molitor a coaching option at this point?
From sounds of reports out of the Twin Cities, it sounds like Ryan and manager Ron Gardenhire made the joint decision to keep Molitor off of the major league coaching roster. Speculation can be made that one of these men has something working with Molitor. Before Ryan came back to his role as GM, he spent a lot of time working with the minor league system for the Twins. This should have given him plenty of opportunities to see Molitor working closely with the talent in the minor leagues. Both Gardenhire and Ryan see a lot of Molitor at spring training as he hops from field to field working with different groups of players. He knows the team and the organization so there must be something deeper to this dismissal of Molitor joining the coaching staff for the Twins.
The last time the Twins organization needed a new manager there were a few different candidates for Terry Ryan to pick from. Obviously, Gardenhire became the man for the job for a few different reasons. He had served as manager in the minor leagues for three seasons before joining the club as the third base coach in 1991. Gardenhire would keep that job for 11 seasons and he worked closely with Tom Kelly during this time. Molitor was another candidate for the job back in 2002 but he was only three years removed from his own playing career. In the three years since his retirement, he had been working as the bench coach for the Twins but the team went for Gardenhire, the man with more experience.
In your own life if you were going after a tough job opening, there can be plenty of pressures in the job interview process. If there was another candidate strongly considered for the position, it might be hard for you to work with them if they were hired to work below you in some capacity. This might be the thinking of Gardenhire as he assesses the situation this offseason. He knows his job is on thin ice after two terrible seasons in Minnesota and having Molitor on his bench as a coach could make his job even harder for next year. If the Twins were to get off to another rough start, Molitor could be the new manager in waiting. This can be a threatening situation for Gardenhire so maybe he put the axe on the thoughts of having Molitor added to his staff.
The men picked to fill the open positions for the Twins include some of the members of the staff for the Twins Triple-A affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings. Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky has moved through the Twins system pretty rapidly in the last few years and he is lined up to take over the hitting instruction. Triple-A pitching coach Bobby Cueller is now the bullpen coach since Rick Anderson kept his position as pitching coach with the Twins. Cueller could also be useful as a translator for Hispanic players on the Twins as this has been an area of concern for the club. Rochester manager Gene Glynn didn't have a perfect first season with the Red Wings and it looks like the organization wants him to continue working with players at that level. The most surprising hire was Terry Steinbach to serve as bench coach and catching coach. He has no prior coaching experience so it's hard to imagine what coach would take over if Gardenhire was fired in mid-season.
In the end, it doesn't sound like Molitor will be joining the coach staff for the Twins at the beginning of the 2013 season. Ryan has made that point clear to the public over the last few weeks. The timing might not be right for Molitor to join the club but this doesn't take him out of consideration for future openings. Another bad season in Minnesota could mean the end of Gardenhire's time as manager and this could open up an opportunity for Molitor to rejoin the coaching staff. There are pressures surrounding all of the men at the top of the Twins organization and the coaching staff will continue to be scrutinized until the results change on the field.