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  1. “It’s usually a cut-and-dried decision,” said the Shakopee native. “But I’ll be honest with you, I’m in a real pickle here.” For the uninitiated, a shirsey is a t-shirt styled like a baseball jersey, with a team logo in front and a player name and number on the back. Parker estimates he has “40-50, minimum.” “I would always grab a new one if the Goldy’s in the mall had them in stock, or when I went to the team store at Target Field,” said Parker. “I didn’t think I had that many, but when my fiancée moved in, she noted that I had more shirseys than dishes. She noted that I had more Torii Hunter shirseys than dishes.” While he’s given thought to downsizing his collection, the 31-year-old paralegal has grown attached to many of them. He gave Twins Daily a tour of some of his favorites. “This powder blue Gary Gaetti number, this is the one I wore to (Twins vs. Tigers) Game 163,” said Parker. “You can see the mustard stain on the sleeve where I dropped my DomeDog in the 7th inning. Oh, and this red Joe Nathan beauty, this is the one I wore under my graduation robe.” Parker paused before the only one that he had on a hanger. He cleared his throat and continued. “The blue Dougie Baseball (Doug Mientkiewicz) one. I wore this to a Fort Myers Miracle game he was managing. He saw me wearing it, and when the umpire ejected him for arguing balls and strikes, he pointed at me, turned back to the umpire and said ‘This guy gets it, you stupid [expletive] [expletive] piece of [expletive].’ I think about this a lot.” With the date nearing, Parker admits that he does have a group of finalists. “Oh, I have my eye on about a half-dozen for sure,” said Parker. “This Rod Carew throwback is in the conversation, but what if someone else is wearing that one? It’s like going to a dinner party in the same dress. And sure, I could wear my Nishioka one, but I don't really want to do irony. "Let's be honest: It's probably A.J. (Pierzynski) time." (Link to image license here.)
  2. Sean Miller may not be a household name to all Twins fans, but the infielder has done a nice job so far in the Arizona Fall League. He has hit hit .333 as he has ten hits through his first eight games. Miller, the Twins 10th-round pick in 2015 out of USC-Aiken, turned 23 three weeks ago and spent the 2017 season with the Ft. Myers Miracle playing both middle infield positions.In June of 2016, I interviewed Sean Miller in Cedar Rapids. Today, we catch up with him and discuss his 2017 season, his time in the Arizona Fall League and more. Again, thank you to Sean for taking time out of his busy Arizona schedule to answer our questions. Let’s get to it. Seth Stohs (SS): Let’s start with where you are now. How did you find out about being invited to the Arizona Fall League? Is it something you had thought about growing up or in the minor leagues? Sean Miller (SM): I found out when I was at the mall with my girlfriend. Lep (Twins minor league coordinator Joel Lepel) called me, and it was such a great, rewarding feeling. Obviously it's something I've always read about and imagined myself doing! And now that I have the opportunity to be a part of the AFL, I'm just trying to take it all in. SS: Before heading to Arizona, what were some of your goals, or what did you want to try to accomplish in the Fall League? SM: My goals before heading here were to try and extend my at-bats. I have the same goal I've always had, which is to hopefully prove some people wrong. SS: The AFL season is about half over. What has the experience been like so far, and what have you found out about yourself from playing there so far? SM: The AFL experience has been awesome. I've already made lifelong friends. I've honestly found out that keeping a positive outlook on this game can change your own outlook on everything. SS: It’s been a couple of months since the end of the regular season, have you been able to put together your overall thoughts on your 2017 season in Ft. Myers? SM: My overall thoughts on the 2017 season are all positive! Playing for Doug (Mientkiewicz), Sing (Miracle hitting coach Steve Singleton), and Henry (Bonilla, pitching coach) was the most fun I've ever had playing ball. I've matured more as a player this year than I could have ever imagined. SS: You played a lot of shortstop and second base, but you also got to play a little in center field. What was it like standing out there for a few games? SM: At first, playing center field was crazy to me. But the more I was out there, the easier it got. Doug told me to play it like I was playing in the backyard which made it easier. SS: Tell me a little bit about playing for Doug Mientkiewicz and the coaches in Ft. Myers this year. SM: Like I said earlier, playing for Doug, Sing, and Henry was the most fun I've had playing the game. Those guys love what they do, and their passion for the game spreads to the players. playing for Doug, Henry, and Sing was an absolute blast. This year flew by playing for them. SS: What was the atmosphere like, especially in the second half when the Miracle took off and made their run into the playoffs? SM: The second half was so much fun. We were lucky enough to get some studs on our team to help us make a run. That shows us how deep this org really is. The atmosphere was great. We just played good baseball. Obviously winning was expected, but we actually learned how to win and play the game the right way. SS: In your opinion, what are your strengths on the field? What areas have you made the most improvement in? SM: I think my strengths on the field are that I can play defense with anybody, at any position. I'm trying to improve my ABs, And put some offensive numbers up like I know I can. SS: What are some areas of your game that you focused on in the AFL and will be throughout your offseason? SM: I'm trying to focus on the pitchers, and position players I'm getting a chance to play with and against. The guys down here are just so good, I try to make improvements on my game based on what I learn watching these guys play. SS: Whether on the baseball field or elsewhere, what is the best piece of advice that you have been given? SM: The best piece of advice I have been given is from my dad, who played pro ball for six years. He's always told me things went south for him when he lived in the past, or in the future. So regardless of what's going on with anything that has to do with baseball, I try to take it day by day. Obviously this isn't just baseball advice, this is the way I try to live life. SS: What are some of the things you do to get away from baseball? Any big, fun plans for once your offseason starts after the AFL? SM: The one thing I really enjoy is playing golf. I'll go out at 4 pm and play nine holes by myself three days a week. That's a week to week thing because golf frustrates me more than anything besides baseball. Thank you to Sean Miller for taking time out of his busy Arizona schedule to answer our questions. Please feel free to discuss in the comments below. Click here to view the article
  3. In June of 2016, I interviewed Sean Miller in Cedar Rapids. Today, we catch up with him and discuss his 2017 season, his time in the Arizona Fall League and more. Again, thank you to Sean for taking time out of his busy Arizona schedule to answer our questions. Let’s get to it. Seth Stohs (SS): Let’s start with where you are now. How did you find out about being invited to the Arizona Fall League? Is it something you had thought about growing up or in the minor leagues? Sean Miller (SM): I found out when I was at the mall with my girlfriend. Lep (Twins minor league coordinator Joel Lepel) called me, and it was such a great, rewarding feeling. Obviously it's something I've always read about and imagined myself doing! And now that I have the opportunity to be a part of the AFL, I'm just trying to take it all in. SS: Before heading to Arizona, what were some of your goals, or what did you want to try to accomplish in the Fall League? SM: My goals before heading here were to try and extend my at-bats. I have the same goal I've always had, which is to hopefully prove some people wrong. SS: The AFL season is about half over. What has the experience been like so far, and what have you found out about yourself from playing there so far? SM: The AFL experience has been awesome. I've already made lifelong friends. I've honestly found out that keeping a positive outlook on this game can change your own outlook on everything. SS: It’s been a couple of months since the end of the regular season, have you been able to put together your overall thoughts on your 2017 season in Ft. Myers? SM: My overall thoughts on the 2017 season are all positive! Playing for Doug (Mientkiewicz), Sing (Miracle hitting coach Steve Singleton), and Henry (Bonilla, pitching coach) was the most fun I've ever had playing ball. I've matured more as a player this year than I could have ever imagined. SS: You played a lot of shortstop and second base, but you also got to play a little in center field. What was it like standing out there for a few games? SM: At first, playing center field was crazy to me. But the more I was out there, the easier it got. Doug told me to play it like I was playing in the backyard which made it easier. SS: Tell me a little bit about playing for Doug Mientkiewicz and the coaches in Ft. Myers this year. SM: Like I said earlier, playing for Doug, Sing, and Henry was the most fun I've had playing the game. Those guys love what they do, and their passion for the game spreads to the players. playing for Doug, Henry, and Sing was an absolute blast. This year flew by playing for them. SS: What was the atmosphere like, especially in the second half when the Miracle took off and made their run into the playoffs? SM: The second half was so much fun. We were lucky enough to get some studs on our team to help us make a run. That shows us how deep this org really is. The atmosphere was great. We just played good baseball. Obviously winning was expected, but we actually learned how to win and play the game the right way. SS: In your opinion, what are your strengths on the field? What areas have you made the most improvement in? SM: I think my strengths on the field are that I can play defense with anybody, at any position. I'm trying to improve my ABs, And put some offensive numbers up like I know I can. SS: What are some areas of your game that you focused on in the AFL and will be throughout your offseason? SM: I'm trying to focus on the pitchers, and position players I'm getting a chance to play with and against. The guys down here are just so good, I try to make improvements on my game based on what I learn watching these guys play. SS: Whether on the baseball field or elsewhere, what is the best piece of advice that you have been given? SM: The best piece of advice I have been given is from my dad, who played pro ball for six years. He's always told me things went south for him when he lived in the past, or in the future. So regardless of what's going on with anything that has to do with baseball, I try to take it day by day. Obviously this isn't just baseball advice, this is the way I try to live life. SS: What are some of the things you do to get away from baseball? Any big, fun plans for once your offseason starts after the AFL? SM: The one thing I really enjoy is playing golf. I'll go out at 4 pm and play nine holes by myself three days a week. That's a week to week thing because golf frustrates me more than anything besides baseball. Thank you to Sean Miller for taking time out of his busy Arizona schedule to answer our questions. Please feel free to discuss in the comments below.
  4. If you were to compile a list of the Twins prospects who have seen their stock rise the most in 2016, Zach Granite’s name would certainly be near the top. I had a chance to catch up with the speedy centerfielder of the Chattanooga Lookouts and talked to him about his season, his job as a leadoff hitter and base stealer and much more. Granite was the 14th-round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2013 following a strong career at Seton Hall. The Staten Island native signed quickly and spent that summer in Elizabethton where he hit .285 and got on base 36% of the time.He began the 2014 season as the leadoff hitter for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Unfortunately, he was hurt just a handful of games into the season. When he came back later in the year, he was hurt again. Because he played in just 21 total games for the Kernels in 2014, he returned there to start the 2015 season. At that time, Granite said, “I had a really tough season (in 2014), so I took a good month off and cleared my head. I was in my own head just from not playing. I was thinking too much about it.” Granite ended up being the Twins choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month of April (finished a close 2nd here at Twins Daily) and was quickly promoted to the Miracle where he spent the rest of the season. In 105 games in Ft. Myers, Granite hit .249/.328/.304 (.632) with ten doubles, four triples and a home run. So when he came to spring training this year, he figured he would be back with the Miracle to start the season. Instead, he began the season in Chattanooga. “Honestly, I was expecting to start in Ft. Myers again. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in Ft. Myers, but I came into spring training ready to compete, and I feel like I did enough to earn the promotion.” Shannon Wilkerson, who was a key instigator for the Lookouts offense and defense late in 2015, began this season on the disabled list with a strained quad. Maybe that was part of the reason that Granite made the jump to Chattanooga. As we sit now, in the beginning of August, that really doesn’t matter because Granite took the opportunity and ran with it. As of this morning, Granite is hitting .295/.352/.380 (.732) with 12 doubles, five triples and four home runs. He also has 38 stolen bases which is one behind Jacksonville’s Yefri Perez for the Southern League lead. He has been caught just nine times. In the newest Baseball America, Perez was named by coaches to have the best speed in the Southern League, but it was Granite who was voted as the league’s best base runner in their annual Best Tools issue. When on base, Granite has been given the green light “unless the score is out of hand”. I asked him what factors went into his decision on whether to take off when he is on base. “Time is probably the biggest factor. If the pitcher is very quick to the plate with a slide step, it is very tough to get a good jump and steal. The defense and catcher are always paying attention to me, so it is tough to fool one of them with a delayed steal. Also stealing in the right count sometimes is beneficial because the hitters behind me get a lot of fastballs away which gives the catcher a better chance of throwing me out.” However, Granite says he is encouraged by his coaches and the organization to attempt to steal bases. “100% they want me to take chances. They want me to learn from my mistakes, and I have become a smarter base runner from it. Sam Perlozzo has helped me a lot in what to think and do on the bases in certain situations. It is great to have a base-running coordinator who has the experience and knowledge that he has.” Base running is certainly a strength in Granite’s game, but it certainly isn’t the only skill he has. “I would have to say base running and defense (are my strongest skills at this stage). I want to get better in every aspect of the game, but those are definitely the best two attributes of my game. Obviously, I have to work on hitting and my arm needs to get a little stronger. Those are two things I will work on a lot in the offseason.” Hitting is something that he has worked on a lot as he has moved up the organizational ladder, and he is seeing the results in 2016. What makes his 2016 so impressive is that he’s made the improvements as he has moved up, as he has seen better pitching. “Pitchers definitely get smarter and more control as the levels go up. Also, I see more of a mix of pitches like breaking balls and changeups.” Granite fully understands his role at the top of the order, as the leadoff hitter for the Lookouts. He tries to keep it simple while at the same time being a pest. “I try to keep things as simple as possible. My plan is to go up (to the plate), get a good pitch to hit, and hit it hard. I have a pretty good eye and don’t chase many pitches which works in my favor. I’m just trying to get on base any way possible because that’s when the fun begins. I know how annoying I can be for the other team just being on first base, and if I can get into scoring position for the middle of the order, I’m doing my job.” He continued, “I would have to say I’m a pest. I don’t strike out a lot and lay off some tough pitches. I try to be the toughest out I can be and try to grind through at-bats like a typical leadoff hitter.” Granite has hit four home runs this season. He had one home run in his pro career before this season. He hit zero home runs in his three seasons at Seton Hall. Listed at 6-1 and 170 pounds Granite is never going to be confused with a power hitter and does a great job of staying within himself and doing the things needed to get on base at the top of the order. But he has made some adjustments with the help of Chattanooga manager Doug Mientkiewicz and hitting coach Tommy Watkins. “A big thing they have taught me is how to drive the ball. Defenses would play me shallow, expecting me to slap the ball the other way, but they have taught me to be more of a ‘dangerous’ hitter and taught me how to drive the ball over their heads. It has really opened up the field for me which has helped me become a better and more diverse hitter.” Granite says that he enjoys facing starting pitchers, but it was interesting to find out which type of pitcher he typically has the most success against. Granite, a left-handed hitter, said, “I enjoy the challenge of facing lefties. Throughout my career, I’ve had more success against lefties than righties, and it’s pretty funny how many times teams will bring in a lefty to face me.” I was intrigued so I went to the numbers and checked out Granite’s splits. In 2016, Granite is hitting .291/.349/.390 (.739) against right-handers, and he’s hitting .308/.360/.341 against lefties. So this year, it’s a pretty even split. He’s hitting for a higher average and slightly higher on-base percentage against southpaws while some of his new-found power has come primarily against right-handers. So let’s look back in his previous seasons. In 2015 the splits were more telling. He hit just .248/.322/.312 (.634) against right-handers while hitting .314/.421/.373 (.794) against lefties. In his injury-plagued 2014 season (101 total PA), he posted a .588 OPS against right-handers and an .833 OPS against lefties. In Elizabethton in 2013, he posted a .601 OPS against right-handers and a 1.224 OPS against lefties. He’s got a month left in the Chattanooga season. His Chattanooga Lookouts are still in the playoff chase, but there are a lot of goals that start creeping into a player’s mind as the season winds down. The Arizona Fall League? “It would mean a lot to me to represent the Twins in the Arizona Fall League. I’ve talked to a couple of guys that played there, and they absolutely loved it. I know a lot of prospects play in that league, so that would be a nice achievement in my career.” The 40-Man roster? “That is something that I have no control over, so I try not to think about it. Obviously it would be amazing if that happened, but all I can do is play. As long as I get to wear a uniform, I’m happy.” Zach Granite has grown tremendously since signing with the Twins. The first time I saw him, he was about to play in his first full-season, with the Kernels in 2014. He has come a long way as a player. He has grown as a player. “Mentally and my aggressiveness have definitely grown the most. In Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, I would seem to get myself in bad counts and take a lot when I was ahead in the counts. Now I feel like I am aggressive when I see a pitch I want no matter what the count is. Mentally, it comes with experience of playing. I am a lot smarter and think more situational than I ever have. I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches who have helped me grow as a player.” So then the ultimate question for a player is what would it mean for you to get called into your manager’s office and find out that you’re heading to the big leagues. You see, many subscribe to the theory that once you experience success in AA, you’re just a phone call and an opportunity away. “That is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. It would mean the world to me.” In 2014 in Cedar Rapids, I had the opportunity to do a short video with Granite. It was a lot of fun. Click here to view the article
  5. He began the 2014 season as the leadoff hitter for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Unfortunately, he was hurt just a handful of games into the season. When he came back later in the year, he was hurt again. Because he played in just 21 total games for the Kernels in 2014, he returned there to start the 2015 season. At that time, Granite said, “I had a really tough season (in 2014), so I took a good month off and cleared my head. I was in my own head just from not playing. I was thinking too much about it.” Granite ended up being the Twins choice for Minor League Hitter of the Month of April (finished a close 2nd here at Twins Daily) and was quickly promoted to the Miracle where he spent the rest of the season. In 105 games in Ft. Myers, Granite hit .249/.328/.304 (.632) with ten doubles, four triples and a home run. So when he came to spring training this year, he figured he would be back with the Miracle to start the season. Instead, he began the season in Chattanooga. “Honestly, I was expecting to start in Ft. Myers again. I didn’t do as well as I wanted to in Ft. Myers, but I came into spring training ready to compete, and I feel like I did enough to earn the promotion.” Shannon Wilkerson, who was a key instigator for the Lookouts offense and defense late in 2015, began this season on the disabled list with a strained quad. Maybe that was part of the reason that Granite made the jump to Chattanooga. As we sit now, in the beginning of August, that really doesn’t matter because Granite took the opportunity and ran with it. As of this morning, Granite is hitting .295/.352/.380 (.732) with 12 doubles, five triples and four home runs. He also has 38 stolen bases which is one behind Jacksonville’s Yefri Perez for the Southern League lead. He has been caught just nine times. In the newest Baseball America, Perez was named by coaches to have the best speed in the Southern League, but it was Granite who was voted as the league’s best base runner in their annual Best Tools issue. When on base, Granite has been given the green light “unless the score is out of hand”. I asked him what factors went into his decision on whether to take off when he is on base. “Time is probably the biggest factor. If the pitcher is very quick to the plate with a slide step, it is very tough to get a good jump and steal. The defense and catcher are always paying attention to me, so it is tough to fool one of them with a delayed steal. Also stealing in the right count sometimes is beneficial because the hitters behind me get a lot of fastballs away which gives the catcher a better chance of throwing me out.” However, Granite says he is encouraged by his coaches and the organization to attempt to steal bases. “100% they want me to take chances. They want me to learn from my mistakes, and I have become a smarter base runner from it. Sam Perlozzo has helped me a lot in what to think and do on the bases in certain situations. It is great to have a base-running coordinator who has the experience and knowledge that he has.” Base running is certainly a strength in Granite’s game, but it certainly isn’t the only skill he has. “I would have to say base running and defense (are my strongest skills at this stage). I want to get better in every aspect of the game, but those are definitely the best two attributes of my game. Obviously, I have to work on hitting and my arm needs to get a little stronger. Those are two things I will work on a lot in the offseason.” Hitting is something that he has worked on a lot as he has moved up the organizational ladder, and he is seeing the results in 2016. What makes his 2016 so impressive is that he’s made the improvements as he has moved up, as he has seen better pitching. “Pitchers definitely get smarter and more control as the levels go up. Also, I see more of a mix of pitches like breaking balls and changeups.” Granite fully understands his role at the top of the order, as the leadoff hitter for the Lookouts. He tries to keep it simple while at the same time being a pest. “I try to keep things as simple as possible. My plan is to go up (to the plate), get a good pitch to hit, and hit it hard. I have a pretty good eye and don’t chase many pitches which works in my favor. I’m just trying to get on base any way possible because that’s when the fun begins. I know how annoying I can be for the other team just being on first base, and if I can get into scoring position for the middle of the order, I’m doing my job.” He continued, “I would have to say I’m a pest. I don’t strike out a lot and lay off some tough pitches. I try to be the toughest out I can be and try to grind through at-bats like a typical leadoff hitter.” Granite has hit four home runs this season. He had one home run in his pro career before this season. He hit zero home runs in his three seasons at Seton Hall. Listed at 6-1 and 170 pounds Granite is never going to be confused with a power hitter and does a great job of staying within himself and doing the things needed to get on base at the top of the order. But he has made some adjustments with the help of Chattanooga manager Doug Mientkiewicz and hitting coach Tommy Watkins. “A big thing they have taught me is how to drive the ball. Defenses would play me shallow, expecting me to slap the ball the other way, but they have taught me to be more of a ‘dangerous’ hitter and taught me how to drive the ball over their heads. It has really opened up the field for me which has helped me become a better and more diverse hitter.” Granite says that he enjoys facing starting pitchers, but it was interesting to find out which type of pitcher he typically has the most success against. Granite, a left-handed hitter, said, “I enjoy the challenge of facing lefties. Throughout my career, I’ve had more success against lefties than righties, and it’s pretty funny how many times teams will bring in a lefty to face me.” I was intrigued so I went to the numbers and checked out Granite’s splits. In 2016, Granite is hitting .291/.349/.390 (.739) against right-handers, and he’s hitting .308/.360/.341 against lefties. So this year, it’s a pretty even split. He’s hitting for a higher average and slightly higher on-base percentage against southpaws while some of his new-found power has come primarily against right-handers. So let’s look back in his previous seasons. In 2015 the splits were more telling. He hit just .248/.322/.312 (.634) against right-handers while hitting .314/.421/.373 (.794) against lefties. In his injury-plagued 2014 season (101 total PA), he posted a .588 OPS against right-handers and an .833 OPS against lefties. In Elizabethton in 2013, he posted a .601 OPS against right-handers and a 1.224 OPS against lefties. He’s got a month left in the Chattanooga season. His Chattanooga Lookouts are still in the playoff chase, but there are a lot of goals that start creeping into a player’s mind as the season winds down. The Arizona Fall League? “It would mean a lot to me to represent the Twins in the Arizona Fall League. I’ve talked to a couple of guys that played there, and they absolutely loved it. I know a lot of prospects play in that league, so that would be a nice achievement in my career.” The 40-Man roster? “That is something that I have no control over, so I try not to think about it. Obviously it would be amazing if that happened, but all I can do is play. As long as I get to wear a uniform, I’m happy.” Zach Granite has grown tremendously since signing with the Twins. The first time I saw him, he was about to play in his first full-season, with the Kernels in 2014. He has come a long way as a player. He has grown as a player. “Mentally and my aggressiveness have definitely grown the most. In Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, I would seem to get myself in bad counts and take a lot when I was ahead in the counts. Now I feel like I am aggressive when I see a pitch I want no matter what the count is. Mentally, it comes with experience of playing. I am a lot smarter and think more situational than I ever have. I have to give a lot of credit to my coaches who have helped me grow as a player.” So then the ultimate question for a player is what would it mean for you to get called into your manager’s office and find out that you’re heading to the big leagues. You see, many subscribe to the theory that once you experience success in AA, you’re just a phone call and an opportunity away. “That is something I’ve dreamed about since I was a kid. It would mean the world to me.” In 2014 in Cedar Rapids, I had the opportunity to do a short video with Granite. It was a lot of fun. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sOay46VnS7g
  6. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/Episode_205_Troy_Tulowitzki_Mayor_of_Speculation_City.mp3
  7. Aaron and John get together for a midweek, podcast-only episode to talk about the Twins lusting after Troy Tulowitzki, the ups and downs of midseason trades since 2000, making your face look good with Harry's razors, which prospects have the potential to make everyone sad, misremembering Doug Mientkiewicz, having beer on the rooftop patio at LynLake Brewery, and mailbag questions from listeners. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click the Play button below. Click here to view the article
  8. In December, Grimes got a phone call from Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. Ryan talked to Grimes and invited him to big league spring training as a non-roster player. The response, according to Ryan, “caught me off guard, I can tell you that.” Grimes said he told Ryan, “Thanks Terry, but it’s time to move on.” Grimes had spent his offseason doing a lot of thinking. “It was probably the toughest offseason I’ve ever had. This is all I’ve known, the game of baseball. I was ready. I was ready to go out in the real world and start my life and move on.” --------------------------------- Grimes was the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2011 out of Wichita State. He was drafted as a shortstop and played middle infield his first two seasons, both at Beloit. At the Instructional League after the 2012 season, the Twins moved him from the middle infield to behind the plate.There was an adjustment. He had to learn a new position, and learn how to work with pitchers. He also had to learn that he wasn’t going to play every day the way a position player would.He returned to the Midwest League in 2013, this time to Cedar Rapids. In 2014, he moved up to the Ft. Myers Miracle. Again, he played in about half of the team’s games and rarely caught. He would DH, play some in the outfield and some in the infield. He was wondering a lot about things already then. In June, he went to manager Doug Mientkiewicz and told him that he was thinking that he would be done with his professional baseball career. He gives a ton of credit to the former Twins first baseman for keeping him playing and more. “Doug Mientkiewicz helped me a lot. I mean, he’s basically been my mentor since last year got started. We built a close bond with one another, and I kept in touch with him throughout the offseason. He’s always been positive to me. He’s definitely helped me big time in my career. And, it’s only been a year that he’s been with me. But last year, he played a big role in a lot of things. To be able to play for a guy like that, and his mentality, I was blessed to have him.” Mientkiewicz told him to be patient and stick with it. Soon after, Eddie Rosario moved up to New Britain, and Grimes found himself starting most games in center field. He played there until Byron Buxton, and later Jason Kanzler, were in Ft. Myers. He had never played the outfield before, but he didn’t mind. “It didn’t matter where I played. Give me a glove and hit me nine. I want to be a part of these guys and be a part of this team. I want to help us win. You get humbled in this game in a lot of ways. Last year was good for me. I loved showing up to the field every day knowing I was going to play. As long as I was in the lineup, I didn’t care. From one to nine, I didn’t care. I was excited and I was going to make the most of it. It was different at first playing outfield. I’d never played outfield. I kind of taught myself as it went.” His philosophy in the outfield was pretty simple really. “If I saw a ball in the air, I was running after it. I was kind of like a dog trying to catch a Frisbee.” As the playoffs approached, Levi Michael was promoted to New Britain. Tyler Grimes became the Miracle’s starting second baseman. He had at least played quite a bit at that position in the past and took ground balls there frequently. His Miracle team went to the playoffs and kept on winning. Grimes certainly enjoyed that playoff atmosphere. “It was fun. Doug’s a real intense guy, but when we got to the playoffs, he was the calmest one out of everyone. We had a lot of fun. We had a good group of guys. It was special to win the first championship in Miracle history. We were all pretty excited as a team, but even more for him because he gets the most out of his players. To get that with him and the group of guys that we had was a pretty special moment.” He said the players on that team all had each other’s back. “Everybody was contributing. I think I popped up a bunt and Jason Kanzler came up and hit a big home run. That’s what this game is about and everybody picking each other up and that’s what we did. It’s tough to win a championship, but with those guys and the way we picked one another up, it was a good feeling.” The toughest part about leaving the game of baseball (or any sport) is the changing of relationships that were built. “Being away from your family, these guys are all you’ve got. We’re brothers. We spend more time with each other than we do with our own families.” ------------------------------------- Back to that day when Terry Ryan called Grimes and invited him to big league camp. Grimes had a lot of good reasons to consider his post-baseball options. As he said, “It was tough. The season is a different monster. Not a lot of people get what we go through. The money? You’re making under the poverty level. I mean, I could go to McDonald's and flip burgers and make more than what we make. I have to be realistic with myself. You have to come to reality sometime. You can’t play this game forever.” When Grimes got the call from Ryan, he was surprised as well. “At that time, I was kind of on the ropes of if I was going to come back or not. So, we had a long talk about that. He gave me a night to sleep on it. I called him back an hour later and let him know that I was coming down.” Ryan said that it wasn’t the response he expected. A lot of players will go back and forth on whether to keep playing, but typically not when they get invited to big league camp. Ryan said, “He was questioning whether or not he had enough ability, and that bothered me because I believe he’s got some ability, otherwise we wouldn’t have invited him. He’s got a bit more ability than he gives himself credit for.” Ryan is glad that Grimes quickly changed his mind. “It was a little different, but everything’s alright now. We’re glad he’s here, and so is he, I believe.” Grimes would agree. “He had more confidence in me than I had in myself probably. Just to hear that from our GM and for him to let me sleep on it, it showed me a lot from Terry Ryan. I’m so happy that I’m here and he’s given me this opportunity.” It was definitely the right choice for him, and he has enjoyed his time in big league camp. “It’s been good. I grew up watching Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, and now I’m in the same clubhouse as them. It’s pretty cool. It’s a good experience. I’m just trying to take in everything that I can. It’s a good experience and I’m just trying to take in everything I can. There’s never enough learning in this game. Everything’s new. You can learn something new every day. I’m enjoying it. Getting this atmosphere, big league atmosphere. Being with some of my teammates that I’ve played with, it’s been comfortable. They’ve made us comfortable, all of us young guys. These are all great guys. Veteran leadership, it’s awesome.” Who knows what the future holds for Grimes. He hopes to move up to Chattanooga. “I’d love to be in Chattanooga. It’d be nice to be with Doug and a bunch of my former teammates from last year. We had a good camaraderie in the clubhouse and had a lot of fun. Other than that, enjoying it while I can and letting everything take care of itself.” He seems happy and content. “I’m just trying to take one day at a time and let God take care of everything.”
  9. Last summer while playing minimally with the Ft. Myers Miracle, Tyler Grimes contemplated his future in baseball. He also contemplated his future outside of baseball. His manager, Doug Mientkiewicz, talked him into sticking it out through the rest of the season. He started playing almost every day, and he was a huge part of the their Florida State League Championship run. Now he’s in the Minnesota Twins Major League Spring Training.In December, Grimes got a phone call from Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. Ryan talked to Grimes and invited him to big league spring training as a non-roster player. The response, according to Ryan, “caught me off guard, I can tell you that.” Grimes said he told Ryan, “Thanks Terry, but it’s time to move on.” Grimes had spent his offseason doing a lot of thinking. “It was probably the toughest offseason I’ve ever had. This is all I’ve known, the game of baseball. I was ready. I was ready to go out in the real world and start my life and move on.” --------------------------------- Grimes was the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2011 out of Wichita State. He was drafted as a shortstop and played middle infield his first two seasons, both at Beloit. At the Instructional League after the 2012 season, the Twins moved him from the middle infield to behind the plate.There was an adjustment. He had to learn a new position, and learn how to work with pitchers. He also had to learn that he wasn’t going to play every day the way a position player would.He returned to the Midwest League in 2013, this time to Cedar Rapids. In 2014, he moved up to the Ft. Myers Miracle. Again, he played in about half of the team’s games and rarely caught. He would DH, play some in the outfield and some in the infield. He was wondering a lot about things already then. In June, he went to manager Doug Mientkiewicz and told him that he was thinking that he would be done with his professional baseball career. He gives a ton of credit to the former Twins first baseman for keeping him playing and more. “Doug Mientkiewicz helped me a lot. I mean, he’s basically been my mentor since last year got started. We built a close bond with one another, and I kept in touch with him throughout the offseason. He’s always been positive to me. He’s definitely helped me big time in my career. And, it’s only been a year that he’s been with me. But last year, he played a big role in a lot of things. To be able to play for a guy like that, and his mentality, I was blessed to have him.” Mientkiewicz told him to be patient and stick with it. Soon after, Eddie Rosario moved up to New Britain, and Grimes found himself starting most games in center field. He played there until Byron Buxton, and later Jason Kanzler, were in Ft. Myers. He had never played the outfield before, but he didn’t mind. “It didn’t matter where I played. Give me a glove and hit me nine. I want to be a part of these guys and be a part of this team. I want to help us win. You get humbled in this game in a lot of ways. Last year was good for me. I loved showing up to the field every day knowing I was going to play. As long as I was in the lineup, I didn’t care. From one to nine, I didn’t care. I was excited and I was going to make the most of it. It was different at first playing outfield. I’d never played outfield. I kind of taught myself as it went.” His philosophy in the outfield was pretty simple really. “If I saw a ball in the air, I was running after it. I was kind of like a dog trying to catch a Frisbee.” As the playoffs approached, Levi Michael was promoted to New Britain. Tyler Grimes became the Miracle’s starting second baseman. He had at least played quite a bit at that position in the past and took ground balls there frequently. His Miracle team went to the playoffs and kept on winning. Grimes certainly enjoyed that playoff atmosphere. “It was fun. Doug’s a real intense guy, but when we got to the playoffs, he was the calmest one out of everyone. We had a lot of fun. We had a good group of guys. It was special to win the first championship in Miracle history. We were all pretty excited as a team, but even more for him because he gets the most out of his players. To get that with him and the group of guys that we had was a pretty special moment.” He said the players on that team all had each other’s back. “Everybody was contributing. I think I popped up a bunt and Jason Kanzler came up and hit a big home run. That’s what this game is about and everybody picking each other up and that’s what we did. It’s tough to win a championship, but with those guys and the way we picked one another up, it was a good feeling.” The toughest part about leaving the game of baseball (or any sport) is the changing of relationships that were built. “Being away from your family, these guys are all you’ve got. We’re brothers. We spend more time with each other than we do with our own families.” ------------------------------------- Back to that day when Terry Ryan called Grimes and invited him to big league camp. Grimes had a lot of good reasons to consider his post-baseball options. As he said, “It was tough. The season is a different monster. Not a lot of people get what we go through. The money? You’re making under the poverty level. I mean, I could go to McDonald's and flip burgers and make more than what we make. I have to be realistic with myself. You have to come to reality sometime. You can’t play this game forever.” When Grimes got the call from Ryan, he was surprised as well. “At that time, I was kind of on the ropes of if I was going to come back or not. So, we had a long talk about that. He gave me a night to sleep on it. I called him back an hour later and let him know that I was coming down.” Ryan said that it wasn’t the response he expected. A lot of players will go back and forth on whether to keep playing, but typically not when they get invited to big league camp. Ryan said, “He was questioning whether or not he had enough ability, and that bothered me because I believe he’s got some ability, otherwise we wouldn’t have invited him. He’s got a bit more ability than he gives himself credit for.” Ryan is glad that Grimes quickly changed his mind. “It was a little different, but everything’s alright now. We’re glad he’s here, and so is he, I believe.” Grimes would agree. “He had more confidence in me than I had in myself probably. Just to hear that from our GM and for him to let me sleep on it, it showed me a lot from Terry Ryan. I’m so happy that I’m here and he’s given me this opportunity.” It was definitely the right choice for him, and he has enjoyed his time in big league camp. “It’s been good. I grew up watching Torii Hunter, Joe Mauer, and now I’m in the same clubhouse as them. It’s pretty cool. It’s a good experience. I’m just trying to take in everything that I can. It’s a good experience and I’m just trying to take in everything I can. There’s never enough learning in this game. Everything’s new. You can learn something new every day. I’m enjoying it. Getting this atmosphere, big league atmosphere. Being with some of my teammates that I’ve played with, it’s been comfortable. They’ve made us comfortable, all of us young guys. These are all great guys. Veteran leadership, it’s awesome.” Who knows what the future holds for Grimes. He hopes to move up to Chattanooga. “I’d love to be in Chattanooga. It’d be nice to be with Doug and a bunch of my former teammates from last year. We had a good camaraderie in the clubhouse and had a lot of fun. Other than that, enjoying it while I can and letting everything take care of itself.” He seems happy and content. “I’m just trying to take one day at a time and let God take care of everything.” Click here to view the article
  10. Age: 21 (DOB: 12/18/1993) 2014 Stats (Fort Myers/New Britain): .234/.307/.395 (.702) with 4-2B, 2-3B, 4-HR ETA: Late 2015 2014 Ranking: 1 What’s To Like Buxton has more tools than HGTV -- is one shecky way to describe his potential. He has plus speed, plus defense, plus hit tool, plus makeup and so on. "He'll wow you in the batter's box. He'll wow you in the outfield. He can run. He can fly. He has the arm. He's got the tools," was the review Miracle hitting coach Tommy Watkins gave reporters when Buxton hit the Florida State League in 2013. "He's an exciting player. He does everything whether it is stepping in the box and hitting doubles and triples or taking doubles away from guys." Still, the road to the majors is littered with players who have had tools but failed to apply themselves. In a 2014 profile of Buxton, the Star Tribune highlighted the young player’s offseason workout routine which involved a daily morning run at 5:30 followed by hours of personal training and batting practice -- all before lunch. Certainly lack of a work ethic is not going to hinder Buxton’s potential. Buxton earned an invitation to major league camp and will have the opportunity to work with veteran Torii Hunter, hoping to glean some valuable insight that may also help lead to a fruitful career. There are some who believe Buxton has an even brighter future than the five-time All-Star. "I played with Torii at 19-, 20-years-old and this kid has all the tools, if not more, than Torii had," Miracle manager Doug Meintkiewicz, a teammate of Hunter’s, told reporters after watching Buxton play. What’s Left To Work On Proving he can stay on the field, for one thing. As far as the injuries go however, Buxton said that he’s fully recovered and the collision in the outfield has not made him gun-shy in the least. “My health is good,” Buxton said on the Twins Hot Stove Show. “I wouldn’t change the way I play the game. I’m gonna play it hard and try to take away as many base hits that I can and try to help my pitcher out.” Of all of his tools, his hitting needs the most work. While it is very much above average, it is not quite at the plus-plus grade that his defense and speed receive. Since being added to the system the Twins staff has made some changes to his swing mechanics, hoping to get him to be a bit more balanced at the point of contact rather than drifting forward. While heading for the Arizona Fall League ,Buxton told the Twins Hot Stove Show that he wanted to work on going the other way more and improving his pitch selection, which may or may not have been a directive of the front office. “He will have to have to make some adjustments as he moves up the ladder in pro ball,” said scout Therron Brockish at Baseball America in November 2013. “There have been a lot of swings-and-misses in the Arizona Fall League, with the quality of pitching being a little better than what’s he’s probably seen up to this point. Sometimes he loads late, causing him to be late in trying to catch up to a good fastball. I would also like to see him use a little more of the whole field, but he’s still a young hitter with tremendous upside.” He could use a reductionn of his strikeout rate, but it isn't necessarily the swinging strikeouts that cause questions. Th percentage of plate appearances in which he was caught looking doubled from 2013 to 2014. Similarly, in his second tour of the Florida State League Buxton’s walk rate dropped from 13% to 8%. Destined to start his career at the top of the order, the Twins need Buxton to get on base and utilize his elite speed. SUMMARY Believe it or not, Buxton is not far off. According to Twins general manager Terry Ryan, he has a very real chance of making it to Minnesota in 2015. That said, Buxton’s lack of playing time in 2014 hurts his chances of making it to the Twins early in the year. Buxton will most likely start the year reunited with his Miracle manager Mientkiewicz in Chattanooga. If he proves himself capable, he will be on the move quickly. While the second-halves of the seasons lately have's not given Twins fans much reason to visit Target Field, Buxton's presence would surely pique some interest. TD Top Prospect #10: Nick Burdi TD Top Prospect #9: Trevor May TD Top Prospect #8: Eddie Rosario TD Top Prospect #7: Jorge Polanco TD Top Prospect #6: Nick Gordon TD Top Prospect #5: Alex Meyer TD Top Prospect #4: Kohl Stewart TD Top Prospect #3: Jose Berrios TD Top Prospect #2: Miguel Sano TD Top Prospect #1: Byron Buxton
  11. While Paul Molitor's slightly revamped Twins team tries to dig its way out of irrelevance and show meaningful improvement for the first time in four years, some of the most integral components to the success of this ongoing rebuilding process will be reporting to Double-A. The stakes are high, as four of the best prospects in the system -- all at critical junctures in their careers -- are expected to open the 2015 campaign in Chattanooga. Byron Buxton, the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball a year ago, lost some of his luster during an injury-filled 2014 season that was all but lost. Miguel Sano underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring and hasn't played competitively since. Eddie Rosario missed half of 2014 due to a drug-related suspension and struggled after returning, derailing the considerable momentum he'd built up heading into the season. J.O. Berrios isn't stalled out like the other three -- quite the contrary -- but he has plenty to prove as an undersized starter coming off a flat-out spectacular campaign. Can the righty shut down advanced hitters and back up his newly claimed standing as the best pitching prospect in the organization (and maybe one of the best in the game)? Any one of these players is a candidate to see action at Target Field sometime next season. In April, they'll likely be joining a Lookouts roster packed with other notable prospects. If this team, and specifically a few key individuals, kick it into high gear, it would finally set in motion plans for a youth-fueled turnaround at the big-league level. One can hardly overstate the importance of Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Berrios getting off to fast starts. Mientkiewicz worked with all four while managing at Ft. Myers, and oversaw immensely successful seasons for each. It's hard to think of a better man for the task.
  12. It was easy enough to see coming, but the Twins made it official last week that Doug Mientkiewicz will move up and manage the club's Double-A affiliate in Chattanooga next year. The organization clearly thinks highly of Mientkiewicz, as they interviewed him multiple times for the big-league manager opening despite his lack of experience. And while he ultimately didn't come out on top of that race, he ended up with a job that might actually be more important in the short term.While Paul Molitor's slightly revamped Twins team tries to dig its way out of irrelevance and show meaningful improvement for the first time in four years, some of the most integral components to the success of this ongoing rebuilding process will be reporting to Double-A. The stakes are high, as four of the best prospects in the system -- all at critical junctures in their careers -- are expected to open the 2015 campaign in Chattanooga. Byron Buxton, the consensus No. 1 prospect in all of baseball a year ago, lost some of his luster during an injury-filled 2014 season that was all but lost. Miguel Sano underwent Tommy John surgery in the spring and hasn't played competitively since. Eddie Rosario missed half of 2014 due to a drug-related suspension and struggled after returning, derailing the considerable momentum he'd built up heading into the season. J.O. Berrios isn't stalled out like the other three -- quite the contrary -- but he has plenty to prove as an undersized starter coming off a flat-out spectacular campaign. Can the righty shut down advanced hitters and back up his newly claimed standing as the best pitching prospect in the organization (and maybe one of the best in the game)? Any one of these players is a candidate to see action at Target Field sometime next season. In April, they'll likely be joining a Lookouts roster packed with other notable prospects. If this team, and specifically a few key individuals, kick it into high gear, it would finally set in motion plans for a youth-fueled turnaround at the big-league level. One can hardly overstate the importance of Buxton, Sano, Rosario and Berrios getting off to fast starts. Mientkiewicz worked with all four while managing at Ft. Myers, and oversaw immensely successful seasons for each. It's hard to think of a better man for the task. Click here to view the article
  13. It was three-and-a-half weeks ago that General Manager Terry Ryan announced that manager Ron Gardenhire would not be returning to his job in 2015, and we still don’t know who will be guiding the Twins on the field next season. But we’re getting closer.After considering, by my count, at least seven or eight candidates during the first two weeks of the offseason, Ryan set aside the managerial search while he holed up in Fort Myers with his staff for their annual week of postseason organizational meetings, though reports are that he did find time for a second interview with Doug Mientkiewicz while in Florida. Coming out of those meetings, media reports indicate that several candidates have been informed they are no longer being considered and, while the Twins are characteristically tight-lipped on the subject, it appears that the list of potential skippers has been whittled down to three: Paul Molitor, Doug Mientkiewicz and Torey Lovullo. Looking at them, it would appear that there isn’t a lot of difference. All three are white, middle-aged men. Mientkiewicz is the youngest, at 40. Molitor the oldest at 58. Lovullo splits the difference at 49. There's not a lot of “diversity” readily apparent by looking at them, so if Ryan is going to make good on his pledge to add more of a Latin presence on the staff, it will need to come from among the coaches that he and the eventual manager hire. But when you dig deeper, you see that there are plenty of differences among these three gentlemen and if you’re the Twins, you have an opportunity to make a statement with this hire concerning what traits are most important to you, as an organization. The question is, what kind of statement are you looking to make? http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Molitor.jpg Paul Molitor (Photo: SD Buhr) If you’re looking to say, “We have a youth movement brewing and we are going to do what we did when we hired Tom Kelly – hire a manager who has already spent time watching, evaluating and coaching the young players who will form the core of the next generation of Twins players,” then your first choice is Mientkiewicz. He has had two successful seasons in Fort Myers while managing Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios and the rest of a very talented “class” of minor leaguers currently rising through the ranks. Paul Molitor gets a few points in this category, too, however. He spent time as a roving minor league instructor prior to his one season on the Twins major league bench, so he also has a lot of familiarity with these rising stars. If the statement the Twins want to make is, "We want the most qualified man for the job of managing a Major League baseball team," the decision becomes a bit murkier. Molitor does not have a single day of experience as a manager at any level of professional baseball. If managing only involved the work required between the time you fill out a line-up card and the final pitch of the game, I don’t think experience would be an issue for Molitor. It’s hard to imagine any circumstance arising that he has not prepared for during his Hall of Fame playing career and his time on coaching staffs at various levels. Anyone who has had even a short conversation with him about baseball will likely tell you that his baseball IQ level is off the charts. Also (and this is important), he apparently understands that he can always learn more and is open to doing so. But game management is not all a manager has to do. There’s media relations and public relations and front office communication and clubhouse relations… and… and… It’s a big job and while I don’t think it’s impossible for someone who has never managed at any level before to be successful, I do think that having some amount of experience in a managerial position is helpful. Without it, Molitor would very much be “learning on the job” when it comes to off-the-field aspects of the position for a year or two. For whatever reasons, family or otherwise, Molitor has chosen not to take opportunities to get that experience by managing at the minor league levels. Should that disqualify him from consideration? Absolutely not. Should he get a free pass on this factor if other qualified candidates have emerged who HAVE that experience? No. He made the decision not to take that route and if that turns out to be a determining factor in him not getting the job this time, so be it. If the Twins had narrowed their choices down to Mientkiewicz and Molitor, I would not consider the former’s two years in the Fort Myers dugout to be much, if any, of an advantage. Other managers in the Twins organization, such as Gene Glynn (AAA), Jeff Smith (AA), Jake Mauer (low A) and Ray Smith (rookie) all have far more minor league managerial experience than Mientkiewicz. Yes, Mientkiewicz has had successful teams both years in Fort Myers, but take a look at his rosters those two years. If you can’t win a few games with those guys, you really are in the wrong line of work. Personality-wise, you have very different men. Molitor seems to bring a cerebral intensity to the game, while Mientkiewicz is all about the fire and he doesn’t even pretend to contain it. Both would bring a familiarity with the Twins organization to the job, without the baggage of being one of “Gardy’s boys.” There are various reports and rumors out there concerning how well (or not well) these guys got along with the Twins’ former manager, but it’s probably safe to say neither would be prone to adopting any approach to managing simply because that was the way Ron Gardenhire would have done it. So, depending on what he decides is the most important quality in a manager, Terry Ryan has an acceptable internal choice in either Molitor or Mientkiewicz. Want someone who will get in the face of players and umpires? Doug’s your guy. Want a brilliant baseball mind? I doubt you could do better than Molitor. Want someone open to utilizing more advanced analytics? Molitor appears so inclined, though there are indications Mientkiewicz is more of a “gut feel” kind of guy (though, to be fair, the amount of detailed analytics available to minor league managers is limited and their job is more to develop talent than to win games). Want someone who has the credentials as a player to garner respect among the troops? Molitor’s a Hall of Famer and Mientkiewicz has a World Series ring and sufficient MLB experience to give him plenty of credibility. If you want someone familiar with the players who are moving up through the organization and are preparing to arrive at Target Field over the next two or three years, both men have that familiarity, though in somewhat different amounts. The only thing neither man has would be the “fresh set of eyes” that some would consider helpful, if not critical, to this organization. Which brings us to the third finalist for the Twins managerial job, Torey Lovullo. Lovullo has nine years of experience managing in the minor leagues, including time at both the AA and AAA levels, which neither internal candidate can say. There is little doubt that, of the three, he would be the most prepared to handle all aspects of the job on the first day he’s in the position. Lovullo has experience as a “second-in-command” bench coach at the big league level. Molitor was part of Tom Kelly’s bench staff for a time and was a hitting coach for the Mariners for one year. All of that experience is at least a decade old, however. He was on Gardenhire’s bench this past season. Mientkiewicz has not held a field manager/coach job above Class A. From all accounts, Lovullo has a baseball mind and eye for detail that may not be quite on par with Molitor’s, but isn’t all that far behind it. He not only is “open” to new ideas, he has a history of actively seeking them out. Based strictly on a managerial/coaching résumé, there doesn’t appear to be much doubt that Lovullo is more qualified, right now, to be a big league manager. But we all know this choice doesn’t just come down to that factor. We knew it when Terry Ryan told the media that he would be looking at both internal and external candidates, that what was important was finding the “right” person, but that, “ideally,” that choice would come from inside the organization. We’ve known it all along. Here is what Lovullo does not have: Experience as a Major League managerSignificant successful Major League playing experience (Lovullo was, in today’s parlance, a “replacement level player,” who saw big league time as a utility infielder in eight seasons, but played in over 100 games just once, putting up a .224 career batting average)Direct experience within the Twins organizationThe first two points are really not factors at all. None of this group of finalists has big league manager experience and I think history has pretty much borne out that experience as a player in the majors is not predictive of success as a manager. He successfully climbed the ladder and reached “the Show.” That should be all the credibility he needs with a group of young players who have been doing the exact same thing. But then there is the final bullet point. And really, that’s what we knew it would come down to all along, isn’t it? An objective look at the qualifications of these three guys (albeit an outsider’s look, given that we aren’t privy to information in background checks or reference checks, etc.) would seem to tell us Torey Lovullo is the most qualified of the group to manage in the Major Leagues. But will Terry Ryan and the rest of the Twins leadership really be comfortable turning over the manager’s office to an outsider – someone whom they have absolutely zero experience dealing with outside of a job interview that reportedly went extremely well? If Mientkiewicz doesn’t get the job, he’ll almost certainly remain in the organization, either back in Fort Myers or in Chattanooga, most likely. But if Molitor doesn’t get the gig, there is probably some serious doubt as to whether he would remain in the Twins organization at all. Make no mistake, he has been a valuable resource in the roles he’s played with the Twins, whether as a roving minor league instructor or a coach with the Twins. Passing over him may cost the organization that resource altogether. Given the competition he’s up against, I don’t see Mientkiewicz getting this job. I think it’s down to Molitor and Lovullo. When it comes right down to making that decision, I don’t think Ryan and Jim Pohlad will give the position to even a highly qualified outsider. I think we’ll be seeing Paul Molitor named the manager within the next week or so. If that’s the case, I’m fine with it. I like Molitor and I think he could be successful in the role, given the right coaching staff and resources (both in terms of players and technology) to compete. Choosing Lovullo, on the other hand, would not only surprise me, but would give me a little extra optimism that things at One Twins Way are actually changing and while I already have considerable respect for Terry Ryan, making this sort of choice would significantly raise that level of respect. It would be an uncharacteristic choice. It would be a bold choice. It also, I am coming around to believing, would be the right choice. This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com Click here to view the article
  14. After considering, by my count, at least seven or eight candidates during the first two weeks of the offseason, Ryan set aside the managerial search while he holed up in Fort Myers with his staff for their annual week of postseason organizational meetings, though reports are that he did find time for a second interview with Doug Mientkiewicz while in Florida. Coming out of those meetings, media reports indicate that several candidates have been informed they are no longer being considered and, while the Twins are characteristically tight-lipped on the subject, it appears that the list of potential skippers has been whittled down to three: Paul Molitor, Doug Mientkiewicz and Torey Lovullo. Looking at them, it would appear that there isn’t a lot of difference. All three are white, middle-aged men. Mientkiewicz is the youngest, at 40. Molitor the oldest at 58. Lovullo splits the difference at 49. There's not a lot of “diversity” readily apparent by looking at them, so if Ryan is going to make good on his pledge to add more of a Latin presence on the staff, it will need to come from among the coaches that he and the eventual manager hire. But when you dig deeper, you see that there are plenty of differences among these three gentlemen and if you’re the Twins, you have an opportunity to make a statement with this hire concerning what traits are most important to you, as an organization. The question is, what kind of statement are you looking to make? http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2010/08/Molitor.jpg Paul Molitor (Photo: SD Buhr) If you’re looking to say, “We have a youth movement brewing and we are going to do what we did when we hired Tom Kelly – hire a manager who has already spent time watching, evaluating and coaching the young players who will form the core of the next generation of Twins players,” then your first choice is Mientkiewicz. He has had two successful seasons in Fort Myers while managing Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Jose Berrios and the rest of a very talented “class” of minor leaguers currently rising through the ranks. Paul Molitor gets a few points in this category, too, however. He spent time as a roving minor league instructor prior to his one season on the Twins major league bench, so he also has a lot of familiarity with these rising stars. If the statement the Twins want to make is, "We want the most qualified man for the job of managing a Major League baseball team," the decision becomes a bit murkier. Molitor does not have a single day of experience as a manager at any level of professional baseball. If managing only involved the work required between the time you fill out a line-up card and the final pitch of the game, I don’t think experience would be an issue for Molitor. It’s hard to imagine any circumstance arising that he has not prepared for during his Hall of Fame playing career and his time on coaching staffs at various levels. Anyone who has had even a short conversation with him about baseball will likely tell you that his baseball IQ level is off the charts. Also (and this is important), he apparently understands that he can always learn more and is open to doing so. But game management is not all a manager has to do. There’s media relations and public relations and front office communication and clubhouse relations… and… and… It’s a big job and while I don’t think it’s impossible for someone who has never managed at any level before to be successful, I do think that having some amount of experience in a managerial position is helpful. Without it, Molitor would very much be “learning on the job” when it comes to off-the-field aspects of the position for a year or two. For whatever reasons, family or otherwise, Molitor has chosen not to take opportunities to get that experience by managing at the minor league levels. Should that disqualify him from consideration? Absolutely not. Should he get a free pass on this factor if other qualified candidates have emerged who HAVE that experience? No. He made the decision not to take that route and if that turns out to be a determining factor in him not getting the job this time, so be it. If the Twins had narrowed their choices down to Mientkiewicz and Molitor, I would not consider the former’s two years in the Fort Myers dugout to be much, if any, of an advantage. Other managers in the Twins organization, such as Gene Glynn (AAA), Jeff Smith (AA), Jake Mauer (low A) and Ray Smith (rookie) all have far more minor league managerial experience than Mientkiewicz. Yes, Mientkiewicz has had successful teams both years in Fort Myers, but take a look at his rosters those two years. If you can’t win a few games with those guys, you really are in the wrong line of work. Personality-wise, you have very different men. Molitor seems to bring a cerebral intensity to the game, while Mientkiewicz is all about the fire and he doesn’t even pretend to contain it. Both would bring a familiarity with the Twins organization to the job, without the baggage of being one of “Gardy’s boys.” There are various reports and rumors out there concerning how well (or not well) these guys got along with the Twins’ former manager, but it’s probably safe to say neither would be prone to adopting any approach to managing simply because that was the way Ron Gardenhire would have done it. So, depending on what he decides is the most important quality in a manager, Terry Ryan has an acceptable internal choice in either Molitor or Mientkiewicz. Want someone who will get in the face of players and umpires? Doug’s your guy. Want a brilliant baseball mind? I doubt you could do better than Molitor. Want someone open to utilizing more advanced analytics? Molitor appears so inclined, though there are indications Mientkiewicz is more of a “gut feel” kind of guy (though, to be fair, the amount of detailed analytics available to minor league managers is limited and their job is more to develop talent than to win games). Want someone who has the credentials as a player to garner respect among the troops? Molitor’s a Hall of Famer and Mientkiewicz has a World Series ring and sufficient MLB experience to give him plenty of credibility. If you want someone familiar with the players who are moving up through the organization and are preparing to arrive at Target Field over the next two or three years, both men have that familiarity, though in somewhat different amounts. The only thing neither man has would be the “fresh set of eyes” that some would consider helpful, if not critical, to this organization. Which brings us to the third finalist for the Twins managerial job, Torey Lovullo. Lovullo has nine years of experience managing in the minor leagues, including time at both the AA and AAA levels, which neither internal candidate can say. There is little doubt that, of the three, he would be the most prepared to handle all aspects of the job on the first day he’s in the position. Lovullo has experience as a “second-in-command” bench coach at the big league level. Molitor was part of Tom Kelly’s bench staff for a time and was a hitting coach for the Mariners for one year. All of that experience is at least a decade old, however. He was on Gardenhire’s bench this past season. Mientkiewicz has not held a field manager/coach job above Class A. From all accounts, Lovullo has a baseball mind and eye for detail that may not be quite on par with Molitor’s, but isn’t all that far behind it. He not only is “open” to new ideas, he has a history of actively seeking them out. Based strictly on a managerial/coaching résumé, there doesn’t appear to be much doubt that Lovullo is more qualified, right now, to be a big league manager. But we all know this choice doesn’t just come down to that factor. We knew it when Terry Ryan told the media that he would be looking at both internal and external candidates, that what was important was finding the “right” person, but that, “ideally,” that choice would come from inside the organization. We’ve known it all along. Here is what Lovullo does not have: Experience as a Major League manager Significant successful Major League playing experience (Lovullo was, in today’s parlance, a “replacement level player,” who saw big league time as a utility infielder in eight seasons, but played in over 100 games just once, putting up a .224 career batting average) Direct experience within the Twins organization The first two points are really not factors at all. None of this group of finalists has big league manager experience and I think history has pretty much borne out that experience as a player in the majors is not predictive of success as a manager. He successfully climbed the ladder and reached “the Show.” That should be all the credibility he needs with a group of young players who have been doing the exact same thing. But then there is the final bullet point. And really, that’s what we knew it would come down to all along, isn’t it? An objective look at the qualifications of these three guys (albeit an outsider’s look, given that we aren’t privy to information in background checks or reference checks, etc.) would seem to tell us Torey Lovullo is the most qualified of the group to manage in the Major Leagues. But will Terry Ryan and the rest of the Twins leadership really be comfortable turning over the manager’s office to an outsider – someone whom they have absolutely zero experience dealing with outside of a job interview that reportedly went extremely well? If Mientkiewicz doesn’t get the job, he’ll almost certainly remain in the organization, either back in Fort Myers or in Chattanooga, most likely. But if Molitor doesn’t get the gig, there is probably some serious doubt as to whether he would remain in the Twins organization at all. Make no mistake, he has been a valuable resource in the roles he’s played with the Twins, whether as a roving minor league instructor or a coach with the Twins. Passing over him may cost the organization that resource altogether. Given the competition he’s up against, I don’t see Mientkiewicz getting this job. I think it’s down to Molitor and Lovullo. When it comes right down to making that decision, I don’t think Ryan and Jim Pohlad will give the position to even a highly qualified outsider. I think we’ll be seeing Paul Molitor named the manager within the next week or so. If that’s the case, I’m fine with it. I like Molitor and I think he could be successful in the role, given the right coaching staff and resources (both in terms of players and technology) to compete. Choosing Lovullo, on the other hand, would not only surprise me, but would give me a little extra optimism that things at One Twins Way are actually changing and while I already have considerable respect for Terry Ryan, making this sort of choice would significantly raise that level of respect. It would be an uncharacteristic choice. It would be a bold choice. It also, I am coming around to believing, would be the right choice. This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com
  15. It's been less than a week since the Twins announced Ron Gardenhire's dismissal, but already there has been a dizzying whirlwind of reports and rumors regarding who might replace him as manager. Struggling to keep up? No worries. Read on and we'll get you up to speed on all the latest substantive whisperings about the team's search for a skipper successor.* Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted on Friday that "Doug Mientkiewicz has emerged as the favorite, ever so slightly over Paul Molitor." Earlier in the week, Nightengale had named Mientkiewicz and Molitor as finalists for the job. Although he's a national reporter, Nightengale has been the first to break Twins news multiple times in the past, leading me to believe he has a pretty good source within the organization. I first brought up Mientkiewicz as a managerial candidate in mid-September and reiterated my support for him last week, so I'd be pleased if they're indeed leaning in his direction. I'd also be extremely surprised, because he'd be a pretty unconventional choice. * Then again, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune tweeted later on Friday that Molitor "has had multiple interviews with the Twins." If that's true, it's hard not to view the Hall of Famer as clear front-runner. Multiple meetings within a week -- especially when they've only publicly interviewed one other candidate -- suggests aggressive interest. Of course, I believe that Molitor's real interview to be the next manager was the entire 2014 season. Some believe that was implied when he was added to Gardenhire's staff as a seventh coach. He's been in the dugout and in the clubhouse all year, so I think Twins execs have a decent idea of what to expect from him at this point. * Just because Molitor and Mientkiewicz are drawing the early press, we shouldn't assume this is a two-horse race. Jim Mandelaro, who covers the Rochester Red Wings for the Democrat & Chronicle, wrote the following last week: Glynn, like Mientkiewicz, has done an impressive job of turning around a struggling minor-league affiliate, and he worked as a scout for the exemplary Rays in the six years prior to taking over in Rochester. For those reasons, and others, I think he's one of the more intriguing names to be considered, but I wonder if the Twins would view him as a tough sell. He doesn't offer fans the familiarity of a Molitor or Mientkiewicz, nor does he offer the novelty of a name hired from outside the organization. Obviously I don't think the potential for a subdued public reaction should rule out a qualified candidate, but I do wonder how heavily that's being weighed given the waning fan interest. * What about external candidates? Terry Ryan gave his assurance that the team would be casting a wide net in its search for Gardy's replacement, and explicitly stated that they'd look outside the organization as well as within. But we've heard little buzz so far about outside names. Well, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review did report on Sunday that John Russell is expected to interview for the position. Russell (pictured above with former Twin J.J. Hardy) has served as bench coach for the Orioles since 2011, and was manager of the Pirates from 2008 through 2010. He compiled an ugly 186-299 record in his three seasons there, including a 105-loss campaign that led to his removal. Working with catchers is considered to be a speciality for Russell. That could appeal to the Twins, who will be working to determine Joe Mauer's long-term successor behind the plate. The Twins would need to wait for Baltimore's postseason run to end before they can interview Russell. That run will continue for now, after the O's completed a first-round sweep of the Tigers on Sunday. * Stay tuned to Twins Daily all week for the latest news on the Twins' manager search. We'll be on top of each new rumor as it develops. Click here to view the article
  16. * Bob Nightengale of USA Today tweeted on Friday that "Doug Mientkiewicz has emerged as the favorite, ever so slightly over Paul Molitor." Earlier in the week, Nightengale had named Mientkiewicz and Molitor as finalists for the job. Although he's a national reporter, Nightengale has been the first to break Twins news multiple times in the past, leading me to believe he has a pretty good source within the organization. I first brought up Mientkiewicz as a managerial candidate in mid-September and reiterated my support for him last week, so I'd be pleased if they're indeed leaning in his direction. I'd also be extremely surprised, because he'd be a pretty unconventional choice. * Then again, La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune tweeted later on Friday that Molitor "has had multiple interviews with the Twins." If that's true, it's hard not to view the Hall of Famer as clear front-runner. Multiple meetings within a week -- especially when they've only publicly interviewed one other candidate -- suggests aggressive interest. Of course, I believe that Molitor's real interview to be the next manager was the entire 2014 season. Some believe that was implied when he was added to Gardenhire's staff as a seventh coach. He's been in the dugout and in the clubhouse all year, so I think Twins execs have a decent idea of what to expect from him at this point. * Just because Molitor and Mientkiewicz are drawing the early press, we shouldn't assume this is a two-horse race. Jim Mandelaro, who covers the Rochester Red Wings for the Democrat & Chronicle, wrote the following last week: Glynn, like Mientkiewicz, has done an impressive job of turning around a struggling minor-league affiliate, and he worked as a scout for the exemplary Rays in the six years prior to taking over in Rochester. For those reasons, and others, I think he's one of the more intriguing names to be considered, but I wonder if the Twins would view him as a tough sell. He doesn't offer fans the familiarity of a Molitor or Mientkiewicz, nor does he offer the novelty of a name hired from outside the organization. Obviously I don't think the potential for a subdued public reaction should rule out a qualified candidate, but I do wonder how heavily that's being weighed given the waning fan interest. * What about external candidates? Terry Ryan gave his assurance that the team would be casting a wide net in its search for Gardy's replacement, and explicitly stated that they'd look outside the organization as well as within. But we've heard little buzz so far about outside names. Well, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review did report on Sunday that John Russell is expected to interview for the position. Russell (pictured above with former Twin J.J. Hardy) has served as bench coach for the Orioles since 2011, and was manager of the Pirates from 2008 through 2010. He compiled an ugly 186-299 record in his three seasons there, including a 105-loss campaign that led to his removal. Working with catchers is considered to be a speciality for Russell. That could appeal to the Twins, who will be working to determine Joe Mauer's long-term successor behind the plate. The Twins would need to wait for Baltimore's postseason run to end before they can interview Russell. That run will continue for now, after the O's completed a first-round sweep of the Tigers on Sunday. * Stay tuned to Twins Daily all week for the latest news on the Twins' manager search. We'll be on top of each new rumor as it develops.
  17. Guentzel talks about her time with the MLB FanCave, her experience as a pregame show host for the Twins Radio Network and drops all of the names. Pettersen shares his thoughts on targeting a manager that can relate to the Latino players, his inside sources that are close to Paul Molitor and the shift from New Britain to Chattanooga. Listen below, on iTunes or on Stitcher: NO JUICE PODCAST, EPISODE 24: GOODBYE GARDY, HELLO________?
  18. On this week’s No Juice Podcast -- live from Station 280 near Dinkytown -- Dan Anderson and Parker Hageman bring in local media mogul Lindsay Guentzel and former Twins minor leaguer AJ Pettersen to discuss the career of Ron Gardenhire and hash out the front-running replacement candidates in Paul Molitor and Doug Mientkiewicz. Listen below.Guentzel talks about her time with the MLB FanCave, her experience as a pregame show host for the Twins Radio Network and drops all of the names. Pettersen shares his thoughts on targeting a manager that can relate to the Latino players, his inside sources that are close to Paul Molitor and the shift from New Britain to Chattanooga. Listen below, on iTunes or on Stitcher: NO JUICE PODCAST, EPISODE 24: GOODBYE GARDY, HELLO________? Click here to view the article
  19. Last month I wrote about the potential benefits Doug Mientkiewicz could provide as the next Twins manager. At the time, I didn't really think Ron Gardenhire would be dismissed, so it was a largely hypothetical piece, but now that Mientkiewicz is actually a legitimate contender -- and maybe even a front-runner -- to lead the club in 2015, I thought I'd revisit the subject.Mientkiewicz had his formal interview for the job on Thursday, one day after Paul Molitor did the same. National ball scribe Bob Nightengale tweeted that the two former first basemen are considered finalists for the position, which isn't surprising given this team's penchant for promoting from within and the high standings of these two in the organization. I'll be honest: I'm not acutely familiar with either individual's tactical approach or managerial style (I don't think anyone is in Molitor's case, since he's never managed). But it's easy to draw some clear distinctions between the two. And as I examine those distinctions, I can't help but feel like Mientkiewicz is the far more interesting and compelling choice. In many ways, there's an old-school versus new-school dynamic at play here. Molitor, at 58, is nearly two decades older. He retired from playing in 1998, the same year Mientkiewicz made his MLB debut. In terms of experience, there's no comparison. Molitor had a much longer career as a player and has been involved in coaching and instructing since Mientkiewicz was first breaking into the league. But Molitor's distance from his playing days could be viewed as a mark against him. Obviously, the Twins' turnaround -- which hopefully will begin to take place next year -- is going to be built around youth. Will these incoming prospects be able to relate and connect with him in the same way as a guy who retired only five years ago, and who has been working directly with many of them in Ft. Myers over the last couple seasons? That's an important question, in my mind, especially when you consider that one of the most common complaints about Gardenhire (and his predecessor, Tom Kelly) was a perceived inability to recognize and maximize the impact of good young talent. Too often, it seemed that Gardy and TK would eschew the excitement and upside of a capable yet inexperienced youth in favor of the established veteran. As I see it, an ability to get the most out of young players, and a willingness to help them through struggles and learning curves, should be the foremost consideration in selecting a new skipper. I'm not saying Molitor can't excel in this area, but on the surface, Mientkiewicz appears more well equipped. There is also the matter of insularity. This is a preeminent concern for many who would like to see the organization break away from its longstanding habit of maintaining continuity and drawing from the same well when it comes to hiring coaches and execs. After four straight miserable years, people want change -- real change. It's not clear that Molitor wouldn't provide that, but he's got deep roots in Minnesota. He was a finalist to take over for Kelly in 2001 before Gardenhire landed the job, and has been involved with the Twins extensively since then. He spent one year in Seattle as a hitting coach in 2004, but then returned as a roving minor-league instructor and filled that role for nine years before being added to the major-league staff in 2014. Molitor has plenty of respect as a baseball mind, around the game and here in Minny especially, but when you look at his track record you can't help but ask questions. Why did he only last one year in Seattle? And in the decade since, how come no other team has lured him away to serve as manager or in some other prominent role? Maybe he never had interest, but why now? Mientkiewicz spent much of his playing career in Minnesota, but after being traded away in 2004, he moved through six different organizations (Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, Mets, Pirates, Dodgers) in six years. He's been around the block, and has been exposed to many different cultures and philosophies. And although he has managed the Twins' Single-A affiliate for the past two years, he hasn't worked on Gardenhire's staff. When the Twins hired Molitor into his new role a year ago, the Hall of Famer said it was possibly his "last opportunity to get back in the game at the major league level." Does a guy who, by his own admission, might be reaching the end of the rope make sense for a team seeking to modernize and break through with a crop of young talent? Even looking beyond his obvious strong points -- his fiery passion, his familiarity with the incoming prospects, his history of winning (a World Series, an Olympic title and most recently a Florida State League Championship) -- Mientkiewicz seems like the better choice for the Twins on a fundamental level. If he and Molitor are indeed the top candidates for the position, I know which one I prefer from afar. Click here to view the article
  20. Mientkiewicz had his formal interview for the job on Thursday, one day after Paul Molitor did the same. National ball scribe Bob Nightengale tweeted that the two former first basemen are considered finalists for the position, which isn't surprising given this team's penchant for promoting from within and the high standings of these two in the organization. I'll be honest: I'm not acutely familiar with either individual's tactical approach or managerial style (I don't think anyone is in Molitor's case, since he's never managed). But it's easy to draw some clear distinctions between the two. And as I examine those distinctions, I can't help but feel like Mientkiewicz is the far more interesting and compelling choice. In many ways, there's an old-school versus new-school dynamic at play here. Molitor, at 58, is nearly two decades older. He retired from playing in 1998, the same year Mientkiewicz made his MLB debut. In terms of experience, there's no comparison. Molitor had a much longer career as a player and has been involved in coaching and instructing since Mientkiewicz was first breaking into the league. But Molitor's distance from his playing days could be viewed as a mark against him. Obviously, the Twins' turnaround -- which hopefully will begin to take place next year -- is going to be built around youth. Will these incoming prospects be able to relate and connect with him in the same way as a guy who retired only five years ago, and who has been working directly with many of them in Ft. Myers over the last couple seasons? That's an important question, in my mind, especially when you consider that one of the most common complaints about Gardenhire (and his predecessor, Tom Kelly) was a perceived inability to recognize and maximize the impact of good young talent. Too often, it seemed that Gardy and TK would eschew the excitement and upside of a capable yet inexperienced youth in favor of the established veteran. As I see it, an ability to get the most out of young players, and a willingness to help them through struggles and learning curves, should be the foremost consideration in selecting a new skipper. I'm not saying Molitor can't excel in this area, but on the surface, Mientkiewicz appears more well equipped. There is also the matter of insularity. This is a preeminent concern for many who would like to see the organization break away from its longstanding habit of maintaining continuity and drawing from the same well when it comes to hiring coaches and execs. After four straight miserable years, people want change -- real change. It's not clear that Molitor wouldn't provide that, but he's got deep roots in Minnesota. He was a finalist to take over for Kelly in 2001 before Gardenhire landed the job, and has been involved with the Twins extensively since then. He spent one year in Seattle as a hitting coach in 2004, but then returned as a roving minor-league instructor and filled that role for nine years before being added to the major-league staff in 2014. Molitor has plenty of respect as a baseball mind, around the game and here in Minny especially, but when you look at his track record you can't help but ask questions. Why did he only last one year in Seattle? And in the decade since, how come no other team has lured him away to serve as manager or in some other prominent role? Maybe he never had interest, but why now? Mientkiewicz spent much of his playing career in Minnesota, but after being traded away in 2004, he moved through six different organizations (Red Sox, Yankees, Royals, Mets, Pirates, Dodgers) in six years. He's been around the block, and has been exposed to many different cultures and philosophies. And although he has managed the Twins' Single-A affiliate for the past two years, he hasn't worked on Gardenhire's staff. When the Twins hired Molitor into his new role a year ago, the Hall of Famer said it was possibly his "last opportunity to get back in the game at the major league level." Does a guy who, by his own admission, might be reaching the end of the rope make sense for a team seeking to modernize and break through with a crop of young talent? Even looking beyond his obvious strong points -- his fiery passion, his familiarity with the incoming prospects, his history of winning (a World Series, an Olympic title and most recently a Florida State League Championship) -- Mientkiewicz seems like the better choice for the Twins on a fundamental level. If he and Molitor are indeed the top candidates for the position, I know which one I prefer from afar.
  21. Late Monday morning, the news came out that the Minnesota Twins had fired manager Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire has been offered a job in the organization, but he says that he wants to manage again and believes that he will. So the next question naturally becomes; who will be the next manager of the Minnesota Twins?Here is a quick look at some of the potential candidates, though it is always important to note that a surprise candidate could come out of nowhere. There are several qualified internal candidates, though Terry Ryan insists that they will do their due diligence and look outside the organization as well. Internal Candidates Terry Steinbach – In my mind, he became the possible front-runner within the last week. I believe he may also be a top candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. His former Oakland A’s manager Tony Larussa is in charge of baseball operations and his former rotation-mate Dave Stewart was just named as the General Manager. However, there are a lot in the Twins organization that really like him as a managerial candidate. The 52-year-old from New Ulm played for the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Oakland A’s. He spent parts of 14 seasons in the big leagues, the final three with the Twins. He has been Gardenhire’s bench coach the last two seasons. Paul Molitor – Of course, most have believed that Molitor would be the next Twins manager for a couple of years already. He was added to the Twins staff a year ago after being a roving minor league instructor for several seasons. He has been a hitting coach in the big leagues, though that didn’t go so well. The 58-year-old from St. Paul has worked with the minor leaguers that are likely to be part of the next Twins core. Molitor was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2004 following a 21-year big league career during which he had over 3,300 hits and played in seven All Star games. Gene Glynn – Glynn was named Minnesota’s first Mr. Basketball in 1975 when he was the top hoops player in the state while playing at Waseca high school. He never played in the big leagues after seven seasons of playing minor league ball, including three years at AAA. He has had a variety of roles in baseball. He was a long-time manager and coach in the minor leagues. He was a base coach for the Rockies, the Expos, the Cubs and the Giants over the course of a dozen years. Before becoming the Twins AAA manager, he spent six years as a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays. He has done a great job in Rochester taking a revolving door of players and making them playoff contenders. Doug Mientkiewicz – “Dougie Baseball” was drafted by the Twins in the fifth round of the 1995 draft and stayed in the organization until he was traded to the Red Sox and won a World Series championship in 2004. He spent time with the Mets, Royals, Yankees, Pirates and Dodgers from 2005 through 2009. His best years were clearly with the Twins. Known for his fire and his glove, Mientkiewicz won a Gold Glove at first base in 2001 and was a big part of the group that came up in the late ‘90s and the early playoff teams last decade. He returned to the organization a year ago as the manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle. In his first year, he went to the playoffs, but he also got into a fight with the opposing manager in a game. He has worked with most of the Twins top prospects and led this year’s squad to the Florida State League title. If you believe being able to relate to today’s players is important, Mientkiewicz is just 40 years old and only been retired for five years. Jake Mauer – Some will laugh that this name is on the list, but Mauer should manage in the big leagues. If not now, someday. For those that choose to look only at that last name and not the qualifications, it’s just too bad. Mauer is a very good baseball person. He was a leader on that St. Thomas baseball teams that won Division III titles. He spent five seasons playing the minor leagues, peaking at Double-A, and playing a variety of positions. After spring training of 2006, he retired and immediately became a coach. He managed in the GCL for a couple of years before becoming the manager at Ft. Myers. In 2013, the organization made the decision to move him to Cedar Rapids to lead the group of young, very talented prospects. Known for having a very high baseball IQ and being three or four batters ahead of the game, Mauer protects his players while maintaining a calm about him. He is also known to be External Candidates Chip Hale – 49-year-old Hale was one of the better pinch hitters for the Twins in the ‘90s. The Twins drafted him in the 17th round in 1987 out of the University of Arizona. He spent time with the Twins in 1989 and 1990, and then he returned to the Twins in 1993 and stayed through 1996. He never played more than 85 games in a season or had more than 186 plate appearances. He was a second baseman who became a utility player but mainly was a pinch hitter. He got 12 at bats with the Dodgers in 1997. Since 2006, he has spent time in the big leagues as a coach with the Diamondbacks and Mets. He has been the third base coach for the A’s the last four seasons. He has been a managerial candidate for many positions over the last four or five offseasons. Dave Martinez – Martinez had a terrific 16 season big league career as an outfielder for the Cubs, Expos and seven other teams. He was a starter for several years and became a valued bench bat later in his career. The 50-year-old has been the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays since the 2008 season. Martinez was always known as a smart ball player, but much of the interest in Martinez would appear to be his association with Rays manager Joe Maddon who is generally considered one of baseball’s best. Martinez has put in his time and deserves to see what he can do on his own. Torey Lovullo – Lovullo was a Tigers prospect in the late 80s. He hit .381 as a 22-year-old in a September call up in 1988, but he was never able to become the player many thought he would. He spent big league time with seven teams over eight seasons from 1988 through 1999. He became a minor league coach in 2001 and was a manager in the Clevelend system. He was John Farrell’s bench coach in Toronto in 2011 and 2012 and followed him to the Red Sox in 2013 in the same capacity. He is 49 years old and has no major league managerial experience, though he has interviewed for several managerial jobs, including the Cubs job a year ago. Joe McEwing – The 41-year-old McEwing spent nine seasons in the big leagues. In that time, he played over 45 games at seven different positions, all but pitcher and catcher. In 2008, he entered the world of coaching. He became a manager in 2009 in A-Ball and then moved up to AAA in 2011 (he coached Eduardo Escobar in 2010 and 2011) Following that season, he was the manager of the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League where he coached Brian Dozier, Aaron Hicks and Chris Herrmann. Dozier gave McEwing a lot of credit for helping him learn second base. After the AFL, he was added to Robin Ventura’s White Sox coaching staff as the third base coach after Ozzie Guillen was fired. Ozzie Guillen – His name keeps coming up, and we know that he wants to get back into managing. He has had managerial experience and won a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1985 and a three-time All Star in his 13 seasons with the White Sox as a player. He has had a lot of controversy surrounding him since his departure from the White Sox. His run in Miami was just one, long year. All that said, he’s a smart baseball man who would have the energy and fire that maybe this team needs. He is from Venezuela and diversity is one piece of the equation. Manny Acta – He is seen now on ESPN’s baseball coverage, but the 45-year-old has already had two big league managerial positions. The Dominican-born Acta spent six years in the minor leagues before going to scouting school. He spent time coaching in the minor leagues before getting MLB coaching jobs with the Expos and Mets. In 2007, he became the Nationals manager as a 38-year-old. He lost his job in July of 2009, and in 2010, he was named Cleveland’s manager. He kept his surprise team in the AL Central race until late in the 2011 season before finishing two games under .500. He was fired after the 2012 season. His career MLB managerial record is 372-518. Mike Redmond – The 43 year old was the Twins backup catcher from 2005 through 2009. He was a popular player known for his leadership skills. So it was no surprise that he quickly became a manager following his retirement from playing. Just two years later, the Miami Marlins offered him their job and he has spent the last two years as their manager. Last weekend, he signed an extension through the 2017 season with the Marlins. Though not impossible, it is highly improbable that he would even be interviewed for the Twins job at this time. As I said earlier, this is just a starting point for potential managerial options to replace Ron Gardenhire? The question you need to ask yourself is this; what qualities are most important to you in a manager? Being bilingual? High-level baseball IQ? Experience? Big League Experience? Statistical Lean? Fundamentals and teaching? How will they use the bullpen? How do they feel about bunting or base stealing? As I sit here on Monday afternoon, six hours since the announcement first came out, here is how I would rank the likelihood of the managerial choice: 1.) Terry Steinbach, 2.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 3.) Paul Molitor, 4.) Chip Hale, 5.) Gene Glynn Who would I like to see as the next Twins manager is likely a different ranking. Mine would be (with admittedly limited knowledge on the candidates other than reading and research): 1.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 2.) Jake Mauer, 3.) Chip Hale, 4.) Joe McEwing, 5.) Dave Martinez As you can see, I tend to lean toward the younger manager, a guy who can relate to the younger players and hopefully be here for a decade or more. What do you think? What direction would your managerial look go? Click here to view the article
  22. Here is a quick look at some of the potential candidates, though it is always important to note that a surprise candidate could come out of nowhere. There are several qualified internal candidates, though Terry Ryan insists that they will do their due diligence and look outside the organization as well. Internal Candidates Terry Steinbach – In my mind, he became the possible front-runner within the last week. I believe he may also be a top candidate for the Arizona Diamondbacks. His former Oakland A’s manager Tony Larussa is in charge of baseball operations and his former rotation-mate Dave Stewart was just named as the General Manager. However, there are a lot in the Twins organization that really like him as a managerial candidate. The 52-year-old from New Ulm played for the University of Minnesota before being drafted by the Oakland A’s. He spent parts of 14 seasons in the big leagues, the final three with the Twins. He has been Gardenhire’s bench coach the last two seasons. Paul Molitor – Of course, most have believed that Molitor would be the next Twins manager for a couple of years already. He was added to the Twins staff a year ago after being a roving minor league instructor for several seasons. He has been a hitting coach in the big leagues, though that didn’t go so well. The 58-year-old from St. Paul has worked with the minor leaguers that are likely to be part of the next Twins core. Molitor was elected to baseball’s Hall of Fame in 2004 following a 21-year big league career during which he had over 3,300 hits and played in seven All Star games. Gene Glynn – Glynn was named Minnesota’s first Mr. Basketball in 1975 when he was the top hoops player in the state while playing at Waseca high school. He never played in the big leagues after seven seasons of playing minor league ball, including three years at AAA. He has had a variety of roles in baseball. He was a long-time manager and coach in the minor leagues. He was a base coach for the Rockies, the Expos, the Cubs and the Giants over the course of a dozen years. Before becoming the Twins AAA manager, he spent six years as a scout in the Tampa Bay Rays. He has done a great job in Rochester taking a revolving door of players and making them playoff contenders. Doug Mientkiewicz – “Dougie Baseball” was drafted by the Twins in the fifth round of the 1995 draft and stayed in the organization until he was traded to the Red Sox and won a World Series championship in 2004. He spent time with the Mets, Royals, Yankees, Pirates and Dodgers from 2005 through 2009. His best years were clearly with the Twins. Known for his fire and his glove, Mientkiewicz won a Gold Glove at first base in 2001 and was a big part of the group that came up in the late ‘90s and the early playoff teams last decade. He returned to the organization a year ago as the manager of the Ft. Myers Miracle. In his first year, he went to the playoffs, but he also got into a fight with the opposing manager in a game. He has worked with most of the Twins top prospects and led this year’s squad to the Florida State League title. If you believe being able to relate to today’s players is important, Mientkiewicz is just 40 years old and only been retired for five years. Jake Mauer – Some will laugh that this name is on the list, but Mauer should manage in the big leagues. If not now, someday. For those that choose to look only at that last name and not the qualifications, it’s just too bad. Mauer is a very good baseball person. He was a leader on that St. Thomas baseball teams that won Division III titles. He spent five seasons playing the minor leagues, peaking at Double-A, and playing a variety of positions. After spring training of 2006, he retired and immediately became a coach. He managed in the GCL for a couple of years before becoming the manager at Ft. Myers. In 2013, the organization made the decision to move him to Cedar Rapids to lead the group of young, very talented prospects. Known for having a very high baseball IQ and being three or four batters ahead of the game, Mauer protects his players while maintaining a calm about him. He is also known to be External Candidates Chip Hale – 49-year-old Hale was one of the better pinch hitters for the Twins in the ‘90s. The Twins drafted him in the 17th round in 1987 out of the University of Arizona. He spent time with the Twins in 1989 and 1990, and then he returned to the Twins in 1993 and stayed through 1996. He never played more than 85 games in a season or had more than 186 plate appearances. He was a second baseman who became a utility player but mainly was a pinch hitter. He got 12 at bats with the Dodgers in 1997. Since 2006, he has spent time in the big leagues as a coach with the Diamondbacks and Mets. He has been the third base coach for the A’s the last four seasons. He has been a managerial candidate for many positions over the last four or five offseasons. Dave Martinez – Martinez had a terrific 16 season big league career as an outfielder for the Cubs, Expos and seven other teams. He was a starter for several years and became a valued bench bat later in his career. The 50-year-old has been the bench coach for the Tampa Bay Rays since the 2008 season. Martinez was always known as a smart ball player, but much of the interest in Martinez would appear to be his association with Rays manager Joe Maddon who is generally considered one of baseball’s best. Martinez has put in his time and deserves to see what he can do on his own. Torey Lovullo – Lovullo was a Tigers prospect in the late 80s. He hit .381 as a 22-year-old in a September call up in 1988, but he was never able to become the player many thought he would. He spent big league time with seven teams over eight seasons from 1988 through 1999. He became a minor league coach in 2001 and was a manager in the Clevelend system. He was John Farrell’s bench coach in Toronto in 2011 and 2012 and followed him to the Red Sox in 2013 in the same capacity. He is 49 years old and has no major league managerial experience, though he has interviewed for several managerial jobs, including the Cubs job a year ago. Joe McEwing – The 41-year-old McEwing spent nine seasons in the big leagues. In that time, he played over 45 games at seven different positions, all but pitcher and catcher. In 2008, he entered the world of coaching. He became a manager in 2009 in A-Ball and then moved up to AAA in 2011 (he coached Eduardo Escobar in 2010 and 2011) Following that season, he was the manager of the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League where he coached Brian Dozier, Aaron Hicks and Chris Herrmann. Dozier gave McEwing a lot of credit for helping him learn second base. After the AFL, he was added to Robin Ventura’s White Sox coaching staff as the third base coach after Ozzie Guillen was fired. Ozzie Guillen – His name keeps coming up, and we know that he wants to get back into managing. He has had managerial experience and won a World Series title with the White Sox in 2005. He was the Rookie of the Year in 1985 and a three-time All Star in his 13 seasons with the White Sox as a player. He has had a lot of controversy surrounding him since his departure from the White Sox. His run in Miami was just one, long year. All that said, he’s a smart baseball man who would have the energy and fire that maybe this team needs. He is from Venezuela and diversity is one piece of the equation. Manny Acta – He is seen now on ESPN’s baseball coverage, but the 45-year-old has already had two big league managerial positions. The Dominican-born Acta spent six years in the minor leagues before going to scouting school. He spent time coaching in the minor leagues before getting MLB coaching jobs with the Expos and Mets. In 2007, he became the Nationals manager as a 38-year-old. He lost his job in July of 2009, and in 2010, he was named Cleveland’s manager. He kept his surprise team in the AL Central race until late in the 2011 season before finishing two games under .500. He was fired after the 2012 season. His career MLB managerial record is 372-518. Mike Redmond – The 43 year old was the Twins backup catcher from 2005 through 2009. He was a popular player known for his leadership skills. So it was no surprise that he quickly became a manager following his retirement from playing. Just two years later, the Miami Marlins offered him their job and he has spent the last two years as their manager. Last weekend, he signed an extension through the 2017 season with the Marlins. Though not impossible, it is highly improbable that he would even be interviewed for the Twins job at this time. As I said earlier, this is just a starting point for potential managerial options to replace Ron Gardenhire? The question you need to ask yourself is this; what qualities are most important to you in a manager? Being bilingual? High-level baseball IQ? Experience? Big League Experience? Statistical Lean? Fundamentals and teaching? How will they use the bullpen? How do they feel about bunting or base stealing? As I sit here on Monday afternoon, six hours since the announcement first came out, here is how I would rank the likelihood of the managerial choice: 1.) Terry Steinbach, 2.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 3.) Paul Molitor, 4.) Chip Hale, 5.) Gene Glynn Who would I like to see as the next Twins manager is likely a different ranking. Mine would be (with admittedly limited knowledge on the candidates other than reading and research): 1.) Doug Mientkiewicz, 2.) Jake Mauer, 3.) Chip Hale, 4.) Joe McEwing, 5.) Dave Martinez As you can see, I tend to lean toward the younger manager, a guy who can relate to the younger players and hopefully be here for a decade or more. What do you think? What direction would your managerial look go?
  23. Earlier this week, we discussed potential changes on the Twins coaching staff. To me, moving on from pitching coach Rick Anderson is essentially a no-brainer, as his contract is up and the unit he's directly in charge of has been unacceptably bad for too long now. Gardenhire is a different case. His contract extends to 2015, so a dismissal would require firing him as opposed to simply passing on a new deal. Still, as many people pointed out in the comments section on Monday, there's a decent chance that Gardy will be gone after this season. The Twins could decide to clean house, giving Gardy the axe while also letting Anderson go. That seems unlikely, especially in light of Terry Ryan's recent vote of confidence. But Gardy could also opt to resign on his own if the team parts ways with Anderson, a longtime friend. Or the manager might just step down after four straight tumultuous seasons. So, if Gardy goes, who replaces him? Paul Molitor is a popular choice among fans, for some reason. But unlike Molitor, Mientkiewicz has earned the opportunity by performing well in a managerial role. Sure, the Twins have good players in the minors, but his immediate success with this Miracle team has been nothing short of astounding. Mientkiewicz wouldn't necessarily be a conventional choice. At 40, he'd be the youngest manager in baseball and his experience essentially amounts to two years at Single-A. However, his path would closely mirror that of former Twin Mike Redmond, who jumped straight from A-ball to the majors last year at the age of 41. Redmond's Marlins endured 100 losses in his first season, but have taken a huge step forward this year and are currently just three games below .500. Let's take a look at some reasons why Mientkiewicz might make sense as the next Twins manager: * He's familiar, yet fresh. Since the Twins have a long history of promoting from within, it stands to reason that the next manager will be someone who's currently in the organization, so this fits. Yet, Mientkiewicz is disparate enough from the current regime, and young enough, that he'd bring a distinctly different flavor to what is unaffectionately referred to as the "Old Boys' Club." * He has worked extensively with the top prospects expected to be the lifeblood of a turnaround. Mientkiewicz managed Miguel Sano in Ft. Myers for the first half of the 2013 season, and Byron Buxton for the second half. Mientkiewicz has also coached Kennys Vargas, J.O. Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Adam Walker and others. * He's got attitude. It's something that many believe has been missing in the Twins clubhouse. Gardenhire isn't without fire -- as illustrated by his numerous ejections -- but his teams have often been accused of lacking in that department. Mientkiewicz would bring swagger. Last year he actually got in a brawl with an opposing manager on the field. Kind of awesome. What do you think? Does Mientkiewicz appeal to you as a candidate to be Gardenhire's successor?
  24. On Monday night, the Ft. Myers Miracle won the Florida State League Championship for the first time in team history, with manager Doug Mientkiewicz leading at the helm. In his two seasons since taking over the High-A affiliate, Mientkiewicz has guided a club that had finished below .500 in three straight seasons to a 161-113 record. The impressive results, in combination with a few other factors, lead to an interesting question -- one that fellow Twins Daily writer Seth Stohs has been drumming up for a while now: Is Mientkiewicz the right man to succeed Ron Gardenhire and usher in the next wave of young talent for the Twins?Earlier this week, we discussed potential changes on the Twins coaching staff. To me, moving on from pitching coach Rick Anderson is essentially a no-brainer, as his contract is up and the unit he's directly in charge of has been unacceptably bad for too long now. Gardenhire is a different case. His contract extends to 2015, so a dismissal would require firing him as opposed to simply passing on a new deal. Still, as many people pointed out in the comments section on Monday, there's a decent chance that Gardy will be gone after this season. The Twins could decide to clean house, giving Gardy the axe while also letting Anderson go. That seems unlikely, especially in light of Terry Ryan's recent vote of confidence. But Gardy could also opt to resign on his own if the team parts ways with Anderson, a longtime friend. Or the manager might just step down after four straight tumultuous seasons. So, if Gardy goes, who replaces him? Paul Molitor is a popular choice among fans, for some reason. But unlike Molitor, Mientkiewicz has earned the opportunity by performing well in a managerial role. Sure, the Twins have good players in the minors, but his immediate success with this Miracle team has been nothing short of astounding. Mientkiewicz wouldn't necessarily be a conventional choice. At 40, he'd be the youngest manager in baseball and his experience essentially amounts to two years at Single-A. However, his path would closely mirror that of former Twin Mike Redmond, who jumped straight from A-ball to the majors last year at the age of 41. Redmond's Marlins endured 100 losses in his first season, but have taken a huge step forward this year and are currently just three games below .500. Let's take a look at some reasons why Mientkiewicz might make sense as the next Twins manager: * He's familiar, yet fresh. Since the Twins have a long history of promoting from within, it stands to reason that the next manager will be someone who's currently in the organization, so this fits. Yet, Mientkiewicz is disparate enough from the current regime, and young enough, that he'd bring a distinctly different flavor to what is unaffectionately referred to as the "Old Boys' Club." * He has worked extensively with the top prospects expected to be the lifeblood of a turnaround. Mientkiewicz managed Miguel Sano in Ft. Myers for the first half of the 2013 season, and Byron Buxton for the second half. Mientkiewicz has also coached Kennys Vargas, J.O. Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Adam Walker and others. * He's got attitude. It's something that many believe has been missing in the Twins clubhouse. Gardenhire isn't without fire -- as illustrated by his numerous ejections -- but his teams have often been accused of lacking in that department. Mientkiewicz would bring swagger. Last year he actually got in a brawl with an opposing manager on the field. Kind of awesome. What do you think? Does Mientkiewicz appeal to you as a candidate to be Gardenhire's successor? Click here to view the article
  25. Chad Allen was the Minnesota Twins fourth-round draft pick in 1996 out of Texas A&M University. After playing for Team USA, he signed late and spent the final week of the season in the Midwest League. In 1997, he started at Ft. Myers but finished the season in AA New Britain. That’s where he spent the entire 1998 season. He hit .262/.344/.399 with 31 doubles, seven triples and eight home runs. He came to big league spring training in 1999 and played so well that he was the Twins Opening Day starter. His greatest memories of that team involved playing with a bunch of his friends. Allen recalled, “I think the best thing that happened to the 13 guys who made it in ’99 is that we were all able to play with each other before we got to the big leagues.” Those guys had quite a bond. He continued, “To have them be able to know when you’re down, to know how to pick you up, to know if you need something, or that a guy will always have your back. That’s a special feeling. That’s something that I think all 13 kind of helped each other out with. We were always there to pick each other up, to have each other’s back.” 1999 was the best season of Allen’s career. He played in 137 games and hit .277/.330/.395 (.725) with 21 doubles, three triples and ten home runs. He spent parts of the next two seasons with the Twins. Some fans reading this may remember the final play he made for the Twins. Playing right field in a mid-August game in 2001, Kenny Lofton hit a ball to the wall. Allen took off for it, but a cleat got stuck in the grass and he tore his ACL. Somehow, Allen got to the ball and side-armed it back toward the infield, keeping Lofton from scoring. That was the type of player he was. He worked for everything and even in that moment,his playing was with maximum effort. It may not have been a long time, but Allen says that his bond to those teammates remains strong. He keeps in touch with several of his former Twins teammates from time to time. “(Doug) Mientkiewicz is managing in Ft. Myers. One of my best friends to this day is Mike Lincoln. He was my roommate my first, second and third years. He’s a great friend of mine. I stay in contact with him to this day. AJ Pierzynski? I saw this year at spring training when he was playing with Boston. He came over to the clubhouse and still says hello to all the coaches. Just a great teammate. Torii Hunter still lives in Dallas. I saw his wife and kids in Dallas a couple of times. It’s just like I say, when you play with guys for two or three years, even though you may not talk to them more than a couple of times a year, there still is that special place in your heart for them because you grew up with those guys, and it was a special time for us all to be rookies in the same year.” He remained in the game, spending parts of 2003 with Cleveland, 2004 with Florida, and 2004 and 2005 with the Rangers. He was with the Royals AAA team for 2006. So, what became of Chad Allen after his playing career? Allen told me, “Honestly, I left the game in 2008. For about two years, I actually went back to school, got my degree and got away from the game. Well, not really got away from that game, but really concentrated on getting my degree so I could get back into the game.” And then it took a bit of random luck for him to get back with the Twins. As Allen recalls, “It just so happened that I was actually coaching at a high school in Dallas, and we were playing a team in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I was at third base, and I heard my name called. It happened to be Bill Springman who is now our minor league hitting coordinator. Spring yelled at me, and I looked up. I hadn’t seen him in probably ten to twelve years. So, we started to talk, and I said ‘Spring, I’d love to get back in the game, if there was ever an opportunity for it, I’d really appreciate it.’” It was left at that until the following year when an act of providence occurred. “Ironically enough, his son was actually playing football against our school. I was on the sideline as the sideline referee. He walked up behind me during the game and said, ‘Chad, what are you doing here these days?’ I said, ‘Spring, I’m still coaching here at the high school and would love to get into the game.” He said, ‘Well, you know, I think you might be a guy that we’d like to interview.’ I said, ‘Yes, sir, any time you would like, I’d be willing.’” Chad Allen flew up to Minnesota and interviewed with Terry Ryan and Brad Steil. Soon after, he was named the hitting coach of the New Britain Rock Cats. He has served in that role the last two seasons (2013 and 2014). He remains very thankful to Bill Springman for the opportunity. “To this day, I thank him all the time that he gave me this opportunity, and the Twins gave me this opportunity. It’s a blessing. I just pray to God that I can help develop these guys and get them to the big leagues and that they go on and have great careers.” So what brought him back? I don’t think the reasons will surprise you. “To me, it’s the love of the game. Even though I went to school for two years, the desire and the love of the game never left me. Even though I’m not playing anymore, I still have a passion and a love to see these guys go up and have the opportunity to go to the big leagues. You have the relationships that you build with these guys. You have the clubhouse atmosphere that you rarely get to see. Obviously I was fortunate enough to play. And now, to be able to again develop those relationships with players and our coaching staff. To me, it’s the best job in the world to have.” Do his players know that he spent parts of eight seasons in the big leagues? Does it give him any credibility with the players? “I think the majority of the guys know that I did play in the big leagues, but no matter if you played zero years in the big leagues or if you have ten, the biggest thing I wanted to do when I became a coach was to gain the confidence of my players. I have to learn as a coach how to gain their confidence and I do that by learning not only what those guys do on the field mechanically and mentally, but what’s going on in their lives off the field. I think if I can gain their trust on and off the field, that’s going to help me in the future.” Allen looked back at his career and the type of coaches that he had and that he enjoyed playing for. “I think the greatest coaches I had were the ones that truly cared about me. If I was up or down, those guys were always behind me, always upbeat. That’s the kind of coach I want to be. No matter how things are going at the plate, I’m behind you and I have confidence in you. That’s just something that was most important for me when I was playing was I wanted my coaches to have confidence in me so I think by gaining their trust, knowing what makes them go is the most important thing for me.” The Twins coaching staff in his minor league days were the guys who became his coaches at the big league level with the Twins. The obvious question remains. Is getting to the big leagues as a coach a goal for Chad Allen? “Obviously that would be a phenomenal gift from God to be able to get back up there. Obviously I can’t tell the Twins that I want to go to the big leagues. That’s a decision that they’re going to have to make. But again, if I made it to the big leagues, would I thoroughly enjoy it? Absolutely! 100%. I think the most important thing for me is the passion and the love for the game is still there. Whether I’m in the big leagues or the minor leagues, I’m going to give my guys everything I’ve got. That’s just something that I… That’s how I played. I played as hard as I could. That’s something that I want to give my players. Whatever they need, I’m going to do the best I can for them.” There is one trait that I have seen from Twins minor league coaches that I have met and talked to. They have tremendous passion for the game of baseball. Chad Allen fits that mold. If you remember his playing days, you remember that he was a max-effort guy, always going at 100% It sure appears that his passion and love of the game has transferred into his coaching career. He has worked with Kennys Vargas this year and Miguel Sano last year. He credits Reynaldo Rodriguez for being a great on-field mentor for Vargas and Eddie Rosario. Starting on Tuesday, he will get the opportunity to start working with top prospect Byron Buxton in an attempt to get him ready for the big leagues. ------------------------------ Thanks to the Twins win against the Houston Astros on Monday night, it means that on Tuesday you can get 50% off a Large of Extra Large pizza for the second straight day when you use the “TWINSWIN” promotion code at PapaJohns.com.
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