MINNEAPOLIS — With Paul Molitor’s 3-year contract now finalized, the Twins will turn their attention to replacing the ousted Neil Allen as the team’s pitching coach and Eric Rasmussen as the minor league pitching coordinator. Those hires could come shortly, and CBO Derek Falvey spoke Tuesday about the traits he’ll look for in both hires.
Falvey said that the Twins have convened to put together lists of names of potential candidates, but decline more specific comment about whether employees on teams still in the postseason would be considered.
Molitor said that it was difficult to move on from Allen, a “late-in-life-found friend” for the Twins manager. But the weak point of the Twins in each of Molitor and Allen’s three seasons has been the pitching staff. Part of that, without question, has been the level of talent the Twins have put on the mound. But the organization must also view that it can do better on the pitching side, whether that’s through acquiring better pitchers or through better development of the pitchers they already have.
Falvey opened up Tuesday about what he’s looking for in a pitching coach, and spoke in broad terms about the need to continue the development process once a pitcher reaches the big leagues.
“It speaks to how we view coaching across the board. There are key elements in our minds – in my mind – to a successful organization in terms of coaching: that’s alignment from top to bottom, Major League through scouting and amateur acquisition,” Falvey said. “We have a plan in everything we do, from hitting to pitching to defense, and that there’s a Twins Way. And it’s not one way—it evolves over time. But I think that we want to make sure there’s alignment.
“And then understanding that development continues at the Major League level,” Falvey said. “There’s a view sometimes that guys get to the Major Leagues and that’s the end of development and therefore they’re ready. The recognition – and we saw it this year with some young players – that you need to support them through some struggles and the development path for young players is not always linear. So we want to make sure that all our coaches embody that spirit moving forward and will continue to.”
Falvey’s short list of candidates isn’t immediately clear — nor is whether they will be primarily internal or external candidates. But his hiring pattern over the past 11 months suggests he’ll be looking hard at candidates from outside the organization.
Before he took over the Twins, Falvey worked in Cleveland, where pitching coach Mickey Callaway is widely respected. Jason Bere is the bullpen coach. Twins GM Thad Levine worked for the Rangers previously, where Doug Brocail is the pitching coach. Former Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux now works for the Washington Nationals.
The Nats and Indians are both playoff teams with high-quality pitching staffs, so there’s some doubt as to whether any coach would accept a lateral move. And Falvey’s hire on its own proved that a great hire doesn’t have to come from a list of popularly known candidates. How many fans knew James Rowson’s name before he took over as Twins hitting coach and had a productive first season?
One thing Falvey mentioned is that the Twins will hold a “pitching summit,” similar to what they did last year in Fort Myers before spring training and after Rowson was hired.
“We started a little bit of that on the pitching side [last year], not quite as formal as that hitting summit,” Falvey said.
“We talked about organizational philosophies on pitching and started down some different paths this year. I would anticipate as we fill out the remainder of our Major League staff with the pitching coach, but also the minor leagues, we’ll have more conversations like that,” he said.