As the winter continues onward in Minnesota, the time for pitchers and catchers to report to sunny Fort Myers for spring training looms closer. This season however, is the first that the Twins will experience under new manager, Paul Molitor. With Molitor at the helm, you can bet there will be some changes to the process, but just how different could spring look?
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Prior to being brought on as the Twins newest manager, and successor to Ron Gardenhire, Molitor found himself employed as a part of the Twins staff. Despite being engrained in the Twins culture, it might be right there that the “Twins Way” goes to die with Molitor. Expected to bring a fresh outlook to the ballclub, the way spring training is handled should have a different feel as well.
One of Gardenhire’s least embraced parts of the game was that of sabermetrics. Gardy was amongst the leagues slowest to employ shifts, and he never was on the cutting edge of playing to the more intricate ways of the game. While Paul Molitor is no Joe Maddon at this stage of the game, he may not be far off either.
Many regard Molitor as a guy that has the ability to be one of the best in baseball when it comes to managing a franchise. He has been applauded for his baseball mind, and Molitor seems much more welcome to embracing any advantage that could help the Twins tally more wins. Look for shifts, baserunning, and the lesser followed in’s and out’s of the game to be prevalent in practice throughout the spring.
Also apparent is Molitor’s no-nonsense approach to the Twins. At his introductory press conference, he made a point to address what kind of music would and would not be allowed in the clubhouse. Despite being a relatively small piece of the puzzle, something so simple shows a level of accountability that will be expected in the clubhouse. With rumblings of players being less than committed at times in recent years, you can expect Molitor to have little to no time for that kind of practice.
Regardless of whether you make the trip to Hammond Stadium or Fort myers this spring, it will be the way the Twins prepare under Paul Molitor in March, that sets them up for success throughout the 2015 season. The goal would be that tweaks and changes to the process would provide dividends in the standings.