Deep Dive on the Finalists for Twins Manager Job

With the World Series set to begin the Twins are continuing their search for who will replace Paul Molitor as manager. But who are the potential candidates? What does each candidate bring to the table? Let’s take a look at where the process is at.

The Top Contenders

Derek Shelton

Age 48. Played 3 seasons as a catcher in the minor leagues but never advanced to the MLB level.

Managerial Experience: None

Previous Coaching Experience: Cleveland Indians Hitting Coach (2005-2009) Tampa Bay Devil Rays Hitting Coach (2010-2016) Toronto Blue Jays Quality Control Coach (2017) Minnesota Twins Bench Coach (2018)

Past Managerial Influences: Eric Wedge (2005-2009) Joe Maddon (2010-2016) John Gibbons (2017) Paul Molitor (2018)

Pros: Shelton appeared to have been well received in his first season with the Twins.  He’d also be the candidate most familiar with the organization, and both Thad Levine and Derek Falvey have already had an opportunity to observe his managerial style over Hall of Fame weekend at Fenway Park.

The former minor league catcher has spent most of his post-playing years under one of the most creative managers in the game, Joe Maddon, and it’s likely some of his mannerisms will have rubbed off on Shelton who also shows a willingness to embrace new school ideas and analytics.

Cons: Really the only con is Shelton’s lack of managerial experience, but seeing as none of the other reported candidates have any MLB Head Coaching experience either, it doesn’t seem to be something the front office is worried about. The front office looks like it wants to go outside the organization but Derek Shelton isn’t really and “in-house” guy being he was picked up by the new head brass before 2018.

Joe Espada

Age 43. Played 9 seasons in the minors as an infielder, never advanced to the MLB level.

Managerial Experience: None at MLB level but has managed in the Puerto Rican winter league.

Previous Coaching Experience: Florida Marlins Third Base Coach (2010-2013) New York Yankees Third Base/Infield Coach (2015-16) Houston Astros Bench Coach (2017)

Past Managerial Influences: Fredi Gonzalez/Edwin Rodriguez (2010) Jack McKeon (2011) Ozzie Guillen (2012) Mike Redmond (2013) Joe Girardi (2015-16) AJ Hinch (2017)

Pros: Espada speaks spanish which would be appealing considering the Twins have several notable players (Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Jose Berrios) who speak better spanish than english. Espada is widely respected throughout baseball and would come from one of the most forward thinking organizations in baseball (Houston). Espada also embraces analytics which are becoming more and more relevant in today’s game and clearly something important to Falvine.

Cons: As with Shelton, really the only knock from what I can tell would be lack of managing experience but Espada has managed in winter ball so that’s more experience than a lot of the other finalists.

Rocco Baldelli

Age 37. Played 7 seasons in the majors with Tampa Bay (2003-2008) and Boston (2009-2010).

Managerial Experience: None

Previous Coaching Experience: Tampa Bay Rays First Base Coach (2015-16) Major League Field Coordinator (2017-18)

Past Managerial Influences: Kevin Cash (2015-2018)

Pros: Baldelli has been on the staff of Kevin Cash, who is a very forward thinking manager and has launched several “new school” ideas including the “Opener Strategy” for the Tampa Bay Rays who also spent most of the season using their 5th spot in the rotation as a “Bullpen Day“. The Twins would be hoping to get a similar effect in hiring Baldelli as the Phillies got with Gabe Kapler, although the Phillies imploded by the end of the year.

Cons: Baldelli would come in as a fresh hire, and by fresh hire I mean with very little coaching experience under his belt. But as has repeatedly been said with the other top candidates, the Twins don’t appear worried about if their next manager has prior experience or not. Baldelli received a second interview with the Twins this week so he is clearly in the mix.

Brandon Hyde

Age 45. Played in the minor leagues from 1997-2001 as a catcher/first baseman. Never advanced to the MLB Level.

Managerial Experience: Managed in the Minor Leagues from 2005-2009 before taking various coaching positions at the MLB Level. Has managed 1 game at the MLB level in 2011 before Jack McKeon took over.

Previous Coaching Experience: Florida Marlins Minor League Infield Coordinator/Bench Coach (2010-11) Chicago Cubs Bench Coach (2014, 2018) Chicago Cubs First Base Coach (2015-2017)

Past Managerial Influences:  Edwin Rodriguez/Jack McKeon (2010-2011) Rick Renteria (2013-2014) Joe Maddon (2015-2018)

Pros: Hyde has some previous managerial experience in the minor leagues so he would be most familiar with what is required of the position. Hyde also has spent several seasons working with Joe Maddon, who is one of the most forward thinking managers in baseball. So, you would think he would bring some of that with him to a new team.

Cons: Hyde, at least from my perspective, is the candidate we know the least about. Shelton was with the team last year. Espada is also unknown but has been rumored as an “up and coming coach” all season. So would Hyde be able to get the job done? What style would he bring to the Twins? That remains to be seen.

Others in the Hunt

Twins hitting coach James Rowson, and Giants bench coach Hensley Meulens have also talked to the Twins about the vacancy but this appears to be the final group. I will be shocked if it isn’t one of the 4 contenders listed above. Then again it is the Twins so who knows what will happen.

Seth Toupal @sethtoups
Minnesota Sports Fan

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