The new Twins front office — can we still call them new? It’s been a year — may have decided to stick with Paul Molitor as their big league manager, but they’re making plenty of changes in the minors. According to Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, several personnel are changing roles in the organization, and there is some question as to whether Jake Mauer will return in 2018. As Berardino put it, the elder Mauer is “said to be weighing his professional options”.
Mauer, who has spent ten years managing in the Twins minor league system, led the Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts to a co-Championship title in 2017 (the championship series was never played due to remnants of Hurricane Irma). He will not be returning as the Lookouts manager in 2018, however, as the team announced Tommy Watkins will be taking over that role. Watkins was the manager of the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2017.
It’s possible Jake could take over at Triple-A, as it was also announced that Mike Quade is voluntarily leaving his position there. Quade, who’s managed the Red Wings for three seasons, will instead move into a roving outfield instructor role, similar to the one he had with the Yankees in 2014. The move may have something to do with the serious auto accident Quade was in during spring training earlier this year.
Berardino also reports that Toby Gardenhire, a.k.a Young Gardy, is apparently expected to have a managing job in the Twins minor leagues next year, though an exact position wasn’t named. Toby, 35, spent five years as the head coach for the men’s baseball team at Wisconsin-Stout, and served as a minor league coach for the Twins in 2017. He’s Ron Gardenhire’s son, if that wasn’t obvious.
Also on the move is Joel Lepel, an employee of the Twins organization since 1989. He’s spent the last twelve years serving as the minor-league field coordinator, but will be moving to a new, as yet unnamed position in the organization.
In addition to the moves, the Twins made two new hires: Bob McClure and Masa Abe. McClure, who served as the Phillies pitching coach for the past three years, will be the organization’s new senior pitching adviser. Abe, who I find as a particularly interesting hire, will serve as the assistant MLB athletic trainer.
The Twins already made several minor league coaching moves earlier this year, including firing High-A manager and fan favorite Doug Mientkiewicz. With Tommy Watkins also moving from High-A to Double-A, it means each of the Twins’ minor league affiliates will have new managers in 2018.