Well, kids, it’s the end of an era. Sort of.
Jake Mauer is leaving the Twins organization. After 16 years — including eight as a minor league manager — the elder Mauer brother is throwing in the towel. It’s over. Done. Kaput.
Why? The reasons aren’t exactly clear. I don’t know if the Twins’ new-ish front office wanted to go in another direction, or if it was just Jake himself who got sick of riding around middle America on a bus with a bunch of kids all the time. The report from LEN3 makes it sound like Mauer chose to leave himself (saying, he is leaving “to pursue other opportunities”), but hell, Jake could just be being polite.
The Twins originally drafted Mauer as a player in the 23rd round of the 2001 draft — the same year his younger brother, Joe, was the first overall selection. Jake played in the minor leagues, often alongside his brother, until 2005, topping out at the Double-A level. In 2010, Jake started his minor league managerial career as the skipper for the High-A Ft. Myers Miracle, where he managed three losing teams before moving on to helm the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels. Things went better for Jake in Iowa — thanks largely to having his roster stacked with the likes of Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, and friends — as he led the team to winning seasons the next four years. In 2017, Jake took over as the manager of Double-A Chattanooga Lookouts, leading them to a co-championship title in the Southern League.
But it’s over.
Don’t start crying into your oatmeal just yet, though — the old guard of managerial candidates is not completely dead. In conjunction with the Mauer news, LEN3 also reports that Toby Gardenhire will officially be the new manager of the Low-A Cedar Rapids Kernels next year.
Yes — Young Gardy.
(That’s supposed to be Toby Gardenhire as The Young Pope, by the way. It’s a show on HBO? I had Dan Photoshop that over six months ago and have been patiently waiting for the right time to use it. Yes, I am very proud of myself right now. Thank you.)
Gardy served as the third base coach for the Triple-A Rochester Red Wings for most of last year. Originally, the Red Wings manager Mike Quade was also supposed to coach third, but a bad car accident during spring training rendered Quade physically incapable of the job. Apparently, Young Gardy impressed Derek Falvey and Thad Levine enough for them to not get rid of him like they (maybe) did with Jake and definitely did with Doug Mientkiewicz.
In addition to the Gardenhire hiring, the Twins also announced the hiring of Tony Leo as the new athletic trainer (Japense-born Masa Abe was named as the new assistant athletic trainer last week); and the hiring of Josh Kalk as a senior analyst in the front office. Kalk is known for being a top guy in pitching analytics, having previously served as the director of pitching research and development for the Tampa Bay Rays.
The Kalk move in particular was praised by baseball Twitter.
While he's not on any free agent lists, Josh Kalk is joining the Minnesota Twins, and that's a really big move in the pitching-analytics world. He was on the cutting edge of PITCHf/x analysis, worked with the Rays for eight years and is really well-regarded in the industry.— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 8, 2017
The Twins also hired Josh Kalk as senior analyst. He's coming from the Rays and is considered an expert in pitching analytics.— Rhett Bollinger (@RhettBollinger) December 8, 2017
While I’m suddenly feeling extremely low on Mauers, I’m not too heartbroken over the moves. It could very well be possible it was Jake himself who wanted to leave — I’m sure it’s not a job that makes it easy to spend time with family. I’m also extremely happy for Tommy Watkins — who’ll be managing the Lookouts next season — and, I suppose, Young Gardy.
If the Twins don’t bring back Brian Dinkelman as minor league hitting coach, though, I will riot. Don’t mess with The Dink.
UPDATE [12:42 PM CT]:
It appears it was, in fact, Jake Mauer who had the final say in leaving the organization. According to Patrick Reusse, the Twins offered Mauer a new position as a roving minor league instructor, but he turned it down. The reason? To spend more time with his family.