Thursday morning, the Minnesota Twins announced that Rhode Island native and Bishop Hendricken High School alum, Rocco Baldelli, will be the clubs new manager. He had previously served in a variety of roles with the Tampa Bay Rays, including first-base coach and field coordinator.
Some of it was a stretch, sure, but there were still signs that Baldelli, the first Twins manager in 33 years with no previous ties to the organization, knows his audience.
He spent seven years in Major League Baseball as a player, including six seasons in Tampa Bay and one in Boston, hitting.278 with 60 home runs, 262 RBIs and 60 stolen bases in 519 career games. While manager Paul Molitor was more than open to data and modern baseball strategies - evidenced by the Twins' aggressive shifting in his tenure and usage of "the opener" in 2018 - Baldelli has spent the past seven years immersed in an analytic-based culture with the Rays. On the contrary, it means the Twins' new manager will have more influence on the front office.
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Molitor was named American League Manager of the Year in 2017 and was sacked with two years remaining on his contract. The official announcement will come at a press conference at 3:00 p.m. Thursday afternoon. The 25-year-old Sano also had a career-worst season. He joined the Padres after spending three seasons as the Dodgers' hitting coach.
As it turns out, the Twins were looking for a younger manager that could communicate well with millenials. The Twins under Falvey and Levine over the last two years have dived much more deeply into the data-driven era of the grand old game, with a particular admiration for what the Rays have pioneered.
"When you take the time and invest with people in general, generally you get a good response", Baldelli said.