From 2011 through 2014, the Twins never won more than 70 games, a streak that finally had dire consequences for longtime manager Ron Gardenhire and longtime general manager Terry Ryan, both of whom were let go.
The Twins replaced Ryan with the tandem of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine and then the organization had to find a new manager to replace Gardy — not an easy task considering the Twins had had only two managers, Gardy and Tom Kelly, since 1986. Continuity appeared to be paramount so the organization’s next hire would be nothing short of significant.
And among those interviewed for the job, and the eventual runner-up to manager Paul Molitor, was none other than Torey Lovullo, the skipper of the 84-win Arizona Diamondbacks who are in the thick of the World Series. Just when it appears that the power of the Philadelphia Phillies or Texas Rangers might be too much for the Snakes, the D-backs answer back, outlasting the Phils in seven games and tying the World Series at a game apiece with a 9-1 blowout.
The Twins it seems took a good hard look at Lovullo before they finally hired Molitor, including input from team owner Jim Pohlad, according to the Star Tribune.
“Pohlad also flew to Los Angeles last week to meet with Boston Red Sox bench coach, Torey Lovullo, the other finalist for the job,” the newspaper reported in November 2014.
That’s right: The owner flew to meet him, not the other way around.
So, would the Twins have been better off with Lovullo over Molitor? Molitor hasn’t managed as long, but the two have had similar careers.
Lovullo was named manager of the D-backs in 2017 to replace former Twin Chip Hale. He went on to win the N.L. Manager of the Year award in his first season, while Molitor accomplished the same leading the Twins in 2017.
Both managers suffered through 100-loss campaigns (110 losses for Lovullo in 2021 and 103 for Molitor in 2016) and both have had postseason success. The Twins were a Wild Card team in 2017 while the D-backs are in the middle of their best postseason run since winning the World Series in 2001. Both, too, have similar winning percentages: Lovullo’s .480 to Molitor’s .471.
In the end, it makes sense that both were finalists for the job, and I can see how Paul finally edged him out. After all, he is from Minnesota, he played for the Twins and recorded his 3,000th hit for the team and later worked as a coach for the organization.
Extra innings …
-The Texas Rangers scored only one run in their blowout loss to the Diamondbacks, but that one run, a home run, was hit by former Twins catcher Mitch Garver.
Garver has had a pretty good postseason, slashing .268/.362/.899 with 11 hits, including three home runs and 13 RBI. Garver spent five seasons with the Twins and was a Bomba squad member in 2019, hitting 31 home runs.