|Molitor to Twins, Maddon to Cubs|
Over the next two days, two of baseball’s best, as well as two of my own personal favorite baseball people, will take over new challenges.
On Monday, the Chicago Cubs will introduce Joe Maddon as their new manager. On Tuesday, the Minnesota Twins will do the same with Paul Molitor.
The 60-year old Maddon is a former 2-time American League Manager of the Year while with the Tampa Bay Rays, whom he led to the 2008 A.L. Pennant. In 9 seasons under his guidance, the Rays accumulated a 781-729 record, winning the A.L. East crown in 2008 and 2010. The club also reached the playoffs as an A.L. Wildcard team in both 2011 and 2013 under Maddon.
Prior to Tampa, Maddon was with the Angels for over three decades, working his way through the organization as a coach and manager in their minor leagues, a scout, and finally an assistant coach with the major league club. He was a member of the Angels coaching staff during the 2002 season in which the team won the only World Series title in franchise history.
Molitor is a Baseball Hall of Famer as a player. The 58-year old is a Saint Paul native who was an All-American at the University of Minnesota, and who also played for his hometown Twins at the tail end of his career from 1996-98, then was a bench coach with the club for three seasons. He returned as an assistant with the Twins a year ago.
Molitor began his playing career with the Milwaukee Brewers, where over 15 seasons he had a career .303 batting average, amassing over 2,000 hits and helping lead the franchise to it’s only-ever World Series berth in 1982. Moving to the Toronto Blue Jays from 1993-95, he was the 1993 World Series MVP as the Jays won their 2nd straight championship.
In 1997, Molitor was named to MLB’s All-Time Team, and he was elected to the Hall of Fame on his first ballot of eligibility in 2004. In all he played 21 seasons between his Milwaukee, Toronto, and Minnesota years. He accumulated 3,319 hits, had a career .306 average, and stole 504 bases. Molitor was a 7-time All-Star and also a 4-time winner of the Silver Slugger Award.
Always two of my personal favorites, in the longtime fantasy baseball keeper/dynasty league that I have participated in since 1998 we name managers for our squad. Molitor was my manager from 1999-2002, the last two of those seasons reaching the Finals, and the 2002 team winning the league championship.
After getting off to a slow start in this past season, I replaced managers, naming Maddon to the post. The team took off, nearly winning a division crown and reaching the playoffs. He will be the manager now into the future for my Philadelphia Athletics.
The fans in both Chicago and Minnesota are getting men who have paid their dues as players and coaches. Both baseball lifers, they also bring strong communication skills as well as a high level of intelligence to their new teams.
They are also each going to organizations with highly skilled young players coming through their farm systems, and so should be getting good talent sooner rather than later in trying to turn around recently losing records at the MLB level.