Just listened to Paul Molitor for about half an hour and wanted to share some of the highlights. I'll have plenty more throughout the winter, of course, on 1500ESPN.com. But no need to wait for some of this stuff.Posted by Derek Wetmore on 12/7/2016 4:14:56 PM
Molitor spent a fair amount of time talking about how his team's defense needs to get markedly better from last season. Sure, personnel changes and new roles could help that organically, but Molitor was clear that it's going to take intense focus to correct. He views that as a big part of his job this year, he said.
With that in mind, take a look at the potential left side of the Twins infield. Jorge Polanco plus Miguel Sano. That tandem has all kinds of offensive upside, but the Twins likely are wary of the potential downside of inconsistent fielding. I think the positives outweigh the negatives with that duo, but if they could solidify the fielding part of their game, they'd be two potentially big impact players. Molitor made it sound like Polanco has a leg up to be the opening day shortstop as it stands right now, but he didn't seem like he wanted to gift jobs to players.
Molitor also said he feels comfortable with pitching Neil Allen, which is a big reason why the Twins defied the popular belief that the Twins would part ways with a pitching coach after a league-worst ERA.
Twins are close to hiring another coach for the coaching staff. Molitor said it's not only about hiring the best person, but about finding the best overall fit. Whoever they hire will be someone with "cross-over ability" in knowing analytics and strategy, and also will probably work with outfielders. So it's a unique skillset they're looking for. Torii Hunter and Michael Cuddyer could be resources there, Molitor said.
Lastly, but importantly, Molitor mentioned off-handedly that he thinks the Twins are better positioned to take advantage of the booming of data than in previous years. He was referring to things like StatCast and the like, which can help tell you how good an outfielder is with his first-step quickness, angles, etc., but Molitor also said they can use things like spin rate and launch angle to try to find a way to pitch smarter. That data is out there for every team, but the point to underscore from what Molitor said is that he thinks the team is better equipped to make use of it now than they have been.