Pohlad said Molitor decision hasn't hurt GM search
MINNEAPOLIS--Declaring Paul Molitor the Twins' manager next season has not handcuffed the team's search for a new head of baseball operations, principal owner Jim Pohlad said Saturday.
MINNEAPOLIS-Declaring Paul Molitor the Twins' manager next season has not handcuffed the team's search for a new head of baseball operations, principal owner Jim Pohlad said Saturday.
"We're not handcuffing the search," he said. "We've searched, and no person has brought it up as a handcuff. I'll make that definitive."
As Pohlad watched batting practice before a 12-inning victory over Cleveland, he answered a handful of questions about the team's search for a general manager and why he made perhaps the GM's biggest immediate decision before he has even been hired.
For one thing, Pohlad noted, Molitor is under contract next season. Beyond that, he is a Hall of Fame major leaguer with only two managerial seasons under his belt, one of which was a success - keeping an overmatched team in the wild-card hunt into the last weekend of the season last year.
This year, of course, has been different. After getting out of the gate 0-9, the Twins plummeted to 20 games below .500 before fans could even get a breath and never played even the rest of the way. After Sunday's 7-1 loss to the Indians, they've won nine of their past 14 games but sit 53-90 with 19 games remaining heading into Monday night's 6:10 p.m. start at Detroit.
Molitor "was the unanimous decision of everybody who was involved in the process of his hiring," Pohlad said.
"He had a great season last year; this season isn't as good," he continued. "He's a Hall of Fame player, and virtually everybody I've talked to said there is no smarter person with regard to the game. Are we going to throw all that away? No.
"I mean, nobody would be having this conversation last year at this time. We want to reassure him, too. That was a period of turmoil, and that's the way I felt, and I wanted to make sure that he was reassured about it."
Pohlad initially gave Molitor his endorsement on July 18, the day Terry Ryan stepped down after 17-plus years as general manager after being told he wouldn't be in that role next season. He reaffirmed it in a letter sent last week to season-ticket holders, the goal of which was primarily to inform them the price of their tickets won't be going up next season.
"Well, we always write a letter," Pohlad said. "Maybe it's more poignant in this particular year."
Ryan was hired for his second stint as GM in November 2011, almost immediately after the Twins lost 96 games a year after winning the American League Central-and in their second-year in Target Field. Pohlad said it's possible a replacement could be hired before the team's season finale Oct. 2 at Chicago.
"I'd say it's certainly possible," he said. "Our timetable is to move the process along at every different step and do it as quickly as you can."
Since setting an attendance record that inaugural season with 3,223,640 paying customers, the Twins have seen attendance dip each year to 1,810,719 this year with only six home games remaining. The Twins haven't finished with less than 2 million in attendance since 2003, when they drew 1,946,011 to the Metrodome.
It's a natural result of a team that has lost at least 90 games in five of the past six seasons.
"We're concerned about that every year, and we've had, well, five out of the six seasons (at Target Field) have been down years, and it hurts your brand, there's no question about that," Pohlad said. "And that translates into season tickets and walk-ups and all that stuff, so we're concerned about it."
That 2011 team hit the field with a payroll of $113.2 million, a team record. Since then, the Twins have spent at least $100 million on the roster three more times, including this year - $105.3 million.
"I don't think any one of the 29 owners would say it's about money," Pohlad said. "We definitely have the resources, for sure, to a greater extent that we had before; but it's not about money.
"Money does not make you good."