Following the hiring of new manager Rocco Baldelli, it seems that the Twins will make further changes to the coaching staff. Dan Hayes of The Athletic reports that while hitting coaches James Rowson and Rudy Hernandez will return to the organization, pitching coach Garvin Alston won’t be retained for a second season (subscription link). Moreover, bench coach Derek Shelton, the runner-up to Baldelli in the team’s search, will be allowed to interview outside the organization, per Hayes.
Beyond the decision not to retain Alston, La Velle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that bullpen coach Eddie Guardado, third base coach Gene Glynn, first base coach Jeff Smith and Major League coach Jeff Pickler won’t return to the staff in 2019. Neal adds that Shelton is interviewing for the Rangers’ managerial vacancy — specifically, Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reports that Shelton interviewed today — but the organization is hopeful Shelton will stay if he is not named the manager in Texas. Both chief baseball officer Derek Falvey and GM Thad Levine were emphatic following the hiring of Baldelli that they hoped Shelton would remain on as the bench coach.
Alston had previously served as the Athletics’ bullpen coach and was hired to work as the pitching coach under former manager Paul Molitor last season. He brought a lengthy background as a minor league pitching rehab coordinator to the Twins, having previously served in that role with both Oakland and San Diego. He had a year remaining on his contract, according to Hayes.
It’s a substantial overhaul for the Twins organization, although this type of turnover isn’t uncommon when a new manager takes over a team. Guardado, remembered fondly by many Twins fans for his time as the team’s closer, had been Minnesota’s bullpen coach since being appointed in 2014. He enjoyed a successful career as a big league reliever and brought plenty of experience and a bilingual presence to the coaching staff.
However, it wasn’t the best look for the Twins’ bullpen coach or pitching coach when in an interview with the Washington Post’s Dave Sheinen, Ryan Pressly attributed his dominance with the Astros to the manner in which the Houston organization presented him with data and the manner in which it could improve what were already solid results. Pressly’s comments and improvements alone surely didn’t lead to the decision to make changes, but they do perhaps shed some light on areas in which the Twins hope to improve their coaching staff.
Glynn, 62, has been with the Twins organization since 2012 when he was hired as the team’s Triple-A manager. He moved up to the big league staff in 2015 and spent four years as the team’s third base coach. Prior to his time in Minnesota, he served as either a third base coach or first base coach with the Rockies, Expos, Cubs and Giants in addition to working as a pro scout with the Rays and spending another couple of seasons as a minor league manager and minor league field coordinator with the Rockies.
Pickler, 42, spent two years on the Twins’ staff as a coach and coordinator of Major League development after previously serving as a player development special assistant with the Dodgers in 2015-16 and, prior to that, a pro scout with the Padres organization. Neal adds that Glynn, Guardado and Pickler were all on expiring contracts.
Smith, meanwhile, had the longest tenure in the organization. A 20th-round pick by Minnesota all the way back in 1995, he joined the Twins’ minor league coaching ranks back in 2005 and managed at three different minor league levels before joining the big league staff as a first base coach in 2017. While he won’t be on the big league staff in 2019, Hayes does report that Smith could end up in a player development role with the organization.