Derek Falvey and Thad Levine traded away key players before the 2017 MLB trade deadline but manager Paul Molitor found a way to rally the Twins to an unexpected appearance in the American League Wild Card game.
Falvey and Levine traded away even more key players at this year's deadline and Molitor coaxed a roster of unknown players to a .500 finish after the All-Star break and 11 wins in their final 14 meaningless games.
For his efforts, Molitor was fired – by Falvey and Levine – on Tuesday, bringing an end to a four-year managerial career in which he won one AL Manager of the Year award and finished third in voting another time.
It wasn't perfect, but Molitor made the most of a team that featured a handful of free-agent acquisitions – you know, those guys Falvey and Levine were so excited about – who either completely busted or performed well below expectation.
Basically, Molitor was asked to drive a car with a bad engine and flat tires across the country all summer and return it as if it were a fresh off the dealership lot. No manager, not even Joe Torre, could've survived the summer of 2018 with the scraps Molitor was forced to work with.
With that, it's time to blame some people for his firing.
10 players Paul Molitor can blame
1. Logan Morrison: he hit .246 with 38 homers in 2017 with the Rays, which in hindsight was reason for red flags considering 38 bombs is 15 more than he'd ever hit. All the LoMo hype busted hard as he played in just 95 games and hit .186 with 15 homers and 39 RBI.
2. Lance Lynn: the right-handed veteran was supposed to be a big-time late-spring signing to bolster the starting rotation, but the only thing Lynn bolstered was his walk totals. He walked 5.5 batters per nine innings while posting a demotion-worthy 5.10 ERA. Falvey and Levine traded him to the Yankees where he's suddenly good again, cutting his walk rate by more than 50 percent and striking out nearly 11 batters per nine innings.
3. Addison Reed: known as a rollercoaster reliever, Reed had way more downs than ups en route to the worst season of his career, finishing with a 4.50 ERA and being the pitcher of record in six losses. His strikeout numbers were also way down from what the Twins expected.
4. Fernando Rodney: we all loved the bow and arrow thing he did after earning a save, but he also blew six of 31 save chances. Seriously, Falvey and Levine thought signing Rodney and Reed, classic rollercoaster relievers, to be the guys in charge of locking down close games in the eighth and ninth innings was a good idea.
5. Jake Odorizzi: he wasn't as bad as Lynn, but anyone who tells you he was good is foolish. The Twins got him to be their Opening Day starter and he proceeded to stink up the joint. Ok, that's a little bit mean, but his combined ERA in May, June, July and September was 4.88. Only 10 of his 32 starts were quality starts (allow 3 or fewer earned runs in 6+ innings) and he only pitched 164 innings.
6. Ervin Santana: the man who was supposed to be the staff ace had surgery on the middle finger of his throwing hand in February and wasn't able to pitch for the Twins until after the All-Star break. He made five starts with an ERA of 8.04 and then got hurt again.
7. Byron Buxton: the baseball player formerly known as a five-tool prospect was sidelined by migraines, a fractured big toe and a wrist injury. He played just 28 games and hit .156, essentially stripping Molitor of his most valuable defensive player for the entire season.
8. Miguel Sano: he reportedly weighed close to 300 pounds and was horrible to the point the Twins had to send him to Class A to lose weight. He dropped about 20 pounds but was a non-factor almost the entire season. In fact, he provided more distraction than production. Think Molitor would've enjoyed trusting a 2017 All-Star in the middle of the batting order for more than 71 games?
9. Jorge Polanco: his 80-game suspension for testing positive for performance-enhancing drugs was a killer. Molitor lost his starting shortstop and one of his top hitters for half the season. By the time Polanco stepped onto the field the Twins were already out of contention. He finished hitting .288 with six homers, three triples, 18 doubles and 42 RBI, a stat line nearly identical to Joe Mauer's even though he played 50 fewer games.
10. Brian Dozier: the second-half power surge that Molitor had trusted the previous three seasons never arrived, and Dozier has since been relegated to a bench role with the Dodgers. Dozier hit .227 with 16 homers and 52 RBI in 107 games before the Twins dealt him to Los Angeles for prospects.