The Twins went 8577 this season and captured their first playoff spot since 2010 before losing to the Yankees in the AL wild-card game. Last year, the Twins led the majors with 103 losses.
Brian Dozier, Joe Mauer and their Minnesota teammates were in the midst of a 5-13 slide when the Twins traded closer Brandon Kintzler to Washington for a minor leaguer less than a month after he made the All-star team. They also dealt away Jaime Garcia after he won his only start since they got him from Atlanta.
“A little bit of a wrinkle,” Molitor said.
Molitor’s message to the Twins at that point was “not magical,” he said. Instead, it was fairly simple and straightforward: Believe in yourselves.
“I still had a lot of optimism,” he said.
The 61-year-old Molitor was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota, and got the last of his 3,319 career hits with the Twins in 1998.
Shortly after the playoff loss, Molitor got a new three-year contract to continue managing the Twins.
The 52-year-old Lovullo guided the Diamondbacks to a 93-69 record and their first playoff spot since 2011, a year after they went 69-93.
Lovullo was Boston’s bench coach when he ran the Red Sox for 48 games in 2015 while manager John Farrell underwent cancer treatment.
Powered by Paul Goldschmidt, Jake Lamb and Martinez, and led by pitchers Zack Greinke and Robbie Ray, the Diamondbacks made the playoffs this year. They beat Colorado in the NL wild-card game before getting swept by the Dodgers in the Division Series.
The Diamondbacks were swept in a threegame series at Minnesota in mid-august, outscored 27-8 at Target Field. Less than a week later, Arizona began a franchise-record 13game winning streak.
Going into a new season, Lovullo’s team has a new target.
“It didn’t end the way we wanted. The Dodgers walked through us,” he said.