Derek Shelton was an invaluable member of the Twins’ coaching staff, especially in 2019, when he basically was rookie manager Rocco Baldelli’s right-hand man from Day 1 on the job.
Now, he’s the new manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. It’s the last managerial appointment of the winter. And for the Twins (hopefully) it’s the final of a series of significant losses on Baldelli’s coaching staff.
Shelton, the Twins’ bench coach, joins a list that also includes hitting coach James Rowson (Marlins) and assistant pitching coach Jeremy Hefner (Mets) as coaches to leave for a promotion elsewhere. The Twins also lost two valued coordinator when catching coordinator Tanner Swanson took a big-league job with the Yankees, and hitting coordinator Peter Fatse took a similar job with the Red Sox.
Specifically the trio of big league staffers will be challenging to replace. Twins President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey knew that could be trouble dating back to the summer, so Minnesota is at least mentally prepared for the endeavor. But preparedness and execution are two different things, and it’s hard to understate the value that the trio of Shelton, Rowson and Hefner added to the Twins this season.
Baldelli mentioned in his Manager of the Year acceptance speech that he doesn’t accept the award as an individual, but as a member of the Minnesota Twins. And from being around the team this season, it struck me as more than just lip service.
The Twins have replaced Rowson with former minor league staffer Edgar Varela. Indications in October were that every coach that wanted to be back would return. That leaves two vacancies on the coaching staff left to fill, and there may be shuffling of roles before all the dust settles.