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  • Bloodbath

    After approaching 100 losses in back-to-back seasons, the Twins clearly needed to make some changes. As we put it when introducing our Offseason Handbook yesterday, complacency was not going to be an option this winter.

    They wasted little time shaking things up, parting with their entire coaching staff – save for pitching coach Rick Anderson and manager Ron Gardenhire – in the very first day after the season came to an end.

    Bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third base coach Steve Liddle and first base coach Jerry White were all told that their expiring contracts will not be renewed. Head trainer Rick McWane also is gone, which comes as no surprise given the iffy handling of injuries over the past couple years. Hitting coach Joe Vavra and bench coach Scott Ullger will be reassigned within the organization.

    For a team that has maintained remarkable field staff stability over the past decade, this is an enormous development. It's also warranted, because while I doubt that each departing coach was blatantly incompetent at his job, a change in clubhouse culture and a message that all this losing is not acceptable both were necessary.

    Some fans are already voicing frustration that Anderson and Gardenhire were left alone for the time being, given that the pitching staff was clearly the leading issue this year and ultimately the manager should assume responsibility for a team failure as miserable as we've seen.

    Yet, there have undeniably been challenging circumstances beyond the control of those two, and I think it's fair to say that they are on thin ice at this point. Gardenhire will almost certainly enter the next season as a "lame duck manager," with only one year left on his contract. The writing is on the wall that if things don't turn around, Gardy and his right-hand man are probably going to follow the rest of the coaching staff out the door.

    Personally, I'm OK with giving them both another chance, considering their strong track records prior to 2011. But it's refreshing to see the organization sending a strong message, and I'll be interested to see how the the vacant spots are filled (or the spots that open up in Rochester, assuming that Gene Glynn, Bobby Cuellar and Tom Brunansky are brought up as expected).
    This article was originally published in blog: Bloodbath started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 50 Comments
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Actually, I think some changes in the staff were a bit overdue. In fact, over the years Ryan used to bring a younger guy onto the staff every few years. He would often remove a guy who had gotten a little too old or maybe didn't fit as well as he should, or had left for a different opportunity. This staff had stayed almost intact for a long time. While that has some good points, a little change probably should of happened before now.

      Clearly, all 3 guys basically fired, were pretty old. While being old shouldn't be an overriding reason for leaving, there are a lot of pretty active things generally required of coaches. Such as pitching batting practice, hitting fungos, etc. There are also communication issues, such as having a Spanish speeching coach, and maybe younger coaches who possibly can relate better to players.

      My take is Ryan is taking this opportunity get his coaching staff a little younger, perhaps change a little too comfortable mix, and maybe put a man on the staff who could be a reasonable successor to Gardenhire, when he retires/is fired.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      From LEN3
      +Paul Molitor is NOT a candidate for a spot on the staff. "Just not a fit," Ryan said.
      I guess being in the Hall of Fame and winning a World Championship and being to the WS twice as a player are not good enough credentials, unlike those of Gardy, Andy (ok he won a WS), Vavry and Scotty...
      Yep, and we all know that every great player makes a great coach. This comment makes no sense and is not supported in any way,
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Pretty much the way it is in every war.

      The Generals and the Colonels (Gardenhire & Anderson) are pretty darn safe.

      The captains (Ullger & Vavra) are reassigned to positions further away from the battlefield.

      The lieutenants, corporals and privates (Stelly, White, Liddle, McWane) are dead.

      It is a ridiculous way to effect change in an organization.
      Yeah, and the whole premise of this article turns out to be "overkill" as somehow Nick Nelson's pictured weapon for his "Bloodbath" should have been a hatchet instead of an axe.

      And, as it turns out, the clean-up from this bloodbath will only require a sponge rather than Zamboni.
      Hatchet?

      ok. Let's re-examine who was let go:

      2 60+ year old guys and someone who was on the record saying that he will retire after this season.

      sounds more like a stapler than a hatchet
      Now the factthat they are over 60 yrs old makes them a bad coach? Ageism is against the law you know.
    1. Jim H's Avatar
      Jim H -
      Now the factthat they are over 60 yrs old makes them a bad coach? Ageism is against the law you know
      .

      As it happens I am over 60 and can tell you about age and the workplace. Yes, age isn't going to be cited in the release of the various coaches by the Twins. Clearly, however it is a factor. The coaches are required to do any number of active things from throwing batting practice to hitting fungos, to running/hitting infield, etc. If you have too many coaches who are limited in what they can do, it becomes a problem.

      I can see the need on the Twins staff for Spanish speaking members and perhaps someone who could be a successor to Gardenhire. Now the Twins aren't going to speak to openly about some of these things, but they likely should of have been addressed gradually over the last few years. Since they weren't, the poor play over the last 2 years offers some justification for doing it now.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Fire Dan Gladden View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Pretty much the way it is in every war.

      The Generals and the Colonels (Gardenhire & Anderson) are pretty darn safe.

      The captains (Ullger & Vavra) are reassigned to positions further away from the battlefield.

      The lieutenants, corporals and privates (Stelly, White, Liddle, McWane) are dead.

      It is a ridiculous way to effect change in an organization.
      Yeah, and the whole premise of this article turns out to be "overkill" as somehow Nick Nelson's pictured weapon for his "Bloodbath" should have been a hatchet instead of an axe.

      And, as it turns out, the clean-up from this bloodbath will only require a sponge rather than Zamboni.
      Hatchet?

      ok. Let's re-examine who was let go:

      2 60+ year old guys and someone who was on the record saying that he will retire after this season.

      sounds more like a stapler than a hatchet
      Now the factthat they are over 60 yrs old makes them a bad coach? Ageism is against the law you know.
      No. The fact that they are in their sixties makes them close to retirement.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by PseudoSABR View Post
      From LEN3
      +Paul Molitor is NOT a candidate for a spot on the staff. "Just not a fit," Ryan said.
      I guess being in the Hall of Fame and winning a World Championship and being to the WS twice as a player are not good enough credentials, unlike those of Gardy, Andy (ok he won a WS), Vavry and Scotty...
      Coaches have to work together. Perhaps Molitor and Gardenhire are not in the same book? There are plenty people who played in championships that could not manage. It is a different skill set.
      Your comments in regards to age of coaches and managers to perform their jobs reflect a limitation of your ability to analyze a situation.
    1. geshirley's Avatar
      geshirley -
      Quote Originally Posted by Ex-Iowegian View Post
      I am curious about the Vavra (infield) and Ullger (outfield) pedigrees for their new positions. It lends itself to having one full time and one part time hitting coach if Vavra stays at the major league level, which is kind of unclear at this point. Probably too soon to tell.
      I agree that keeping Cuellar and Bruno may have had more to do with this than many will give credit. It will be fun to see who, if anyone, comes up from within the organization.
      Here's a little on Joe Vavra from Wikipedia, I've known Joe for 20+ years, (since his days with the Dodgers) he was a very good fielding middle infielder and after his playing days were over he became a very good manager. Despite what you may see from him as a hitting coach, as a manager he is firey and intense and is very entertaining when he goes after an umpire. I'm maybe a little bias since he is a friend but I think he is a very good baseball guy and a assest to the Twins. I think that's why he was kept around and reassigned.

      Beginning in 1987, Vavra coached in the Dodger's minor league system. While at Yakima, Washington in Class A, he was named Manager of the Year for 1994 and 1996 for the Northwest League after winning the Division title in 1994 and the League championship in 1996. Vavra coached for ten years in the minors before moving to the Dodgers major league staff. He served in special assignments and as a roving coach before becoming the permanent bunting and baserunning coach in 2000.
      After a brief stint as the head coach of UW–Stout baseball, Vavra joined the Twins staff in 2002. On October 27, 2005, Vavra was named the Twins' hitting coach.
      Vavra attended the 2008 MLB Home Run Derby at Yankee Stadium to pitch for Justin Morneau. Morneau beat Josh Hamilton to win the Home Run Derby.
      During Vavra's tenure in Minnesota, the Twins have consistently ranked among the best in the league for both individual and team hitting stats.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by Fire Dan Gladden View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by thrylos98 View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Pretty much the way it is in every war.

      The Generals and the Colonels (Gardenhire & Anderson) are pretty darn safe.

      The captains (Ullger & Vavra) are reassigned to positions further away from the battlefield.

      The lieutenants, corporals and privates (Stelly, White, Liddle, McWane) are dead.

      It is a ridiculous way to effect change in an organization.
      Yeah, and the whole premise of this article turns out to be "overkill" as somehow Nick Nelson's pictured weapon for his "Bloodbath" should have been a hatchet instead of an axe.

      And, as it turns out, the clean-up from this bloodbath will only require a sponge rather than Zamboni.
      Hatchet?

      ok. Let's re-examine who was let go:

      2 60+ year old guys and someone who was on the record saying that he will retire after this season.

      sounds more like a stapler than a hatchet
      Now the factthat they are over 60 yrs old makes them a bad coach? Ageism is against the law you know.
      No. The fact that they are in their sixties makes them close to retirement.
      Somebody better tell Jim Leyland, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Dusty Baker, and Ron Washington that they are too old to be managing.
    1. Fire Dan Gladden's Avatar
      Fire Dan Gladden -
      Quote Originally Posted by Jim H View Post
      Now the factthat they are over 60 yrs old makes them a bad coach? Ageism is against the law you know
      .

      As it happens I am over 60 and can tell you about age and the workplace. Yes, age isn't going to be cited in the release of the various coaches by the Twins. Clearly, however it is a factor. The coaches are required to do any number of active things from throwing batting practice to hitting fungos, to running/hitting infield, etc. If you have too many coaches who are limited in what they can do, it becomes a problem.

      I can see the need on the Twins staff for Spanish speaking members and perhaps someone who could be a successor to Gardenhire. Now the Twins aren't going to speak to openly about some of these things, but they likely should of have been addressed gradually over the last few years. Since they weren't, the poor play over the last 2 years offers some justification for doing it now.
      As a manager that has managed hundreds of employees, I can tell you that statement is garbage, even in sports.

      Let's start with an easy one: NBA officials. NBA officials generally get better with age. Many of them are in their late 50's and early 60's with no signs of slowing down. Heck, Dick Bavetta, considered one of the best refs in the league, turns 73 in December. Don't think they have to be physically fit in their jobs?

      The list of D1 Baskteball coaches over the age of 60 is too long to list.

      MLB: Jim Leyland, Davey Johnson, Charlie Manuel, Dusty Baker, Ron Washington...

      Maybe you couldn't physically handle the rigors of professional sports at your age, but don't lump everybodyu into the same boat. I would much rather have a qualified individual in their 60's or 70's than a leeser one in their 40's. If anybody tells you otherwise, they are a poor decision maker.
    1. Paul's Avatar
      Paul -
      The "bloodbath" seems to me to be a perfectly logical first step to regain the clubhouse. It's either this or you have a fire sale. It's essential for the on field staff, the players, and the FO to all be pulling in the same direction. There's a tremendous value in that synergy.
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