Minnesota Twins News & Rumors Forum
  • Big Year for the Manager

    One of the bigger storylines of the offseason was the future of Ron Gardenhire as manager of the Minnesota Twins. Most years throughout his tenure, he signed a two-year extension before he got to the final year of his contract. However, after last season, Gardenhire did not receive an extension, so he is in the last year of his deal.

    On its own, that means very little. I mean, Terry Ryan could still choose to extend him any time during the season or following the season. Unfortunately, Gardenhire has been the man in charge on the field where the Twins have lost 195 games over the past two seasons. As you recall, last year, three of his coaches were not brought back for the 2013 season.

    Although Gardenhire is the same manager that won one AL Manager of the Year award and finished second in voting five other times, the on-field results have not been there the past two seasons.

    He has been at his best as a manager when expectations were low. He is beloved by his players. Unlike his predecessor, Gardenhire is willing to get thrown out of a ball game to back his players. Like his predecessor, he wants the little things to be done right and well, even though his players have frequently not been able to do those things well.

    Those who donít like Gardenhire as manager will choose to bring up several topics as well. Many will tell you that he hasnít won in the playoffs, an argument that canít really be disputed at this point. Some will say that he can be tough on rookies, but he isnít as hard on them as Tom Kelly was. Some will focus on his lineup construction, although that is something that likely every fan base complains about their manager. Some talk about how he uses his bullpen, but most in the industry say that he and Rick Anderson handle their bullpen as well as any.



    With Ron Gardenhire in the final year of a contract with a roster that Las Vegas thinks will lose 95 games again in 2013, what does he have to do to maintain his job throughout the season and beyond?

    For what itís worth, Gardenhire says that he isnít spending much time thinking about it. At Twins Fest, the manager told reporters, ďI donít even worry about that. Really, I donít. Itís only talked about because thatís the way the business goes. I really manage, what is this 11 going on 12 years? I think my predecessor went one year at a time. I donít think he ever signed more than a one year deal. You know what, I really donít have a problem with it at all. Itís just the way it is. I laugh about it. I kid about it. You know what, you should be held accountable year by year. I have no problem with that. Iíll go about my business. Itís not going to change what I do.Ē

    Gardy may not think about it, but unfortunately Terry Ryan likely will. And, we know that Twins fans will as well. So again, what will be the determining factors in the decision to bring back Gardenhire, or not? Here are some ways to look at it. There may be more.

    WINS/LOSSES


    Some may simply look at the Win-Loss record and determine whether or not he comes back. However, this is not a case of looking for a certain number. As mentioned, the team has lost 195 games over the last two seasons. To expect them to suddenly win 85 to 95 games is just not very realistic. So, is there a win total that would mean you would keep him? Is it 81? Is it 75?

    COMPETITIVENESS


    I think that it should depend upon many more factors than just the Win-Loss record. Would you be willing to accept a lower number if various players are hurt? Maybe you just expect them to be competitive until mid-July? At that point, the Twins could decide to trade some veterans and go with younger players. Is it fair to expect that younger team to continue to win at the same level?

    How about just being more competitive from game to game? How many times in the last two seasons have the Twins been behind by four or more runs after the first couple of innings? But, depending upon who Gardenhire is able to put on the mound each day, he has little ability to control the results.

    IMPROVEMENT


    I think itís important to see improvement from year to year, and even from month to month. A manager can try to motivate young players or struggling players. Of course, the player is the one who has to develop and perform. However, I would like to see guys like Liam Hendriks and Brian Dozier take a step forward in their careers in 2013. Both struggled in 2012, and both do have the talent to be solid big leaguers. Thatís not to say that those are the two players who should determine Gardenhireís future. Others will need to improve as well.

    Also, it will be important to see the team as a whole play better from month to month throughout the season. Again, that may or may not be measured by wins.

    HANDLING OF YOUNG PLAYERS


    It is likely that rookies such as Aaron Hicks, Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arcia and maybe others will debut in 2013. How will Gardy deal with them through the good times and the bad?

    In speaking out Aaron Hicks at Twins Fest, Gardenhire said, ďI think one thing I know how to do is make these guys relax a little. Try to keep it as light as we possibly can. Thereís a stress out there that I canít control, and thatís him trying to make this baseball team. I can control how he handles himself, and I can try to keep him as relaxed as much as I possibly can with the rest of our staff and not put too much pressure on him.Ē

    This speaks beyond rookies though. It speaks to other young players, like Dozier, Hendriks, Darin Mastroianni, Joe Benson, Cole De Vries, Chris Parmelee and even Trevor Plouffe. How will their successes and their adversities be handled, and how will that be judged?

    INJURIES


    Letís face it, the Twins roster, particularly the pitching staff, has a lot of question marks tied to health that will affect the 2013 season. Kyle Gibson and Mike Pelfrey are returning from Tommy John surgery. Scot Diamond may not be ready for Opening Day due to removing bone chips from his elbow. Liam Hendriks had the same surgery in October, and Vance Worley had it in August. Other pitchers could get hurt throughout the season. The hitters sound like they are at 100%, but Morneau has missed a lot of time the last couple of years. Josh Willingham played a career high number of games in 2012. Can he stay relatively healthy in 2013? Trevor Plouffe missed a lot of time last year. And there are always unforeseen injuries.

    The manager canít control those things. Players get hurt, unfortunately. How he responds publically and within the locker room to those things is important.

    IN-GAME DECISION-MAKING


    This is a category that social media have seemed to make more important. Every decision a manager (or GM, or scouting director) makes is scrutinized. If a Manager goes with his gut, rather than the book on occasion, he will be called out by some. If he always does the same thing (even if that is what the book says to do), he will be scrutinized as being too predictable.

    Again, every fan baseís manager will make decisions throughout the season that the fans wonít agree with. I think this is a poor reason for firing, but some fans will think itís important.

    There are likely many other reasons to either fire or keep a manager around. Ron Gardenhire is the same manager that won a lot of games for this organization over the past dozen seasons. He has dealt with more injuries and lack of talent the last two seasons than in any of those previous seasons.

    It is clear that the Twins are building for 2014 and 2015 and beyond, so the biggest question really needs to be, Is Ron Gardenhire the right guy to have leading a young and developing roster? Thatís the most difficult question to answer as well. He has had a lot of successes with young players this century. Iím sure there have been some busts as well. Thatís the same with any manager or any team.

    Itís a tough question to answer, and at the end of the day, it will be Terry Ryanís question to answer. Hopefully the players will stay healthy and improve and the Twins will surprise a lot of people which will make Ryanís decision easy.
    This article was originally published in blog: Big Year for the Manager started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 82 Comments
    1. birdwatcher's Avatar
      birdwatcher -
      Over the years, on balance, Gardy has been regarded by the industry as being a very good manager. Does he have weaknesses? Absolutely! And some notable strengths, with clubhouse management and bullpen management most often cited.

      My own opinion is that he's gotten burnt out a bit. I think he had a lousy year in 2012, and unless he bounces back in 2013, I'm going to welcome a change.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I'm in the he's "stale" camp -- and it actually doesn't have a lot to do with Gardenhire himself. I believe (and believed this long before Gardenhire was hired) that most leaders have a "shelf life" of about 7-10 years, maybe a little longer. There is a reason for term limits in politics. There is a reason that the Methodist Church used to rotate ministers about every 7 years. I've seen it happen with school superintendents, hospital administrators and a number of other "leadership" positions. After a period of time, they seem to lose their effectiveness. It isn't that they are doing anything "wrong". It just becomes time for a new voice, new energy and a different leader. Sure there are exceptions but given the performance of this team the last 2 years, a leadership -- and culture -- change is needed.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I think the time is right on Gardy because I think this team will be largely rebuilt from the ground up over the next few years. That is a good time to bring in a new leader, to grow with the new team.
      I think that is a very valid reason, but again, who is brought in (or in the Twins case, brought up?)? Why? Is it Molitor, who has no record of success as a coach and no managerial success at any level? (worked with Robin Ventura, who hadn't even coached) Is it someone like Jake Mauer who all of the young players respect and admire? Is it someone like Mientkiewicz? Would they dare hire Jeff Smith (who the players can't stand)? Gene Glynn is known as a great talent evaluator, so does he serve the organization better managing in Rochester, or up in the big leagues? If winning is what people want to evaluate managers by, why not hire Ray Smith from Elizabethton?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think that is a very valid reason, but again, who is brought in (or in the Twins case, brought up?)? Why? Is it Molitor, who has no record of success as a coach and no managerial success at any level? (worked with Robin Ventura, who hadn't even coached) Is it someone like Jake Mauer who all of the young players respect and admire? Is it someone like Mientkiewicz? Would they dare hire Jeff Smith (who the players can't stand)? Gene Glynn is known as a great talent evaluator, so does he serve the organization better managing in Rochester, or up in the big leagues? If winning is what people want to evaluate managers by, why not hire Ray Smith from Elizabethton?
      IMO, best choice would be Ryne Sandberg.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think that is a very valid reason, but again, who is brought in (or in the Twins case, brought up?)? Why? Is it Molitor, who has no record of success as a coach and no managerial success at any level? (worked with Robin Ventura, who hadn't even coached) Is it someone like Jake Mauer who all of the young players respect and admire? Is it someone like Mientkiewicz? Would they dare hire Jeff Smith (who the players can't stand)? Gene Glynn is known as a great talent evaluator, so does he serve the organization better managing in Rochester, or up in the big leagues? If winning is what people want to evaluate managers by, why not hire Ray Smith from Elizabethton?
      And why not consider hiring someone from OUTSIDE the organization? Culture change.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      I'm in the he's "stale" camp -- and it actually doesn't have a lot to do with Gardenhire himself. I believe (and believed this long before Gardenhire was hired) that most leaders have a "shelf life" of about 7-10 years, maybe a little longer. There is a reason for term limits in politics. There is a reason that the Methodist Church used to rotate ministers about every 7 years. I've seen it happen with school superintendents, hospital administrators and a number of other "leadership" positions. After a period of time, they seem to lose their effectiveness. It isn't that they are doing anything "wrong". It just becomes time for a new voice, new energy and a different leader. Sure there are exceptions but given the performance of this team the last 2 years, a leadership -- and culture -- change is needed.
      Again, this is another good argument, but there are always counter-examples to this. Dean Smith at UNC, Coach K at Duke. Tony LaRussa in St. Louis. Joe Torre with the Yankees. Bruce Bochy with the Giants. In general though, I think this is a fair argument too. I just think that if you have a young team, why would they be "tuning out" the manager? They're trying to make their way in the big leagues. They certainly are going to listen to the manager and his coaching staff.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      And why not consider hiring someone from OUTSIDE the organization? Culture change.
      The Cubs didn't even want to hire him as their manager... although he's been an OK manager in the minors and certainly has the HOF status that so many seem to think is important.

      I also get the "go outside the organization" mentality, and I get that... but that isn't going to change the culture. Only way the culture changes is if everyone from Terry Ryan to Mike Radcliff to the manager to the minor league staffs get changed, which I know many reading think should happen, but it won't. That's also not the topic of this forum.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      The Cubs didn't even want to hire him as their manager... although he's been an OK manager in the minors and certainly has the HOF status that so many seem to think is important.

      I also get the "go outside the organization" mentality, and I get that... but that isn't going to change the culture. Only way the culture changes is if everyone from Terry Ryan to Mike Radcliff to the manager to the minor league staffs get changed, which I know many reading think should happen, but it won't. That's also not the topic of this forum.
      He's been a great minor league manager and the Phillies are grooming him now....we should offer him the job before they promote him
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Again, this is another good argument, but there are always counter-examples to this. Dean Smith at UNC, Coach K at Duke. Tony LaRussa in St. Louis. Joe Torre with the Yankees. Bruce Bochy with the Giants. In general though, I think this is a fair argument too. I just think that if you have a young team, why would they be "tuning out" the manager? They're trying to make their way in the big leagues. They certainly are going to listen to the manager and his coaching staff.
      I agree with this 100%, with what it takes to make the majors and considering the hierarchical structure at the major league level, I would think as a young player you do everything to get your manager to love you, not tune him out, that's pretty counterproductive, not to mention a pretty big gamble that he'll be gone before you are.
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      He's been a great minor league manager and the Phillies are grooming him now....we should offer him the job before they promote him
      Right, but he's not going to leave the Phillies organization knowing the Manuel isn't going to be there very long.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Right, but he's not going to leave the Phillies organization knowing the Manuel isn't going to be there very long.
      He's chomping at the bit to be a Major League manager....unless Manuel is stepping down after this season, and I've heard nothing to say he would be, we should go after him.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I think that is a very valid reason, but again, who is brought in (or in the Twins case, brought up?)? Why? Is it Molitor, who has no record of success as a coach and no managerial success at any level? (worked with Robin Ventura, who hadn't even coached) Is it someone like Jake Mauer who all of the young players respect and admire? Is it someone like Mientkiewicz? Would they dare hire Jeff Smith (who the players can't stand)? Gene Glynn is known as a great talent evaluator, so does he serve the organization better managing in Rochester, or up in the big leagues? If winning is what people want to evaluate managers by, why not hire Ray Smith from Elizabethton?
      This is the old "Who are you going to get that's better?" argument.

      When Ron Gardenhire was handed the reins as manager, he didn't have a very impressive managerial track record either (0-0, I believe). Same as those other guys you mention. The Twins could try to bring in Bobby Cox but I don't think he'll want to come out of retirement.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Dean Smith at UNC, Coach K at Duke. Tony LaRussa in St. Louis. Joe Torre with the Yankees. Bruce Bochy with the Giants.
      Any examples of long-tenured guys who didn't win championships at any point in those runs?
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by FrodaddyG View Post
      Any examples of long-tenured guys who didn't win championships at any point in those runs?
      Jerry Sloan, Lindy Ruff, Andy Reid, Bo Schembechler, Chuck Knox, Dan Reeves, Marv Levy, .......some guy with the last name Grant.
    1. FrodaddyG's Avatar
      FrodaddyG -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsnorth49 View Post
      Jerry Sloan, Lindy Ruff, Andy Reid, Bo Schembechler, Chuck Knox, Dan Reeves, Marv Levy, .......some guy with the last name Grant.
      And how many of them claimed ONE postseason series or game in the win column?
    1. TCBurgerGuy's Avatar
      TCBurgerGuy -
      Good points made by all on both sides of the argument. I think that there is one key factor missing from all of your points though; the Twins do not make non-player moves in-season. If Gardy is going to go, it will be at the end of the season.

      MWW brought up that this may be a good time to start fresh, and I agree, but it won't be before November.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by FrodaddyG View Post
      And how many of them claimed ONE postseason series or game in the win column?
      That wasn't your question but feel free to keep moving the target.The point was there are plenty of coaches/managers who have held tenure without having the good fortune of finding the Holy Grail, reason being they were quality people and by all other measures successful. The same could be said for many players.

      For the record I'm not saying Gardy should stay, change inevitably happens, as it should. If one of the main arguements for firing him is that he has never delivered a championship, then I say that's pretty short sighted and too convenient.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      Well, I went back and looked at the records of many of the long term coaches named in twinsnorth49's post. 2 things jumped out at me: 1. most (if not all) did not have the same mid to late-career abysmal failure that Gardenhire has had the last 2 years (they were some downward trends but nothing like the win-loss % Gardenhire has had); and 2. Many of them did not have significantly more than Gardenhire's current 11 seasons with one team. And when they did have several consecutive down seasons, it looks like many of them either resigned or were fired.
    1. jimbo92107's Avatar
      jimbo92107 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Someone would have to study that and even determine what that means... their 'little' guys haven't bunted well. They don't always run the bases real well. Defense has been down the last several years, but that's certainly the players... So, I dont know if it's true or not.
      That's another thing. When people talk about "doing the little things well," it sounds like they think that if we bunt well enough, field well enough and don't walk anybody, we'll be able to beat the Yankees.

      Problem is, the Yankees do the big things well. They hire pitchers that mow down your bunters. They hire hitters that bash baseballs past your contact pitchers and your diligent fielders. And of course, their fielders do most of the "little things" well, too.

      Maybe our problem is we just hear what we want or expect to hear from our middle market team. Truth is, if you want to win pennants and championships, you need a team with a lot of guys that can do the little things well, plus do the big things well. If you're wondering why the Twins installed Trevor Plouffe at 3B and now are trying to install Brian Dozier at 2B rather than Jaime Carroll, it's because the young guys hopefully can learn "little things" like consistent fielding at the same time they drive baseballs farther than Carroll ever will.

      I just can't see blaming Gardenhire for managing a team that's transitioning from an indoor small-ball club to an outdoor club in a bigger park, while at the same time trying to find a winning roster that keeps changing, too. It's a very stressful task, and frankly my biggest concern is if Gardenhire still has the physical endurance to put up with it.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by JB_Iowa View Post
      Well, I went back and looked at the records of many of the long term coaches named in twinsnorth49's post. 2 things jumped out at me: 1. most (if not all) did not have the same mid to late-career abysmal failure that Gardenhire has had the last 2 years (they were some downward trends but nothing like the win-loss % Gardenhire has had); and 2. Many of them did not have significantly more than Gardenhire's current 11 seasons with one team. And when they did have several consecutive down seasons, it looks like many of them either resigned or were fired.
      Most of those coaches struggled in their final year, a couple of them the last two.

      I don't think the downward trend the last two season's are on Gardy, I'm OK with the "it may be time for a change" movement but not based on the last two years, especially considering the SP we've had.

      As far as the length of tenure of the other coaches approaching that of Gardy, with one team, Sloan coached the Jazz for 22 years, Lindy Ruff coached the Sabres for 16 years, Bud Grant coached the Vikes for 18 years, Reid was the Head man with the Eagles for 13 seasons and Schembechler coached at Michigan for 21 years.

      Levy, Reeves and Knox all had about the same tenure as Gardy has now.
©2014 TwinsCentric, LLC. All Rights Reserved.
Interested in advertising with Twins Daily? Click here.