• Right Man for the Job

    Just for fun, letís imagine that you have worked for a company for more than 25 years. Imagine you have been in a very important position within that company for a dozen years. Youíve given your heart and soul, worked hard and dedicated your energies to that company. You may not be the perfect employee. Frankly, for your job, there is no such thing as perfect. However, itís not an easy job, dealing with personalities and performances of others.

    Imagine now that the last three or four projects that you were in charge of had not gone as planned. Though the expectations of some were that the projects would be simple, each had unforeseen challenges. You did your job in the right ways, continued to work hard, continued to work with your teams. You performed your job and did all the necessary work, but the projects were not seen as successes.

    How would you want your boss and his or her superiors to respond?

    Well, there are two options, arenít there?

    Option 1 Ė They could decide to terminate your employment or push you to a different area of the company. Thatís probably the easier choice.

    Option 2 Ė Despite the loud voices to the contrary, your boss can stand up for you and talk about how the whole team, the whole organization is responsible and accountable. The boss can ask you to work on certain things, and maybe look in the mirror at areas you can improve, in an attempt to improve the overall performance. The boss can stand behind you to his or her superiors because there have been many successes along the way, big and small.

    With Mondayís decision to retain the services of Manager Ron Gardenhire for the next two seasons, GM Terry Ryan chose for Option #2, and my personal opinion is that it is the right decision.

    Ron Gardenhire is not without faults. There are times I may question some in-game decisions, or why he chooses to call out a young player through the media, but overall, Gardenhire has proven himself on the field. He and his coaching staff also put in their work and their time, all in the effort of making players better every day. There have been several successes, and like all walks of life, there are plenty of mistakes.

    The Twins lost 96 games in 2013, the third straight season they have lost at least that many games. The number of managers who have kept their job after three straight 90-loss seasons is very low. However, one such example of this is the Twins, and it was Tom Kelly. It should surprise no one that the organization wants to remain loyal and wants to build from within. In early September, the Twins found themselves with a 61-77 record. They proceeded to lose 14 of their final 19 games to end the year at 66-96. Of course, Justin Morneau had been traded and Joe Mauer missed the final six weeks with his concussion.

    ďThe players want Gardy to come back.Ē To nobody's surprise, players were quoted over the weekend that they wanted Ron Gardenhire to return and spoke glowingly about his managerial style and how hard he worked. Listening to the quotes of players who are loyal to their manager is definitely not something the GM should base his decision on.

    However, the only thing worse than making a move to appease the players is to make a move to appease the fans. Fans want wins, and thatís what everybody wants. Thereís nothing wrong with that. The GM's job is to find ways to win as quickly as possible while also looking out for the long-term future of the product on the field.

    The idea of making a change just to make a change is obviously not smart. Consider this. A year ago, fans were screaming for Joe Vavra to lose the hitting coach duties so Tom Brunansky could take over. How well did that turn out for the Twins in 2013, a Twins team that struck out the third most times by a team in baseball history?

    Many will choose to look at the last three seasons. Itís also hard to ignore his first nine seasons. In that time, he had six division titles, and a second place finish (after losing a Game 163). Just once in his first nine seasons did the Twins have a sub-.500 record.

    Some choose to look at the Twins playoff record, and I understand that. However, what happens over a 162 game sample size is a more reliable indicator than a five game sample any day.

    Manager of the Year voting is always an interesting endeavor. However, he won the award in 2010 after finishing second in voting five times previously. The respect that Gardenhire has in the baseball industry is great.

    So, how much credit and how much blame should a manager get? The Cleveland Indians won more than 20 games more in 2013 than in 2012. Terry Francona took over for Manny Acta. The difference, however, was that Francona inherited a rotation in which four starters were able to strike out over eight batters per nine innings. They had a lineup of veterans that was supplemented with free agents Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. Ron Gardenhire worked with a starting staff that seemed allergic to missing bats.

    Remember: Ron Gardenhire could have been a free agent manager on Monday. He could have had his choice of open jobs in the coming weeks. I appreciate that he wants to stay here. As he said, he wants to be part of the answer for turning this around. He is going to need help from the front office to make that happen.

    Despite being 102 games below over the last three years, Gardenhire is still 51 games over .500 for his 12-year career. He has not forgotten how to manage, and he has the respect of his players.

    Brian Dozier and several bullpen arms took strides forward, and Joe Mauer and Glen Perkins played at their All-Star levels. Kyle Gibson, Oswaldo Arcia, Aaron Hicks, Josmil Pinto, Caleb Thielbar, Ryan Pressly and Michael Tonkin came up, took some lumps, gained some experience, and should be better for it. In 2014, Twins fans should see the debuts of Miguel Sano, Eddie Rosario, Alex Meyer, Trevor May, likely Byron Buxton, and maybe Danny Santana. Those guys will also likely take some lumps, so 2014 should again be a rebuilding year.

    The front office and the scouting staff have put together some great minor league talent that will be another year closer in 2014, but for the team to take a major step forward, starting in 2014, the front office will have to acquire some veterans that can be counted on. Also, Josh Willingham and Ryan Doumit, if around, will have to be better.

    It's going to be 2015 before we see just how good this team can be. The youth and hopefully some complementary veterans will help. And Ron Gardenhire is the right guy to get this team back to contention.

    I can see Gardenhire doing just like his predecessor, Tom Kelly. After Kelly led the Twins to four straight 90+ loss seasons, he went with a youthful group that, in 2001, competed into the second half of the season. Thatís what I can see happening in 2015. Should that happen, I can see Gardenhire saying, "OK, this team is back to where it should be" and turning it over to the next manager who will lead the way for the next decade or more.
    This article was originally published in blog: Right Man for the Job started by Seth Stohs
    Comments 85 Comments
    1. zustiak's Avatar
      zustiak -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Just for fun, imagine you have an employee that has the opportunity to go on to another job, where he will have more resources, but where expectations will be higher and failure will be met with stern reprimand, perhaps even firing. He chooses to stay in his current job because he knows failure will be met with "meh, he's a good guy, here's another contract."

      Is that someone you want leading?
      Well said. Twins win, Gardenhire gets the credit. Twins lose, front office blames all the youth. You could not hand-pick a better or less stressful managerial/coaching position. He has
      the only excuse he will ever need handed to him by Terry Ryan.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      If it's all about the talent on the field and nothing at all to do with how the coaches and manager do their jobs, why was Jerry White fired? Serious question. The FIRST BASE COACH was somehow a big enough contributor to losing HE was fired?

      Oh and Stelmaszek as well.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Many will choose to look at the last three seasons.
      Every other organization in baseball would "choose to look at the last three seasons" and fire him. That's simply a historical fact dating back over to WWII. Lose 90 games three years in a row and you're gone.

      You can go on about talent level and loyalty and the simple-minded fan desire for change for the sake of change, but at the end of the day you're advocating something that simply doesn't happen.

      So I question your perspective, Seth. I don't consider the Twins 'lucky' to retain the services of a manager whose record the past three years was so awful that going back 70 years, only Hall of Fame legend Casey Stengel lost more games in that span and kept his job.

      Now that you've put Ron Gardenhire and Casey Stengel in the same sentence, I'm wondering what good you hope will come of bringing back our modern-day 'Old Perfesser'.

      In the incredibly rare eight (including 3 expansion teams and two contraction candidates) instances since WWII of a manager being allowed to return after three 90 loss seasons, they all lost over 90 games again, averaging around 100 or so. Four of them were fired and one retired during the following season and two were fired after. Only Kelly survived, and managed a grand total of one more season.

      So knowing that the historical upside of bringing back a guy who you're inadvertently elevating to Stengelesque stature even though no other organization in postwar baseball history would him bring back is about a hundred losses next year and one more season around .500, do you still feel you're objectively evaluating Ron Gardenhire and what's best for the Twins?
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      I am not surprised that Gardenhire is back, and I don't think he is the problem, though I probably would side with those who say a fresh voice would be appropriate at this time.

      That said, one thing this may help is attracting FAs. Gardenhire is well respected around the league and I would think that has to be a plus when trying to sell the club to prospective new players.
    1. alskntwnsfn's Avatar
      alskntwnsfn -
      I have some pretty strong feelings on the matter.

      It is obvious that Gardy and his staff must go. TR should be demoted to head of scouting or player development. Here's why this is the only defensible course of action:

      TR and his staff has a great eye for young players, but they do a horrendous job of signing free agents. I can't find the link, but somebody did a great analysis a few weeks ago illustrating how well different teams have done signing FA's back to 1995. Minnesota fared terrible. But that just puts numbers next to what we already know, this team consistently throws away money every offseason. TR has made some nice trades but we need to do a better job of filling in the gaps on our team if we are ever going to seriously compete.

      The bigger problem is Gardenhire, and not so much him, but his staff. We know he didn't have a great squad to work with, but I don't think it should have been this bad. Gardy has a few different problems that will always limit us so long as he is the manager. First, he does not platoon or seem to give much thought to playing matchups. Second, he favors 'scrappy' guys and insists his young hitters fit the Twins 'spray the ball around' mold. Third, his staff is just not paying attention.

      Three examples of #3, that I think are fireable offenses, if not for Gardy, at least the pitching and hitting coaches. First one... Colabello's first few weeks in the majors, he goes like 1 for his first 24 with 15 K's (or thereabouts), I watched two minutes of a game against Milwaukee and could see he wouldn't reach the outside part of the plate with a broom handle. It took a call from Tony f'ing Olivia to tell him to move closer, he did and shortly thereafter he went on a hot streak. Watching Morneau in early July, his head was moving so much it was obvious why he was struggling to make contact. I said to a friend, "watch, if he stops moving his head so much he's going to get hot", a few weeks later he did and he said it came about because him and Joe Mauer looked at video and talked about it. Finally, on hitting, this team is way too reactive... very few of the hitters seem to guess or anticipate early in the count. We are constantly fouling pitches off that should be ripped in the gap. If you're a hitter, you've got to guess. Second example, we trotted out just above everyone to try as a starter and yet Anthony Swarzak remained in the pen despite consistently pitching well in longer relief stints. Why not give him another crack at the rotation. Also, Samuel Deduno. Guy obviously has nasty stuff, but the inability of the coaching staff to get him to throw strikes is frustrating. Also, Mike Pelfrey. His arm was really live given it was on an operating table last year, but he has got to change speeds. That killed him this year. In several starts I watched he was often squeezed by the umpire but he also had guys hit a lot of quality pitches very hard. Keep guys off balance more and they won't do that. I won't even mention Liriano. Even though I'm pissed this staff didn't do better, this was just not a good lineup or a good staff. At best they were going to be maybe .500 or a touch better.

      Finally, as to Gardy. Gardy talks endlessly about doing the fundamental things to win but each night we'd see sloppy play. At some point the blame for shifts to the manager.

      Maybe we'll time it right in 2 to 3 years and get lucky but unless we do the following:
      - get a better return on free agent dollars (to fill in around core players)
      - take smarter at-bats instead of always looking to slap the ball the other way
      - play the percentages to gain an advantage
      - get more out of the pitchers we have in AA-MLB

      We might end up wasting the prime years of Sano-Buxton-Arcia-Meyer the same way we wasted the prime years of Mauer-Morneau-Santana-Nathan.

      The 2013 Baseball Prospectus preview of the Twins was spot on. To paraphrase: TK was Gardy's mentor. Most people tend to emulate their mentors but amplify their mentor's points of emphasis. When strategies or viewpoints are taken to an extreme, they usually collapse. Gardy has taken the "fundamental" approach preached by TK to an extreme at it has come at the expense of things like power and strikeouts.

      The results of 2013 were disappointing, though not unexpected. What was more worrisome to me was to see so little change in the way things are done despite our 3rd 90+ loss season in a row. I think 2013 exposed some big flaws in how this team was built and how it was managed.
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      Seth: I thought it was a great article from a different perspective. I enjoyed it.

      I am neutral on Gardy coming back--but maybe he deserves a chance with a better roster. I am sure if fired, Gardy would have gotten a job within a month (here in DC likely). I definitely prefer Gardy to Glynn and Molitar who have no big league managing experience. If 2014 continues the trend, fire him next year...
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by IdahoPilgrim View Post
      I am not surprised that Gardenhire is back, and I don't think he is the problem, though I probably would side with those who say a fresh voice would be appropriate at this time.

      That said, one thing this may help is attracting FAs. Gardenhire is well respected around the league and I would think that has to be a plus when trying to sell the club to prospective new players.
      Let's hope you're correct.

      However, that perspective doesn't match well with TR's famous "can't give our money away" quote. Or for that matter, with the opinions of many posters here who claim FAs won't come here, or at the least would require a massive "overpay."
    1. DAM DC Twins Fans's Avatar
      DAM DC Twins Fans -
      I enjoyed the article Seth. I liked the different perspective. I am not surprised to see Gardy coming back--a reward for the 998 wins. I prefer him to Molitor (no managing experience) and most others mentioned.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      "However the only thing worse than making a move to appease the players is a move to appease the fans."

      Really? It sounds as if the hierarchy in this fantasy world is: Pohlads>Twins>Ryan>Gardenhire>Players>Fans

      Or are there some more entities between Gardenhire and the fans?--Like say local government and local businesses and gosh knows--and finally at the very bottom--fans. WOW! It makes me wonder who really wrote that?

      But, I will concede that it sure appears as if the TPTB consider the fans are nothing more than sheep to be sheared and later slaughtered.

      Consider--Not even ONE change in management! It's as if had been a total success--World Series Champions, best regular season record, over-full stadium with people panting ("overpaying") to get a ticket from a re-seller,... I lived in chicago when the Bulls had their championship runs--and that's what is was like.--I'm sorry is that happening in Minneapolis/
      Even the most successful companies make some changes--competition requires constant improvement!--But Not the Twins! Simply shuffle the cards, but a "vet" who "has won" (clearly there aren't any on this team!) sprinkle a few new faces bent on "overachieving"--and we're good! The fault lies with (drumroll please) injuries and underachieving (disloyal?) players.

      They are good sandwiches--but I don't consider them that good.
    1. CharacterGroove's Avatar
      CharacterGroove -
      Quote Originally Posted by SpiritofVodkaDave View Post
      Gardy is the right man for the job, the fact that he would have had other offers within a day of getting "canned" proves this.

      People have said time and time again that Gardy should be let go, but I have yet to hear ONE person say who they should bring in instead that is a clear upgrade.
      Whether he's the right right man for the job is an open question. But your "fact" proves nothing to the answer. It only proves that other teams feel he's right for their jobs.

      Meanwhile the Twins have substantial evidence to suggest he's not the guy to turn the Twins around.
    1. Oldgoat_MN's Avatar
      Oldgoat_MN -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      My initial reaction to hearing the Anderson was coming back was disappointment. But then I thought, if I'm saying that there's not much that Gardy or any manager could have done with this roster, a big part of that has to be saying that there isn't much that Anderson can do with that pitching staff.

      And, to be fair, he did well with the bullpen, for the most part. He deserves some credit for Perkins, Fien, Burton, turning Duensing's season around, and working through things with Ryan Pressly. He coaxed Kevin Correia to arguably his best season of his career, in his first year in the American League. He should get some credit for Sam Deduno's big drop in BB/9.

      I've always thought Anderson was overrated. He got a ton of credit for Guardado and Hawkins, and he's had a few successes since then.

      I'm not a huge fan, but I can't be upset either.
      Thank you Seth. I thought the bullpen coach worked mostly with the bullpen guys, but I'm sure they mix it up.
      Appreciate the feedback.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Maybe another way to look at the past three years is to check the "what if" posts made by various people (I believe Seth did one last year and this year) with regard to "if X can remain healthy, if X finds the strike zone, if X prospect emerges", etc. etc. "then the Twins have a chance at a competitive team." Take the list for going into 2012, the list for going into 2013, and then make a list for going into 2014 and see if that list has gotten bigger each year or not.

      I look toward 2014 and have to believe the list is bigger than ever. Going into 2013 the list would include Morneau bouncing back . . . but everything else on that list, ranging from the emergence of Aaron Hicks to the "progress" of Trevor Plouffe to mitigating the SP deficit is the same. I mean, I would contend that we still don't know about Parmelee and even Hendriks in full still. Now add in Mauer's health concerns again, Willingham returning to even a shadow of 2012, multiple prospects emerging, Dozier a fluke?, the SP situation looks actually worse with more question marks now than even last year, etc.

      The rebuild hasn't even officially started yet! Things are going backwards with more hope and dream "what ifs" to become relevant and get over even 70 wins!

      And *no one* gets held accountable for this?
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      Maybe another way to look at the past three years is to check the "what if" posts made by various people (I believe Seth did one last year and this year) with regard to "if X can remain healthy, if X finds the strike zone, if X prospect emerges", etc. etc. "then the Twins have a chance at a competitive team." Take the list for going into 2012, the list for going into 2013, and then make a list for going into 2014 and see if that list has gotten bigger each year or not.

      I look toward 2014 and have to believe the list is bigger than ever. Going into 2013 the list would include Morneau bouncing back . . . but everything else on that list, ranging from the emergence of Aaron Hicks to the "progress" of Trevor Plouffe to mitigating the SP deficit is the same. I mean, I would contend that we still don't know about Parmelee and even Hendriks in full still. Now add in Mauer's health concerns again, Willingham returning to even a shadow of 2012, multiple prospects emerging, Dozier a fluke?, the SP situation looks actually worse with more question marks now than even last year, etc.

      The rebuild hasn't even officially started yet! Things are going backwards with more hope and dream "what ifs" to become relevant and get over even 70 wins!

      And *no one* gets held accountable for this?
      If you have to hope that everything goes right in order to even be competitive, the team you built isn't that good to begin with. Players have off years, players get injured, the 'what if' game is a good way to feel better about the talent, but it doesn't really change anything. A team needs to add talent, talent and more talent in all ways possible all the time. Quality depth is good.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Shane Wahl View Post
      And *no one* gets held accountable for this?
      Of course not. The front office probably at least partly blames misguided fans, wrapped up in the simple arithmetic of wins and losses instead of appreciating baseball played "the Twins way", who've stopped paying attention and thereby reduced the revenue pool and resulting player salary available.

      And it seems extremely likely we'll be held accountable throughout off-season free agency...
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      Of course not. The front office probably at least partly blames misguided fans, wrapped up in the simple arithmetic of wins and losses instead of appreciating baseball played "the Twins way", who've stopped paying attention and thereby reduced the revenue pool and resulting player salary available.

      And it seems extremely likely we'll be held accountable throughout off-season free agency...
      The Twins reward loyalty and punish "disloyalty"--so that is expected, it's our fault that the team loses.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      How would you want your boss and his or her superiors to respond?

      -------
      This analogy that you're making, Seth, is completely off point. There are only 30 MLB managers in the WORLD. It's an extremely competitive field where performance is really the end all deciding factor of whether you keep their job. Where as for common folk, there are 1,000s, 100,000s, millions even, that all do the same job where the work isn't as competitive and demanding.
      If Obama wasn't being a successful president, we'd vote him out and get someone who can.Let's keep it in baseball speak. It's not bad for the Twins if the grounds crew does their job, but not perfectly. It is bad if the people on top, like Gardy, aren't at an optimal level and have proven that their skills aren't up to current job standards. Being a manager for the Twins is much different than it was in 2006. We need a manager who works well with our youth, uses his head more than his gut, and has some experience. Gardy only meets one of those.
    1. YourHouseIsMyHouse's Avatar
      YourHouseIsMyHouse -
      Smart people know that they aren't experts at everything and will choose to learn from someone who is. You can choose whether or not you want to listen to someone who knows more than you or be stubborn and try it yourself. The Twins aren't being smart by refusing to get someone who knows something different than what is currently going on.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by YourHouseIsMyHouse View Post
      How would you want your boss and his or her superiors to respond?

      -------
      This analogy that you're making, Seth, is completely off point. There are only 30 MLB managers in the WORLD. It's an extremely competitive field where performance is really the end all deciding factor of whether you keep their job. Where as for common folk, there are 1,000s, 100,000s, millions even, that all do the same job where the work isn't as competitive and demanding.
      If Obama wasn't being a successful president, we'd vote him out and get someone who can.Let's keep it in baseball speak. It's not bad for the Twins if the grounds crew does their job, but not perfectly. It is bad if the people on top, like Gardy, aren't at an optimal level and have proven that their skills aren't up to current job standards. Being a manager for the Twins is much different than it was in 2006. We need a manager who works well with our youth, uses his head more than his gut, and has some experience. Gardy only meets one of those.
      The economics of the situation dictate more patience , not less. If there are millions of people qualified and trying to get the job, it dictates a shorter leash than Gardy's situation where there are dozens of qualified candidates who are looking to fill the role. That being said, 9 years of acceptable results followed by 3 years of worst among your peers results, absolutely deserves of being fired. Exceeding expectations (World Series champ) garners the longer leash.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Alright Seth, I've argued with myself into a corner where I have to agree with you. While I'm still pissed about the status quo and coming to grips with being a fan of a crappy team, my argument stands true. If you suck at your job, but there's nobody better to replace you, and you've had success in the past, then your boss is a fool to replace you with someone worse. It makes me sad
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Count me in the Ruesse camp.
      Gardy has created, or at least allowed, a culture of "i'll play when I want to play" to take over the clubhouse.
      Say what you want about Ruesse, but there is NOBODY in this market who has more baseball sources than him, and if he says that part of the reason Cuddyer wanted out was because of the culture of "entitlement" that has been created, I believe him.
      Far too often guys miss far too many games with extremely minor injuries.

      And on another sub topic that has been brought up in this thread, I really don't understand the statement, "...the worst thing they could do is cave into fan pressure..."
      LOL, what?
      Aren't the fans the customers?
      As a business owner, I have to say that placing such minimal value on customer satisfaction is pretty laughable.
      I'm trying to picture myself telling a disgruntled customer that I can't really go around appeasing my customers, I'm not sure I'd keep much business if I did so.
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