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  • Message to Twins: Accountability Means Change

    When it came down to it, the folks running the Twins couldn't find it in themselves to make Ron Gardenhire a scapegoat by sending him packing after another 96-loss season that wasn't influenced much by the field manager. Sure, you can argue that Gardenhire isn't a great skipper, and you can argue that the team would benefit from a fresh voice, but at the end of the day there wasn't much Gardy could have done to get significantly better results out of the substandard roster supplied to him this season.

    Personally, although I wouldn't have been appalled to see the club go a different direction, I had no particular desire to see Gardenhire leave. Similarly, you won't see me advocating for the dismissal of Terry Ryan. For the most part, I tend to think that calls for coaches and execs to get fired are reactionary and uninformed, failing to account for the many circumstances that play into any outcome.

    When a player's return from injury takes too long or recovery timetables are repeatedly extended, we see people calling for firings in the medical staff, ignoring the reality that medicine is an inexact science and quite often players are more responsible than trainers for setbacks. When the offense struggles and the hitters strike out at an unprecedented rate, we see people calling for the firing of the new hitting coach, ignoring the presence of inexperienced young players taking their (not unexpected) lumps. If the team fails to acquire legitimate free agents that can help, we see people calling for the firing of the general manager, ignoring the possibilities that maybe ownership vetoed certain spending initiatives or maybe the guys Ryan wanted simply wouldn't sign here.

    Crying out for people to lose their jobs is easy, but it's not necessarily rational. I myself have no desire for anyone to get the axe unless it becomes blatantly clear that they're not up to the task, and I haven't reached that point with Gardenhire, nor his coaches, nor Ryan. However, there's no avoiding the fact that the Twins have descended into a horrible, horrible state and people need to step up and take responsibility. I don't care to see people fired, but I do need them to show accountability and convince me that they recognize what's gone wrong -- that they're ready to do what it takes to right the ship, even if that means moving outside of comfort zones.

    We haven't seen that, and to me that's far more disheartening than the fact that Gardenhire and his staff were extended in the wake of another losing season.


    During a conference call with season ticket holders earlier this week, Ryan was asked about a recent column from Phil Mackey of 1500 ESPN, in which the radio host and scribe suggested that the Twins need to infuse some innovation into their outdated set of philosophies.

    It's a good article that makes some extremely valid -- and perhaps obvious -- points. As Mackey puts it: "The Twins aren't masters of anything right now. They don't do one thing better than the other 29 teams in baseball. They used to. But they don't anymore."

    When asked about the editorial, Ryan said he was aware of it and downplayed it by saying, "Sometimes I think he (Mackey) wants a job over here. That's OK."

    Come on Terry. You're better than that, and you owe the fans a better answer than that. A writer puts together a thoughtful piece suggesting that perhaps the Twins need to uncover new strategies and approaches, considering that what they've been doing clearly isn't working, and Ryan responds by essentially saying, "Nah, we're doing fine, thanks."

    That's the opposite of accountability. And we're seeing too many similar sentiments expressed lately. Ryan admirably is willing to take the blame for the current product, saying that it's his fault and not the manager's that the Twins continue to stumble in the wrong direction; what he's not doing is specifying just exactly what he's doing wrong or providing assurance that he's working to correct the misguided ideas that have plagued the organization.

    It starts with rhetoric. Nobody wants to hear the same quotes about how free agency isn't a viable method of improving your club. Nobody wants to hear about how a team with one of the worst offenses in the league is still opposed to the simple and proven concept of platooning hitters. Nobody wants to hear about how the mediocre performances of low-upside veterans Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey were among the team's biggest positive takeaways this year.

    Taking accountability doesn't necessarily mean changing personnel. It means looking inward, accepting that some things simply aren't working, and proving -- through both words and actions -- that you're flexible and receptive to changes in those ways.

    And if that can't happen, then maybe it is time for some changes in personnel.
    This article was originally published in blog: Message to Twins: Accountability Means Change started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 97 Comments
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      He can't just keep telling fans to wait for Buxton and Sano.
      Sure he can...we can clearly see that people buy into that...just wait for the all the prospects we know for sure will be very good...going to be competitive when they all show up.

      He can also say both of them are available in a trade...some will buy into that too, because he said it.

      There are people who just complete faith in him and will buy into anything he says and does. As fans, that's certainly their right to do so.
    1. Rosterman's Avatar
      Rosterman -
      To paraphrase:

      "We will now have money to retain our free agents."

      "We want to be competitive in the division."

      "We want to reach the postseason."

      A beautiful ballpark, different (far from great) foods. Wait until the numbers come in on the new KTWIN radio broadcasts (where are the pre-game shows and baseball talk I so miss mostly from WCCO days and aprtly from KSTP).

      What happens when advertisers balk at...advertising.

      I already have a Mauer jersey. Who else do I want to put on my back?

      Oh, wait...the All-Star Game is coming to town -- guess I'll watch it on television if I can get home because of the traffic tieups in downtown Minneapolis those days.

      Did anyone make any mistake? Wait, didn't someone say "I didn't spend -- or was it "he" - all the money I was given to spend on product last year: which may be fine because so much of the priduct did s-u-c-k. But....accountability.

      Must be a long range plan I'm not seeing.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      I may be a small minority of one, but I'd welcome sensing some panic from an organization that has lost 290 games in 3 yrs and as of today looks no better for the at least the near future. "It'll get better if we just wait it out" has never been a good organizational strategy in my experience, nor do I consider that "accountability."
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      I don't know about panic, but how about the sense that there's just the tiniest bit of urgency to crawl out of that abomination they've dug themselves into?

      Even a little bit? The "business as usual" vibe I get makes my stomach turn.
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      Well put... he definitely is accountable and he's not taking it lightly. I don't care what he or others say publically. Let's see what happens.
      We did see Part I of what happens: The people responsible for 99+96+96 were rewarded with 2 year contracts. Of course Ryan is accountable "only" for the 96+96, but that should have been enough for an owner who cared to hold him accountable.

      Part II will happen next week in Fort Myers, but I really do not expect much other than token changes like bringing in a seventh coach and maybe adding another guy here or there in the Front Office.

      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      As I've said before. When he came back, he told me that he would not take shortcuts. I believe in that philosophy. I know many don't, but I definitely don't want panic and overreaction either.
      In the apathy (0) to panic and over-reaction (100) scale, retaining the GM, Manager and all of the coaches of the 99+96+96 debacle is a 2. Firing the GM and/or the Manager and his coaches would have been more like a 50. Like it or not, it is the norm in any business (including baseball.)

      I would love to see in the Pohlad portfolio of businesses, whether in any single one other than the Twins, the C-suite would be retained after 3 seasons of ranking in the bottom 5% among competitors in the marketplace.

      That simple. If you want to win, you have to deem losing unacceptable. If losing is acceptable...
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Good article, Nick. I agree with much you wrote, but have less patience. I think some of the talk needs to be backed up by a changed approach and new personnel. While I think Gardy is a good baseball guy and a good manager, his extension also symbolizes more of the same from a franchise that is a good bet to lose 90+ games for the fourth straight season. Ryan is doig a lot of talking and his rhetoric suggests to me that he hasn't bought in to the realities of this decade--that the Twins are a mid-market franchise, that the team needs to augment their talent by being a player in the free-agent market and that they need pitchers in the rotation that can make hitters swing and miss.
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      When Frank Cashen took over as GM of the Mets he signed George Foster to a big contract. He admitted that he knew Foster wouldn't make the Mets competitive but he wanted to send a message to the fans and players that they were trying to improve.

      One or two moves a season and suddenly you have the '86 Mets. By '86 Foster was terrible and they got rid of him mid-season, but the message had been sent that losing wasn't acceptable.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by MileHighTwinsFan View Post
      Agree. Ryan is not accountable to Mackey and has no obligation to respond to his editorial publicly or otherwise. Ryan is accountable to the Pohlads and the Pohlads to the bottom line and ultimately the fans. If the Pohlads want things done differently - I am sure they will let TR know. If TR wants to keep his job, he will listen to his bosses -If not, then he will need to look elsewhere.
      GMs are most certainly accountable to the public. If they weren't, they wouldn't hold press conferences. Like it or not, but part of Ryan's job is to engage the public in many different ways, including accountability.

      This entire premise flies in the face of radio shows, press conferences, interviews, etc.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by snepp View Post
      I don't know about panic, but how about the sense that there's just the tiniest bit of urgency to crawl out of that abomination they've dug themselves into?

      Even a little bit? The "business as usual" vibe I get makes my stomach turn.
      Can I go one step further? How about a little less arrogance that you've got things under control when the ship has pretty much sank for three years? Yeah, you might think you can bring it up off the ocean floor, but quit telling us what an awesome captain you are.
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      Quote Originally Posted by notoriousgod71 View Post
      When Frank Cashen took over as GM of
      the Mets he signed George Foster to a big contract. He admitted that he knew Foster wouldn't make the Mets competitive but he wanted to send a message to the fans and players that they were trying to improve.

      One or two moves a season and suddenly you have the '86 Mets. By '86 Foster was terrible and they got rid of him mid-season, but the message had been sent that losing wasn't acceptable.
      Excellent point
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Can I go one step further? How about a little less arrogance that you've got things under control when the ship has pretty much sank for three years? Yeah, you might think you can bring it up off the ocean floor, but quit telling us what an awesome captain you are.
      I don't recall Ryan being called arrogant before, nor have I ever heard or read anything that even resembles him telling us what a awesome captain he is, even once.
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I don't recall Ryan being called arrogant before, nor have I ever heard or read anything that even resembles him telling us what a awesome captain he is, even once.
      He may not have said those words but I agree, that's how he and the entire Twins organization has come off the last six years.
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I don't recall Ryan being called arrogant before, nor have I ever heard or read anything that even resembles him telling us what a awesome captain he is, even once.
      Actually, he's done pretty much exactly that, and as recently as this week!

      In another thread he was quoted talking about how, for a long time, other organizations looked to the Twins as a model, with the obvious implication being that the 'Twins Way' is the right way.

      And now he arrogantly clings to the same approach even though everyone else has moved on. His unmistakable view is that, indeed he is an awesome captain, and when his ships sink its due to circumstances outside of his control.
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      It comes down to the definition of success. Is it? A) be the Cubs; millions of people love us win or lose so pump up the volume of good cheer, happy talk, and Minnesota Nice and the owners will rake in the cash B) be like the Vikings; lots of good cheer, banter, countless Central Division Champion banners flying--waiting for the inevitable butt-kicking in the post-season followed by tears in the beer all while the owners rake in the cash; C) be like Atlanta--lengthy periods of success (including championship) followed by short periods of stink before resuming long-term success--and apparently their owner also rakes in lots of cash too; D) be like Arizona, keep a low payroll and try to build for one super-year in ten. Oh, and the owner rakes in the cash. Which model?
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by ThePuck View Post
      What form do you believe 35 year old Willingham should return to? The career year he had for us at age 33?

      Doumit's OPS the last 5 years have been .714, .738, .830 (only half a season), .781 and .710. What do you think is reasonable to expect from him?

      Where are these three average to above average starting pitchers going to come from? We needed them last year too. We were told last offseason the rotation would be greatly improved. This isn't a new need.

      Hicks and Arcia...yes...we need them to develop...for long term.
      I have been until very recently on the "fire Gardy" bandwagon until recently. While I have gotten off that wagon, I still feel like without change, the Twins will continue to be one of the worst teams in baseball.

      like you say, we needed 3 high end pitchers last year, and all we got was corriea and pelfrey. We can hope for improvement from underperforming players, but I don't think there were any underperformers on this club, the vets played exactly like you would expect, and the rookies need to develop but that takes time. Again, if you don't change, how can you expect different results?

      Is TR beholden to Mackey? I would argue that if the team was performing in the top half of the league, no. Mackey is just a journalist. The way this team has performed puts TR under the microscope, and everyone gets a peak.
    1. Sconnie's Avatar
      Sconnie -
      Quote Originally Posted by TheLeviathan View Post
      Can I go one step further? How about a little less arrogance that you've got things under control when the ship has pretty much sank for three years? Yeah, you might think you can bring it up off the ocean floor, but quit telling us what an awesome captain you are.
      The Titanic has already sailed.
    1. Otwins's Avatar
      Otwins -
      One excellent place to make a change without firing someone is the 7th coach they are talking about. Why not add someone from outside the organization? What do we have to lose other than another 96 games
    1. Marta Shearing's Avatar
      Marta Shearing -
      I'm not a Phil Mackey fan, but Ryan's comment on him was a pot shot. Completely uncalled for. Unprofessional. It was a legitimate question. Answer it.
    1. Bark's Lounge's Avatar
      Bark's Lounge -
      Quote Originally Posted by Otwins View Post
      One excellent place to make a change without firing someone is the 7th coach they are talking about. Why not add someone from outside the organization? What do we have to lose other than another 96 games
      My guess is the Twins Hire Glynn or Molitor to coach 3B (most likely Glynn) and reassign Vavra to Assistant Hitting Coach.

      In truth, I do not think this will happen - but wouldn't that be a mind (bleep) if it did.

      Personally, I am not super stoked about the decisions the Twins have made very early into this offseason and after the crap that's been served to us fans the last few years - My motto is "Seeing is Believing". "Blind Faith" is an obsolete term.

      I guess we'll see what happens... Fasten your seat belts folks.
    1. Riverbrian's Avatar
      Riverbrian -
      Quote Originally Posted by Badsmerf View Post
      I don't think he is accountable Seth. He refuses to acknowledge the terrible job he did assembling this team. Anytime he says otherwise I feel its just lip service. If he was under budget from the bosses, why cover that up? That is the only logical explanation.

      I don't doubt his long-term plan to get talent into the organization, I do doubt his short-term ability. He can't just keep telling fans to wait for Buxton and Sano.
      To be fair... I can't recall Terry Ryan ever saying "Wait for Buxton and Sano".

      I can recall Terry Ryan acknowledging that the responsibility for the roster is on him... And he has taken that responsibility every time.
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