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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. Rick Niedermann's Avatar
      Rick Niedermann -
      I'm all for being patient and waiting for the next wave of young Talent. And in 2015 the starting lineup should be pretty decent. But this group could also take it's lumps like Hicks and Arcia did. Even if they all performed to their high expectations right away there will not be enough starting pitching to make them competitive. When is the last time the Twins made a move and you said to yourself, I didn't see that coming. (maybe Neagle for Smiley in 92) This season the Twins need to be all in on 25 year old Masahiro Tanaka. The cash is there, the owner says spend it, we need a Frontline pitcher. If Terry Ryan wants to be accountable he makes a legitimate run at a top tier pitcher. Otherwise it is the same old, same old.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Rick Niedermann View Post
      I'm all for being patient and waiting for the next wave of young Talent. And in 2015 the starting lineup should be pretty decent. But this group could also take it's lumps like Hicks and Arcia did. Even if they all performed to their high expectations right away there will not be enough starting pitching to make them competitive. When is the last time the Twins made a move and you said to yourself, I didn't see that coming. (maybe Neagle for Smiley in 92) This season the Twins need to be all in on 25 year old Masahiro Tanaka. The cash is there, the owner says spend it, we need a Frontline pitcher. If Terry Ryan wants to be accountable he makes a legitimate run at a top tier pitcher. Otherwise it is the same old, same old.
      In 2015, the starting lineup should have some talent...but they'll still be adjusting to the league, which some will do eventually and some won't do at all...and the pitching the same way. We keep being told by some (not you) that the parade is coming in 2015, but that is extremely unrealistic...look how long KC had really high rated farm systems. They are finally, FINALLY, getting there.
    1. twinsnorth49's Avatar
      twinsnorth49 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
      I'm a different dude and, sorry to disappoint, am not even a real student of Nietzsche. I thought it would make for a fun, appropriate handle since forums, at least excellent ones like TD, should be about the pursuit of Truth.

      And calling Mauer soft.


      and to think I almost liked you.....
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      What exactly is "taking shortcuts"? Does that mean actually attempting to be competitive before your prized prospects arrive? Because personally I don't see anything wrong with it. No one is suggesting anything that endangers the future outlook.
      The question I'd ask is whether or not this is possible. They could go out and get all the good FAs and still not be competitive. I like the idea of some smart signings, which I think Abreau and Tanaka cover, but those guys are likely going to take some lumps next year.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Don't think we're not on to you Shane. Did you change your avatar AND name? Or have you now recruited your poor, anarchist, Nietzche-loving students to the site! Twins Daily is Dead!
      Haha! I would certainly like to hope that any student of mine could be so spot-on in his or her assessment. Those were two good first posts.
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      Fascinating thread. There are those that dislike Ryan. Your choice. One person calls him arrogant, multiple chime in the same. Arrogant because he once said Twins way. Now they are losing so he is arrogant. Feel free to correct me but WTF is wrong in baseball with stressing fundamental error free baseball. Twins way in building under Ryan part 1, draft well, trade pieces under the sell high, buy low theory. Have the Twins strayed from the Twins Way? In the office and in the field about like a TD thread does from the OP. That does not make them arrogant.
      I actually think that TR is the right guy for the job right now. I'm not convinced he's the right guy for the job when next wave arrives.

      That said, I have to echo what others had said regarding what is perceived to be arrogance. He took a pretty unnecessary pot shot at Mackey, and like others have said, you don't get to beat your chest on your track record when it sucks. This really does concern me. I get that teams wanted to model themselves after the Twins in the early part of the 2000s... However at this point, their success has worn off and the game is clearly changing. Unfortunately, I don't see Ryan recognizing this, and that concerns me.

      Fortunately, what the Twins need most right now is good scouting to identify those high ceiling guys and a means of acquiring farm talent via trade. This is what Ryan has done well throughout his career. They need this more than explosive FA signings. So for the time being, I think Ryan is the right guy to handle things. Ask me this question in 2 years, and if nothing else changes, I will not be so confident. When some of those guys fail, Ryan is going to have to fill in some gaps via FA. I dont' see him doing this.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      Ha we'll my post was just in fun, I just found it funny we got two Nietzsche references in two days. Besides, your post was much more positive than anything the other guy would write.
      Hey! I generally was pretty positive about players and prospects, and up until just the past month or so, I would have been 51% or more in favor of keeping TR around.

      To keep the philosophy references going: there was a point near the end of Martin Heidegger's career where he said something like "Only God can save us now." Heidegger was an atheist. This is analogous to the Twins, since only new ownership can save us now (and it ain't gonna happen).
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
      The original post was already too long, so I stopped short on a few things. Now that it has some daylight in between posts, I hope you'll humor my adding a bit more:

      1) I mentioned watching/listening to 162+ games each season during the 02-10 run. I'm not fair weather. Heading into the 2010 playoffs (homefield against the Yanks remember?), I made a commitment that if the Twins didn't make it past the first round THIS time, I would significantly reduce my investment in this team until they gave me reason to do otherwise. My participation has declined, in kind, since.

      And why shouldn't it for all of us? I support the institution, win or lose, not the ownership and the flagging performance of the product they disingenuously trot out.

      2) The argument of the breached public contract holds outside of the vacuum of team performance. In other words, if the economic return to the tax payers could be demonstrated to be a net profit on their stadium investment (an impossible to prove metric either way), it doesn't matter. If the Pohlads had ended up losing money after the stadium was built (a distinct impossibility), it doesn't matter. The entire exercise of stadium building was predicated on the idea that the it would bring added revenue, spending, and results - a change on the field come October from what we had been experiencing.

      Have we all forgotten this? That was the mantra when Torii walked, when Santana leaving was a foregone conclusion, and when all the inside and outside free agents came and went unsigned since. Money doesn't buy championships, but better (read: often costlier) players could have benefited this team throughout.

      3) When money was spent ('10 and '11), it wasn't spent wisely. Accountability is, again, the thread. Bill Smith is out, but we've been told that TR was instrumental in many moves/non-moves while not GM. Also, Gardy had no influence on the composition of these teams? The reason these non-diamond-nine individuals are also well compensated is because they should have high standards of performance. How have they performed relative to the public contract?

      Thanks for hearing me out. From a ND native, MN resident through those fat years, now a DC resident, I can't wait for things to turn around for our team. But to do so will take some measure of real accountability. Seriously, Go Twins.
      Welcome to the site... and great posts... My only quibble is that I thought the money was spent well in 2010... not so much after...
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Quote Originally Posted by Nick Nelson View Post
      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.
      For the most part, any other franchise in modern history has fired their manager after 3 consecutive 90 loss seasons, whatever the many circumstances that played into the outcome, and it wouldn't occur to me to label their front offices "uninformed" or "reactionary".

      Some were no doubt fired because they were bad managers, but many were probably competent to very good managers who were stuck with very little talent to manage. And yet they were all let go, regardless of where they ranked on their franchise's problem list.

      Rather than dismiss calls for the removal of a generally well-regarded manager, maybe an article about accountability without management changes would be better served by explaining how the Twins' situation is so unique that they should perform a nearly unprecedented act of faith by letting Gardy return.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Quote Originally Posted by LaBombo View Post
      For the most part, any other franchise in modern history has fired their manager after 3 consecutive 90 loss seasons, whatever the many circumstances that played into the outcome, and it wouldn't occur to me to label their front offices "uninformed" or "reactionary".

      Some were no doubt fired because they were bad managers, but many were probably competent to very good managers who were stuck with very little talent to manage. And yet they were all let go, regardless of where they ranked on their franchise's problem list.

      Rather than dismiss calls for the removal of a generally well-regarded manager, maybe an article about accountability without management changes would be better served by explaining how the Twins' situation is so unique that they should perform a nearly unprecedented act of faith by letting Gardy return.
      It seems to me that this has been addressed. Some people believe that Gardy should be retained because the recent troubles are due mainly to having poor talent to work with. If these people are correct, then keeping Gardy makes more sense than holding him accountable for something that is not his fault. Just because other teams scapegoat managers who are not at fault does not mean that this is a necessary component of accountability.

      Personally, I wish that the Twins and Gardy had come to a mutual decision not to renew Gardy's contact, but I understand the arguments for renewing the contract.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post
      1) This thread is about accountability.



      Where is the evidence? 2) They were already winning division titles, batting titles and Cy Youngs before Target Field. They breached the contract and need to be held accountable.

      3) How do we hold those off the field accountable for what HASN'T happened on the field?
      Great post, may I add:

      1) ......"or the lack thereof"....

      2)......Don't forget 2 MVP winners in that Metrodome-ensconced talent-laden group.....and a Reliever of the Year winner, besides.

      3) ....It's going to ultimately end up in the Pohlad's hands to finally do something about FO accountability, and nobody else. I suspect that the fact that they had little incentive in the deal they cut for Target Field to be held accountable themselves to fulfill their PR promises means they won't have much incentive to hold the FO accountable---as long as the cash flow stays positive. This operation has been pretty much on auto-pilot since Andy McPhail and TK were running the show, anyway.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Quote Originally Posted by Zarathustra View Post

      As far as I'm concerned, the ownership made a public contract when they entered into the stadium agreement with the taxpayers of Minnesota.
      If it isn't on paper, it isn't much of a contract. You and the others who go on about this sort of thing have got to realize there is no such contract. No sane baseball team would ever enter into that sort of contract. The Twins were a break even or lose money franchise until 04. They are not so stupid as to realize with attendance going down what will happen to their bottom line. That drives the product on the field.
    1. Mr. Brooks's Avatar
      Mr. Brooks -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      If it isn't on paper, it isn't much of a contract. You and the others who go on about this sort of thing have got to realize there is no such contract. No sane baseball team would ever enter into that sort of contract. The Twins were a break even or lose money franchise until 04. They are not so stupid as to realize with attendance going down what will happen to their bottom line. That drives the product on the field.
      That is not exactly true, verbal contracts can be binding, they are just obviously tougher to prove.
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      If it isn't on paper, it isn't much of a contract. You and the others who go on about this sort of thing have got to realize there is no such contract. No sane baseball team would ever enter into that sort of contract. The Twins were a break even or lose money franchise until 04. They are not so stupid as to realize with attendance going down what will happen to their bottom line. That drives the product on the field.
      This is a very straightforward legal question. Verbal promises are equal in weight to written promises, period. That carries down from English Common Law and remains 100% the case in every state in the US (except for the notional exception of Louisiana due to its French origins).

      The Twins actually put their promises in writing as well, in the form of team statements to politicians and the media. But either way, the promises were completely unambiguous.

      They entered into a contract with the public and have broken that contract.
    1. Zarathustra's Avatar
      Zarathustra -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      If it isn't on paper, it isn't much of a contract. You and the others who go on about this sort of thing have got to realize there is no such contract. No sane baseball team would ever enter into that sort of contract. The Twins were a break even or lose money franchise until 04. They are not so stupid as to realize with attendance going down what will happen to their bottom line. That drives the product on the field.
      Although the two posts above take it further and say there is, if demonstrable, a legal basis for enforcing verbal contracts, my point (and I chose my words carefully) wasn't that accountability meant charging someone with a crime, or suing them for 'our' stadium money back (although in some cases e.g. Miami, I would like to see it happen). I said they - the Pohlads, TR, even Gardy (remember the quotes from that '06 era when the Twins got bounced) - made a public contract and we, the fans - not lawyers or legislators - should hold them accountable.

      While they certainly don't answer to me, they ultimately answer to us. I offer that the best way to hold them accountable is a distortion of the starfish on the shore story. I'm sure several who read my comment about my declining participation responded 'B.F.D. - I'm sure the Pohlads miss you'. However, enough fed-up starfish being thrown back into the sea and we just might make some waves. Why do people excuse what's happened/ing?

      Participation isn't equivalent to fandom. I've read TD several times a week since its inception. I used to read Nick's pre-TD blog every day. What I don't do since '10 is buy mlb.tv (I'm out of market now), licensed apparel, or attend games when I visit MN. Go Twins.
    1. LaBombo's Avatar
      LaBombo -
      Lead paragraph of espn insider article:

      Since taking over the reins of the Atlanta Braves from Bobby Cox in 2011, Fredi Gonzalez is 72 games over .500, and has led his team to two consecutive postseason appearances. But last season the Braves were bounced out of the playoffs in a wild-card loss to the Cardinals, and this year they were knocked out in four games by the Los Angeles Dodgers. In spite of his fine regular season record, given the team's postseason struggles, there must be at least some question as to whether the Braves will retain him.

      Italics are theirs.

      By comparison, Gardenhire entered his 10th season coming off three seasons that netted 50 wins over .500, two playoff sweeps and a tie-breaker loss.
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      This is from an SI article by Tom Verducci today on how the Red Sox "turned it around":

      The offseason plan was built on four cornerstone ideas: hold contract lengths to three years, even if it meant overpaying on an average annual value; find a manager, unlike the last one, familiar with the Boston landscape and AL baseball from, oh, maybe the last decade or so; seek out extroverted baseball rats who would watch the game from the top step of the dugout and not behind a bucket of fried chicken in the clubhouse; and pack the lineup again with hitters who grind out at-bats. That last cornerstone turned out to be the most important reason why the Red Sox dispatched the Tampa Bay Rays in four games in the AL Division Series.

      Read More: Relentless Red Sox grind their way into ALCS - MLB - Tom Verducci - SI.com

      Don't get me wrong -- I don't think that the Twins are in the same place that the Red Sox were last season. They've lost more, have little on the current shelves and less overall money BUT, I do think there are some interesting concepts here:

      1. Shorter term Free Agent contracts with an acknowledgment that they may have to "overpay" per year. The Twins have the "short term contracts" idea down pat -- they just don't seem all that willing to overpay (put Mr. Pohlad's money to work, Mr. Ryan). Not going to rehash this but there was a good Twinkie Town article recently about overpaying free agents.

      2. Manager -- well the Twins definitely have a manager familiar with Minnesota and AL Baseball but somehow implicit in the Boston turnaround was also the need for a NEW manger;

      3. Extroverted Baseball Rats -- this is an area where the Twins are lacking. Even Gardenhire has acknowledged the lack of a clubhouse leader and the Twins often seem dead in the dugout (I know, losing does that to you but you gotta turn it around sometime and the Twins seem to grind down extroverts);

      4. Pack the lineup with hitters that grind-out at bats: drives me nuts to watch a Boston game cuz it takes forever but they clearly do grind out bats as opposed to strikeout, strikeout, strikeout (and quick at that)

      Is this a game plan for the Twins to turn things around? Not by itself but there are clearly some concepts here that the Twins could adopt.
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