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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. beckmt's Avatar
      beckmt -
      I think a little of this is the wait and see. All of us want the Twins to be better, but it is easy to spend the owners money from this vantage point. Pitching will be hard to get in the offseason, but it is possible. And I will be disappointed if we do not sign at least 1 decent (#1 or #2) type starting pitcher.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      291 losses in three seasons is not enough of an indictment of Gardenhire and Ryan? These are the two to lead the Twins forward? This just seems so bizarre to make this claim.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      We all know, right, that "change" is not going to occur. I mean that is clear. The status quo is acceptable.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      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. 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.
      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.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      What is the definition of a shortcut? I don't even know how to begin to understand that in this context.
    1. Highabove's Avatar
      Highabove -
      [QUOTE=TheLeviathan;170599]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.[/QUOTE
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      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.
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      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.
      Giving players Gil Meche contracts, buying high with non surplus prospects on trades to get better now. That would be my idea of what trying to take a shortcut is. It leaves you with something you can't get rid of and thin on talent.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      The only person I've heard suggest a shortcut was Ryan when he implied even Sano or Buxton could be available in a trade.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      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.

      But if he keeps his job, keeps doing what he has been doing, and nothing changes, how is that any different than me saying I take responsibility? What do those words mean, if there is no change?
    1. notoriousgod71's Avatar
      notoriousgod71 -
      Dusty Baker reportedly out as Reds manager despite making the playoffs the last two seasons. He didn't win a game. I'd love for him to come over here and "ruin" some of our arms so I never have to see Diamond, Correia, Pelfrey, Hendricks, Devries again.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Riverbrian View Post
      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.
      He hasn't mentioned them by name, but he has pointed to the farm system and said help is on the way. On top of being unwilling to get quality FAs, being unwilling to trade quality prospects for proven MLB talent and the lack of quality players on the MLB roster to trade for quality MLB talent/quality prospects, it boils down his words, mixed with his action/inaction, to saying...wait for the prospects.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by The Wise One View Post
      Giving players Gil Meche contracts, buying high with non surplus prospects on trades to get better now. That would be my idea of what trying to take a shortcut is. It leaves you with something you can't get rid of and thin on talent.
      I don't see how signing a player to a Gil Meche type contract would be so misguided. The Royals signed a hard-throwing 28-year-old pitcher with some potential to a four-year deal and for the first 2.5 seasons it worked out brilliantly. They couldn't have anticipated that injuries would ruin his career at age 30. I'd love to sign an under-30 pitcher with upside to a multi-year deal and don't see how that would equate to a "shortcut." And if you think that committing $10-15M to a pitcher 3-4 years down the line is going to cripple the Twins financially, then you don't have a very good understanding of this team's fiscal outlook.

      As for trading non-surplus prospects in trades to get better now... as Lev said, I haven't seen anyone suggest that possibility other than TR himself.
    1. Steve Lein's Avatar
      Steve Lein -
      Yup, pretty much agree with everything said here, Nick. -> https://twitter.com/HangingSL/status/385064448957743104
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      If the "field manager" isn't really impactful, why don't the Twins save money and sign some cheap dude to run the team? Aaron Gleeman's a cheap dude, right? . . . . . .
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      If the Twins are expecting to see Sano and maybe Buxton some time in 2014, how is acquiring good free agents in the meantime taking a shortcut? And what about the future HOF player whose prime years are wasting away while TR is kicking the can down the road?
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      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.
      1. Terry Ryan is arrogant because he refuses to acknowledge that the "Twins Way" doesn't work. He refuses to make any changes to the manager and a pitching coach that has tanked this team. They scuff at any comment regarding statistical analysis saying they got a guy. If I need to keep expanding, you haven't been paying attention to him in the last few months.

      2. Stressing fundamentals and error free baseball is what every organization does. Some, are just better at it than others. Sometimes you just don't have the talent to follow through.

      3. The Twins haven't traded pieces at high value ever. They routinely have made bad trades or held on too long. Span and Revere were good trades, but Santana, Hardy, Cuddy, Kubel, even Willingham and Doumit are missed opportunities.

      4. The product of 3 horrible seasons is on Terry Ryan. I don't see how he is getting a pass from some people.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      btw, how is a "shortcut" evil/bad/wrong, exactly?

      A shortcut gets you to your destination faster.......how is that bad? Still waiting for someone to explain how signing a legit FA this year is a bad idea......
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      I'd add that "not taking shortcuts" is pretty darn arrogant just by itself as if there is an accepted "right" way to do things and another "easier" way to get better faster that is somehow less ethical or worse.
    1. ashburyjohn's Avatar
      ashburyjohn -
      Quote Originally Posted by notoriousgod71 View Post
      Dusty Baker reportedly out as Reds manager despite making the playoffs the last two seasons. He didn't win a game. I'd love for him to come over here and "ruin" some of our arms so I never have to see Diamond, Correia, Pelfrey, Hendricks, Devries again.
      Baker managing the Twins is an interesting thought. I'll start a separate thread about that.
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