• 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. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      While I agree with the need for accountability, I still question whether an organization can be "flexible and receptive to change" if they are never bringing in new voices to champion those changes. It wasn't the failure to change managers that was the big problem, it was the fact the failure was representative of the insular old boys club that exists within this organization. St. Peter made the comment that they had Gardenhire's back. There should be loyalty in an organization but loyalty can't replace accountability.

      On another front, did you hear the conference call? Howard Sinker had a tweet that related to leadership in the clubhouse with an indication that Gardenhire didn't think it was there. Can you expand upon that portion of the call? (Sorry if I misremembered or misinterpreted the tweet).
    1. archie's Avatar
      archie -
      JB nails it. Sure, the Twins don't need to remove anybody. They just need the same people who have been in charge forever to suddenly change their baseball philosophies. Not gonna happen. Bring in somebody from the outside.
    1. Teflon's Avatar
      Teflon -
      Credit the Twins for realizing that changing the manager now would be about as effective as changing drivers in a race where the other entrants have Corvettes and you have a tiny clown car with a flat tire.
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      I think you're confusing accountability with making a public confession. Ryan is cool, calm, and calculated. He understands the Twins are not currently viewed in a favorable light, but he hasn't lost any confidence that the organization has what it takes to right the ship. Anyone who expects any signs of panic from One Twins Way is in for a long wait.

      He was just quoted as saying Sano and Buxton were not untouchable and the Pohlads have assured us money is no problem. Ryan has been back all of 23 months, IMO anyone who thinks this franchise is going to fall into the black abyss is overreacting, as is their privilege. The Twins are not the first sports franchise that needed to step back and rebuild.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      How many years of losing 95 plus games is the "black abyss"?

      How is signing one legit FA panicking?
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      Ryan has been back all of 23 months, IMO anyone who thinks this franchise is going to fall into the black abyss is overreacting, as is their privilege.
      "Fall into"?
    1. JB_Iowa's Avatar
      JB_Iowa -
      I didn't say this in my first comment but I do thank you, Nick, for the article and the message it expresses.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I think you're confusing accountability with making a public confession. Ryan is cool, calm, and calculated. He understands the Twins are not currently viewed in a favorable light, but he hasn't lost any confidence that the organization has what it takes to right the ship. Anyone who expects any signs of panic from One Twins Way is in for a long wait.

      He was just quoted as saying Sano and Buxton were not untouchable...
      These are the next two individuals we've been told the Twins will build the future around -- yes? no?
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      There is nothing to disagree with Nick's post though the first half doesn't seem to match the second. You're right, there is no need for firings...if they are willing to change their flaws and outdated ideas. But the second half of the article methodically lists the many examples where, specifically Ryan, refuse to change or take responsibility. Isn't his unwillingness to adapt and rectify reason enough to think about a change?
    1. howieramone's Avatar
      howieramone -
      Quote Originally Posted by Hosken Bombo Disco View Post
      These are the next two individuals we've been told the Twins will build the future around -- yes? no?
      If Detroit offers Cabrera and Scherzer for Sano, I'm convinced he would consider it. We may have to include Duensing.
    1. Brandon's Avatar
      Brandon -
      The offense and 3 starters failed the club this season. If we get 3 average to above average starting pitchers and Willingham and Doumit returns to form and Hicks and Arcia continue to develop. we can be a decent team with very few shortcommings next season.
    1. Nick Nelson's Avatar
      Nick Nelson -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      There is nothing to disagree with Nick's post though the first half doesn't seem to match the second. You're right, there is no need for firings...if they are willing to change their flaws and outdated ideas. But the second half of the article methodically lists the many examples where, specifically Ryan, refuse to change or take responsibility. Isn't his unwillingness to adapt and rectify reason enough to think about a change?
      I do think there are examples where the organization has shown some willingness to change. They have at least branched into statistical analysis in the front office and seem to be empowering that department more over time. We've definitely seen Ryan start to target strikeout pitchers more over the last year, at least in the minors. And Gardenhire has backed off some of his strongly held tendencies (Mauer batting 2nd much of the year being a good example). But they do need to take it further in many respects.
    1. MileHighTwinsFan's Avatar
      MileHighTwinsFan -
      [QUOTE=howieramone;170540]I think you're confusing accountability with making a public confession.

      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.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      If Detroit offers Cabrera and Scherzer for Sano, I'm convinced he would consider it. We may have to include Duensing.
      Interesting thought, Dave. I will call you back.
    1. ThePuck's Avatar
      ThePuck -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brandon View Post
      The offense and 3 starters failed the club this season. If we get 3 average to above average starting pitchers and Willingham and Doumit returns to form and Hicks and Arcia continue to develop. we can be a decent team with very few shortcommings next season.
      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.
    1. drivlikejehu's Avatar
      drivlikejehu -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      He was just quoted as saying ... the Pohlads have assured us money is no problem.
      Here's a question - has there ever been a GM in the history of any professional sport who spent tens of millions less than his budget, for multiple years?

      The only rational explanation is that Pohlad ordered the budget cut until the Twins show signs of re-emergence. Ryan is covering for his boss by making vague statements like the one noted above. Understandable, but still dishonest.

      And regardless of the fact Ryan has only been back in the GM chair for 2 years or whatever it is, bad decisions are bad decisions. By his own admission he has failed to accurately evaluate the team. Problem areas he himself identified (e.g., medical staff) have not been addressed effectively. He foolishly held onto Willingham rather than trading him when his value was at its peak. The list just goes on and on. Someone with character would at least acknowledge, on some level, the problems in the organization.
    1. snepp's Avatar
      snepp -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      If Detroit offers Cabrera and Scherzer for Sano, I'm convinced he would consider it. We may have to include Duensing.

      The Duensing Rule: Confirmed
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      Quote Originally Posted by howieramone View Post
      I think you're confusing accountability with making a public confession. Ryan is cool, calm, and calculated. He understands the Twins are not currently viewed in a favorable light, but he hasn't lost any confidence that the organization has what it takes to right the ship. Anyone who expects any signs of panic from One Twins Way is in for a long wait.
      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.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      How us signing one legit FA a short cut?
    1. Badsmerf's Avatar
      Badsmerf -
      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.
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