I was driving up to Duluth to enjoy a short two-day getaway when I heard the first reports over the radio that Ron Gardenhire was going to be dismissed as the Twins manager after 13 seasons at the helm of the Minnesota Twins. Gardenhire has a 1,068-1,039 won/lost record as the Twins skipper and he led the team to 6 division titles in his first nine years before the team fell on hard times between 2011-2014 when they lost 90 or more games each season. Although Gardenhire led his team to the playoffs six times, his teams have had little success in post-season play as they only advanced past the first round once and the team had a 6-21 playoff record. Gardenhire’s 1,068 wins place him second on the Twins all-time manager win list trailing only the legendary Twins skipper Tom Kellywho has 1.140 victories to his credit. When Gardenhire won his 1,000 game earlier this season he became only the 10th manager in MLB history to win that many games with just one team.
The announcement of the Twins management change was made by GM Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire was in attendance which in itself was kind of unusual but yet I would not have expected anything different from Gardenhire who I think is a class act all the way. It was who wasn’t there that really stood out to me, where was team president Dave St. Peter and owner Jim Pohlad? Yes, I saw a replay of the press conference and I heard Terry Ryan say that both had conflicts and would be available for questions later. What a bunch of BS that is. The team manager is the face of your baseball team and yet the owner and team president don’t attend the press conference? How ridiculous is that? If they had conflicts on Monday then schedule the press conference for another day, firing the manager a day or two later will not change the Twins record. It is all about perception and to me it appears that Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter don’t want to be associated with Gardenhire being relieved of his duties. It is as if they told Terry Ryan that you can stay on as the Twins GM but first you have to send Ron Gardenhire packing. Pohlad himself said in so many words that the GM was responsible for making the final call on the manager’s job. Get real Mr. Pohlad, how dumb do you think we are? I know some teams don’t have their team presidents and owners attend these kind of press conferences but the Twins usually do and when there is good news to be shared, you can count on seeing the smiling faces of Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter behind that table.
On one hand I hate to see Ron Gardenhire go as the Twins manager because I believe that for the most part he did a good job as the team skipper based on the players he had and I liked his attitude and how he interacted with the fans. He seemed like one of us even though he was a major league manager and only 30 people in this world can say that. On the other hand the Minnesota Twins organization has to make some kind of a statement to the dwindling Twins fan base that something is being done to try to get the good ship U.S.S. Twins back out to deeper water and back on course after they had scrapped the bottom for the last four years. Fans are jumping overboard in record numbers and the Twins crew is trying to throw a life preserve over the side to get some fans back on board but it may be too little to late. Gardenhire has been offered some type of job within the organization that as yet is not defined and Gardenhire is pondering his options but it is obvious the man wants to get in the managers seat again and I think that some organization will probably give him that opportunity in the not too distant future. I hope so, I want to see Gardenhire charging out of that dugout again with his face red with disgust and his cap hand in hand telling the umpires that “they missed that one”.
The entire Twins coaching staff were on the last year of their contracts so they are all out of work unless the new Twins manager chooses to bring them back. But who will be the new Twins manager? Around the middle of August Terry Ryan stated to Sid Hartman at the Star Tribune that Gardenhire still had a year left on his contract and he expected him to be back in 2015. The again what was he going to say, I am going to fire Gardy after the season ends? Ryan has stated that the Twins will look inside the organization and outside the organization to find the right man for the job. The leading candidate according to the press and the general public in some of those “who should the new Twins manager be” polls appears to be Paul Molitor. Even Sid Hartman is campaigning hard for Molly.
I just don’t see Molitor as the right fit for the Twins managers job. I know he is a hall of fame player, played for the Twins, and coached for the Twins but these are not necessarily working in his favor right now. Great ball players have historically not made good managers. Molitor’s personality more closely resembles Tom Kelly in his prime than it does Ron Gardenhire. Molitor seems more like the old school gruff and tough manager and with all the young players that the Twins will have on the roster I am not sure this is a good fit. Molitor has been a Twins coach all season and how many times have you seen him interviewed or quoted in the past year about Twins play? Not many, Molitor seems to prefer a low profile and if the Twins are looking for a manager that will help to market the team, Molitor is not the guy. Another thing working against Molitor is that he is a Twins insider and fans are looking for changes in the organization and next man up internally is not what the fans want. The fans don’t want to see the same old thinking and if the team hires another Twins insider it is unlikely that much will change.
So who is going to be the new Twins manager? I don’t know the answer to that, no one does right now. But I would be willing to bet it is not Molitor or anyone else in the current Twins organization. If an internal candidate was going to manage the Twins in 2015 I think that Terry Ryan would have pulled the trigger at the end of August and brought him in as an interim manager so that he could test drive the Twins for the rest of the year and management could evaluate the new skipper at the same time. That didn’t happen so I see it as a sign that the new Twins manager is working in another organization at the present time. Ryan has been in baseball a long time and he knows a lot of people, this will come in handy now.
I will miss Ron Gardenhire and I wish him the very best but I am glad that this change was made and I am looking forward to seeing who will be managing the Minnesota Twins in 2015 and beyond.