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  • Top '13 Stories: #1 - Gardenhire's Contract Extended

    These are trying times if you're the coach of a local professional sports team. Vikings head coach Leslie Frasier got the axe this week following a season that saw his team lose 10 games. Mike Yeo is on the hot seat with the Wild under-performing. And Rick Adelman might just give up with the number of tribulations that seem to endlessly plague the Timberwolves.

    Ron Gardenhire has endured more losing than any local coach over the past three years, and as his most recent disappointing season came to a close there was some thought he might also be on his way out. Instead, the Twins signed their longtime manager to a two-year extension at the end of September.

    In re-upping with Gardenhire, the Twins acknowledged that the ugly results over the past few seasons can't be strongly tied to the manager's performance. With a transitional roster that has been riddled with injuries and hasn't been supplemented by much impact talent, Gardy has faced difficult circumstances that would have made it nearly impossible for any skipper to find success.

    Known as one of the most loyal organizations in baseball (and perhaps in sports as a whole), the Twins elected not to make Gardenhire the scapegoat for a three-year stretch of misery that has been driven by plenty of contributors. It's clear the front office still likes Gardenhire and puts more stock in his first decade at the helm -- which featured six division championships -- than his most recent run.

    But the club's patience can't, and won't, last forever. The 2014 season figures to be a hugely important one for the game's second-longest tenured manager. With major money being pumped into free agency during the offseason, and with a handful of key prospects expected to join the fold, another year with no progress in the win column would likely spell the end for Gardenhire.

    I've always been a believer that the role of a manager in a baseball team's success is generally exaggerated, but I think Gardenhire is good at what he does for the most part. He is liked by his players, he's an entertaining quote and he's shown some willingness to adapt his generally old-school tactical approach (Joe Mauer logging more than 400 plate appearances as the No. 2 hitter this year is a fine example).

    If Gardy can continue to do those things and the Twins finally begin to pull themselves out of this lingering pit of despair, he figures to stick around for a while yet. But by no means does his new contract take him off the hot seat.

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    This article was originally published in blog: Top '13 Stories: #1 - Gardenhire's Contract Extended started by Nick Nelson
    Comments 22 Comments
    1. Thrylos's Avatar
      Thrylos -
      This has to be the number one story for a lot of reasons (and well chosen,) but I would have to add as part of the story Terry Ryan's retention. The apparent lack of holding people accountable after this season, the third awful season in a row, has to be part of the story also. (And I am saying "apparent", because based on what Ryan is doing, it looks like 2014 is the last change for him and the manager...)

      This is who the Twins officially said that was the reason for awfulness in the last 3 seasons:

      2011 - Bill Smith (who allegedly wanted to fix the team by spending more $ -what Ryan is doing now- and that conflicted with the philosophy of the higher ups)

      2012 - Jerry and Stelly and the trainer, and the right coaches in the wrong positions, so chairs rearranged. Liddle retired. Steiney, Cuellar and Bruno hired. The starting pitchers so changes made there, which resulted in a worse rotation in 2013 than 2012.

      2013 - The lack of an infield & base running coach. So Molitor is hired. The starting pitchers and the DH. So changes are made there.

      Let's hope it all works out in 2014...
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Very passionate opinions on both sides of the decision. Fans were so passionate it made for visceral reactions from those that were once more forced to have a manager and general manager for their beloved team that they were convinced needed replaced for any positive future for their team. Most on the losing side of that decision are still having trouble understanding how this could happen to their team of childhood dreams. I got sick just reading about it again. Definitely the number one story. Here's to hoping the Twins overcome.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Number one depressing story for me. No accountability at all. If they lose close to ninety again, does anyone think Gardy and Ryan will be gone?
    1. h2oface's Avatar
      h2oface -
      Whoops. Accidental repeat edited.
    1. crarko's Avatar
      crarko -
      Maybe you guys should start bundling some happy pills along with the prospect handbook. It could be a much needed pick-me-up 'midst the gloom and doom. And the cold.

      PS - you may need to ship from Colorado...
    1. Winston Smith's Avatar
      Winston Smith -
      • Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
        Number one depressing story for me. No accountability at all. If they lose close to ninety again, does anyone think Gardy and Ryan will be gone?


      No!
    1. stringer bell's Avatar
      stringer bell -
      Gardy's re-signing was the height of my discontent, not because he had done a good job or bad job, because to me it signaled more of the same. I think Ryan has demonstrated that more of the same is relative and perhaps this is about continuity. I am still not convinced that Gardenhire will be the right guy for this wave of talent. However, with the signing of three pitchers to multi-year contracts, I am sure Ryan is not saying "all is well".
    1. diehardtwinsfan's Avatar
      diehardtwinsfan -
      A lot of good happened this offseason, but this is one of the head scratchers in my opinion. I'm not a fan of Gardy, that's no secret, but even his biggest defenders will note that mentoring rookies is not his strong suit. This, to me, could be a big mistake as the next two seasons are going to see a number of promising rookies making the bigs.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      Lot of debate on both sides of the fence on this issue to be sure. And while I clearly saw both sides, I, for one, was more than OK with Gardy being back. Despite being frustrated with some of his stubborness to platoon to matchups on occasion, to yo-yo youngsters at times or fall in love with certain players, he manages a bullpen well, runs a good clubhouse and keeps his team on an even keel most of the time. Despite the past few seasons, I never felt he suddenly forgot how to manage. Injuries and a substandard lineup are not all his fault.

      i certainly agree that change is inevitable, and freshness can be its own reward at times. I like the stability for now, and with a new FA approach and the youngsters on their way and close, Gardenhire may yet prove himself again.

      Now, if we continue down the same road as the last three years.....
    1. Seth Stohs's Avatar
      Seth Stohs -
      I will never understand why holding someone accountable must result in firing.we see the coaching changes frequently in the NFL, and typically they don't really help much. It comes down to the players.
    1. DaNutz's Avatar
      DaNutz -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I will never understand why holding someone accountable must result in firing.we see the coaching changes frequently in the NFL, and typically they don't really help much. It comes down to the players.
      I could not agree more. I would love to see a study done on this topic in pro sports. Does cycling through coaches quickly for not producing result in better, worst, or the same results as a team who is not quick to fire? I really haven't seen proof that it helps. For example many bad teams continue to be bad as they fire coach after coach. Where as a very successful franchise like the Steelers in the NFL stick with the coaches they hire. It took Coward years of failure in the playoffs to finally win a Super Bowl. Many franchises would have canned him. To me firing the coach is more of a response to the outcry of fans. Which I find very odd that people will scream so adamantly for quality people to be fired.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I will never understand why holding someone accountable must result in firing.we see the coaching changes frequently in the NFL, and typically they don't really help much. It comes down to the players.
      I'm not sure I can think of another method to hold a coach accountable.
    1. jharaldson's Avatar
      jharaldson -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I will never understand why holding someone accountable must result in firing.we see the coaching changes frequently in the NFL, and typically they don't really help much. It comes down to the players.
      This isn't unique to sports. I work for Thomson Reuters. Thomson bought Reuters in 2008 and named Tom Glocer CEO afterwords. Not happy with company/stock performance he was let go in 2011. Regular employees have more flexibility and can be held accountable with lower performance grades, performance improvement plans, ect... but you need to either have confidence in your leaders doing the job or those leaders should be gone.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I will never understand why holding someone accountable must result in firing.we see the coaching changes frequently in the NFL, and typically they don't really help much. It comes down to the players.
      So why are coaches paid so much, if they do nothing? I don't get this line of reasoning. There is research in the NFL that after 10 years, a coach loses effectiveness as a general rule, actually (the research is older, so I don't know how it holds up).

      If a player does badly, he's cut. If a GM drafts crappy players, he's (usually, not here) fired. Why are coaches immune in your world, Seth? I'm genuinely curious what you would do with a coach/manager that isn't good at his job (if you felt he wasn't good).
    1. thetank's Avatar
      thetank -
      I think with the Twiins it is understood that they will have periods of rebuilding. They don't spend like the Yankees do. A few bad injuries, wrong players signed to long-term contracts, and a couple of bad drafts and you have a period of losing. Not sure which manager could have won more games with the Twins than the current one.

      Has to be frustrating to manage such a team knowing their history of bad years.
    1. BigTrane's Avatar
      BigTrane -
      Well, I respectfully disagree that this should be #1.

      My sense of the forums' 'heat maps' if you will, is that it's a close call between "what is up with Terry Ryan" and "WTF with resigning Pelfrey". I'll go with TR.

      Gardy is what he is, but gets the job done- given what he's got to work with. Bankable, and the Twins love that. He'll do his best with his next crew, and no doubt, he'll be open to criticism- who isn't?

      That leads me to TR. Getting to the bottom of TR's sudden shape-shift has major implications for the club- of course- but I don't think we've figured that out yet. Gardy is on a short leash- obvious. TR's seeming turn about? Does anybody have a quick, clean answer for that? This puzzle is looming over us through the next season- and is why this story line should be #1. It's the future of the org., not just the team on the field.

      As for Gardy, signing Molly is the writing on the wall. If the team posts sub-par results this season, then he's done, but has "face" and can turn the keys over to Molly and feel good about it. Nice photo-op, and thank you very much. Feel-good moment, grab a watch on your way out.

      TR- for all his scouting merits- seems to have been christened in a Griffith-type mentality: cheap is the only way. Dumpster-diver. He's got a good track record, in some respects (i.e. Nathan) but this where the Pelfrey deal strikes the wrong chord with a lot of people.

      Again, the unsolved mystery of this off season if why TR turned about-face on FAs. That's why this should be #1.

      Gardy? Twins way- give him a nice exit. Classy.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by DaNutz View Post
      I could not agree more. I would love to see a study done on this topic in pro sports. Does cycling through coaches quickly for not producing result in better, worst, or the same results as a team who is not quick to fire? I really haven't seen proof that it helps. For example many bad teams continue to be bad as they fire coach after coach. Where as a very successful franchise like the Steelers in the NFL stick with the coaches they hire. It took Coward years of failure in the playoffs to finally win a Super Bowl. Many franchises would have canned him. To me firing the coach is more of a response to the outcry of fans. Which I find very odd that people will scream so adamantly for quality people to be fired.
      I like your example but I don't think Pittsburgh fans were ever banging the drum for Cowher's firing like some of us do here don't think there was ever a doubt in Cowher's ability to get it done like there is in Gardenhire's. Cowher did make a SuperBowl early but ran into the Dallas Cowboys machine, then ran into the Belichick-Brady machine in the AFC. There have been a lot of in my opinion mediocre AL teams that made it to the WS during the Gardenhire reign.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by BigTrane View Post
      Again, the unsolved mystery of this off season if why TR turned about-face on FAs. That's why this should be #1.
      i can't disagree and I hope to hear more about this as the season approaches.
    1. DocBauer's Avatar
      DocBauer -
      I too would love to see a study or some cold hard facts regarding coaching/manager retention vs overhauls/turnover.

      Im 48 and been a sports fan for 45 of those years, especially the Twins and Vikings. Goodness knows those teams have made mistakes with hirings in the past, but simple observation over the years clearly reveals two things to me:

      1) hiring a good coach/manager and riding him through the good times as well as the down/re-build or re-tooling times. History of consistently winning teams and organizations proves this.

      2) hiring/providing the financial wherewithal to maintain quality position coaches. In baseball, I believe this extends to the minors and roving instructors as well. I really like our milb set-up of coaches all the way from top down, not to mention the rovers and "special" instructors; the Carews and others.

      I think the Twins have a good manager, as stated above, and a real quality set of coaches, yes even the often picked-on Anderson, and am extremely pleased at Molitors addition which I think is huge. My only reservation/complaint is having only Cueller as the only Latin coach.
    1. Dman's Avatar
      Dman -
      Quote Originally Posted by Seth Stohs View Post
      I will never understand why holding someone accountable must result in firing.we see the coaching changes frequently in the NFL, and typically they don't really help much. It comes down to the players.
      Like most things coaching changes can go either way. I have seen many where the team actually gets worse under a new coach and sometimes a fresh look can really change a team for the better. I think the 49rs are an example of the new coach making a difference but football is a bit different. For a Coach to make an initial major impact he still needs talented players which is typically why it takes a while to turn bad teams around. Bad teams typically don't have great players.

      In baseball I don't see that the head coach makes much of a difference these days other than maintaining team unity and a few in game strategies everything is pretty much stats and on the players to perform. Position coaches handle most of the practice time and drills(ie player development).

      Joe Madden has great pitchers and is a likable guy. Gardy is a likable guy with no good pitchers. Would Madden have the same the success with the Twins rotation or team? I doubt it.

      I am not a Gardy lover or hater. I see this issue from both sides and would be happy with or without Gardy. My personal opinion is that TR is the one who messed up by not getting Gardy better pitching and he wasn't going to let Gardy take the fall for him (ie Twins Loyalty). The owners love TR and weren't going to fire him so there you have it status quo.
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