Earlier this week, we discussed potential changes on the Twins coaching staff. To me, moving on from pitching coach Rick Anderson is essentially a no-brainer, as his contract is up and the unit he's directly in charge of has been unacceptably bad for too long now.
Gardenhire is a different case. His contract extends to 2015, so a dismissal would require firing him as opposed to simply passing on a new deal. Still, as many people pointed out in the comments section on Monday, there's a decent chance that Gardy will be gone after this season.
The Twins could decide to clean house, giving Gardy the axe while also letting Anderson go. That seems unlikely, especially in light of Terry Ryan's recent vote of confidence. But Gardy could also opt to resign on his own if the team parts ways with Anderson, a longtime friend. Or the manager might just step down after four straight tumultuous seasons.
So, if Gardy goes, who replaces him? Paul Molitor is a popular choice among fans, for some reason. But unlike Molitor, Mientkiewicz has earned the opportunity by performing well in a managerial role. Sure, the Twins have good players in the minors, but his immediate success with this Miracle team has been nothing short of astounding.
Mientkiewicz wouldn't necessarily be a conventional choice. At 40, he'd be the youngest manager in baseball and his experience essentially amounts to two years at Single-A. However, his path would closely mirror that of former Twin Mike Redmond, who jumped straight from A-ball to the majors last year at the age of 41. Redmond's Marlins endured 100 losses in his first season, but have taken a huge step forward this year and are currently just three games below .500.
Let's take a look at some reasons why Mientkiewicz might make sense as the next Twins manager:
* He's familiar, yet fresh. Since the Twins have a long history of promoting from within, it stands to reason that the next manager will be someone who's currently in the organization, so this fits. Yet, Mientkiewicz is disparate enough from the current regime, and young enough, that he'd bring a distinctly different flavor to what is unaffectionately referred to as the "Old Boys' Club."
* He has worked extensively with the top prospects expected to be the lifeblood of a turnaround. Mientkiewicz managed Miguel Sano in Ft. Myers for the first half of the 2013 season, and Byron Buxton for the second half. Mientkiewicz has also coached Kennys Vargas, J.O. Berrios, Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, Adam Walker and others.
* He's got attitude. It's something that many believe has been missing in the Twins clubhouse. Gardenhire isn't without fire -- as illustrated by his numerous ejections -- but his teams have often been accused of lacking in that department. Mientkiewicz would bring swagger. Last year he actually got in a brawl with an opposing manager on the field. Kind of awesome.
What do you think? Does Mientkiewicz appeal to you as a candidate to be Gardenhire's successor?