When Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire became the manager in 2002, one of the first moves he made was hiring Rick Anderson as his pitching coach.
Anderson had been the pitching coach at Triple-A for the previous seven seasons and the young pitchers the Twins were grooming were comfortable under his guidance. That translated to the field where the Twins pitching staff posted the third-lowest earned run average in the American League since 2002.
Anderson groomed Johan Santana to become an ace, while also getting the most out of lower level pitching prospects. His secret was using the same philosophy as his predecessor Dick Such where pitchers try to maximize efficiency by minimizing walks and letting a sound defense do the work.
As we look at the Twins pitching staff in 2012, it seems as if Anderson's tenure in Minnesota has run it's course.
The Twins came into Tuesday night's game against the Boston Red Sox as the second-worst pitching staff in the American League. The pitch to contact philosophy has gone horribly wrong as opposing teams have been able to score and launch home runs with reckless abandon (even at "cavernous" Target Field).
The biggest example of why Anderson needs to go is his pet project in Francisco Liriano. While Liriano has been maddeningly inconsistent, Anderson may have been the one that has done the most damage in his career.
After a season in which Liriano won the American League Comeback Player of the Year in 2010, Anderson insisted that Liriano could take the next step if he tried to pitch to contact more. The result has been Liriano getting whacked around in 2011 and the early part of 2012.
It's not just Liriano that has not been able to carry out Anderson's vision to perfection. The rest of the Twins rotation has struggled in the early part of the season in main part to using the exact same pitcher all five turns through the rotation.
Anderson's philosophies have also hampered the Twins when it comes to bringing in reinforcements through the draft and free agency.
The Twins have went out and found guys with low-90s fastballs and average stuff to only have them get destroyed when the New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox come to town.
There's no denying that Rick Anderson has played an important part in Twins history after leading the Twins to six AL Central championships and two Cy Young awards during his tenure. However, the message isn't getting through anymore and the Twins need a new voice for their pitching staff.
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