Minnesota Twins: Changing Fortunes Starts at the Top
Ron Gardenhire needs to be fired.
This is not a knee-jerk reaction to the Twins' no-hit loss in Anaheim last night. This is not even an overreaction to the Twins' dreadful 6-18 start to the season. This is 100 percent because the Twins' organization needs to make a strong statement about the present and future of the ballclub.
Let me be clear, Ron Gardenhire is a great manager. For ten seasons, Gardenhire was the perfect man to lead the Twins—a straight-shooter who got the most out of a team that was not always the most talented.
However, last season and the beginning of his 12th year in charge have been a constant battle for Gardenhire.
His in-your-face style rarely seems to inspire the team anymore, no matter how many times he is thrown out of games.
His message of fundamentals seems to be falling on deaf ears. The Twins, who pride themselves on pitching and defense, have lagged terribly in those departments the last two seasons.
A man who has been known for vigorously defending his players and his decisions at post-game interviews with the press in years past, nowadays is relegated to tipping his cap to the opposition and shrugging his shoulders when answering for his team's poor play.
Ron Gardenhire seems to be a man who is out of answers and, in the world of baseball, that sadly means he is a man who should be out of a job.
This is not Gardenhire's fault.
The Twins, as an organization, have been a comedy of errors for the last two seasons. The organization even admitted as much this offseason by bringing back general manager Terry Ryan to replace Bill Smith.
The front office has constantly made bad decisions in recent years. Most personnel moves made presently are band aids trying to cover up gashes that should have been stitched up in the past.
The Twins, once the small market darlings of Major League Baseball, thought the opening of Target Field was their golden ticket. The influx of cash allowed the team to sign or resign players they would not have been able to in the past.
The Twins finally would be able to not just get to the playoffs, but have the resources to make a run at the World Series title.
In the end, this worked for one season, 2010. By the time 2011 was over, ownership had enough and brought back Terry Ryan to fix the mess that was made.
This offseason, Ryan made sure the Twins would not fall into the same trap they had the last two offseasons. He let higher-priced players such as Michael Cuddyer and Jason Kubel walk, in favor of less-established players like Ryan Doumit and Josh Willingham.
The past offseason wasn't the end of the rebuilding of the Minnesota Twins. By the end of this season, the payroll will continue to be shrunk and players will be dealt elsewhere to restock the minor league system.
Caught in the middle of this mess is Ron Gardenhire.
Unfortunately, the Twins cannot just release all of their bad contracts and let Gardenhire start over with a new group of players. He is stuck in the middle a changing organization and the easiest change that can be made is with the manager himself.
While there have been rumblings of letting Gardy go in the past, the Twins current struggles will turn those rumblings into a load roar.
Gardenhire is loyal enough to stick out this season and resign after the year is over. It would not be the end of the world for him, he could easily get another managing job elsewhere or the Twins would offer him a cushy job in the front office.
When will Ron Gardenhire be fired?
This is not the best move for the Twins' organization.
The Twins need to send a message to all of Major League Baseball by firing Ron Gardenhire.
This message will show the baseball community, and more importantly the players currently on the roster, that big changes are coming. If a team as loyal as the Twins can actually fire Ron Gardenhire, then no player is safe from the same fate.
For years now, the Twins have gone out of their way to rid themselves of players who were outspoken. Guys like Carlos Gomez and Matt Garza were sent packing under the premise that they didn't fit the "Twins way" of playing baseball.
While talented, the Twins were too afraid to change their ways and upset the balance of their locker room by having these brash players around.
The irony is that baseball was changing and the Twins were not.
Now the Twins and Ron Gardenhire are staring head-on at the biggest change of all, life without each other.
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