Another year of losing likely for Twins in ’14

The Minnesota Twins are reportedly taking a step toward assuring there’ll be no more of the same old losing at Target Field today by continuing more of the same in the manager’s office.

Ken Rosenthal, one of Fox’s baseball reporters says Gardenhire will be rewarded with a two-year contract.

Rosenthal has been dubbed “a rumor geyser” in the past and we’ll find out whether he’s correct at a 2:30 news conference the Twins have called.

The Twins are promoting the news conference and live stream across all of its social media networks. It’s unusual to encounter heavy promotion of a news conference to announce a managerial firing, but it could certainly happen if everyone goes out happy.

Gardenhire is considered a managerial genius of sorts, although the reputation stuck when he had talented players. He doesn’t anymore.

That he survives to manage another day — if he does — will be due primarily to the Bill Smith Effect. Smith, a disaster of a general manager, is still mentioned as the primary cause of the third straight 90-loss season for the local nine.

But, it’s important to remember, Bill Smith was fired two years ago next month and while general managers cast a long shadow on a team’s future, he didn’t make any of the players signings last year or this year that were duds. For that, fans can blame Terry Ryan.

Ryan told everyone last year that this season would be pretty much like the last one when he urged patience while younger ballplayers climb the minor league ladder. Ryan’s team drafted Byron Buxton, who appears to be a can’t-miss star. And there are several other quality players who will play in 2015, the last year of Gardenhire’s rumored new contract.

But that probably means that next year will be much like this year, and last year, and the year before that.

The Twins are wasting Joe Mauer’s Hall of Fame career, but Mauer appears to be too Minnesota Nice to play the part of Kevin Garnett and demand the team surround him with some players capable of winning.

Gardenhire might have gotten assurances that the team will increase its spending on players, but that won’t come as any shock. The team’s owners said more than a month ago that he would.

By the numbers, the fans are perfectly content with losing. The team drew well for a bad ballclub. Yesterday’s attendance was announced as 30,000. There were about 10,000 people tops but the number is based on tickets sold and the Twins had a big season-ticket base.

Many teams “clean house” to assure that base that better days are ahead. New faces. New blood. The Twins are going with the “trust me” approach as Ryan continues to make withdrawals from the capital he built up by building divison-winning teams earlier in the century.

“Just hightail it out of here while you have a chance,” the Pioneer Press’ Tom Powers advised Gardenhire in his column today. “Someone should post a sign on the manager’s door at Target Field: “Abandon all hope ye who enter here” like the one posted on the gates of Hell in “Dante’s Inferno.” There is no hope here. Not for 2014 and maybe not even for 2015. The future of the organization supposedly is tied to the development of 19-year-old Byron Buxton and 20-year-old Miguel Sano. I don’t know what everyone is supposed to do until they come of age.”

That one’s easy. Watch them lose.

  • Dave

    The Twins don’t need to win games. They only need to be profitable. Any extra money put into salaries is money taken out of the Pohlads’ pockets.

    If they fire Gardy, then that means they’ll have to spend a bunch of money, time, and hassle hiring another manager who would undoubtedly lose 90+ games next year. Why would they put themselves through that?

    If they keep Gardy, then yeah, you can look forward to another two years of him and his buddies running the clubhouse, including their criminal mismanagement of pitching. Another two years of watching Rick Anderson stroll to the mound, say something presumably baseball-related to the pitcher, and have the next pitch wind up somewhere out by those flagpoles.

    • Agree that keeping Gardy isn’t great, but you can’t accuse them of being cheap. Gardy makes way more than a rookie manager would. They could hire Tom Brunansky to sit in the dugout and watch 90 losses for a fraction of Gardy’s salary.

      Also you forgot to mention Gardy’s maddeningly dense philosophy towards platooning players. Danny Valencia was successful as a platoon lefty smasher in Baltimore. That’ll be Plouffe in Tampa Bay in 2 years.

  • tboom

    If I were Gardy, I’d hold out for three years. Given the track record of this club, coming out of the gate strong in 2015 isn’t guaranteed.

    You have to give the Pholads credit, they’re great businessmen! High revenues and low expenses leading to maximum profits, thus making them rich(er). As long as they can sell tickets the quality of baseball doesn’t really matter.

    The only problem I see is all those no-shows. If you don’t have bodies in the seats it’s hard to rack-up sales in your government subsidized restaurants, bars and clothing stores.

  • Dave

    Looks to be official that Gardy’s back. He’s a very nice man, just like Jerry Kill. And we’re all very nice people in a very nice state. Winning isn’t everything, or even anything.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    I want to hear one question at this press conference: Who are you holding accountable for the past three seasons and how?

    There is no correct answer to that question that involves Ron Gardenhire and a two-year contract.

  • frightwig

    I don’t know how it is with the Astros fans, but it is interesting how most everyone in the general baseball community online seems to agree that the Astros are run by smart guys who are effectively playing the long game, and although the team in Houston is a joke right now, they’re going to be fantastic in a few years. Just wait and see! Meanwhile, I don’t see the Twins get much of that sort of credit, even amongst those who are excited about their farm system. No, the Twins management are just hopelessly FAILING. Three years of losing is our LIMIT! If Terry Ryan doesn’t put a more respectable product on the field next year, heads should roll! We want accountability! NOW!

    But, Bob is right, the Twins probably will lose a lot of games again in 2014. They might sign a midlevel free agent or two to quell the masses, but nothing big that will turn things around before Buxton and Sano claim jobs for good. Terry Ryan seems comfortable with the slow rebuilding process, and Gardy’s 2-year extension tells me that he’s fine with the plan, too. They’ll aim for a 2001-type of turnaround in 2015, I suppose, and then Gardy will decide whether he’d like to go out like TK did or ride the next wave of prospects awhile.

    I’m not sure the plan is going to work out all right in the end–for the Twins or the Astros–but it just seems odd, that what a lot of Twins fans and commentators talk about, and what they say they want to see next year, has little to do with what Terry Ryan seems to be trying to do.

    • If Terry Ryan were truly playing the long game, he should’ve traded Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, Jared Burton, Glen Perkins (etc.) back in 2012 when their values were at their peak. They could’ve received multiple premium prospects that would help them in 2015 when Willingham, Morneau and Burton are gone. Instead they insisted on playing these veterans for a losing team, thereby blocking prospects who could’ve used those reps at 1B and LF for development.

      Sink or swim, but don’t tread water. The Astros are sinking. The Twins are trying to have it both ways – don’t spend too much money but still try to win as many games with a limited payroll as possible.