After the annual media pre-season luncheon, Minnesota Twins GM Terry Ryan told the two MSR beat writers that the team had to turn things around this season. As it turned out, Ryan appears to have been directionally challenged.
The 2013 Twins season concluded on Sunday with a crashing halt, losing their final six contests to finish 30 games below .500 (66-96), its third straight near-100-losses campaign in as many tries. This doesn’t show turnaround progress, but rather stuck-in-reverse regression.
Although he has to take some responsibility, it certainly isn’t all Ron Gardenhire’s fault — the Twins on Monday extended his contract through the 2015 season. He has been the team manager since
2002 and is only two wins away from 1,000 career victories as a major league skipper.
It isn’t Gardy’s fault that Minnesota has starting pitchers who can’t pitch the minimum five innings. Their 120 first-inning runs allowed are the most in baseball this season.
It’s not Gardy’s fault either that his fanning hitters seemed intent on being human air conditioning units. The team’s 1,430 strikeouts are the third-most in baseball history (!) and second highest this season. They whiffed 10 or more times in 66 ballgames this season.
It’s also not Gardy’s fault that his batters left more runners in scoring positions than most Americans abandon their daily non-winning Powerball tickets.
This reporter wasn’t a member of the “Fire Gardy” choir, whose members sang solos, duets, or full-out choruses earlier this season in calling for Gardenhire’s head. I don’t and won’t advocate anybody losing their job, especially coaches — whether it’s Gardenhire, Tubby Smith, Leslie Frazier or Jerry Kill.
This is probably because I am the only local sports journalist who understands firsthand what it is like to pursue a coaching position, work your way up the competitive cutthroat ladder to finally reach your destined level, only to be told you are not good enough.
Some knuckleheaded scribes oftentimes set the stage by getting on their bully stepstools and blowing information bubbles to the unsuspecting public. These self-appointed coaching experts — many of whom I suspect have no experience in running a ball club — provide so-called analysis disguised as a professional fan rambling in frustration. This, sadly, is what sports radio has become these days.
Although Ryan hasn’t had enough time since he returned in 2011 to clean up the mess left behind by his predecessor, I questioned the Ben Revere and Denard Span off-season trades that diminished the team’s outfield fielding prowess and base-running speed. He must address the Twins’ glaring needs that persist: starting pitching, consistent hitting in the middle of the order, reliable middle relief. Whenever you lose 90 or more games three straight years, your weaknesses easily outweighs your strengths.
As for Joe Mauer, play him at his natural catcher position, put him at DH, or trade him. Switching him to first base is a bad idea and won’t spare him from getting hurt as some suggest.
Finally, when you lose 90 or more games three straight years, no one is touchable, even Minnesota’s hometown favorite Mauer. The entire 2013 Twins roster should be on the trading block.
This would be a sure sign of turning things around in the right direction.
Still the only Minnesota winning pro team in town, the Minnesota Lynx begin Sunday in their third WNBA finals in as many seasons. “They have what we want to have,” admitted Wolves forward Kevin Love Monday during his team’s media day on his female pro counterparts — “a team that continues to have immense success.”
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