Wrapping up a disappointing weekend series with the Division leading Detroit Tigers, the Minnesota Twins sit timidly at 30-36, fourth place in the American League Central. Not immune to the speculation of the direction of the club is none other than Twins manager, Ron Gardenhire. Gardenhire has in 11 seasons mismanaged a club capable of making a serious run at the World Series into a group of men unable to win a midweek series all season, with exception being the Twins’ sweep of the Milwaukee Brewers May 27-30. Although Gardy still has 3 and half more months to turn the season around, if a step in the right direction is not made soon, the Twins’ front office may be posting a “help wanted” sign for the managerial position for the 2014 season.
Gardenhire followed Tom Kelly at helm of the Twins organization during the 2002 season and made quick work to get the Minnesota ball team back to the playoffs. Gardenhire, with the help of players like Torii Hunter, A.J. Pierzynski and ace closer Eddie Guardado, catapulted the 2002 squad into the American League Championship Series after missing the playoffs the season before. At the peak of the Gardenhire’s success, the Twins won the American League Central division 4 times between 2002 and 2006.
Since the 2006 season, however, the Minnesota faithful have yet to see any fruit from the Gardenhire arsenal. The 2011 and 2012 seasons have yielded 63-99, and 66-96 records respectively, and 2013 is on pace to settle below 500 for the third straight season. During the current season, the Twins have failed to make a series sweep of an American League team and as a whole are struggling to a 22-27 record against all American League teams to this point. Gardenhire must know when to pull a pitcher or trust him to get out of a jam, or when to tell his batter to hold on a pitch or swing away. His decision making in recent games has struggled, and these decisions are costing the Twins games.
As a whole, the team’s overall appearance is about a B-. Rough around the edges but scrappy when the rubber meets the road. At 30-36 the season is far from over for the Twins. The All-Star Break has not arrived and it’s usually afterwards we start seeing the stars align, or burn out completely. However, Gardenhire must make some improvements – and quickly – before the club loses their patience with the man. Only time will tell, and time is running out.