Twins manager Ron Gardenhire and Twins general manager Terry Ryan have been universally praised by their peers for the good work they have done with the ballclub since 2002. Their good work has started a renaissance period of three playoff years prior to last year after years of losing in the mid-to-late nineties. Successful people are also prone to making mistakes. The decision making of both men is part of the reason why this team has not had a good season so far. Managerial mistakes and personnel mistakes have just affected this team in losses.Ron Gardenhire has his strengths and weakness like most managers. His strength is relating well to players and getting his players to play hard for him. He is one of the friendliest managers in baseball as he has a good relationship with the Twins beat writers, local columnists in the papers, opposing managers, and his own players. Unfortunately, his weakness as a manager overcomes his strong points. His decision-making leaves a lot to be desired to the point that it cost the ballclub opportunity to win games. There are many examples of that especially this season. He has had a hard time figuring out which pitcher does well in certain situations. A great example is Jesse Crain. Gardenhire always uses Crain in tight games like holding a lead in the seventh inning or in a tie game in extra innings. Crain implodes in these types of situations. There are so many evidences that indicate he is not the right guy for tight games. During the Twins West Coast trip, he imploded in the first game of the road trip as he couldn’t keep it tied at 3 against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and he did it again two weeks ago in the same situation against the Seattle Mariners. Jesse’s strength is doing well when there is no pressure like blowouts or when he has to get crucial one or two outs in an inning. For some reason, the manager cannot figure that out. He should have used either Joe Nathan or Matt Guerrier in that situation since those two are more equipped to pitch in these spots. The manager should know that Jesse is not that guy based on the fact that he had his problems this entire season in tight games. His performance Tuesday night against the Boston Red Sox in which Jesse made a mess in the twelfth inning should be the last time that Gardenhire should have any faith in Crain in extra innings.
Another problem of Gardenhire’s work is his blind loyalty to players. Besides his loyalty of using Jesse Crain in tight games, he uses guys like Nick Punto, Carlos Silva, and several others who do not deserve to play. Nick Punto has been horrible all season. He is not getting on base as he used to and he has become an automatic out. Gardy keeps raving about Punto’s intangibles, but fans have not seen that all season. Punto is getting worse as a player. The manager clearly has a soft spot for Carlos Silva. He even admitted that when he announced the news that sent Silva to the bullpen. He showed a great example of that when Silva had two good outings in the bullpen, he decided to insert Silva back in the rotation to replace the struggling Scott Baker, who was demoted to the minors in Rochester. He always sticks with Jesse Crain no matter how bad he does in tight games. He keeps putting guys who have no business out there. Another example of Gardy’s weakness is keeping pitchers way too long to the point that they end up costing the game. He should have taken them out at first sign when the guys are losing it. For instance, Carlos Silva was getting hit every inning in that Sunday Night game against the Chicago White Sox yet when Silva was in a huge jam in the fourth inning with the Twins lead over Chicago in the balance, Gardenhire should have taken him out rather than let him figure it out considering he has stunk the entire inning. A proactive manager figures this out and realizes that he can’t let him struggle and blow a lead. He does the same thing with Jesse Crain. When Crain struggles, Gardy just leaves him out there with the hope that Crain figures it out. If Crain struggles, there is no reason for the manager to keep Crain out there. Finally, Gardenhire always seems to play his C lineup in which he uses his players from the bench in a starting lineup on a day game after a night game. If the Twins are playing in a rubber game of the three-game set, he will insist on playing the bench players never mind his best opportunity to win series is to play his best players regardless how tired they are. Those types of managerial moves can easily frustrate Twins fans. He has been managing the Twins for four years now and it amazes the fans about the mistakes he makes at times especially when fans can easily figure out those moves are wrong.
Terry Ryan has done a very good job in recent years as the Twins general manager. He has made great trades and drafted well in recent years. However, he is also not perfect like any GMs or successful executives. Ryan has made couple of mistakes that has affected this team in wins and losses. The first mistake was signing Rondell White. There were much better options to sign at DH like Frank Thomas or Mike Piazza. Even if Thomas or Piazza were not coming to Minnesota, there was no way Ryan should have signed White. White has been horrible in recent years. There is a reason why he has been a journeyman as he has gone to several different teams like New York to San Diego to Detroit. He has not produced good numbers for teams to keep him. Twins should have known what they were getting in Rondell. That’s just inexcusable. Obviously, the Twins signed him as a cheap alternative to other prominent free agents with the idea that they might get lucky. The second mistake was holding on to Kyle Lohse. The question that is posed by Twins fans is what exactly he has done for him to stay with the Twins. Lohse may have done very good in the second half, but it did not mean he had to stay especially with Francisco Liriano ready to burst into the major league scene. Lohse has had lot of chances to pitch to his potential, but it has not worked out. His performance and his attitude left a lot to be desired. Ryan should have cut the cord by either trading him for nothing or releasing him. There was no way the general manager could have expected Lohse to keep this up when he has saw Lohse fail year after year in his Twins forgettable tenure. I know the ballclub did not want Liriano to be rushed or be in a position to fail, but the fans probably feel he can’t be worse than Lohse. Lohse did not have a great season and now he lost his role in the rotation for good. It is one thing for the Twins to try to make do with a limited payroll, but it is another to make mistakes that has cost this team wins with the signing of Rondell White and holding on to Kyle Lohse.
Those two should not simply be blamed for the way things have gone for the Twins. The players have not gotten the job done on the field either. With that said, those two guys have not provided any solutions to what ails the Twins. It is clear the players will have to get the job done to make the general manager and the manager look good this season.