Twins manager Ron Gardenhire has exactly 31 games left on his contract. He needs 11 victories to reach 1,000 for his career, and he needs to lead his team to a 16-15 mark over that closing stretch to avoid a third consecutive 90-loss season. The Twins will not finish with the worst record in the AL, thanks to Houston crossing over and continuing to stink (though NOT apparently making as much money as previously reported). But they could still very easily finish last in the AL Central (the White Sox have made up five games in the past 10 and are just 1.5 behind the Twins in that robust battle for fourth).
The Twins are saddled with subpar players at countless spots on the field and in the starting rotation -- the outfield is particularly atrocious -- and we can agree that is not Gardenhire's fault (right, can't we? He doesn't magically make players more talented. He can encourage and shift them around all day, but he can't turn Clete Thomas into Mike Trout, or even Denard Span).
All that said, talk of Gardy's future with the Twins is valid. Exactly eight MLB managers since 1945 have survived three consecutive 90-loss seasons without being fired, per this piece earlier this year from nap enthusiast Aaron Gleeman.
Will Gardenhire be the ninth? Well, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports seems to think so. Heyman wrote recently about the bounty of managers on the hot seat and concluded there won't be a ton of firings this offseason. Of Gardenhire and the Twins, he wrote:
Ron Gardenhire, Twins: Minnesota is having another rough year, though the Twins' modest improvement probably will be enough to satisfy ownership. Gardenhire, in his 12th season, has long had the support of GM Terry Ryan in an organization that emphasizes stability over all else. Chances to keep job: 75 percent.
The "Gardy must go" crowd won't like that, but we tend to agree with it. There are enough home games and other winnable games left for the Twins to get to 70 victories this season, and starting a victory total with a 7 sounds a lot better than a 6, even if it's just a few games of improvement.
Would a fresh start be crazy? No, not at all. But we agree with Heyman. It seems like that would be the upset and not the expectation at this point.
The wild card: Would Gardy, tired of it all, just walk away?
Your thoughts, please, in the comments.