On the face of it, the Twins' coaching moves on Thursday seemed quite startling. When you break it down a bit more, however, maybe it wasn't as big or shocking as it looked?
That's the idea we're warming up to, for these reasons:
*It seems like a stunner primarily in the context of what the Twins typically do. They are loyal. They believe in the big-picture, in trusting the method and the people in charge of running it. If the vast majority of teams had back-to-back seasons like the Twins just experienced, massive changes would have been expected – even with a recent track record of success. Just think locally: Denny Green and Brad Childress were fired mid-season the very year after leading the Vikings to an NFC title game. Ditto for Flip Saunders with the Timberwolves. He brought the Wolves to eight consecutive playoff appearances, including a trip to the West finals in 2003-04, but was fired with almost a .500 record in the middle of 2004-05. In baseball, back-to-back seasons like the ones the Twins just had are typically detrimental to a manager. According to research by 1500’s Tom Pelissero, since 1961, not counting expansion teams, only other six managers have survived back-to-back 95-loss seasons and kept their jobs.
*The guys who were outright fired – bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third base coach Steve Liddle, first base coach Jerry White and head trainer Rick McWane – do not make up the core brain trust of the on-field staff. Scott Ullger and Joe Vavra were reassigned. Ron Gardenhire and Rick Anderson were untouched. And the guys rumored to be coming in – Bobby Cuellar, Tom Brunansky, Gene Glynn and perhaps Paul Molitor – are all from within the organization to varying degrees, suggesting that while they would bring a fresh set of eyes and perspectives, they will still be preaching the organizational philosophies.
*Now, that’s not to say continuity is a bad thing. The Twins had a great run of regular-season success in the 2000s with many of the same principles they presumably want to employ now. In our honest opinion, Gardenhire and Anderson deserve a chance to turn things around because of that track record. But we will say this: bringing in Cuellar and Glynn would make it clear the Twins have available in-house interim options at pitching coach and manager if things continue to go south next season and a mid-year move is warranted.
That would be the true shake-up. If the Twins were a house, Thursday amounted to rearranging some furniture and re-painting a few rooms, which feels like a major renovation by Twins standards.
Time will tell if a full remodel is necessary – and if it happens.