Ron Gardenhire will return as Twins manager and is expected to get a two-year contract, according to a Twins official.
Another source told La Velle E. Neal III that the entire coaching staff will return next season as well.
The Twins have called a 2:30 press conference today at Target Field. The press conference will be available live on startribune.com.
Gardenhire had early success as Twins manager, winning six AL Central titles in his first nine seasons, before the recent downturn. The Twins are known as a model of stability, and have had only two managers since the end of the 1986 season, when Tom Kelly replaced Ray Miller. Kelly and Gardenhire have managed the team continuously since, giving the organization the sort of stability seldom seen in professional sports.
Gardenhire ended the season as the second longest tenured manager in the majors, trailing only the Los Angeles Angels Mike Scoscia.
Gardenhire was hoping to win his 1,000th career game this season, but ended the season with 998 after the Twins lost 10 of their final 11 games.
Gardenhire has a reputation as a popular players’ manager with his talkative, outgoing style. His sharp wit and humor were personal trademarks.
He inherited a team in 2002 that the previous summer under Kelly had snapped the organization’s streak of eight straight losing seasons. The 2002 team included a core of young players – Torii Hunter, Jacque Jones, Doug Mientkiwicz, Cristian Guzman, Corey Koskie and A.J. Pierzynzski – most of whom became regulars for the first time in 1999.
Gardenhire’s recent years with the Twins had no similar wealth of young talent ready to help at the big league level. The Twins went 94-68 in 2010 – the fifth time Gardenhire’s teams had at least 90 victories – but stunmbled to 63-99 the next season.
Team officials blamed the dropoff on injuries that limited team stars Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau to a combined 150 games. But the team went 66-96 in 2012, and it became clear the bulk of the team’s problems could be linked to an inept starting pitching staff.
Gardenhire entered the 2013 season in the final year of his contract, and with several new pitchers – Vance Worley, the Opening Day starter, Kevin Correia and Mike Pelfrey – who failed to provide the team with the sort of pitching needed to show improvement in the standings.
Twins starting pitchers were last in the majors in almost every major statistical category.
Gardenhire backers within the organization pointed to the improvements made by players like second baseman Brian Dozier and shortstop Pedro Florimon. The Twins biggest areas of improvement this season were in defense and the bullpen.