Souhan: Gardenhire needs to alter his familiar approach

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 1, 2013 - 8:23 AM

Five recommendations the longtime Twins manager should follow to remain on the job in 2014.

hide

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire talked with his team before playing the Baltimore Orioles on Feb. 23.

Photo: Jerry Holt, Star Tribune

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Ron Gardenhire has presided over one of the longest stretches of competence and one of the worst two-season stretches in Twins history. Despite the ease with which managers are credited or blamed for their team’s success, he is neither savior nor culprit.

He’s a knowledgeable, experienced manager with quirky tendencies and obvious flaws. That sentence could also have been applied to Joe Torre when the Yankees were a dynasty and to Tony La Russa at any of his stops.

If the Twins lose 90 or more games again, this could be Gardenhire’s last season with the Twins. While managers can’t control the most important variable in the game — the quality of talent, and especially pitching talent, they employ — Gardenhire can do a few things better to give himself the best possible chance of retaining the job he’s held since 2002, such as …

1. Connecting with young players. There is an impressive wave of talent bearing down on the big-league roster. Gardenhire always has been considered a players’ manager for veterans and grinders, but has found himself at odds with a few young players, such as Danny Valencia and Trevor Plouffe. He needs to find a way to get his messages across to them without making them feel persecuted, which is why Gardenhire should …

2. Lean on his coaching staff. Tom Brunansky, Terry Steinbach and Bobby Cuellar were added to the staff this year for precise reasons: Brunansky because of his stellar reputation with young hitters in the organization and his charisma; Steinbach for catching expertise and calming presence; and Cuellar because of his pitching expertise and ability to communicate with Spanish- speaking players. Gardenhire’s staff had grown insular, had become Gardenhire allies more than effective teachers. Gardenhire needs his coaches to build a bridge to the clubhouse, because the staff needs to …

3. Improve the Twins’ fundamentals. There have been too many base­running and fundamental mistakes the past two years. That was partly due to a minor league system that had grown lax, but that excuse won’t cut it any more, now that the Twins have built a fine stable of minor league managers headed by Gene Glynn at Class AAA Rochester. Gardenhire needs to address mistakes immediately, and it’s essential for his reputation in the clubhouse that he …

4. Avoid using the media as his messenger. A handful of players have chafed the past couple of years when they have heard criticism from Gardenhire via reporters rather than via the manager or his coaches. Gardenhire has definite strengths as a manager. He’s knowledgeable and experienced. He studied under Tom Kelly and deserved plenty of credit for molding a team lacking superstars into a winner in the early 2000s. He’s remarkably intense and driven, and that intensity cuts both ways. It can enliven a clubhouse and dugout during what can be a long and boring season, but it’s essential for his future that he learn how to …

5. Maintain his composure. His blowups with umpires are entertaining but don’t necessarily help his team. And more than one player has mentioned that when he begins pacing and wiping his face when a pitcher struggles, his nervousness can be viewed as a lack of faith in his players.

No. 5 might be the most important for Gardenhire. He believes in creating a loose clubhouse, but he himself can come across as nervous and lacking in confidence at times, whether in team meetings or on the bench.

That’s why Steinbach, who has never coached above the high school level, could become one of the most important people in the organization this season. It’s up to Steinbach to remain calm when games become stressful, to help Gardenhire think rather than react.

The Twins pitching staff might not be good enough to support a contender this season. Managing nuances might not matter. Gardenhire might manage as well as anyone ever has and still lose 90 games, but it’s his job to try to wring a few extra victories out of his roster, and an improved coaching staff should be able to help him.

 

Jim Souhan can been heard weekdays at noon and Sundays from 10-noon on 1500 ESPN. His Twitter name is @SouhanStrib. • jsouhan@startribune.com

  • related content

  • Twins Autograph Quiz: Whose name IS that?

    Wednesday April 3, 2013

    Try to identify the Minnesota Twin behind each autograph we collected during spring training.

  • Twins manager Ron Gardenhire appeared to be happy Friday, during his team’s penultimate Grapefruit League game in Florida, against the Red Sox.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Minnesota 16 FINAL
Buffalo 17
Atlanta 7 FINAL
Baltimore 29
Tennessee 17 FINAL
Washington 19
Seattle 26 FINAL
St. Louis 28
Cleveland 6 FINAL
Jacksonville 24
Cincinnati 0 FINAL
Indianapolis 27
Miami 27 FINAL
Chicago 14
New Orleans 23 FINAL
Detroit 24
Carolina 17 FINAL
Green Bay 38
Kansas City 23 FINAL
San Diego 20
Arizona 24 FINAL
Oakland 13
NY Giants 21 FINAL
Dallas 31
San Francisco 17 FINAL
Denver 42
Houston 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
San Diego 10/23/14 7:25 PM
Denver
Detroit 10/26/14 8:30 AM
Atlanta
Boston 95 FINAL
Brooklyn 90
Minnesota 112 FINAL
Oklahoma City 94
Golden State 83 FINAL
Houston 90
Charlotte 96 FINAL
Chicago 101
Utah 91 FINAL
LA Lakers 98
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
San Jose 0 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Calgary 4 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
St. Louis 0 FINAL
Anaheim 3
TX-San Antonio 20 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 27
Syracuse 30 FINAL
Wake Forest 7
Purdue 38 FINAL
Minnesota 39
Western Ky 38 FINAL
Fla Atlantic 45
(12) Baylor 27 FINAL
(22) West Virginia 41
(11) Kansas State 31 FINAL
(17) Oklahoma 30
Iowa 31 FINAL
Maryland 38
So Florida 38 FINAL
Tulsa 30
Tulane 13 FINAL
UCF 20
Virginia 13 FINAL
Duke 20
Akron 20 FINAL
Ohio U 23
Western Mich 26 FINAL
Bowling Green 14
Eastern Mich 14 FINAL
Massachusetts 36
Appalachian St 53 FINAL
Troy 14
(25) UCLA 36 FINAL
California 34
Texas A&M 0 FINAL
(4) Alabama 59
Army 17 FINAL
Kent State 39
Kansas 21 FINAL
Texas Tech 34
UAB 22 FINAL
Middle Tennessee 34
Rutgers 17 FINAL
(13) Ohio State 56
(8) Michigan State 56 FINAL
Indiana 17
New Mexico 31 FINAL
Air Force 35
NC State 18 FINAL
Louisville 30
(21) Clemson 17 FINAL
Boston College 13
Ball State 32 FINAL
Central Mich 29
Cincinnati 41 FINAL
SMU 3
(9) Georgia 45 FINAL
Arkansas 32
Oklahoma State 9 FINAL
(10) TCU 42
San Jose St 27 FINAL
Wyoming 20
Miami-Ohio 41 FINAL
Northern Ill 51
New Mexico St 17 FINAL
Idaho 29
Colorado 28 FINAL
(20) USC 56
(23) Marshall 45 FINAL
FIU 13
Southern Miss 30 FINAL
North Texas 20
Georgia Tech 43 FINAL
North Carolina 48
Tennessee 3 FINAL
(3) Ole Miss 34
Utah State 13 FINAL
Colorado State 16
Missouri 42 FINAL
Florida 13
Kentucky 3 FINAL
(24) LSU 41
(16) Nebraska 38 FINAL
Northwestern 17
Georgia State 27 FINAL
South Alabama 30
Washington 20 FINAL
(6) Oregon 45
Iowa State 45 FINAL
Texas 48
(7) Notre Dame 27 FINAL
(2) Florida State 31
Nevada 42 FINAL
BYU 35
Stanford 10 FINAL
(14) Arizona State 26
Hawaii 10 FINAL
San Diego St 20
Arkansas State 10/21/14 7:00 PM
Louisiana
Connecticut 10/23/14 6:00 PM
(18) East Carolina
Miami-Florida 10/23/14 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
So Florida 10/24/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Troy 10/24/14 6:30 PM
South Alabama
BYU 10/24/14 8:00 PM
Boise State
(6) Oregon 10/24/14 9:00 PM
California
North Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Rice
UAB 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Arkansas
Rutgers 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(16) Nebraska
Maryland 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Wisconsin
Texas 10/25/14 11:00 AM
(11) Kansas State
Minnesota 10/25/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Memphis 10/25/14 11:00 AM
SMU
North Carolina 10/25/14 11:30 AM
Virginia
San Jose St 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Navy
Northern Ill 10/25/14 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
(25) UCLA 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Colorado
Akron 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Ball State
Massachusetts 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Toledo
Ohio U 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Western Mich
Ga Southern 10/25/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Kent State 10/25/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Oregon State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Stanford
Fla Atlantic 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(23) Marshall
Louisiana Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(1) Miss State 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Kentucky
Georgia Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Pittsburgh
(22) West Virginia 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Oklahoma State
Texas Tech 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(10) TCU
Michigan 10/25/14 2:30 PM
(8) Michigan State
Boston College 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Wake Forest
Central Mich 10/25/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Vanderbilt 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Missouri
Old Dominion 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Western Ky
UNLV 10/25/14 3:00 PM
Utah State
Temple 10/25/14 4:00 PM
UCF
(15) Arizona 10/25/14 5:00 PM
Washington St
Texas-El Paso 10/25/14 6:00 PM
TX-San Antonio
Wyoming 10/25/14 6:00 PM
Colorado State
Syracuse 10/25/14 6:00 PM
(21) Clemson
Texas State 10/25/14 6:00 PM
ULM
(3) Ole Miss 10/25/14 6:15 PM
(24) LSU
(4) Alabama 10/25/14 6:30 PM
Tennessee
So Carolina 10/25/14 6:30 PM
(5) Auburn
(13) Ohio State 10/25/14 7:00 PM
Penn State
(20) USC 10/25/14 9:00 PM
(19) Utah
(14) Arizona State 10/25/14 9:45 PM
Washington
Nevada 10/25/14 10:59 PM
Hawaii
Columbus 3 FINAL
Red Bull New York 1
Seattle 2 FINAL
Los Angeles 2
Ottawa 6 FINAL
Hamilton 16
Montreal 20 FINAL
Toronto 12
Calgary 33 FINAL
Winnipeg 23
Edmonton 24 FINAL
Saskatchewan 19

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close