Startribune.com digital sports editor Howard Sinker used to cover the Twins and now shares season tickets with friends in Section 219 of Target Field. He blogs about baseball from the perspective of a long-time fan who loves the game, doesn’t always believe the hype and likes hearing what others think. Howard sometimes talks about sports with Cathy Wurzer on MPR's Morning Edition.

Section 219: Twins begin their hunt for competence

Posted by: Howard Sinker under Ron Gardenhire, Twins fans, Twins management Updated: October 5, 2012 - 8:31 AM

First of all, the Twins didn't intend for the news to come out this way, for the coaching staff casualties to dribble over over the course of Thursday in ones and twos.

That was the excellent work of writer La Velle E. Neal III, who was hard-wired into the organization and went all Brian Urlacher, totally disrupting whatever plans existed and reporting on the firings in as close to real time as they could be confirmed. La Velle was also in transit from Toronto to the Twin Cities, getting the information and getting it to startribune.com as quickly as he could confirm things.

Let me suggest that the Twins should get on with their overhaul with the same intensity that La Velle showed on behalf of Twins fans.

General Manager Terry Ryan decimated Ron Gardenhire's band of brothers Thursday -- firing three coaches, reassigning two and sparing the manager's best baseball buddy, pitching coach Rick Anderson. If we assume that the Rochester pitching coach, Bobby Cuellar, will take over as bullpen coach and Gene Glynn, the Rochester manager, will get a Twins coaching job, you can consider Gardy and Andy to be on a very short leash in 2013.

Talk all you want about the weak starting pitching -- or obfuscate even more and blame it on the injuries to several of the failed starters -- and you ignore the fact that the "Twins way" has become one of mental mistakes in all aspects of the game: Mental errors, giveaway at-bats, flawed pitching. All of those traits manifest themselves in a second season of frightful baseball unworthy of their new ballpark.

However hard the coaches and Gardy were working, things were lost when the messages were delivered from the staff to the players. Ten years ago, the Twins were in need of Gardy's folksy approach as a replacement for the taciturn Tom Kelly.

Now, Gardy is being told by Ryan that what his staff was doing had stopped working and that he'll be given one more chance to fix things without a staff of his own choosing. Faced with what Ryan decided, there are managers who would have walked away with their guys.

I'm going to take it as a good sign that Gardy decided to take on the challenge. Whether he can lead the change is an interesting and debatable question.

Over the last few weeks, when people have asked what I thought would happen, I suggested that things were too quiet for big changes not to be made. I am also certain that nobody in the Twins organization thinks a new coaching staff alone can be sold as big change.

Players will come and go during the off-season. I would bet on minimal drama before things happen and a couple of dramatic moves intended to make 2013 more than a season of meandering toward .500. Many of the empty seats that you could see at Target Field as the season wore on were generating revenue because they were held by absentee season-ticket holders. In my circle, many people are bailing out on their season-ticket investments -- cutting back or getting out entirely.

Baltimore and Oakland this season have shown what's possible. Keep in mind that, with better geography, either of those teams would have handily won the AL Central based on the bigger chunks of Twins, Royals and Cleveland on their schedules.

The Twins not only finished last in their division, but they finished last in the only division in baseball that had three teams lose 90 or more games. The AL Central finished 28 games under .500 against the West and 24 under .500 against the East. (The Twins were 22-50 outside of their division, a .305 winning percentage.)

What happened on Thursday was a message to Gardy. He will have a boatload of work to do during the winter, preparing a new coaching staff -- one that won't of his choosing, however the replacements get spun -- to function the way he needs when the Twins gather in Florida next February.

In return for keeping his job, Gardy has basically forfeited the right to make personnel decisions about his staff that, in a better situation, a GM wants to be able to mostly leave to his field manager. On Twitter, Patrick Reusse described Gardy and Andy as being on "double secret probation."

That's the price of stink.

What needs to happen next are more moves by Ryan and ownership to further show that the painful performances we've witnessed for two years will be replaced by ones we can watch without holding our noses and looking away.

 

ADVERTISEMENT

NY Mets 8 FINAL
Atlanta 2
Philadelphia 3 FINAL
NY Yankees 1
Detroit 5 FINAL
Baltimore 4
Toronto 4 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Cincinnati 2 FINAL
Cleveland 4
San Diego 3 FINAL
Seattle 4
Chicago WSox 6 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Kansas City 13 FINAL
Texas 2
Oakland 9 FINAL
San Francisco 2
Wisc-Milwaukee 0 FINAL
Milwaukee 8
Arizona 6 FINAL
Colorado 3
Univ of Minnesota 1 FINAL
Minnesota 3
New York 82 FINAL
Indiana 105
Phoenix 105 FINAL
Orlando 100
Cleveland 120 FINAL
Toronto 112
Utah 84 FINAL
Boston 85
Charlotte 115 FINAL
Brooklyn 91
Denver 100 FINAL
Minnesota 85
Detroit 85 FINAL
New Orleans 88
LA Lakers 94 FINAL
Miami 100
Philadelphia 118 FINAL
Oklahoma City 123
Memphis 102 FINAL
Houston 100
Sacramento 85 FINAL
San Antonio 112
Milwaukee 93 FINAL
Golden State 102
Portland 98 FINAL
LA Clippers 93
Ottawa 3 FINAL
Winnipeg 1
NY Rangers 1 FINAL(OT)
Detroit 2
Pittsburgh 1 FINAL
Colorado 3
Montreal 1 FINAL
Anaheim 3
Longwood 65 FINAL
Presbyterian 61
Campbell 64 FINAL
Gardner-Webb 72
Liberty 70 FINAL
UNC-Asheville 80
Ohio State 77 FINAL
Penn State 67
Maine 66 FINAL
Albany 83
Duquesne 81 FINAL
Fordham 66
George Washington 67 FINAL
George Mason 51
Tennessee 78 FINAL
LSU 63
Notre Dame 71 FINAL
Louisville 59
SE Missouri St 74 FINAL
Morehead State 79
St Francis-PA 73 FINAL
Mount St Marys 58
Hartford 63 FINAL
New Hampshire 67
Wagner 68 FINAL
Robert Morris 91
Long Island 70 FINAL
St Francis-NY 79
La Salle 50 FINAL
Saint Josephs 55
Providence 79 FINAL
Seton Hall 66
UCF 45 FINAL
South Florida 74
Binghamton 57 FINAL
Stony Brook 62
UMBC 39 FINAL
Vermont 66
Sacred Heart 85 FINAL
Bryant 91
Richmond 56 FINAL
Massachusetts 53
Wake Forest 51 FINAL
Duke 94
Purdue 66 FINAL
Michigan State 72
Miami-Florida 67 FINAL
Pittsburgh 63
St Bonaventure 64 FINAL
Saint Louis 48
New Mexico St 69 FINAL
TX-Pan American 48
Houston 68 FINAL
Tulane 63
Howard 62 FINAL
NJIT 71
TCU 70 FINAL
Oklahoma State 82
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
Tulsa 47
USC 74 FINAL
UCLA 85
Miss State 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Utah State 53 FINAL
Wyoming 76
St Johns 67 FINAL
Marquette 51
SIU Edwardsville 66 FINAL
Eastern Ill 78
Air Force 66 FINAL
Fresno State 68
Nebraska 57 FINAL
Illinois 69
Colorado State 78 FINAL
Nevada 62
Boise State 68 FINAL
San Jose St 51
San Diego St 60 FINAL
UNLV 58
Oregon 65 FINAL
Oregon State 62
UC Santa Barbara 98 FINAL
Hawaii 90
Toledo 64 FINAL
Northern Ill 68
Wake Forest 69 FINAL
Boston College 53
Eastern Illinois 35 FINAL
UT Martin 68
Austin Peay 69 FINAL
SIU-Edwardsville 72
Virginia Tech 57 FINAL
NC State 56
Massachusetts 55 FINAL
St Bonaventure 49
Auburn 71 FINAL
Florida 49
Penn State 63 FINAL
Indiana 68
Clemson 53 FINAL
Georgia Tech 80
Davidson 63 FINAL
La Salle 74
Loyola-Maryland 46 FINAL
Lafayette 58
Boston U 48 FINAL
Colgate 58
Coll of Charleston 58 FINAL
James Madison 107
Delaware 76 FINAL
Elon 77
Drexel 58 FINAL
Northeastern 42
Hofstra 75 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 76
Towson 56 FINAL
William & Mary 68
Miami-Ohio 55 FINAL
Akron 67
Ball State 85 FINAL
Central Michigan 69
Buffalo 55 FINAL
Bowling Green 47
Western Mich 65 FINAL
Eastern Michigan 74
Ohio U 69 FINAL
Kent State 56
Youngstown St 62 FINAL
Cleveland State 73
Illinois-Chicago 54 FINAL
Wright State 74
Alabama 56 FINAL
Vanderbilt 66
Detroit 60 FINAL
Milwaukee 56
Purdue 58 FINAL
Wisconsin 56
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who is doing the best job coaching a Minnesota pro sports team?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT