Souhan: Twins' lack of pitching is on Ryan, not Gardenhire

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 20, 2013 - 9:20 PM

The Twins GM knows he hasn't given the manager a team that can win, so firing him would be a mistake.

hide

Twins manager Ron Gardenhire, left, and General Manager Terry Ryan in 2005 in Ft. Myers, Fla.

Photo: Robert F. Bukaty, Dml - Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The speculation over Ron Gardenhire’s future too often ignores the crux of the matter, the reason the Twins, rightly or wrongly, behave differently than most professional sports teams.

To fire Gardenhire, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan would have to call the manager into his office, look him in the eye, and say, “You didn’t win enough games with the teams I gave you.”

Could Ryan do that without experiencing pangs of guilt?

The Twins lost 99 games in 2011. Ryan reassumed the position of Twins general manager in November 2011. Ryan did good work in his first offseason, signing Josh Willingham (a bargain), Ryan Doumit (an ideal fit) and Jamey Carroll (a professional utility infielder), but did not fix the starting rotation, the most important component of any big-league team.

Lacking pitching, the Twins lost 96 games in 2012. Ryan set out to remake the rotation, bringing in Mike Pelfrey, Vance Worley and Kevin Correia, as well as prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May.

Pelfrey carried an ERA of 5.55 into the All-Star break. Worley’s was 7.21 before he was demoted to Class AAA. Correia has been the best of the lot, pitching a team-high 116 ⅔ innings with a record of 7-6 and an ERA of 4.17 follwing a 3-2 victory over Cleveland on Saturday. Scott Diamond is 5-8 with a 5.32 ERA, and the Twins have the worst team ERA for starting pitchers in all of baseball, at 5.23.

Ryan’s moves doomed the 2013 Twins to another season of failure.

His unwillingness to spend big money on free-agent pitchers fits with his philosophy of avoiding the kind of huge contracts that have embarrassed or hamstrung other franchises. His insistence on building through the draft and by developing young, affordable, controllable pitchers is logical. His plans should make the Twins contenders again by 2015, when an excellent crop of prospects should be surfacing or beginning to produce in the majors.

But he can’t say he gave Gardenhire a fighting chance this year.

In most organizations, managers are hired to be fired, to be named as scapegoats during or after a disappointing season. Rightly or wrongly, the dynamic is different in the Twins front office.

Tom Kelly survived eight consecutive losing seasons. When Carl Pohlad, pushed by temporary executive Chris Clouser, considered firing Kelly, the manager asked for another chance to turn the team around, and was granted a reprieve.

Gardenhire’s circumstances aren’t identical to Kelly’s. Kelly was saddled with bad teams and low payrolls as Pohlad decided to play “studio baseball” in the Metrodome.

Gardenhire’s teams have been given more competitive payrolls, and he manages in a wonderful ballpark. What he and Kelly have in common is losing because of lousy pitching, and working for a general manager who does not believe in blaming his manager.

Gardenhire will have to pass a low bar to be retained: By the end of the season, Ryan will have to believe that the manager has not lost the clubhouse or retarded the development of the team’s young players following a season in which most of the young players struggled.

If Ryan fires Gardenhire, he will have to believe the guy who supervised so many winning teams, the guy who was the American League Manager of the Year in 2010, has failed to create a conducive learning environment, or a professional workplace.

Ryan would have to balance those judgments against a 32-year working relationship that began when they were both employed by the Mets in 1981.

More importantly, Ryan would have to believe that the 2013 Twins failed more because of the manager than the general manager. That would be his biggest mistake since 1995, when he traded Scott Erickson for Scott Klingenbeck.

 

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

  • related content

  • Twins defense again the difference

    Sunday July 21, 2013

    For the second night in a row, the Twins excelled in the field while the Indians blundered the game away.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Tennessee 7:25 PM
Jacksonville
Philadelphia 12/20/14 3:30 PM
Washington
San Diego 12/20/14 7:25 PM
San Francisco
Minnesota 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Baltimore 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Detroit 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Cleveland 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Atlanta 12/21/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Green Bay 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Kansas City 12/21/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
New England 12/21/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
NY Giants 12/21/14 3:05 PM
St. Louis
Buffalo 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Oakland
Indianapolis 12/21/14 3:25 PM
Dallas
Seattle 12/21/14 7:30 PM
Arizona
Denver 12/22/14 7:30 PM
Cincinnati
New York 7:00 PM
Chicago
New Orleans 7:30 PM
Houston
Milwaukee 9:00 PM
Sacramento
Oklahoma City 9:30 PM
Golden State
Florida 6:00 PM
Philadelphia
Colorado 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Toronto 6:00 PM
Carolina
Washington 6:00 PM
Columbus
Anaheim 6:30 PM
Montreal
St. Louis 9:30 PM
Los Angeles
Edmonton 9:30 PM
San Jose
St Thomas (TX) 61 FINAL
Rice 72
Stony Brook 6:00 PM
Canisius
Temple 6:00 PM
Delaware
FIU 6:00 PM
Long Island
Lehigh 6:00 PM
Quinnipiac
South Alabama 6:00 PM
Richmond
Seton Hall 6:00 PM
South Florida
Ga Southern 6:00 PM
Stetson
Yale 6:00 PM
Vermont
Cleveland State 6:00 PM
Virginia
Wright State 6:00 PM
Western Carolina
Nicholls 6:30 PM
Louisiana Tech
Morgan State 6:30 PM
Rider
Idaho State 6:30 PM
South Dakota St
Oakland City 7:00 PM
Austin Peay
Eureka 7:00 PM
Bradley
Appalachian St 7:00 PM
Charlotte
Connecticut 7:00 PM
Duke
Southern Miss 7:00 PM
Jackson State
Coastal Carolina 7:00 PM
Ole Miss
Montana State 7:30 PM
South Dakota
LSU 8:00 PM
UAB
Ohio 8:05 PM
Evansville
CS-Dominguez 9:00 PM
Cal State Fullerton
Walla Walla 9:00 PM
Idaho
DePaul 9:00 PM
Oregon State
Nevada 9:00 PM
Pacific
Portland State 9:00 PM
San Francisco
CS-Bakersfield 9:05 PM
Utah State
Nevada 12/20/14 10:00 AM
Louisiana
Utah State 12/20/14 1:20 PM
Texas-El Paso
(23) Utah 12/20/14 2:30 PM
Colorado State
Western Mich 12/20/14 4:45 PM
Air Force
South Alabama 12/20/14 8:15 PM
Bowling Green
BYU 12/22/14 1:00 PM
Memphis
Marshall 12/23/14 5:00 PM
Northern Ill
Navy 12/23/14 8:30 PM
San Diego St
Central Mich 12/24/14 11:00 AM
Western Ky
Fresno State 12/24/14 7:00 PM
Rice
Niagara 76 FINAL
Cleveland State 58
High Point 59 FINAL
VA Commonwealth 81
Towson 64 FINAL
Wake Forest 74
Presbyterian 50 FINAL
Charlotte 66
Chicago State 62 FINAL
Bradley 59
Northwestern Coll 58 FINAL
Drake 102
Vanderbilt 67 FINAL
Marquette 80
Temple 4:00 PM
Howard
Southern Miss 4:00 PM
Ole Miss
UMBC 4:00 PM
Rider
Miami-Florida 5:00 PM
UCLA
St Mary-KS 5:00 PM
South Dakota
William & Mary 5:00 PM
Wofford
Troy 5:30 PM
Evansville
Loyola Marymount 6:00 PM
USC
St Francis-PA 6:00 PM
Duquesne
Indiana-Southeast 6:00 PM
IUPUI
Delaware State 6:00 PM
Detroit
Tenn Temple 6:00 PM
Gardner-Webb
West Virginia St 6:00 PM
Radford
Fairfield 6:00 PM
Seton Hall
Dartmouth 6:00 PM
New Hampshire
Ball State 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Jacksonville 6:00 PM
Tennessee St
Trine 6:00 PM
Western Mich
Tenn Tech 6:30 PM
Lipscomb
Samford 7:00 PM
Tulane
New Orleans 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Incarnate Word 7:00 PM
TX-Pan American
Ark-Little Rock 7:00 PM
South Dakota St
CS-Northridge 7:30 PM
Northern Ariz
Santa Clara 8:00 PM
Oregon
(19) Oklahoma St 8:00 PM
Weber State
Washington 8:00 PM
San Diego State
Cal Poly 8:00 PM
New Mexico
(10) Louisville 8:00 PM
Grand Canyon
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: Do you like the Ervin Santana signing by the Twins?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close