Souhan: Drastic change must override Twins' status quo

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 18, 2014 - 3:16 PM

Ron Gardenhire’s job might be in jeopardy if the Twins don’t have a strong second half.

Before the All-Star break, the Twins won five of seven games on a road trip, then lobbied for General Manager Terry Ryan to keep the roster intact instead of dismantling the team at the trade deadline.

A successful week and a few optimistic words don’t alter reality: The Twins are marginally better today than they have been at this juncture the past three years, but this is not a good team, nor a promising team. The Twins would have to post a record of 37-31 in their final 68 games merely to reach .500. They might have to finish 43-25 or so to contend for a playoff spot. That is highly unlikely.

The Twins are tied for last place in a mediocre division. If Ryan can trade a player who is not part of the team’s long-term plans for value, he should.

Kurt Suzuki has excelled for three months. His value is higher than ever. If Ryan can trade the catcher for a good player or prospect, he should.

Potential trades will occupy the minds of fans for the next two weeks, but there are more important questions facing the franchise:

1. How long can even a franchise known for patience and stability keep key figures in place after four noncompetitive seasons?

While the Pohlads are known for staying the course, they have never before been in this situation, because they have never before lost so many games while playing in a new, expensive, state-of-the-art ballpark. The stakes are higher now because sellouts make the Pohlads so much money, and empty seats cost them so much.

2. Will Ryan keep the job long-term?

Ryan will turn 61 in October. He missed spring training and the beginning of the season while recovering from cancer. He has rebuilt the farm system and strengthened the front office and coaching staff, but injuries to top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano, and the time required to break in even top pitching prospects, mean his team might not be ready to contend until 2016.

Does Ryan have the patience and energy to handle a draining job for years to come? (Ryan turned down an interview request this week.)

Remember, he retired after the 2007 season despite being being considered, at the time, one of the great GMs in the game.

3. If Ryan retires again, would ownership turn to assistant general manager Rob Antony or, for the first time since hiring Andy MacPhail from the Houston Astros, would ownership look outside the organization?

4. Will the Twins keep manager Ron Gardenhire if the 2014 team doesn’t rally? The Twins stuck with Tom Kelly through eight consecutive losing seasons, from 1993-2000, but he had won two World Series and was working for an owner who had intentionally stripped the payroll. The Twins signed Gardenhire to a two-year extension last year, which seemed more an attempt by Ryan to avoid blaming Gardenhire for the team’s problems than a long-term vote of confidence.

5. If Gardenhire’s run ends at the end of the season, is there any doubt Paul Molitor would be the next manager?

He was the most intelligent player of his generation. He is friendly with ownership. He has a rapport with the Twins’ top prospects, having worked closely with them in his previous job as minor league instructor. This spring, when I asked Buxton and Sano who they went to for advice, both said, quickly, “Molitor.”

Molitor has the cachet and name recognition of a homegrown Hall of Famer. While Gardenhire isn’t to blame for the poor pitching staffs he’s been handed, the sheer weight of losing, and the number of players who have thrived elsewhere after leaving the Twins, leaves him operating under a cloud.

So the final question for the Pohlads is this:

How much more losing can they stomach before they make a change?


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

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: What do you think of the new Twins home uniforms?

Weekly Question