Phil Miller covered three seasons of Twins baseball, but that was at a different ballpark for a different newspaper. Now Miller returns to the baseball beat after joining the Star Tribune as the Gopher football writer in 2010, and he won't miss the dingy dome for a minute. In addition to the Twins and Gophers, Miller covered the Utah Jazz and the NBA for six years at The Salt Lake Tribune.
ORLANDO -- This could be Ron Gardenhire's day.
After finishing as the runner up in the American League Manager of the Year voting five times (2003, 2004, 2006, 2008, 2009), Gardenhire is one of two leading candidates for this year's award, along with the Rangers' Ron Washington.
"Absolutely I’m pulling for [Gardenhire]," Twins General Manager Bill Smith said here at baseball's annual GM meetings. "I think he richly deserves it. I said last year, in '09, I thought it was the best job of managing he’d done, and I think this year was better."
The Twins won 94 games despite losing All-Star closer Joe Nathan in spring training and All-Star first baseman Justin Morneau half-way through the season. The Rangers won 90 games to win the AL West and advanced to the World Series.
The baseball writers -- two from each AL market, so 28 overall -- cast their ballots before the postseason begins, so another early playoff exit for the Twins won't be a factor.
The announcement gets made at 1 p.m. (Central), so check back here for the results.
The Twins will be holding their organizational meetings, beginning next Thursday at Target Field, and it figures to be a real soul-searching exercise for General Manager Bill Smith, Manager Ron Gardenhire and their top lieutenants coming off another first-round playoff exit.
They'll analyze every aspect of the organization, setting the agenda for this offseason and beyond.
Gardenhire is under contract through 2011 but he's expected to receive a contract extension soon. All of the team's major league coaches have deals that expire in December. Before signing his previous extension, in November 2008, Gardenhire made sure the team took care of his coaches first, so look for that to happen soon, as well.
* Twins RHP Scott Baker had arthroscopic surgery Wednesday to clean out loose particles in his right elbow. Smith said the procedure was a success.
* Twins 2B Orlando Hudson will be a guest analyst on the MLB Network on Saturday and Sunday. This will be the O-Dog's in-studio debut, but he loves to talk and should be a natural on TV. Hudson, who turns 33 in December, told me he would love to return to the Twins, but he's a pending free agent, and the writing is on the wall with their payroll situation. It looks like he'll be playing for his fourth team in four years in 2011.
* I dove into the new Mickey Mantle biography, "The Last Boy," by Jane Leavy and have enjoyed the first 200 pages. I thought her book on Sandy Koufax was good, but her research and reporting on Mantle is exceptional. ... I also look forward to reading the 2010-2011 TwinsCentric Offseason GM Handbook. I followed the TwinsCentric crew long before they joined the Star Tribune's blogging army, and their exhaustive work continues to impress me.
* Finally, a quick thought on the NLCS: Brian Wilson has been a revelation for the Giants, whose fans spent years cursing the Joe Nathan trade, waiting for their next great closer. Wilson is a strange dude with a strange beard, but his interviews are pure comedy. Check out his September appearance on "Rome is Burning," especially at the 5:30 mark, when Wilson is asked about the $1,000 fine he received for wearing orange spikes at the All-Star game.
The publication polled 25 of MLB's 30 managers, and Gardenhire was voted by his peers as American League manager of the year, with San Diego's Bud Black taking home National League honors.
The Sporting News also polled 24 general managers to select the annual AL and NL all-star teams, and Mauer was one of only two unanimous selections, joining Yankees 2B Robinson Cano. Texas OF Josh Hamilton was voted MLB player of the year, in a poll of 326 players.
The BBWAA awards (manager of the year, MVP, Cy Young, etc.) will be announced Nov. 15-24. Here's a look at The Sporting News' All-Star teams:
C Joe Mauer, Twins
1B Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
2B Robinson Cano, Yankees
3B Evan Longoria, Rays
SS Alexei Ramirez, White Sox
OF Josh Hamilton, Rangers
OF Jose Bautista, Blue Jays
OF Carl Crawford, Rays
DH Vladimir Guerrero, Rangers
SP Felix Hernandez, Mariners
RP Rafael Soriano, Rays
C Brian McCann, Braves
1B Joey Votto, Reds
2B Martin Prado, Braves
3B Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals
SS Hanley Ramirez, Marlins
OF Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies
OF Matt Holliday, Cardinals
OF Ryan Braun, Brewers
SP Roy Halladay, Phillies
RP Heath Bell, Padres
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