Jon Marthaler bakes up a delicious batch of links for you every weekend. Other times, you can find him here. Jon?
Denard Span has been traded, Ben Revere has been traded, and one assumes that Justin Morneau and Josh Willingham probably are not buying green bananas at the moment; yes, the Great Twins Rebuilding Project appears to be more or less in full swing. With that in mind, it's probably important that we get on top of the argument that will likely dominate the airwaves: should Ron Gardenhire be given a contract extension, or should he be allowed to begin his inevitable second career as a television analyst for professional bowling?
Barring a number of breakout seasons from young hitters, and possibly the free-agent signing of Sidd Finch to fix the rotation, the Twins are shaping up to play another year without a post-season run. There have been many fans who've wanted Gardenhire fired for years for various supposed crimes, but even the most ardent Gardy supporters cannot ignore a team that's lost 195 games in two seasons. Moreover, it's fair to ask whether Gardenhire is the man to oversee a youth movement. The manager is famously hard on young players; I seem to remember him blaming Jason Bartlett for, at various points, defensive mistakes, offensive ineptitude, lack of "fire in the belly," and in one memorable rant, for construction delays at the Large Hadron Collider in Europe.
It's tempting to remember Gardenhire's first team, the 2002 AL Central winners, as a bunch of young pups that the manager molded into a fighting unit, but the 2002 team was basically the same as the 2001 team that Tom Kelly had nearly wrenched to a playoff berth. Though every starter on that team was under 30 years old, virtually every player was in his third or fourth professional season. That team was, in some ways, where the 2016 Twins are shaping up to be -- still young, but with plenty of games under their belt.
My advice is to decide now which way you're going to go. I'd say 85 wins would be a heck of an accomplishment for the Twins in 2013 -- 85 being the number that Kelly's 2001 team won in his final season as manager. If Gardenhire can clear that bar, then he should stay for certain, I'd say. And if not -- why, let's start that rumor mill. Let's start throwing out names: Paul Molitor, maybe... Ozzie Guillen's not doing anything ... hey, maybe Jake Mauer! ... What about if Mike Grant doesn't get the St. John's job -- wait, I'm getting my rumor mills confused...
On with the links:
*Parker Hageman breaks down starter Vance Worley, who figures to be the only major-league manifestation this year of the Span and Revere trades.
*The Economist is not so quick to glowingly eulogize Marvin Miller, the former head of the MLB Players' Association. While the players did end the odious reserve clause under Miller's leadership, the magazine points out that these gains did nothing for either young players or - especially - minor-leaguers.
*I want nobody but Chuck Klosterman examining the larger implications of the Popovich/Spurs/rest day/NBA imbroglio.
*Katie Baker on the current state of the NHL lockout is a must-read. Key quote, and key thing to understand about the negotiations: "For all the sound and fury, it seems clear the question of who will come out ahead in this deal has been settled: Almost all of the meaningful movement to this point has come from the players' side."
*And finally: Here's why the UFC is the only sport that's actually being killed by its TV contract. (NOTE: language warning for that, only because UFC president Dana White's quotes are printed verbatim.)