Twins owner Jim Pohlad uttered the line of the year (so far) when he referred to the team’s struggles as a “total system failure.” General Manager Terry Ryan wasn’t too far behind when he concluded a couple weeks ago that, “We’re in dire straits here.” Trevor Plouffe even gets points for noting the offensively challenged Twins “haven’t gotten a hit since Moby Dick was a minnow.”
So it’s not like the Twins have been timid when talking about their struggles … but they sure do seem timid by comparison when you read the comments unleashed by Padres executive chairman Ron Fowler. He recently went on the radio and blasted his 21-33 club — naming names in the process. Fowler called the Padres “miserable failures” and didn’t slow down from there:
“To have a starter like [James] Shields perform as poorly as he did [Tuesday] is an embarrassment to the team, an embarrassment to him,” Fowler said after Shields gave up 10 runs in 2⅔ innings.
But it sounds like he’s pretty much fed up with the whole roster — and baseball’s economic system. This next part of the rant reads like it’s ripped straight out of the hottest take from a comments section of a story instead of out of the mouth of a top executive.
“It’s about as frustrating as it can get. In a normal environment, if you had performed as well as we have over the last three years, you’d probably be unemployed. But it’s baseball, with guaranteed contracts. We’ve got to get through it.”
He said he likes the manager and on-field staff but noted players don’t seem to be motivated. He also trampled on GM A.J. Preller pretty hard, saying: “We rolled the dice with him on some major league signings, major league trades. We collectively have to look at that and say it didn’t come together as well as we wanted.”
This kind of tough talk might play well short-term with fans, but let’s also point out that it can have the opposite impact in a clubhouse. Shields pitched decently for the Padres last season and had a 3.06 ERA in his first 10 starts of the year before his one blowup game.
Shields told Bleacher Report that he “feels like he’s pitched well all season long” and added in reference to Fowler’s comments, “I understand his frustration. As far as it being an embarrassment to me, I’m not embarrassed by it.” Padres outfielder Matt Kemp offered a “no comment” on the issue of Fowler’s rant.
Moral of the story: Holding people accountable is one thing, but putting them on blast is another. Players know when they stink. A higher-up ranting about it in the media is probably not going to make them play better.
We’ll see how it works out of the Padres. For the Twins, so far: they were 8-20 at the time of total system failure (.286 winning percentage) and entering Thursday they were 7-17 (.292) since.