After two seasons of horrible hitting, putrid pitching, and stale strategy, the Twins need a gritty rebootto improve their on-field play and their off-field appeal. They’ve been working on the reboot for about four weeks now, with mixed results. Since free agency hasn’t started yet, we can’t judge them on any player moves yet, but there have been some coaching shakeups.
With that in mind, I’ve taken it upon myself to rank the Twins’ offseason moves in terms of how gritty (good) or ungritty (terrible) they are.
Retaining Manager Ron Gardenhire
Gardenhire may be gruff, but he’s not gritty. He represents the old guard in Minnesota, and keeping him will do nothing at all to generate interest among the fanbase. By retaining him, the Twins are showing a complete lack of imagination and sending the message (whether true or not) that they care more about cronyism and loyalty than they do about creating a new winning atmosphere.
Hiring Tom Brunansky as Hitting Coach
This move was predictable, but encouraging. Brunansky is a throwback to the franchise’s glory days, and he has earned rave reviews for his performance with the AAA squad. It’s good to know the Twins will have a true power hitter on the staff to teach the art of home run hitting to young sluggers like Aaron Hicks, Oswaldo Arcia, and Miguel Sano.
Hiring Terry Steinbach as Bench Coach
If Brunansky was predictable, Steinbach is a big surprise, and a pleasant one at that. The former Athletics and Twins catcher is a Minnesota native who knows how to win, thanks to his tenure with the dominant Oakland teams of the 80s and 90s. Not only that, but he’s a former catcher, which is a big plus. The bench coach is often the second-in-command behind the manager, and it’s well-documented that catchers make great managers.
Verdict: Very Gritty
Keeping Rick Anderson as Pitching Coach
This is a bad move for many of the same reasons that keeping Gardenhire was a bad move. Anderson has been around forever (in baseball terms), and it’s hard to argue the Twins are focused on the future when they keep him around. Throw in the fact that the Twins’ pitching staff was hideously bad last year, and this decision becomes a complete head-scratcher.
Snubbing Paul Molitor
Molitor should have been announced as the Twins manager two days after the end of the season and one day after Ron Gardenhire was fired. Since that situation did not materialize, the next best thing would have been to find a coaching job for the Hall of Famer. When it became clear that Molitor wanted such a job, the decision should have been a no-brainer. Instead, the Twins completely ignored him.
Snubbing a member of the 3,000 hit club is NOT COOL, TWINS!
Verdict: So ungritty that you could polish your car with it
The Base Coaching Situation
Joe Vavra will coach third base, and Scott Ullger will coach first. Nothing is inherently wrong with this – I’m sure Vavra can wave his arms around as well as anyone – but it’s a missed opportunity, since there were so many better candidates. Why not let Molitor coach first? The man stole over 500 bases in his career, so he obviously knows how to do the job! At third base, mulleted motorcycle enthusiast Dan Gladden could have added some gritty style and a take-no-prisoners attitude to the coaching staff, with the added advantage that he’d no longer be taking valuable airtime away from excellent radio broadcaster Cory Provus.
Refusing to Replant the Trees
The Twins need to correct their most grievous mistake by replanting the trees. Unfortunately, they’re being just as stubborn with this issue as they are with Gardenhire. Twins hitters whined incessantly about the trees after the 2010 season, complaining that they made it difficult to see the ball. Given the way that opposing hitters have crushed Twins pitching since then, they were probably right.
Do the right thing and replant the trees. Not only will it end the curse, it’s good for the planet.