It is impossible to deny that the Holiday Season is upon us. Not everyone celebrates the Holidays, but gift giving and gift receiving are fairly common human experiences. I thought it might be nice to come up with some good gift ideas for some prominent members of our favorite team, the Minnesota Twins. Some of these gifts I can give, some I cannot. If we could band together as a fan base, we could give a few of these gifts. If you are celebrating Christmas today, have a Merry one. If you are just reading blogs, have a Merry Blogging Experience. Let’s give some gifts.
Ron Gardenhire – The Benefit of the Doubt
This year, I would like to preemptively give Gardy (as he is affectionately known) the gift of the benefit of the doubt for the 2013 season. The off-season has not been kind to Gardenhire’s likelihood of managing past 2013. First, many coaches were fired or re-assigned. Second, Gardenhire’s contract was not extended. Third, the Front Office traded one of the team’s best players (Denard Span). Fourth, the free agent signings do not seem to be enough to improve a 2 time division doormat.
While it is true that Gardenhire was at the helm of those two poor Twins teams of 2011 and 2012, there were many things that were out of his control. There were massive injuries, underperforming stars, and a lack of players coming up from the Farm System. I don’t think another poor 2013 is a reason to fire Gardenhire. I am not sure he is the right manager for the team, but I am not sure he is the wrong manager either. He has certainly had his share of playoff failure, but the players play the games, not the managers. I’d like to extend to him the benefit of the doubt, if the 2013 season looks as much like the 2011 and 2012 seasons as I think it will.
I am pretty convinced that we will all be watching Justin Morneau as a Twin for the final time in 2013. He is getting older, and his overall production is not where it once was. In addition, for a bad team, cheaper options might be more attractive as the Front Office works to rebuild the pitching staff and farm system. That being said, I hope that he gets a chance to say a proper goodbye to the team. My greatest hope would be a mid-season trade to a team that will play at Target Field later in 2013.
It almost seems too perfect, but the Twins have a home series against the Toronto Blue Jays the first weekend in September. The Blue Jays are poised to compete, and perhaps come August, Morneau will be the final piece to the puzzle. He’d get to play in his home nation of Canada (although just miles and miles from where he is actually from). In addition, he’d get to come back to Target Field and hear the ovation and appreciation from the fans that he truly deserves as one of the best Twins players of this generation. That would be nice.
Trevor Plouffe – His hair back
From sentimental to superficial. I wish Trevor would grow his hair out again. He just looked faster with those long locks. Is it any coincidence that he cooled off and got hurt after he cut his hair? Yeah, probably. But, I don’t care. Bring back the hair, Trevor. I know from experience that long hair sucks right after a shower. You have to dry it and style and whatnot. It’s worth it. My sister is a stylist, I could get you a discount on hair services. Think about it, Trevor.
Aaron Hicks – An opportunity
Joe Benson – Another opportunity
For these two prospects, I would like to give opportunities. To Hicks, his first; to Benson, his second. Aaron Hicks is very likely to receive this gift during the 2013 season. Hicks is the team’s 2008 first-round pick and has been slowly climbing the ranks of the minor leagues over the years. He has had struggles at times, but had a big breakout last year. He’ll be on my future top 25 prospect list (plug!) and the trades of Denard Span and Ben Revere leave center field wide open for this future Twin. Hicks has a good eye at the plate, a hose in the outfield and speed that he can use all over the field. He is going to be a player that fans really enjoy. Maybe this is actually a gift for all of us!
Benson is the team’s 2006 second-round pick. You probably remember him from his strikeout orgy back in September of 2011. If anything, 2012 was worse as he started at AAA, played poorly, moved to AA, played poorly, and then got hurt and missed the rest of the year. Yikes. My gift to Benson will be forgetting everything since September of 2011. It is easy to forget that Benson had never played in even AAA when he reached the MLB. He really hasn’t played much at AAA now. However, he has big tools like Hicks and could be an exciting player. He has good power, great speed, great defense and a hose. Hicks and Benson could be hosing runners for many years in the Twins outfield. Let’s all give Benson another chance.
Drew Butera – A respite
I have been overly critical of Drew Butera in the past. It is not his fault that the Twins love him. A friend of mine met him at a bank and he was really nice. So, I am going to give him a break for the next few months. He has some value, even if I can’t see it. Since I am sure he is a loyal reader, he deserves this respite.
Joe Mauer – Some Gosh Darn Respect
Joe Mauer is quite possibly the best Twins player from the past two decades. Personally, I think he gets a lot of undue criticism for things that he does not do, while those same critics ignore all the things he does really well. I actually wrote about this on Twins Daily once, and you can read the comments I received as well. I don’t get it. Mauer may not hit a ton of home runs and he may not catch as many games as he used to, but he is still an elite baseball player.
I think that anyone who would disparage Mauer is a bit spoiled. I am not going to go on a profanity laced rant to defend him, but I do think fans should appreciate him while he is still elite. He is getting older, and he is going to start to decline. For now, I think we should just have fun watching him and respect the player that he is. In this season of giving, we should all be willing to give our best player some dern credit.
To those that celebrate, Merry Christmas! To everyone else, enjoy the bank holidays!