First off, happy 4th of July everyone! It looks like a beautiful day for baseball or lounging at the lake.
Last night, the Twins again lost to the dreaded New York Yankees. After three straight home losses, Ron Gardenhire‘s career record versus the Bronx Bombers sits at a pathetic 21-58 in the regular season. And who can forget his even more embarrassing 2-12 postseason record against them? While it’s true that for most of his tenure, The Yankees have been very good, NOBODY else has this much trouble against them in the American League, including the other teams in the AL Central the Twins spent much of Gardy’s tenure knocking around. The Twins were the beasts of the AL Central for Gardy’s first nine years, winning six titles and sporting a fancy .550 winning percentage. Yet against the Yankees, they were 16-45. Consider that The Kansas City Royals had one winning season over that span and an overall winning percentage of .409 yet even they had a better winning percentage than The Twins versus The Yanks. Gardy’s teams’ struggles against the Yankees have often been compounded by poor managerial decisions. As a perfect example, on Tuesday night, The Twins had a one run lead going into the top of the eighth inning. The Yankees were bringing up the middle of their lineup – three left handed hitters, including their best hitter, Robinson Cano. Gardy chose to bring in his “eighth inning guy”, Jared Burton despite the fact that he’s right handed and recently struggling mightily rather than his best reliever, Glen Perkins, who also happens to pitch left handed simply because it wasn’t a 9th inning save situation. So rather than have his best reliever who also happens to be a favorable matchup, against the Yankees’ best hitters, Gardy played by convention. Bringing in Perkins in the eighth and saving Burton to pitch the ninth against the bottom of the lineup would have significantly increased the Twins’ chances of winning the game. Instead, they lost badly and Gardy never got to use his best reliever, instead using him the next night, down by a run and with little chance of victory with Mariano Rivera looming.
Gardy’s struggles versus the Yankees are merely a microcosm of why I believe it is time for The Twins to move on. With a new batch of young players coming in and hoping to revitalize the franchise, now is the perfect time to make a change. These guys can start fresh and grow along with a new manager. Gardy has shown time and time again that he can’t get it done against better competition, whether in the playoffs or the regular season (during his period of dominance in the AL Central, three other Central teams won as many or more playoff series, two made the World Series, and The White Sox won one so it’s not as if the Central was THAT bad that his poor playoff record, 6-21 overall, could be excused). The new manager could be brought into a situation similar to what Gardy inherited. In fact he built much of his success off a group of players that were already in the system and or at the Major League level prior to his becoming manager. The young talent may even better now than it was then. It would be a shame to waste this next crop of talent again on a manager that can’t get it done when it counts.