|Ron Gardenhire is 866-775 as Twins manager.|
In the history of the Senators/Twins franchise,
only Tom Kelly and Bucky Harris have
more wins or losses.
That's a deceptively simple question, with a big, complex answer. One of the running themes of this blog, I daresay, is an ongoing examination of Ron Gardenhire as a manager (always, I hope, in the context of the organization).
My immediate impulse when getting that question is to direct the reader here and here: "The Ron Gardenhire Project," my attempt after the 2009 season to answer a series of questions about managers compiled years ago by Bill James. It still stands pretty well despite the passage of two seasons. Some offseason in the future I'll revisit the form, but I think it too soon.
Here's the thing: There is seldom an absolutely right or wrong answer for a manager. Take, for example, Gardenhire's reluctance to platoon. I grew up with Gene Mauch managing the Twins; Mauch was a platooner. I started studying baseball seriously during Earl Weaver's time; Weaver was a platooner. I am inclined to favor platoons.
But I also recognize that platooning's advantages come at a price. It is difficult to develop stars when you run players in and out of the lineup. The Twins thrived when Gardenhire took over from Tom Kelly in no small part because Gardy stopping running Jacque Jones and Corey Koskie and A.J. Pierzynski in and out of the lineup. If Jones couldn't hit lefties (and he couldn't), he at least provided center field range in an outfield corner -- and keeping him in the lineup probably made him less likely to dwell on his failings.
This figures to be an interesting season for Gardy watchers. As noted in the "Project," the Twins' emphasis on defense has diminished fairly steadily under his reign. Last year that backfired. Last year the Twins pitching staff was far less successful at avoiding the walk, and still couldn't get strikeouts. That's a sour combination -- more walks, few strikeouts and a sloppy defense. Making Revere a regular is one step toward reversing that direction.