Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Twins "fun bunch"

John Shipley, beat writer for the Pioneer Press, was on ESPN 1500 Wednesday night talking about covering the Twins at the end of their misbegotten 2011 season. I listened to some of it on a static-ridden car radio while waiting in a parking lot for my wife.

Trevor Plouffe  
It shouldn't be any surprise to hear that September was a miserable month to be around that team. A lot of grumpy people taking too many losses and itching for the season to end.

What I found interesting was Shipley's description of what he called "the fun bunch" -- a collection of young players who didn't appear to be taking the job seriously. He named, specifically, Trevor Plouffe, Danny Valencia and Drew Butera, and said that the team took steps to split them up in the clubhouse (I assume by shifting lockers.)

Chris Parmelee was emphatically not part of the fun bunch. He saw September as a chance to make an impression, and he took advantage. As a serious fan watching the games, I was impressed by the consistent quality of Parmelee's at-bats; Shipley was impressed by his demeanor.

There was an incident, fairly early in the season, in which it was reported that a "veteran" had loudly and profanely told off "a young player" who was pleased with himself  during a losing streak. While it was never specified who was who, my assumption was/is that the veteran was Justin Morneau or Michael Cuddyer and the youngster was Valencia or Plouffe.

Whoever was involved, Shipley's description of September suggests the lesson didn't take.

I'm unsure how much weight to put on this. None of the three players Shipley named had a good season, but is that the result of a "who cares" approach, or is the attitude an attempt to cope with failure and maintain the emotional "even keel"  that Tom Kelly talked about so much? I don't know.

But if (a) a player isn't doing the job as well as expected and (b) the people in charge perceive him as being flippant about it, then (c) that doesn't bode well for the player's future.


  1. Sounds like the Hunter-Morneau dust up of a few years ago... I admit my attitude was flippant as the season progressed (or degressed) as well. Baseball is a game and you are supposed to have fun playing a game. It is more fun when you win and when you are winning that behavior is ok.

  2. Gardenhire inherited Kelly's team when they were ready to take the next step. I remember that first season when the Twins started to succeed with Gardenhire at the helm Doug Mientkiewicz caused a little consternation amongst the FO when he went on a Baltimore radio station and said anybody could manage the team, they were ready to play well and could police themselves.

    Because of injury and Bill Smith's buffoonery that era is over with. It was a nice run but now it is over.

    The next cycle in Twins history has been dropped at Gardy's doorstep and he and his staff have to earn their money. Gardy has to show his chops now and not just be a caretaker manager. He has to build, not inherit. Has to prove he can mold a new clubhouse. Can he discard vets who won a few games for him in his past? Can he stand to suffer through several losing seasons?

    He certainly has his challenges with this group of mutts. He has to re-make the team and build a clubhouse of professionals from mediocre talent scraps. Can he develop players and a new culture over the next 3 seasons as the Twins wait out lower level prospects to make the big league club so they can step into a solid stable clubhouse when the Twins may be ready to win again?

    The limited, and limiting collection of talent at his disposal now certainly is not going to win for the next several seasons to be sure. When they are ready to win again very few of the current players on the club will be around.