October 5, 2012

The End


Last year 99 losses and the AL's worst record motivated the Twins to fire general manager Bill Smith a month after the season ended. This year 96 losses and the AL's worst record led to immediate and sweeping changes to the coaching staff, as the Twins announced yesterday that everyone on Ron Gardenhire's staff except for pitching coach Rick Anderson has been let go or reassigned to a lesser role within the organization.

During the first 11 seasons with Gardenhire as manager the Twins fired a grand total of one coach, Al Newman. Yesterday alone they fired first base coach Jerry White, third base coach Steve Liddle, and bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek while reassigning hitting coach Joe Vavra and bench coach Scott Ullger to roles described as infield and outfield instructors. Head trainer Rick McWane was also let go.

I'd love to offer some meaningful analysis, but beyond stating the obvious about the need for change after 195 losses in two years it's difficult to say if specific firings were justified or what the shakeup's impact will be. Good or bad, evaluating coaches is a lot of guesswork. What's easier to see is that with a new coaching staff and Gardenhire's contract up after 2013 the writing is seemingly on the wall for what another 90 losses would lead to this time next year.

Being a Twins fan hasn't been much fun lately, so now more than ever I want to thank you for stopping by AG.com this season. My hope is that you'll stick around all offseason, because I'll be analyzing moves, breaking down potential free agent targets, parsing trade rumors, rolling out my annual ranking of Twins prospects, and writing every bit as often as during the season. And of course we'll continue to have new "Gleeman and The Geek" episodes every week.

Thank you for reading this blog, thank you for listening to my podcast and radio appearances, thank you for following me on Twitter, thank you for supporting my work at NBCSports.com and MinnPost, and thank you for all the kind words and even the not-so-kind ones. If you'll keep reading and listening I'll keep writing and talking, and maybe this time next year we'll be looking over playoff matchups. And if not, at least baseball will still be baseball.

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  1. Is it just me or is this shocking. I thought some coaching movies might be useful (personally I think the effect of managers and coaches is vastly over estimated).

    However, I didn’t think for a second that the Twins would actually make any moves. This came as a real surprise to me.

    Comment by Patrick — October 4, 2012 @ 10:05 pm

  2. I’m a little puzzled about Stelly; the bullpen was okay for us this year, and he’s been with us forever.

    I thank you, Aaron. Before a friend recommended your site, I didn’t know what a blog or a podcast was. I didn’t know what good analytical baseball writing was before I started reading your articles as my primary source of Twins news, for that matter. As long as you’re talking baseball (or whatever), I’ll be listening.

    Comment by neil — October 4, 2012 @ 10:51 pm

  3. Glad to see McWane got dumped after all the injury nonsense the last couple of years. Too bad they didn’t have the nerve to get rid of Gardy too. Keeping Anderson and dumping Vavra, when the pitching was far worse than the hitting, shows this really has nothing to do with merit.

    Comment by Pedro Munoz — October 4, 2012 @ 10:59 pm

  4. I think if they are going to do this they may as well fire Gardenhire. A manager should be allowed to work with a coaching staff he trusts. I am a little disappointed in Gardy for not not taking a stand and saying “if I can’t have my guys I resign.”

    Thank God we won’t have Jerry White making all those terrible decisions!! What a joke.

    Comment by Killebrew's Taint — October 5, 2012 @ 2:31 am

  5. Just the trainer? What about the entire medical staff?

    They really need to go – they’ve earned it.

    If you heard the team’s diagnosis about an injury for the past 2-3 seasons, you just knew in about a month or two it was going to be proven COMPLETELY incorrect by a competent second opinion.

    Comment by Son of Shane Mack — October 5, 2012 @ 4:08 am

  6. When word started to spread that the coaches were being traded out I said, nothing will change for Anderson. If Anderson’s gone, so is Gardy. That’s clear.

    That’s the area I’d make changes to but to me it seems clear their intent is to try to reload to compete otherwise why not do so now, given the writing on the wall?

    Comment by MC — October 5, 2012 @ 6:03 am

  7. I really hate when they scapegoat ancillary coaches, yet keep the 2 guys who arguably were in the best position to avoid 96 losses.

    Comment by Jeff H — October 5, 2012 @ 7:17 am

  8. Pure window dressing. The Pohlads had better hope the team starts well in ’13, because the fans will turn on the team, Gardy and Andy specifically, in a hurry otherwise I’ll bet.

    Comment by Todd L — October 5, 2012 @ 7:41 am

  9. Very sad about Jerry White, particularly. He seems like a great guy, and Torii Hunter’s respect for him as a fielder’s coach carries a lot of weight with me. I do hope this means they have people like Brunansky in line who they want to bring to the majors. I don’t really see the point in sweeping everyone out if there aren’t good coaches coming to take those positions.

    Comment by hrunting — October 5, 2012 @ 8:50 am

  10. Honestly, it has never been more clear to me this team is run by the good ol boys. Getting rid of everyone but Anderson? Really, now, cause our staff was so good we should keep that Rick Anderson fellow. If anything, get rid of Anderson only. The fact Gardy and Anderson are a package deal, shows they’ve got ownership by the balls, and ownership certainly does not see the game clearly. I am happy we’re cleaning house, but the 2 figures I want most out of this organization are Gardy and Anderson. I really pray we lose 90+ games again next year, maybe they’ll be gone then.

    Comment by Kurt Erickson — October 5, 2012 @ 9:28 am

  11. still scratching my head on some of these moves. mcwane’s gone but not others on the medical staff? stelly? looks like brunansky is the next hitting coach, which is okay if you believe major leaguers need coaching more than triple-a players.

    aaron, your blogs are the best twins information. try to read your pieces a few times a week. keep up the good work. and thank you.

    Comment by jfs — October 5, 2012 @ 9:30 am

  12. I’m not saying Anderson should have been kept or should have been fired, but what has he had to work with? He didn’t draft/develop/trade for the guys he’s had to coach. If it’s Anderson’s fault then we should acknowldge him for all of Santana’s and Nathan’s accomplishments.

    Comment by ML — October 5, 2012 @ 9:59 am

  13. I take issue with your first sentence. I do not believe that Bill Smith was fired because of 99 losses. Pohlad said: “There’s no question I said [Smith’s job was safe], and when I said it, I meant it,” Pohlad said Monday. “But we did say at the time that we want to get better in 2012, and we’ll see what the plan is. And like we’ve said, the plan that was proposed, we were on different pages”

    I believe he meant that they didn’t see eye-to-eye on payroll relative to improving the team but I suppose that is subject to interpretation.

    As for yesterday’s moves, there is still a huge lack of accountablity at the top rungs of the organization.

    And I’m still waiting to see if the front office staff continues to stagnate (with the exception of Rick McWane that is).

    Comment by JB_Iowa — October 5, 2012 @ 10:14 am

  14. This team should have about $70 million committed to 2013 payroll, $65 if they trade Span, and more if they somehow move Morneau. There are plenty of buy-low(er) options on the market that could reasonably give 180 league average innings at worst, and it’s fair to say the Twins are years away from any real non-Gibson arms reaching the show.

    Signing an Edwin Jackson or buying-low on Haren when the Angels decline his option have to be considerations. The rotation cannot survive without at least two new arms from outside the organization.

    Comment by Brian — October 5, 2012 @ 10:15 am

  15. Aaron, please don’t call a blog post “The End” and have a paragraph that starts “thank for you reading”. At first glance I thought you were retiring and I almost starting crying into my cereal.

    Comment by Jeff K — October 5, 2012 @ 10:42 am

  16. An idea for a post might be an analysis of hiring prominent ex-players vs scrubs and never-played-in-majors for coaches and managers. I don’t know what Molitor can say other than “have better eye-hand coordination like I did.” Is there any W-L analysis of if HOF-type players are better coaches than coaching professionals?

    Comment by Jim C — October 5, 2012 @ 3:29 pm

  17. Not a twins fan but have been reading your blog religiously since 2003. Keep up the good work, it’s been enjoyable.

    Comment by Jody — October 5, 2012 @ 7:46 pm

  18. Hey Aaron, I’ve been reading you almost every day for the last 8 years. Thanks!

    Comment by Joe — October 6, 2012 @ 10:10 am

  19. and a big thank you right back at you. Very enjoyable blog and podcast. Keep up the great work sir.

    Comment by AaronK — October 6, 2012 @ 2:12 pm

  20. Thx again Aaron….
    I guess I feel that Gardy and Andy got the pass because of the way the team went 0-5 with the projected starting pitching. They worked with what was provided to them–5 guys who could be “OK” (or better in Liriano’s case–maybe) or injured/horrible. You can’t replace an entire starting staff on the fly and expect to compete (though I would argue they never should of thought of that collection of pitchers as even adequate going into the season). Is that more on Gardy/Andy or Ryan/remnants of Smith? But…they had to make a show of doing ‘something’. And we see the results…

    Comment by JB (the Original) — October 7, 2012 @ 10:32 am

  21. Thanks for a great year!

    Comment by RR — October 8, 2012 @ 12:56 pm

  22. Aaron – I read your postings ever week. I echo the previous commenter who was startled to read “The End” and “thank you for reading”. I hope you keep doing this for a long, long time. You have helped shape my thinking about baseball and specifically the Twins. Keep up the good work (but finish the Top-40 Twins! ;))

    Comment by Todd in NC — October 8, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

  23. Will you ever finish your Twins top-40 list? Or at least get closer to top-10?

    Comment by Rune — October 10, 2012 @ 4:21 pm

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