COMMENTARY | Ron Gardenhire has had a successful tenure as manager of the Minnesota Twins.
Since taking over in 2002, the Twins have seen their most successful decade in franchise history with five division championships and the development in several of the greatest players the team has seen. It can be argued that it's enough to call Gardenhire the second-best manager in team history behind Tom Kelly, who won two World Series with the club.
That's enough to give Twins fans nostalgia over Gardenhire, but it shouldn't be enough to save his job.
The Twins currently sit toward the bottom of the American League Central standings for the third consecutive year. They'll likely hit 90 losses again for the third time in as many years, and many of the players have either regressed or tuned out Gardenhire's coaching as we head into another meaningless October.
That's because things have seemed to pass Gardenhire and his staff by as the game has changed. His small-ball approach is one that can be effective, but it's also one that limits what his current personnel can do.
For example, Josh Willingham and Trevor Plouffe are natural pull hitters, but the team implores them to use the whole field while hitting. While that's a good approach for a great overall hitter like Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau, it saps these hitters of their power, which adds the spark to the Twins' lineup.
As a result of this, the Twins have scored just 558 runs on the season, which is right above the lowly Houston Astros.
The pitching hasn't been any better for the team. Gardenhire's sidekick, pitching coach Rick Anderson, has also been stubborn to change his ways. That's led to the Twins possessing one of the worst rotations in baseball since their last division championship in 2010.
Along with an ERA that ranks toward the bottom of baseball, the Twins have seen several pitchers explode once freed from the Anderson's pitch-to-contact philosophy. None has been more notable than the revival of Francisco Liriano, who was exiled to the Pittsburgh Pirates and is now in the conversation for the National League Cy Young Award.
As none of the Twins' young players have shown remarkable improvement in the most recent era, it's time to question whether Gardenhire can get through to a new wave of talent coming through the organization. If that answer is no, then it's time to send their longtime skipper somewhere else.
Chris Schad is a lifelong Twins follower that has spent a majority of his life cheering the Twins on through the dark '90s and success of five American League Central championships in the 2000s. His work has also been published on Bleacher Report and Pro Football Spot. You can follow him on Twitter @crishad.
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