Monday, Grumpy Monday

I’m in a bit of a grumpy mood this morning. That’s not an altogether unusual thing for me on a Monday morning, but I generally try to avoid human contact until noon or later on Monday so I can spare others having to deal with my mood and spare myself the chances I’ll say something I’ll regret later. I certainly avoid publishing written work on Monday mornings for a broad audience to read. But, despite that, here I am writing this.

Here are just a few things I’m feeling a bit… what’s the word my mom used to use?… “owlish”?… about this morning. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

Twins Stuff

My mood isn’t only reflected in Twins-related topics, but since this is primarily a Twins blog, let’s start with those topics.

Brian Dozier

I like Brian Dozier. I think he has a chance to be a decent infielder, but I’m not optimistic that he’s going to be the long-awaited “answer” to the Twins’ revolving door at shortstop. But even if he is, I simply don’t get why he’s being called up now to be inserted as the everyday shortstop.

It’s not that I think Jamey Carroll is irreplaceable, nor is Alexi Casilla necessarily entitled to be an everyday infielder at the Major League level. But if you start a list of all the things that have worked WELL for the Twins this season, middle infield defense would be one of a very short number of things on that list.

Have Carroll and Casilla turned EVERY double play opportunity in to two outs? No. But if you can’t see the improvement over the swisscheese-like pairings that were on the field last year for the Twins, your memory sucks. The Twins’ pitchers are, by and large, awful and the results aren’t going to get better by changing the middle infield defense.

Speaking of the Twins pitching… talk about your mood dampeners. Can these guys get ANYONE out? If the Twins sent their entire rotation to Rochester and brought up the Red Wings’ starting pitchers, Wings fans would complain about getting the raw end of the deal… and rightfully so. Not that the starting quintet in Rochester has been all that good, but the Twins’ rotation has been THAT bad. Sending Hendriks down and bringing Scott Diamond up is a start, I guess, but both the Dozier and Diamond moves feel an awful lot like the proverbial, “rearranging the chairs on the deck of the Titanic,” to me.

I don’t envy Terry Ryan these days. There are no easy answers to fixing the Twins. There really aren’t even any difficult answers, if you’re thinking in terms of salvaging anything this season. He’s got a fan base spoiled by a decade of relative success, at least as measured by contention at the Divisional level. He’s got ownership that ‘s providing payroll levels at least 30% higher than the Metrodome days and expecting at least competence in return. That combination is resulting in fewer people showing up at Target Field, which means lower revenues, which means lower future payrolls, which means a tougher job to assemble a roster that can turn things around any time soon.

But while I may not envy Ryan, I don’t feel sorry for him, either. He may have just recently taken over Bill Smith’s mess, but his hands weren’t clean. He was playing a significant role in the scouting and player evaluation process, even while Smith sat in the GM chair. As a result, the players on this team right now and in the minor league pipeline are just as much Ryan’s responsibility as they were Smith’s.

I don’t consider Ron Gardenhire blameless, either, but I really don’t know what manager could win with this collection of pitchers. I don’t know enough about the pitchers individually to know whether better “coaching” from Rick Anderson would help. But I do know that the organization is fast approaching a need to DO “something” to keep fans’ interest… or at least give us some sign that they’ve at least noticed that the wheels have come off.

Maybe it’s my mood this morning, but if I were Terry Ryan, I’d probably make a change right now in my manager and pitching coach. The problem is, I wouldn’t necessarily want to promote anyone from within my organization to the manager’s job that would give the impression he was going to be my manager for the next decade. Maybe Gene Glynn or Tom Brunansky or Jeff Smith will be logical selections or maybe I’d want to open up the search to outside candidates, but I don’t want to make such an important decision hastily.

Paul Molitor

So here’s my Monday Morning suggestion to Terry: Get on your knees and beg Paul Molitor to finish out 2012 as your manager. He’s supposedly not been interested in a field job with the Twins, but maybe on an interim basis, he could be convinced to take things over.

As for the pitching coach…  I really have no idea who in the organization would work on an interim basis, but try this name on for size: Bert Blyleven. OK, OK… once you’ve stopped laughing, think about it… he couldn’t screw the staff up any worse than they are already and at least he wouldn’t be up in the booth the rest of the year. Then again, I’m not sure how they’d get the monitor hooked up in the dugout in a way that would allow him to circle fans in the stands, so maybe it wouldn’t work after all.

Vikings Stuff

I’m a Vikings fan, not necessarily a “Minnesota” fan, so I’ll root for the Vikings wherever they call home in the future. That said, I’d REALLY prefer they stay in Minnesota. It’s where they belong, in my mind.

Philosophically, I understand the opinion that public money shouldn’t be used for stadiums. Then again, I think we use public money for a lot of crap that it shouldn’t be used for, while our health care system in this country is the laughingstock of the rest of the world’s modern civilizations.

Some things just are what they are and among those things is that communities that want major league professional sports teams have to pony up enough public financial support to provide modern playgrounds for those teams every quarter-century or so. This is particularly true with regard to NFL franchises, which are, whether we baseball fans want to admit it or not, the most popular major sports organizations in virtually every community that has one.

For the past couple of decades, this has been a difficult truth for Minnesotans and their political leaders (and I use the term “leaders” loosely here) to grasp.

So, sometime late tonight, I expect the Minnesota legislature to defeat a bill that has been negotiated in good faith by the Vikings, the city of Minneapolis, the Governor of Minnesota and legislators  from both political parties.

And that’s a damn shame.

I’ve been a registered Republican for over three decades and over that period, I’ve been relatively active in state and local politics where I live. While I don’t want to turn this in to a political discussion, I’ll say that I’m disappointed by the way my party has been hijacked by extremists over the past several years at the national level. But if there’s one thing that makes me feel better about what’s happened to the GOP at the national level, it’s seeing what a bunch of political hacks seem to be running the GOP in Minnesota.

Sure, there were missteps along the way by all parties and governing is often about compromise. “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours,” is more inherent to American politics than separation of powers.

If, as a legislator, you oppose public funding of a stadium, in principle, so that’s how you will cast your vote, I can respect that. But what the GOP leadership is essentially telling the Governor… and the people of Minnesota… is that it’s not so much opposition to the bill in principle that could likely cause its demise tonight, it’s that the Governor wouldn’t give them his signature on a couple of tax and bonding bills and they’re going to vote against the Vikings stadium bill as political “payback.”

If that means the Vikings are playing in LA or Toronto in 2013, so be it… at least the GOP won’t have let a Democratic Governor “win.”

If that’s what passes for statemanship in Minnesota these days, that’s unfortunate.

– JC

6 Replies to “Monday, Grumpy Monday”

  1. You’re right that the middle infield defense has been solid, and that the Twins are now undoing one of the few bright spots of this season. I think the organization has realized: that 2012 doesn’t matter; that Jamey Carroll, although solid defensively, is old and has not been great on offense and is not a player you can build around; and that, because of those things, it’s a good chance to let Dozier learn the job. The belief, I guess, is that his miscues won’t matter all that much this year. And if the organization thinks that he’s the answer to the revolving door, then why not let him get the rookie mistakes out of the way when things truly could not get any worse?

    Also I’m on board with Molitor if he could somehow be convinced. Something has changed with him the past couple seasons. Yes, he’s usually a mainstay at Spring Training, but the organization has been shuffling him around the various affiliates now. Maybe he does want more of an active role. Bench coach??

  2. AW, I get that maybe they need to really see what Dozier can do and certainly Carroll and Casilla have done nothing offensively to earn the right to keep their spots. I also can acknowledge that having this group allows Plouffe to move back strictly to the OF, thus strengthening the middle infield depth. But why now? It sounds like promoting Dozier now is likely to result in him being a “super two” status from a service time standpoint, assuming he stays up with the Twins. Is that wise, given that it isn’t exactly as though his promotion is going to turn the season around? It may work out just fine, but that’s not where I would have begun the necessary overhaul.

  3. The decision to promote Dozier now, when it could potentially cost the club some money down the road if Dozier eventually turns out to be a decent player, seems especially odd given that he’s hitting just .276/.339/.371 in Rochester (as a 25 year-old, at that). They absolutely should see what he can do in Minnesota this season, but I think another month or two in AAA might have been beneficial to him as well as the club.

    The best thing about Terry Ryan’s situation is that he has a lot of contracts coming off the books after the season. Unfortunately, he probably has too many holes to fill in just one off-season, especially given the state of the Twins farm system.

  4. I’d probably feel a bit better about the “lot of contracts coming off the books after the season” if ownership hadn’t pocketed most of the money that came off the books after LAST season. If TR is given an $85 million payroll to work with next year, fans will torch Target Field… and rightfully so.

  5. If Brian Dozier’s super-2 status becomes an issue, it will be one the Twins will happily deal with. He isn’t going to be an All-Star shortstop, so even with an extra year of arbitration he isn’t likely to command a large salary. And if he does turn out to be better than advertised, and still starting 2 years from now when super-2 is an issue the Twins will happily pay him his money.

  6. It wouldn’t surprise me to see payroll drop again next year. First, we are talking about the Twins; and cutting down to $85 million would just drop the club down a few spots in payroll rank, between the payrolls currently carried by the Cubs and Braves. If the Twins payroll ranks right in the middle of the majors, that’s just exactly what club executives said they would do, before Target Field opened. They didn’t say it loudly or often, but they said it.

    In any case, it also wouldn’t be the first time a club cut back and “cried poor” shortly after opening a gleaming new ballpark, either (like, why do the Padres have to be at the bottom of the majors with a $55m payroll right now?). No ballparks have been torched, yet.

    Get set for the pep talks about the “rebuilding plan” and the “youth movement,” Jim. Coming soon.