Over a week ago, I wrote about what I would do if I owned the Minnesota Twins, including giving my GM instructions to fire his manager. Obviously, Jim Pohlad not only read my article, but took it to heart because less than a week later, Ron Gardenhire was out as manager of the Twins.
In the days since that announcement, speculation has been rampant concerning who the next manager might be.
For his part, General Manager Terry Ryan said he would cast a wide net. He indicated he would look inside and outside the organization and that “diversity” would be a factor, both for the manager position and, ultimately, for the Twins’ coaching staff (further evidence that my advice, which included instructions for adding more Latin American coaches, was being followed almost to the letter).
It occurs to me, now, that I may have done a disservice to the Twins GM in my earlier article. I honestly didn’t expect Twins ownership to follow my advice. Heck, I didn’t even know Pohlad was one of my loyal readers.
Had I known how quickly he would take my advice to heart and act on it, I would have included advice to Ryan on how to go about replacing Gardenhire. But I didn’t. My bad.
But today, I’m going to rectify that oversight. Better late than never, right?
The Twins are a tight-knit organization. Rare is the case when something involving the internal workings of the front office reaches the public until the top dogs in that office want it to.
How do you know when they want the public to know something? Just assume that if you’re reading it, they want you to know it. You’ll be correct 99% of the time.
So here’s what the Twins want us to know about their manager search, so far:
Paul Molitor and Doug Mientkiewicz have been interviewed, Molitor more than once. Both are serious candidates for the job. Gene Glynn will be interviewed. Ozzie Guillen will not. That’s about all of it.
You know what? Molitor, Mientkiewicz and Glynn would all, in my opinion, have the potential to be excellent choices. If Terry Ryan introduces one of them as the next manager on Monday morning, you won’t find me yielding a pitchfork and marching on Target Field.
But it would be wrong.
To explain, allow me to digress briefly and talk about Iowa Hawkeyes football – specifically the head coaching job at Iowa.
A lot of Hawkeye fans love long-time coach Kirk Ferentz. A lot of Hawkeye fans would like to see Ferentz replaced. But, a good number of those fans have an unrealistic view of the Iowa program and the kind of coaching candidates the Iowa job might attract. Iowa is not Alabama, USC or Ohio State. You would not get top tier coaches tripping over themselves to take over the Iowa program. You would have to either hire from within or hire a lower tier outside candidate who has not yet proven himself.
In other words, when you talk about replacing Kirk Ferentz at Iowa, you’d better be careful what you wish for.
But here’s the thing: The Minnesota Twins are not in that position.
Sure, they’ve had 90+ losses for four straight years. That might seem like the kind of thing that would relegate the organization to a position where they have to be satisfied with the left-overs after the good teams in Major League Baseball decide who they want as their manager.
However, “good” MLB teams already have their managers in place. It’s not like there are going to be teams in the postseason immediately letting their managers go the day after their seasons end.
Manager candidates are being interviewed in a number of locations across baseball, but each of those teams has one thing in common – they played bad baseball in 2014.
Currently, there are three managerial openings: the Texas Rangers, the Arizona Diamondbacks and the Twins. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Milwaukee Brewers added to that list in coming days, but as things stand right now, the Twins’ 92 losses are the fewest among teams currently interviewing for a new manager.
The Minnesota Twins should be choice number 1 for anyone with designs on landing a big league manager’s job in 2015.
Texas and Arizona have had front office disruptions in recent years. In Arizona, your new General Manager was a player agent a couple weeks ago and will be reporting to an executive who was a Hall of Fame caliber manager. In both locations, the manager is going to have multiple bosses looking over his shoulder, all of which likely believe they could do your job better than you do (and in at least one case, he’d probably be right).
Arizona and Texas don’t have terrible talent. They have some guys who know how to to play baseball and they have minor league organizations considered to be at least average in terms of the talent moving through the pipeline. (It’s that dreary farm system of the Brewers that anyone considering a run at a potential Milwaukee opening should be wary of.)
Arizona is going to be rebuilding and trying to compete in a division with the Giants, who field perennial championship level teams, and the Dodgers, who are clearly committed to leaving the New York Yankees in the dust when it comes to being willing to spend money to buy championships.
The Rangers “only” have to deal with the Angels and A’s, I guess.
The Twins, on the other hand, had one of the top ranked farm systems in baseball heading in to 2014 and have a General Manager about whom their owner has stated that he’d be the GM for as long as he wants to remain in the job. That GM leads an organization that has demonstrated loyalty (to a fault, some might say) to managers.
The Tigers are aging and the Royals’ postseason run assures that they’ll retain Ned Yost as manager, which virtually assures that you won’t be viewed as the worst manager in your division, no matter what.
Who, in his right mind, would prefer one of the other open positions over the Twins’ job?
Which, finally, brings us to this advice for Terry Ryan:
You need to get this right. That’s not only the most important thing, it’s the only important thing, in this process. And here’s the process:
Step 1 – Talk to those in baseball you respect and ask them who they believe are the top 3 potential managers in all of baseball not currently under contract to manage another MLB team. Then make your own list of the top half dozen names or so.
Step 2 – Interview everybody on that list and identify those that not only are likely to succeed in 2015, but have a, “you never stop learning,” approach to life in general and baseball in particular, which you can envision allowing him to lead your team to success for the next decade. Ask each of them to tell you what they’ve learned about the game of baseball in the past two years that they didn’t know before. Anyone who can’t give you a number of ways in which they have expanded their baseball knowledge in that time should immediately be crossed off your list.
Step 3 – Rank your candidates after interviewing all of them, and not before.
Step 4 – Hire the name at the top of your list.
It’s really that simple.
Don’t get lost in a quagmire of details like how many years of experience they have as a manager at the big league level or at the minor league level or as a coach in the big leagues or whether their players liked them or not. Everyone who has coached/managed at any level has players who liked them and players who didn’t. Every one of them has success stories – and has failed at something.
Just act like you are the General Manager offering the best managerial opportunity in baseball and you are entitled to hire the best managerial candidate. You deserve that. The Twins deserve that.
Twins fans deserve nothing less.