This season is likely the last as a Twin for Justin Morneau and it ought to be for Ron Gardenhire.
The Twins apparently declined an offer from Morneau to open negotiations on a contract extension. That makes sense. If Morneau does well enough, he will be a sought after player at the trade deadline. If he doesn't, the Twins don't want to extend his contract. With Parmelee in right field and Arcia almost ready to get a chance, the Twins don't really have a need for Morneau unless they are in a pennant race this year. Which brings us to the second goodbye.
Ron Gardenhire's last minute decision to move Mauer into the number two spot is at best puzzling. Aside from it being a really bad idea, it reeks of panic. From the start of spring training, Gardenhire seemed determined to go with Brian Dozier at second base. But it was obvious that whoever was at second also had to fit into the second spot in the order. Its now apparent that Gardy never really had confidence in Dozier's ability to hit there. Yet, he had an established number two hitter in Jamie Carroll that he never really gave any opportunity to win the starting job. The result is that he has two number nine hitters and no one to bat second.
Apparently he waited until opening day to set the top of his lineup. But you have to wonder if he really never let Terry Ryan know before this that Dozier's bat didn't play in the number two spot, even if his fielding at second did. Its as if spring training was used with one plan and suddenly it changed.
Dozier was a disaster last year. Yet Gardenhire seems to be repeating the mistake. Worse, its not clear that he isn't just pandering to reporters and bloggers opinions. "You want to see Mauer bat second? Why not? We aren't really going anywhere anyway." Unfortunately under Gardenhire that is likely true, no matter how many quality pitchers Terry Ryan finds. Players like him. Writers like him. Fans like him. But he seems to lack any ability to make judgments about players. This last minute decision makes Gardenhire look like he is just mucking around, clueless as to what to do rebuild a team other than throw players out there and hope for the best.
Today is the start of what's going to be a long season that could get stranger and stranger as Gardy sees the edge of the approaching cliff. I just hope Terry Ryan doesn't feel the need to jump overboard with Gardy.