Monday, April 01, 2013

Saying Goodbye to Justin and Gardy

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.

1 comment:

Jim H said...

While I agree with you that 3rd is the best place for Mauer, I think you might be overreacting a bit. Carroll is a utility guy. You can run him out there on a more regular basis if you have to, and you can certainly bat him 2nd when he is in the lineup but he isn't, and really has never been a major league regular.

Now, Dozier might not be one either, but now is the time to find out. His minor league numbers are fine, he seems to be a better fit at 2nd, and if the Twins are patient(like they often are) he will probably hit well enough to fill the 2nd spot in the order. Dozier didn't struggle any worse than any number of future Twins regulars did in their initial stint in the majors. Hunter, Bartlet, Cuddyer, Morneau and many others struggled in their first look in the majors. That doesn't mean Dozier will make it, but I think he probably will.

As far as Gardy goes, he does this every spring. He screws around with the lineup, he mixes and matches and after about 40 games, he usually settles on something that will work. Now, he might not have 40 games to work with this year, but I wouldn't write off the season just yet. Some of the starters will struggle, but there are some possible replacements who seem to have a better chance to be good, than last year's group. The young guys, Hicks, Plouffe, Parmelee, Dozier, and Florimon will likely not all work out perfectly, but I think most will eventually settle in as solid big league regulars.

I also expect that the Twins will make a strong effort to keep Morneau as a Twin, though that maybe overly optimistic.

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