Thursday, November 13, 2008

Gardenhire Extended

The Twins have extended Ron Gardenhire for another two years, keeping him in the fold through 2011. Assuming he lasts through then -- and I think it's a safe assumption -- the Twins will have had only two managers in more than 25 seasons (Kelly began in the middle of 1986).

Were Kelly and Gardenhire lucky finds, or are there any number of other guys who -- if given the time and security those guys have been given -- would be equally strong managers, immune from the hot seat and generally appreciated by all?

It's so easy for us all to say that so-and-so manager should go based on a team's wins and losses, but when I look at the Twins, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Tennessee Titans, and any number of college football teams, I wonder if we should maybe recalibrate our fire-the-manager meters to a less touchy setting.

14 comments:

tadthebad said...

Absolutely. Worst thing about Boston fans (of which I am one) is that it is never the players' fault, always the managers.

Pete Toms said...

How much impact do managers have on W - L? I honestly don't know. Is there that great a difference between the best & worst? It's not like it's me managing vs LaRussa. At the highest level, there isn't a lot of teaching left to do is there? And with the size of the staffs, how much can be overlooked? Isn't it the players who win & lose?

I firmly believed all that until this season and then Gaston replace Gibbons and the difference in W - L was huge. Did Gaston have that big an impact? There were no notable changes in personnel.....

I still don't know...

tHeMARksMiTh said...

I also agree that people fire managers too soon. You have to give them like five years to really tell how good a job they're doing. 12 games, not so much.

As for Gardenhire, I've always thought he was one of the most underrated managers in the game. He always gets that team to play well no matter if they're supposed to be good or not (ie. this year -- if they had made the playoffs, I probably would have voted for him for MOY).

Andy said...

I couldn't agree more. It's been fascinating to see here in the UK with "football". If anything they have a quicker trigger finger in the premiership, and indeed all levels, than any of the major sports in the US. My team, the Spurs, fired a manager midway through last season, and fired the new coach midway through this season, and they have been bottom of the table for most of that time.

When you look at where the sustained success, like Man U and Arsenal - much as it kills me as a Spurs fan, they have coaches that have been there for 22 years and 12 years respectively. Something to think about.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Pete -- Chris Jaffee from THT is writing a book about that very question. I have some draft chapters around here somewhere, but I can't for the life of me find them. It is/was still a work in progress when I talked to him last summer, but I think the idea is that, yes, managers can matter. Exactly how they do and whether stability and tenure of their leadership is a key factor is something I don't know if Chris has an answer for.

My disposition is such, though, that I'd try to find a smart guy I trust, who isn't volitile yet who won't be a doormat, install him, and let him stay unless and until his temperment changes or there is some unacceptable incident or something.

The idea of making a change because, well, it seems like time for a change doesn't make sense to me.

Craig Calcaterra said...

And I'm an idiot for spelling Chris Jaffe's name wrong. If you're reading, sorry Chris!

matt said...

I've noticed the correlation and always wondered about it: do teams win because coaches last longer or do coaches last longer because teams win? I certainly think there is something to be said for stability (especially in sports like football where different coaches have different schemes). On the other hand, maybe coaches last longer because they win?

If you buy that managers generally have minimal impact, I think it's reasonable to believe that the instability caused by the firing of a manager will generally equal or outweigh any benefits a team gets from bringing in a "better" manager.

It's always funny to see coaches going from the hot seat to manager-of-the-year candidates in the space of a season and vice versa (e.g. Charlie Manuel and Ray Rhodes in Philadelphia over the last decade plus).

Pete Toms said...

I think most of us agree that a lot of managerial changes are meant to appease fans. We'll be better next year, next week, because manager x is gone.....the stuff that plays well on sports talk radio.

Craig Calcaterra said...

Interesting question, Matt. Tom Kelly had an eight year stretch where his teams were under .500, and at the end of that run, the Twins were being threatened with contraction. He gets fired on any other team, but the Twins stick with him.

Since then, the Twins have been pretty darn good, especially considering their resources. Maybe they would have been better quicker with a managerial change, but I kind of doubt it. Maybe they would have been in the wilderness longer, but we'll never known.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

Tad: when the Yanks don't win, it's because ARod's a choker. When they do, it's because Jeter's clutch.

Ron Rollins said...

I hope they can prove a manager negatively affects a team.

If so, then maybe we can get Hillman out of Kansas City. But considering this is a franchise that gave Tony Muser 5 years, Hillmnan might achieve Connie Mack status.

Especailly all the last place finishes.

Amos said...

As a Twins fan I can't say I am all that excited about this. I wasn't clamoring for his firing but I'm getting fed up with his stubbornness and refusal to consider adapting to the modern baseball era in which "the book" doesn't rule all. For example, he left Carlos Gomez in the leadoff spot too long last year, refusing to let Nathan pitch in the 8th despite a bullpen full of little leaguers, stuck with Livan Hernandez way too long etc.

It's a long-dead, yet often-repeated myth that the Twins play baseball The Right Way. Watch a week of their games sometime in midseason and you'll see more fundamental mistakes - throwing behind runners, guys missing signs, pickoffs - than on most other teams.

mooseinohio said...

I think the alignment between ownership, GM and manager/coach is the critical element and one reason Kelly was more than likely allowed to stay during the sub .500run. The Twins have an organizational philosophy that is in alignment from the top down and the result is a small market franchise that has more success than most of its peers.

The Red Sox have tended to always have money but not a great organizational philosophy, one reason for the 86 year droughht, but the Henry Group brought in like-minded (Lucchino trained) Theo who works well with Francona and showed that when all aspects of the ownership and management in sync great thing can happen.

Step outside of baseball for a moment as the Patriots, Steelers and Colts are great examples of this type of partnership while the Chargers, Bengals and Cowboys (post Jimmy Johnson) display the type of organizational dysfuntion that can sabotage talent laden or well funded teams.

Such ownership/management alignments tend not fall prey to the rantings of the media and fan base as easily and may explain the limited firing or coaches and GMs.

tadthebad said...

Jason, at least they're players. Here, if Javy Lopez gives up a HR against a lefty it's Francona's fault b/c Francona didn't use him in the proper situation. Ugh. I also love the sports radio callers that detail how Epstein has no idea what he's doing when it comes to aquiring/trading players...you know, b/c Ortiz/Foulke/Drew/Lowell/Beckett et al. had nothing to do with winning a couple of titles. And b/c Manny would have definitely allowed fewer earned runs during the ALCS. Sorry to vent.