Twins’ Gardenhire Should Take Notes From Cardinals’ LaRussa


I have thought for quite some time that Ron Gardenhire is in the top quartile of managers. His longevity is rare in the major leagues. He has the necessary knowledge to get the job done, and his players enjoy competing for him. The Minnesota Twins have stumbled out of the gate so far this season-losing two thirds of their games. It is not as bad as the Red Sox have done and is certainly no reason for alarm with the fans. However, it is time to reference Tony LaRussa.

It is true that LaRussa can outsmart himself at times with the pitching changes that he conducts at about the same rate as Dusty Baker. LaRussa is simply trying to give his team the highest probability for success with the changes. His top priority is certainly not keeping the game going at a crisp pace for the fans’ enjoyment. Another part of his quirky nature is batting his pitcher eighth sometimes so the ninth hitter has a higher chance of reaching base and being knocked in by Albert Pujols. The jury is still out on whether this is a good idea or not. While it is true about the quality of the nine hitter and Pujols, it also provides potentially more at bats for the more ineffective hitter in the eighth position. Anyway, the moral of the story is that he is mixing it up and attempting to achieve greater success.

It’s time for Gardenhire to do the same. The pitcher doesn’t bat in the American League, but shaking it up is in order. The first thing on the agenda should be addressing middle infield situation. The team has an excess of quality closers and a deficiency in the center of the diamond. You have probably already put two and two together and decided that there must be a trade to rectify the situation. Ron Gardenhire should be in discussions with General Manager Bill Smith to alleviate the detrimental effects of this scenario. The horrendous leg injury that Tsuyoshi Nishioka has suffered put more of a burden on the remaining players to pick up the slack offensively. Despite hovering near the Mendoza line, he is a proven commodity from Japan that would have set the table for others.

Shuffling up the batting order is also a necessity. The current format has produced a cold Justin Morneau and Michael Cuddyer. This team is going nowhere in a hurry if these two don’t pick up their production at the plate. Sometimes players become too comfortable in a situation and they need to be reminded that their spot depends on what they do. The good news is that the team has won three games largely without two of its horses being what they need to be. The bad news is that we aren’t sure when or if they are going to turn it around. A different placement in the order could provide a wake-up call to one or both of them.

–Patrick Herbert

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