Joe Posnanski on Ron Gardenhire (and Joe being Joe, I'm forced to snip many hundreds of wonderful words):
- I expect that this is one of the few places on the Internet — or really anywhere else — where Minnesota manager Ron Gardenhire is proudly celebrated. And because of that, this has become a good spot for Gardy doubters and Gardy haters — and, apparently, they are legion — to congregate. That’s cool, of course. But I do find it striking that whenever I write even two consecutive nice words about Ron Gardenhire, I am guaranteed to hear from people who want the opportunity to bash.Of course, it’s not really an equal opportunity. Best I can tell, there really aren’t many “Gardy is Awesome” websites out there. This seems to be one of the closest things. On the other hand, there is the FireRonGardenhire Blogspot. There’s the apparently more official FireRonGardenhire Website. There’s the more informal firegardy.com.
Look, I think he’s a great manager. A lot of people think he’s a fraud. That’s fine. I can point to five division champions. A lot of people can point to his weak division and playoff failure. That’s fine. I can point to a team that has consistently won and players who consistently play well for him as the season goes along. A lot of people can point to Gardy’s bizarre individual decisions and they would rather credit other people for the Twins’ success. That’s fine too.
And I’m not saying I’m right. But I’m not saying I’m wrong either. I guess the Gardy anger just seems a bit out of place to me. I’m just telling you, he could manage for me any day.
Sure, Gardenhire's got Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau. But he didn't have either of those guys in his first season as manager, and the Twins won 94 games. He didn't have them in his second season, either, and the Twins won 90 games. It wasn't until his third season that Johan Santana qualified for an ERA title, and it wasn't until his fifth season that Mauer and Morneau were installed as full-timers.
Sure, Gardenhire probably says a lot of things that sound crazy to you and me. He's probably said that he doesn't give a tinker's damn about on-base percentage, but you gotta have those run producers.
Let me tell you something, though: There aren't many Earl Weavers and Davey Johnsons out there. Some guys really know the numbers, and some guys really know how to handle 25 men at a time. And the numbers? Friends, there are only so many things a manager can do with the numbers. You've got your nine guys who play most days, and you've got your dozen pitchers with generally prescribed roles ... that doesn't leave much room for managerial maneuvering.
You take the manager who (just) knows the numbers, I'll take the manager who (just) knows how to keep his players playing for six months, and I'll beat you 55-60 percent of the time. Ron Gardenhire? He's won 55 percent of the games he's managed.