Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Dougie Baseball: The One That Got Away?

Doug Mientkiewicz was more of a fan favorite than he ever was a prolific Twins player. Just under a .280 hitter over the course of seven seasons, Dougie baseball clubbed 43 home runs and 266 runs batted in. He was a Gold Glove winner once, and an integral part of some good Twins teams. Now back in the fold as a minor league manager, he could be the one that got away.

When Mientkiewicz left the Twins as a player, he turned into somewhat of a journeyman. Playing six more season in the big leagues, and never for the same team, his career was never again what it was under Ron Gardenhire. As a manager though, the expectation should be that Dougie Baseball finds himself as more of a staple.

After Minnesota fired Gardenhire following the 2014 season, consideration was given to Mientkiewicz for the big league managerial job. Ultimately we know that Paul Molitor ended up with the post, and Mientkiewicz was assigned to the super team on the farm, the Chattanooga Lookouts.

A year removed from an 82-57 record and a Florida State League title with the Fort Myers Miracle, Mientkiewicz was tasked to follow up the performance. Given players like Jose Berrios, Byron Buxton, and Miguel Sano, it seemed like the Lookouts team was all but destined to do just that. Inevitably however, promotions happened, and Mientkiewicz was forced to get creative in Tennessee. Doing just that, the end result wound up being the same, with the Lookouts boasting a 76-61 record and winning the Southern League Title.

That brings us to where we are today. Doug Mientkiewicz now owns a 237-174 record as a manager, and has won a league title in both of the past two seasons. His .577 winning percentage is impressive on it's own, and the titles simply add more weight to his list of accomplishments. While the track record is great to admire, it's quite possibly ready to become a detriment to the Twins.

Going into 2016, Minnesota will have some roster decisions to make, but getting Mientkiewicz to the big leagues is going to be a must. In a recent radio interview in the Twin Cities, Mientkiewicz said, "That's the goal at the end of this thing for me, obviously I wanted it to be with us." Managing at the highest level still remains his goal, but the Twins will need to delay that the best way they can.

For Terry Ryan and Paul Molitor, the delay may come in the form of adding Mientkiewicz to the big league staff in a prominent role. Whether it be a bench coach, or one of the base coaches, Doug is looking for more. As soon as teams are able, other major league franchises will be knocking at his door.

Whether or not Mientkiewicz is ready to leave the Twins again is only known by him. It would be best served by Minnesota to delay that process as long as possible. He has all the makings of a great coach, and seeing him leave this early would be unfortunate.

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