Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Challenges Await Gardenhire Out West

Following the 2014 Major League Baseball season, Ron Gardenhire was removed from his duties as manager of the Minnesota Twins. Following a fourth straight 90 loss campaign, management decided a change was necessary. Paul Molitor was brought in, Gardy was given a humidor, and that was that. Over the course of this season though, it's became apparent Gardenhire has the itch again, and he may be back in the dugout as soon as 2016.

During the season, and while reports flooded from Detroit suggesting Brad Ausmus would be done at the end of the year, Gardenhire was named the likely candidate. Those rumors fizzled as quickly as they began, but the dream is not dead for the longtime Twins skipper. Yesterday, reports surfaced suggesting that Gardenhire would indeed interview with the San Diego Padres.

After spending a boatload of money this offseason, and multiple big splashes over the winter, the Padres faded hard. Owning just a 74-88 record while finishing fourth in the National League West, expectations were not met. The Padres were 18 games behind the division winning Dodgers, and their prized acquisitions generally fell flat.

Looking to revive a roster highlighted by the Upton brothers, Matt Kemp, Derek Norris, and Craig Kimbrel, A.J. Preller wants someone else in charge. At this point, Gardenhire is simply a candidate in the mix, but should things come to fruition, there's plenty to suggest he may be in over his head.

With the Twins, Gardenhire compiled a 1068-1039 record. He grabbed six American League Central division titles, and he pushed teams to win over 90 games five times in his 13 year career. It's what Gardenhire didn't do that has him looking suspect as a National League manager however.

It's easy to point at the 6-21 postseason record and the fact a Gardenhire team only advanced out of the first round once, but the problem runs deeper. Looking at the structure of the National League, the coaching ability of the former Twins manager may come under scrutiny. Never heralded as a great game manager, the intricacies of the double switch, bunt situations, bullpen management, and analytical understanding are all things Gardenhire will face as uphill battles.

With his track record, it's hard to suggest that Gardenhire wouldn't be a great managerial candidate for a team to seek out. What is easy to suggest though is that the team looking for Gardenhire's wisdom should come within the realm of the designated hitter, and the American League, where Gardenhire has already made his stamp.

Preller is no doubt wanting to turn his 2015 mess around, and while Ron Gardenhire is a great guy and a good manager, he's probably not the best fit in San Diego. Gardy should get back in the dugout, but unless he wants another stain on his career numbers to match his postseason record, steering clear of the National League is a must.

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