After two rock bottom seasons, I have compiled a holiday wish list for the Minnesota Twins. Like other Twins fans, I have supported this team, through good times and bad times. Hopefully Santa will read my list and make our holiday dreams come true!
1. Fire Ron Gardenhire – When Ron Gardenhire became the manager of the Minnesota Twins, he was handed a gifted and disciplined team, courtesy of former manager Tom Kelly. Since then, the Twins have had defensive issues and internal issue that I believe has to do with the manager. For example, Gardenhire had problems with pitcher Kyle Lohse. Lohse was understandably unhappy that although he was the most successful starter in 2002, during the playoffs, he was moved to the bullpen. Their relationship was strained and soon he was traded, and now he is a top pitcher somewhere else. Gardenhire has had other anger issues, and is often ejected from games. He is the second most ejected manager currently coaching in baseball. Sadly, I believe that if he targeted this explosive energy and focused on beating the Yankees, the Twins would not be in this desperate position that they are in today.
2. Make Paul Molitor Twins Manager – St. Paul native, Paul Molitor, ended his career with the Twins and then spent three years as a bench coach, with Tom Kelly at the helm. Like Kelly, he is cerebral in his approach to the game and focuses on fundamentals. There were some rumors that he would replace Kelly when he retired, but he rejected that option as the Twins were up for contraction. Unlike other superstar players, Molitor is interested in staying in the game. He told a local radio station that he “would be interested” if approached to coach the Twins. I say, sign him up!
3. Move Joe Mauer – Joe Mauer is an ultra talented player with a knee problem. Most series, he cannot catch a night game and turnaround and catch an afternoon the next day. Now is the time to move him to first base and find another catcher. Mauer’s bat is too valuable to play Russian Roulette with his knee. Joe turns thirty this year and it is time to move him to a position where he can continue to play for the MInnesota Twins.
4. Bring Back Tom Kelly – For years, former Yankee skipper Joe Torre had Don Zimmer sit next to him on the bench, why not put Tom Kelly on the bench? Kelly has a sharp eye for talent and knows how to instill an old fashioned work ethic that created some of the best defensive players in baseball, including Gold Glove player, Torii Hunter. With my wish of Paul Molitor at the helm, Tom Kelly could share his wisdom with Molitor.
5. Fire Rick Anderson – After two horrible seasons, there is only one pitcher penciled in the 2013 starting lineup. Yet, this is the pitching coach that just three years ago, gave up on recent Cy Young pitcher, R.A. Dickey. He also gave up on Pat Neshek, twice, and Kyle Lohse, along with other quality pitchers. We need a pitching coach that can identify and solve a pitcher’s mechanical problems and keep them pitching for the Twins.
6. Promote Terry Steinbach – Terry Steinbach has recently been promoted as Twins bench coach and catching instructor. I would further promote him, this time to pitching coach. When New Ulm native, Steinbach ended his MLB career he came to play for the Twins. This is the era where the Twins brought up a rookie team. Steinbach caught and worked with a slew of malleable, rookie pitchers. He became a friend and mentor to lefty Eric Milton, who in 1999, pitched a no-hitter, with Steinbach catching. Steinbach’s reputation and demeanor garners him a lot of respect and he has shown that his personality relates well to young players. He has always been a premiere catcher who understood pitchers. This could all translate well into the position of Minnesota Twins pitching coach.
7. Chemistry Lesson – In the late 90s, when the AA players came up to play in the big leagues, these players all had a special comradery, as they all played in AA together and arrived to the majors together. These players had a unified goal to prove that they deserved to play in the big leagues. The same was true with the World Series winning 1987 Twins team. A few years ago, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau shared a home and there was the beginning of a team chemistry. Since that time, both players have had several serious injuries and with their absences, the chemistry was gone. The Twins need to become unified and excited to be playing together. Whether it is an inspirational coach or a charismatic player, they need something to inspire the team to work hard together.
8. Make Doug MIentkiewicz a coach – Doug Mientkiewicz was one of the infamous rookies that shot up from AA to play for Tom Kelly and the Twins. In 2000, at the Sydney Summer Olympics, his determination and his bat helped lead the U.S. Baseball to a gold medal victory. A couple of years later, he also won the World Series with the Boston Red Sox. He is one of the few baseball players ever to win both the gold medal and the World Series. Mientkiewicz was a bubblegum blowing, Gold Glove winning baseball icon. He was a part of a David and Goliath team that challenged the Yankees. The Twins need someone that can help them get over the mental part of the game. They have stopped thinking like winners, instead, playing like they do not want to lose. This mindset never wins World Series. This Twins team needs to step up the mental game and believe that they can beat any team, including the Yankees.
9. Move Dan Gladden and Bert Blyleven- Dan Gladden and Bert Blyleven were two all-time favorite Twins players, and together, won the World Series in 1987. Currently, Gladden has been the Twins radio color commentator and Blyleven, the television color commentator. On the air, each commentator offers their own insights on what current players should do to correct their problems. Although I enjoy their insights, I think they would better serve the team if they were coaching the players and sharing their valuable wisdom and experience.
10. Don’t Give Up On Players – Again, I will just point out that R.A. Dickey was a Twin three years ago and this year, he won the Cy Young. The Twins need to not only sign players, but they need a staff that can identify and solve their mechanical problems in hitting, pitching and fielding. The Twins give up on players without problem solving. These same players go to other teams, make small adjustments and then excel. The Twins cannot afford to sign players that are at the top of their game. Instead, they need to pick up players that may be a little rough around the edges and have a coaching staff that is equipped to solve problems. If my wishes were granted, the Twins would be equipped with the necessary tools to solve these issues and become a winning team.
Georgia Makitalo is a lifelong Twins fan, including numerous road trips, to see the Twins play in other cities.
Other Twins Articles by Georgia Makitalo:
The Greatest All-Time Minnesota Twins by Position: A Fan’s Perspective
Minnesota Twins Postseason History