Should The Twins Fire Ron Gardenhire? In Their World, Probably

This is something of a weird post to write. I'm not a big fan in giving much attention to the manager, one way or the other, and I also abhor the media and fan tendency to overreact to playoff success or failure. Nevertheless, I think it's a valid issue to discuss when it comes to the Twins firing Ron Gardenhire.

Earlier this season, the esteemed Joe Posnanski made the argument that while Gardenhire isn't tactically a good manager, he's somehow part of the Twins culture of success. Somehow, in some way that we can't know, Poz argued, Gardenhire helps the Twins win. Regarding that, I essentially agreed with Matt at Fangraphs, who called it a "fallacious argument from ignorance."

So now, the Twins have flamed out of the post-season again. It's interesting that people killed the A's for losing three epic contests to very good Yankee and Red Sox teams (that all went 5 games) but it's really taken this year for the Twins to finally be similarly stigmatized. Only, we know this will have no shelf life. Next year, the Ryan Lefebvres of the world will go back to praising all things Twins. Their post-season failure isn't seen as a verdict on their organizational philosophy. This is actually intellectually sound, yet nevertheless a glaring double-standard. But whatever.

However, the really interesting thing is how the latest playoff failure impacts the main case for Gardenhire's success. If Gardenhire is a good manager because of soft factors: a good motivator of players, good teacher, good stabilizer, etc., then what happens when that same guy is now the face of a zillion straight playoff losses?

 

It seems to me, the Twins have an interesting decision to make. They can stick with Gardenhire, which essentially says, "we're fine, we're going to do what we do." Or they can fire him, and make a bolder statement that, "we've done some things, but now we expect more."

Make no mistake, I don't actually care one way or the other. I don't think Gardenhire is a great manager, and at the same time, I don't think he necessarily should be fired. But, if we inhabit the old-school universe that the Twins live in (and, apparently, JoePo increasingly) then many of the dictates of that universe would say he should probably go.

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