Here’s what it came down to with Terry Ryan and Ron Gardenhire. Ryan, the Twins general manager who has known Gardenhire for more than 20 years, took responsibility for saddling Gardenhire with lousy players. And Gardenhire thought it would be lame to bail on Ryan and owner Jim Pohlad if the Twins wanted him back.
That’s why the Twins offered, and Gardenhire agreed, to a two-year contract through 2015 to remain as the club’s manager. The Twins confirmed it this afternoon via email about an hour before a Target Field news conference. Gardenhire’s coaches have been invited back, too, on one-year deals. Gardenhire insisted on two years for his job to avoid repeated questioning about his future.
“I know there was a lot of talk about other ballclubs,” Gardenhire said. “My father was a military guy. He said, ‘The easy thing to do is walk. The hardest thing is to stay and try and make it better.’ That’s what I’m going to try to do here. I want to make it better.”
Ryan called it “a good day for the organization,” an opinion that might not be universal among Twins fandom.
Major league teams usually don’t retain managers after three consecutive 90-loss seasons, even ones like Gardenhire who have won nearly 1,000 games and six division titles. According to research by Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press, only one manager who kept his job after three 90-loss seasons ever posted another winning record with that same club — Minnesota’s Tom Kelly, in 2001. Kelly then retired and Gardenhire took over. Ryan, of course, was the general manager then, too.
“I don’t think the Pohlads ever got any credit for sticking with Tom Kelly and Terry Ryan,” clubPpresident Dave St. Peter said. “I hope history repeats itself.”
The close relationship between Gardenhire and Ryan, detailed in a post this morning, held sway here. Owner Jim Pohlad said he left the decision to Ryan, while privately hoping Gardenhire would be kept. “This is certainly the way I wanted it to happen,” he said.
Pohlad has given Ryan the financial leverage to find better starting pitching through free agency and trades. Gardenhire wanted pitching coach Rick Anderson more involved in the scouting process, and Ryan agreed.
“My pitching coach knows every pitching coach in baseball,” Gardenhire said. “If we’re looking at somebody as a free agent, it’s nice to have as much information as possible about a guy. We need Terry to trust Andy more on some of these guys.”