Tom Powers: Twins should rock the boat with new manager
Terry Ryan said he will cast a wide net in his search for a new Twins manager. In reality, that net probably is just wide enough to drape over the shoulders of Terry Steinbach and Paul Molitor. I'd say there is a 90 percent chance that one of tho...
Terry Ryan said he will cast a wide net in his search for a new Twins manager. In reality, that net probably is just wide enough to drape over the shoulders of Terry Steinbach and Paul Molitor. I’d say there is a 90 percent chance that one of those fellows gets the job.
It’s probably just as well. The candidates being mentioned from outside the organization are, in general, an uninteresting lot. Some other team’s bench coach or third-base coach doesn’t send chills up and down anyone’s spine.
The one interesting outside candidate is Ozzie Guillen. In addition to bringing his own, private, colorful language, Ozzie also would bring his own set of concerns. Such as the time he made some, uh, inappropriate remarks and was declared “insensitive” by the White Sox brass and banished to sensitivity school with orders to mend his ways.
In Minnesota, where the state motto is, “Thou Shalt Not Offend,” insensitivity is considered a heinous, often unpardonable crime. So there’s that.
Besides, such a hiring likely is too radical for staid Twins management. No one rocks the boat around here. The executives rarely tiptoe into the scary world outside the organization’s front doors - not even for milk or bread. There’s the Twins way and there is everything else. It’s all very cult-like.
Yet there is something to be said for embarking upon a path less traveled. The Twins don’t change managers very often. Here’s a chance to shake to things up. Of course, I’m just a backseat driver like everybody else. Baseball men who make baseball decisions consider the rest of us clueless.
That said, I think Doug Mientkiewicz, 40, would be a fine (and bold) choice - a jolt of electricity into a moribund franchise. He might not be 100 percent ready for prime time, but neither are the Twins. They could grow together nicely. Mientkiewicz is going to manage a big-league team, somewhere, in the near future. That’s the consensus. Why not here?
He is cocky, enthusiastic and very, very emotional. Mientkiewicz has had great success in his two seasons with the Twins’ Class A team in Fort Myers. Yet it’s not so much about the won-lost record as it is about how he fashioned that record. He has demonstrated the great ability to bring a team together, to create rapport. Put simply: Players play for him.
Would his type of hands-on, fiery leadership work in the big leagues, where guys are going to get their millions no matter what? I don’t know, but I’d like to find out. Mientkiewicz is not the type to suffer in silence. He would be a very active manager. I’m not saying the Twins need a kick in the pants. I do, however, believe they would respond well to this type of fresh, energetic approach.
Now, not everyone in the organization is a Doug Mientkiewicz fan. That cockiness can rub people the wrong way - especially old-school types - and result in a fair amount of tongue-clicking and head-shaking. I’ve seen it in spring training. I’m not sure if Doug notices it because he’s zeroed in on what he’s doing. He was the same way as a player, and I think it’s great.
Mientkiewicz is familiar with the organization and already has forged lasting relationships with players such as Miguel Sano and Byron Buxton. Again, he still may be a bit raw, but the job is open right now. And he does have two years in at Fort Myers. Steinbach and Molitor have not managed other than to fill in for Ron Gardenhire.
Anyway, it likely will be either Steinbach or Molitor at the helm next year. Both are well-respected and represent solid, safe choices. Mientkiewicz is a very, very intriguing wild card, though, especially if he could be paired with a salty, veteran bench coach at Target Field.
At least, that’s how it looks to me from the back seat.
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