Published on November 3rd, 2014 | by Thompson0
New Face, Old Gard(y): Twins Choose Tradition over Talent, Again
Terry Ryan kept with company policy and made the long-expected and unsurprising decision to offer Paul Molitor a contract to become the new manager of the Minnesota Twins. Molitor, a St. Paul native, has been expected to take over as Ron Gardenhire’s replacement for at least a year, if not longer depending on the rumors you choose to believe, and could have taken over for Tom Kelly in 2002 had he not removed himself from the running due to the contraction fiasco. So Terry Ryan and the Twins got the man they wanted 13 years ago. No surprises in Twins Territory.
The move means absolutely nothing. There is no discernible difference between Molitor and Gardy. They’re both infield and baserunning specialists, although Molitor may be more in tune with today’s dependence on statistics when it comes to defensive play, and will hopefully be more open to platoon players with extreme splits to increase overall productivity. That’s a difference of winning a few extra games per season. It won’t make the Twins a contender.
The ONLY thing that will make the Twins a contender is an ace, and I’m not talking about Phil Hughes. I’m talking about Madison Bumgarner, or someone with comparable talents. Although, after his World Series performance, comparable talents may not exist. Bumgarner proved that in almost 150 years of organized baseball, nothing has changed. Starting pitching still wins championships. Kansas City’s bullpen approach didn’t work. You can have as many high-powered arms in the pen as you like, but one man can still shut you out and win three games in a seven-game series despite an average offense that had very little pop in the MLB Playoffs. The Royals could have run a different pitcher out there every inning and still would have lost. Cliff Corcoran of Sports Illustrated found the Royals’ bullpen ranked seventh in runs allowed in all-time postseason history. Even they couldn’t hang with Bumgarner and were rocked in Game 4. Starting pitching still wins championships.
You can make all the noise you want about the Royals being sound defensively, especially in the outfield, but they didn’t win, and the Giants did despite a two-base error by their center fielder in the ninth inning of Game 7. Starting pitching still wins championships.
You can make the argument that you need the bats of Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval in order to score enough runs to win, but you’d be wrong. Gregor Blanco drew a bases loaded walk and scored again after drawing a walk when rookie Joe Panik tripled in Game 1.
Blanco got the scoring started with another walk in Game 4, took second on a wild pitch, and took third because he could, later scoring on a groundout by Pence. Matt Duffy, who had just two plate appearances in the World Series, scored on a single by Buster Posey after slapping a leadoff single of his own and taking second on a groundout. Then, in the bottom of the seventh inning, Brandon Crawford hit an infield single and Michael Morse walked to put Blanco in a bunting situation. He laid it down and reached on an error allowing Crawford to score. The rookie Panik then doubled to score Morse and Blanco. That would be all the Giants needed to win Game 4.
Juan Perez, a defensive replacement, scored an unearned run in the bottom of the eighth inning of Game 5 on a single by Crawford. In fact, the only game the Giants truly needed the bats of Sandoval and Pence was Game 7. They accounted for every run scored, but it was Morse and Crawford that drove them in. Pence and Sandoval had stellar performances that would have been MVP-worthy any other year, but starting pitching still wins championships.
Without an ace on the staff, like Bert Blyleven, Jack Morris, Johan Santana, or even a young Francisco Liriano, the hopes and dreams of Twins’ fans will continue to be dashed by the front office at Twins Way. Unless Terry Ryan and the rest of his disciples learn the Twins’ way isn’t the winning way, Molitor replacing Gardy as manager is meaningless, and every job in the front office should be made available.