As fans we tend to over criticize. And for a group of people who feel passionately about one certain thing, they tend to start making rash opinions based on certain observations. As Twins fans its hard not to admit that our opinions constantly change about manager Ron Gardenhire. The man; whether we think so or not is pretty damn good at what he does and the 2010 season is a perfect example why.
I am only doing this because a couple weeks ago I asked the simple question to ESPN's Howard Bryant why he though Texas Rangers' manager Ron Washington deserved the Manager of the Year award over Gardy. He literally laughed the question and now with 2 weeks left in the season he is the one looking more like a joke.
It is a legitimate question. What has Ron Washington done this year that Ron Gardenhire hasn't? Sure he has taken a team that has not been to the playoffs since 1996 but then again he is managing a superbly talented team (Cliff Lee, Josh Hamilton, etc) in a division where every other team is below .500. So I ask again. What did Washington do? The answer is what he is supposed to do. He managed what was already a talented team from 2nd place in 2009 to 1st in 2010 while the other 3 teams in the division got progressively worse. The Angels lost a ton of talent from 2010 and were expected to fall, and the Mariners were a complete bust and are now the worst team in all of baseball and A's have not tried to win a division title since they had their big three together. Texas has mastered this division but has been sitting on the chance to seal up the division for the past 2 weeks and it has caused them to now put the season on cruise control.
What Ron Gardenhire has done is take a team just as talented in a more competitive division and dominated. The Twins have absolutely smothered the AL Central in route to an 11 game lead with less then 2 weeks left in the year. The Twins have played so well that they are within one game of the best record in all of baseball. This after the Twins were 3 back of Chicago at the All Star Break. After ending the first half of the season 46-42. Minnesota has bulldozed at a 44-18 pace to eclipse the 90 win mark.
What about injuries? Yes Washington has dealt with some blows this season. All Star 2nd baseman Ian Kinsler has been on and off the shelf and MVP candidate Josh Hamilton looks like he will be scratched for the remaining of the season with broken ribs to prepare for October. But is this worse then what Gardy has gone through? Lets see it all started in March remember? When one of the top 2 closers in baseball (Joe Nathan) had his season ended with Tommy John. Then came Joe Mauer's heel bruise that landed him on the DL. And oh fuckin yeah; first half MVP Justin Morneau has not played since before the All Star break with a concussion, not to mention he was having the best season of his career. Then came a slew of other injures that has not allowed this team to play a full healthy game together since what seems like May. Gardy has been able to work with what he has and when I say work with I mean guys like Jeff Manship, Matt Tolbert, Alexi Casilla, Jason Repko, among others to come up in big spots for the team to win. And doing it with the 2nd best record in baseball.
What about head to head? The Twins went undefeated at home against Texas this year while racking up a 7-3 record overall against the eventual AL West champs. That has put Texas in a hole which will allow Minnesota to open the playoffs at home against what is most likley Wild Card; Tampa Bay, while Texas will have to travel to defending champion; New York.
So... you can tell me what Ron Washington has done well enough this year to be on conversation to win Manager of the Year, but really? What has he done that should put him ahead of Ron Gardenhire? The answer is nothing and if Gardy does not win this award in a landslide I will give up on writers because most of them obviously don't give a damn about baseball. They are too busy criticizing Brett Favre, LeBron James and Roger Clemens.