Joe Posnanski on his favorite manager:
OK, so, it’s happening again … every year I feel more and more certain that there has to be something I’m missing. I had a long talk with someone close to the Minnesota Twins … this someone is the latest in a long series of people who want me to understand just how wrong I am about Ron Gardenhire.
A little history: In 2008, I wrote a series of columns stating what I believe — that Ron Gardenhire is the best manager in baseball. This led more than a few people to believe that I was completely off my rocker and many of those people were Minnesota Twins fans who watched the man manage every single day and, as such, could recite hundreds and hundreds of reasons why Gardenhire was, in fact, a dreadful manager.
I think Ron Gardenhire is the best manager in baseball. I think that not based on what we see but what we can’t see. I base this not on what I think a manager should do but on success. I base this not on individual moves but on the basis that the Twins are there on top one more time.
That someone close to the Twins — he would know more about this than I do. And I respect his opinion. And he insists that the Twins win DESPITE Gardy not BECAUSE of Gardy. And you know what? It could be true.
But you know what else? They sure do keep on winning despite him. So if nothing else, Gardy is the best I’ve ever seen at minimizing the damage he can cause and keeping his own deficiencies from ruining the story. It’s a lesson all of us could probably learn.
You really should read the whole piece because Joe's really a good writer. But if you just don't have the time, here's the condensed version:
1. The Twins win almost every year.
2. Historically, they've had one of the lowest payrolls in their division.
4. Since July 10, the Twins have gone 43-16 and crushed their divisional foes.
If not Gardenhire, then who? Yes, the front office deserves a great deal of credit for constructing a roster that's good enough to win, almost every year. It's also true that every year -- or most years, anyway -- the Twins' roster is good enough in March that they figure as competitive for the division title, if not as outright favorites.
Still, I think the prudent position holds that much and perhaps most of what a manager does can simply not be quantified, because a huge part of his job is managing personalities rather than performances. A well-timed pat on the back (or a kick in the butt) might make a bigger difference than a well-timed pitching change.
Another prudent position: Managers make moves that don't make sense, based on the numbers we're looking at ... but we often don't have all the numbers.
If we did have absolute knowledge, Gardenhire might look better than we think.
But even if he wouldn't, it's a bit beyond me how anyone could argue with the results. Just because we can't precisely quantify why something is happening doesn't mean that it's not, in fact, happening.
Ron Gardenhire's probably your 2010 Manager of the Year. And with just one World Series win, he's probably heading for Cooperstown, too.