User ID
Password
  Forgot User ID
or Register Today!
VegasInsider.com
Follow Us on Facebook Follow Us on Twitter Follow Us on Google+ VI Mobile Scores and Betting Odds
Home
NFL
NBA
NHL
MLB
NCAA FB
NCAA BK
Golf
Auto Racing
Horses
Soccer
More
Betting Tools

 
Last-place Twins shakeup Gardenhire's staff

New Sportsbook.ag customers: Make your 1st bet, get your 2nd bet free, 100%, winnings paid in cash.
Join Now

Already have an account? Click here to view new Exclusive Rewards!

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) - For decades the Minnesota Twins have been known as one of baseball's most patient and loyal franchises, sticking with managers, coaches and members of the front office in the belief that stability is a key to long-term success.

Advertisement
Two straight last-place finishes in a gorgeous new ballpark appear to have gone a long way toward changing that approach.

The Twins fired longtime bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third base coach Steve Liddle, first base coach Jerry White and head athletic trainer Rick McWane on Thursday while reassigning bench coach Scott Ullger and hitting coach Joe Vavra in a significant shake-up of manager Ron Gardenhire's staff.

Owner Jim Pohlad, President Dave St. Peter and GM Terry Ryan planned to address the changes at a news conference on Friday, but the message was delivered a day early. Gardenhire campaigned to keep his staff in place earlier in the week, but 195 losses in two seasons gave him little bargaining power.

``I have all the faith that they can do the job,'' Gardenhire said on Sunday. ``But some of these things aren't going to be left up to me. It's going to be left to ownership and Terry.''

Pitching coach Rick Anderson was the only coach on Gardenhire's tight-knit staff to retain the job he had. Ullger will oversee outfield instruction while Vavra, who joined the staff in 2006, will work with the infielders.

Changes to a manager's staff are commonplace in the big leagues, seemingly in every city outside of Minneapolis. Aside from Vavra, the entire coaching staff has been together since 2002, an incredible run of stability that presided over six AL Central championships, one run to the ALCS and the misery of the last two seasons.

Stelmaszek has been with the organization since 1978 and joined the Twins coaching staff in 1981, becoming a beloved figure in the clubhouse and notable prankster.

But the stability may have also played a role in the decision to shake things up, with the front office looking for some fresh voices in the clubhouse. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor, who has worked with the Twins minor league system for years, has expressed an interest in joining the staff, while Triple-A Rochester coaches Tom Brunansky, Bobby Cuellar and Gene Glynn have all been mentioned as possible replacements.

McWane's firing came as little surprise. He has been with the organization for 24 seasons and served as the head trainer for the previous eight years, but several former players have grumbled about what they perceived as substandard treatment and diagnosis of injuries in recent seasons.

It's the second straight offseason where the once-patient Pohlad family has made significant changes. Jim Pohlad fired GM Bill Smith after 99 losses in 2011 and replaced him with Ryan, the man credited with building the organization into an AL Central power.

The Twins finished this season 66-96, 22 games behind AL Central champ Detroit and the worst record in the league, and more changes could be on the way.

Ryan made it clear that most players outside of Joe Mauer, who has a no-trade clause in his contract, could be discussed in deals that would replenish the Twins' dilapidated starting rotation.

``When you lose 90-plus games two years in a row, there shouldn't be too many untouchables on the club,'' Ryan said. ``You've got to find a way to get better.''

Perhaps the most startling aspect of the 2012 season is how many things went right for them this season. Mauer and Justin Morneau stayed healthy for the entire season, with Mauer bouncing back from a nightmare 2011 to contend for another AL batting crown. Josh Willingham, Trevor Plouffe and Ryan Doumit delivered career seasons, Scott Diamond became a mainstay in the rotation and closer Glen Perkins and setup man Jared Burton gave Minnesota a formidable back end of the bullpen.

``That just stresses the importance of the rotation,'' Ryan said. ``We've had some guys that have had very good years. And unfortunately we're still losing 90-some games.''

The rotation was a disaster from opening day. Scott Baker was lost before the season began with Tommy John surgery, Carl Pavano battled injuries for most of the year and only pitched in 11 games, and Francisco Liriano was traded. Jason Marquis and Nick Blackburn were both designated for assignment after struggling and youngsters Sam Deduno, Cole De Vries, Liam Hendriks and P.J. Walters vacillated between mediocre and ineffective.

``Of course, you'd love to be able to keep all your players and get starting pitching, but that's really almost impossible,'' Gardenhire said. ``There aren't that many free agents out there that are going to be able to step in and do what we want them to do, and that's fill out the first few spots of our starting rotation.''

For what it's worth, Morneau wants to stick around and thinks the team is a lot closer to returning to relevance than some may think.

``There's been a lot of positives you can look at,'' Morneau said. ``I don't feel like we're that far off. We dug ourselves such a big hole at the start that we were running uphill the whole way. When you're playing catch-up it eventually wears on you.''

---

Follow Jon Krawczynski on Twitter: http://twitter.com/APkrawczynski

AP NEWS
The Associated Press News Service

Copyright 2014
The Associated Press
All Rights Reserved

  
HEADLINES
Akins: Diamond Trends - Saturday
Lawrence: July Pitchers Report
Abreu hits 29th HR, Chisox beat Tribe
Castro leads Astros over Boston 3-2
Diamondbacks blank Giants, 5-0
Rays hammer Blue Jays, 'over' cashes
Mets rally past Marlins, 5-4
Twins rock Rockies early and often
Braves rip Cubs 11-6 behind Johnson
MORE HEADLINES
 
Why Buy Picks From VegasInsider.com
MLB Pro Baseball Handicapper Sports Picks Records
MLB Hot Streaks
6-1 Y'day, 10-2 G-Plays, +7,615 TY
3-1 +257 Y'day, 24-9 +1,584 L33
9-4 L5 Days, 15-6 +930 L21
13-5 L18, 34-14 L48, +2,502 TY
+2,304 This Season
5-2, +383 Last 7 Selections
3-0 +345 L3 G-Plays, +2,156 TY
5-1 Last 6 Selections
7-3, +415 L10 Guarantees
5-2, +436 L7 MLB Streak
18-10, +936 L28, +1,804 TY
4-1 Yesterday, 19-8 L27 Totals
MLB Pro Baseball Expert Sports Picks - Antony Dinero
2014 MLB SEASON PICK RECORDS
Money Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 7615
Matt Zylbert + 2502
The Gold Sheet + 2304
Underdog Leaders
Handicapper Money
Bruce Marshall + 3067
James Manos + 2522
Dave Cokin + 1877
Over-Under Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 2594
Matt Zylbert + 2502
Tony Stoffo + 729
Guaranteed Leaders
Handicapper Money
Dave Cokin + 1317
ASA + 1074
Doc's Sports + 568
Favorite Leaders
Handicapper Money
Antony Dinero + 3294
Mike Rose + 1530
Doc's Sports + 1310
Member Leaders
Handicapper Money
Mike Rose + 1618
Bruce Marshall + 1603
The Gold Sheet + 1139
MORE PICK RECORDS
  
corner graphic
With a VI Gold Membership, you can SAVE 10% off a Live Odds subscription, SAVE 20% off Daily Pick packages, and receive access to up to 1,000 Member Plays each month!