Twins likely to give Ron Gardenhire a contract extension

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I co-hosted the postgame call-in show on 1500-ESPN here in Minnesota following the Twins’ season-ending loss to the Yankees on Saturday night and many of the callers wanted Ron Gardenhire fired, but not surprisingly the manager is in absolutely no danger of actually being let go.
Gardenhire is under contract through next season and Twins chief executive officer Jim Pohlad wasted no time saying that he’ll soon receive a contract extension that goes beyond 2011, calling it “a no-brainer.”
In nine seasons under Gardenhire the Twins are 18-57 against the Yankees, including nine straight losses to New York in the playoffs. However, he’s also managed the Twins to six division titles in nine years after the team had one winning season in the nine years before he took over for Tom Kelly and there’s a pretty good chance Gardenhire will be named Manager of the Year shortly.
I’ve been blogging about the Twins since 2002 and during that time I’ve often been accused of being overly critical of Gardenhire, in part because many of his lineup decisions and in-game strategies annoy me and in part because I think his regular season success has been somewhat overstated by virtue of playing in a weak division. On the other hand, I’ve never even come close to calling for him to be fired and certainly wouldn’t do so now.
Being dominated by the Yankees is extremely frustrating, but at no point were the Twins favored in those playoff series. Beyond that, the lack of success the Twins had during the decade before Gardenhire was infinitely more frustrating and there are probably 20 teams that would jump at the chance to go three-and-out in the playoffs in two of every three seasons. I’m far from the world’s biggest Gardenhire fan, but Pohlad is absolutely right when he says that keeping the manager around is a “no-brainer” for the Twins.

Dodgers activate Adrian Gonzalez

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The Dodgers have reinstated first baseman Adrian Gonzalez from the 60-day disabled list after his recovery from a herniated disc. To make room for him they have optioned Rob Segedin to Triple-A Oklahoma City.

Gonzalez last played on June 11. Since then the Dodgers have gone an astounding 46-9, with shoe-in rookie of the year candidate Cody Bellinger handling first base duties and posting a .978 OPS. When Gonzalez went down he was hitting .255/.304/.339 and only one homer in 49 games.

It’ll be interesting to see what kind of playing time he gets going forward. The Dodgers, of course, have a comfortable lead in the NL West, so they could afford to allow Gonzalez to play a good bit to see if his bat sharpens up while simultaneously giving Bellinger, who has never played more than 137 games in a season, a bit of a breather. Beyond that, though, the Dodgers ain’t broke, so it’s hard to see why anyone would want to tinker with things.

Rays activate Kevin Kiermaier

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The Tampa Bay Rays have activated outfielder Kevin Kiermaier from the 60-day disabled list.

Kiermaier, who fractured his hip in early June, is batting leadoff and playing center field in tonight’s game against the Mariners. He was just 3-for-24 on his rehab assignment, but those aren’t usually predictive of anything. He was hitting .258/.329/.408 when he went down. Getting his bat — and, more importantly, his glove — back in the lineup will boost the struggling Rays in their quest for a playoff spot.