Ron Gardenhire is having a pretty good week.
Yesterday he was named American League Manager of the Year after finishing runner-up for the award five times in the previous eight seasons and Joe Christensen of the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that the Twins will soon announce a two-year contract extension for Gardenhire.
According to Christensen the Twins’ entire coaching staff has agreed to two-year contracts, while Gardenhire’s new deal will keep him in Minnesota through 2013.
Gardenhire has had little success in the playoffs, going 6-21 with 12 consecutive losses that includes three straight first-round sweeps at the Yankees’ hands, but he’s won six division titles in nine years after the Twins had just one winning season in the nine years before he took the job.
Overall he’s 803-656, which is good for a .550 winning percentage that ranks 23rd all time among managers with at least 1,000 games.
Ron Gardenhire finished runner-up for Manager of the Year in five of his first eight seasons as the Twins’ skipper, including each of the past two seasons. Today he finally claimed the award for the first time, receiving 16 of 28 first-place votes to top Ron Washington of the Rangers and Joe Maddon of the Rays.
Gardenhire led the Twins to their sixth AL Central title in nine seasons, winning 94 games despite losing closer Joe Nathan to Tommy John surgery in spring training and cleanup hitter Justin Morneau to a concussion in July.
He was the only manager named on all 28 ballots cast by Baseball Writers Association of America members. Washington received 10 first-place votes, while Maddon and Cito Gaston received one apiece. Voting was conducted at the end of the regular season, so the Twins being swept by the Yankees in the first round and the Rangers advancing to the World Series were not factors.
I’m far from the world’s biggest Gardenhire fan, but the notion that he could be deemed the second-best manager in the league five times in eight seasons without ever actually winning the award always struck me as fairly absurd and perhaps more than anything reinforced the idea that there’s really no clear, established criteria for picking a winner.
Did he do a better job than Washington or Maddon or Gaston or Francona? I don’t think anyone really knows the answer to that, but Gardenhire won 94 games minus two of his stars and certainly deserved the award as much as anyone this season. Mostly, though, it’s a tough award to really argue about objectively.
Clint Hurdle has clearly been atop the Pirates’ manager wish list all offseason, but the Mets expressing interest in the former Rockies skipper threatened to ruin Pittsburgh’s plans.
However, according to Jon Heyman of SI.com the Pirates have agreed to a contract with Hurdle, who’ll replace John Russell as manager of a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 1992.
Hurdle served as the Rangers’ hitting coach this season, so the Pirates put their manager search on hold until the World Series was over and they could interview him. He took the Rockies to the World Series in 2007, but had a 534-625 (.461) overall record that included just one winning season in eight years.
Now that Hurdle is officially out of the mix, the Mets are reportedly deciding between Terry Collins and Bob Melvin as their next manager.
Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com reports that “Terry Collins, Clint Hurdle, and Bob Melvin have emerged as leading candidates in the Mets’ search for a manager.”
However, new general manager Sandy Alderson apparently hasn’t officially trimmed his list to three names, as Rubin adds that “a potential fourth candidate for a callback is current third base coach Chip Hale” and “one potential additional interviewee is ex-Met Jose Oquendo.”
In other words, they probably still aren’t very close to deciding on a new manager. It does suggest that DeMarlo Hale, Dave Jauss, Don Wakamatsu, and Wally Backman are no longer serious candidates for the job.
Shortly after the World Series ended Rangers general manager Jon Daniels announced that signing manager Ron Washington to a new contract was the team’s first offseason priority and sure enough the two sides agreed to a deal today.
Washington gets a two-year contract after leading the Rangers to their first playoff appearance since 1999 and first World Series in franchise history.
He has a 331-317 overall record since taking over for Buck Showalter in 2007, improving the team’s win total in each of the past three years.
Washington drew criticism for his in-game tactics at various points in the playoffs, but Rangers players have constantly praised his enthusiastic demeanor and loose clubhouse. No word yet on if ‘Lil Wash also gets a contract extension.