Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Accountability

Ron Gardenhire, on why he wants hitting coach Scotty Ullger back next year:


"Scotty's accountable. The offense didn't have a good year, and it's not from a lack of work, all of a sudden losing knowledge of how to teach guys to hit. That hasn't happened. Scotty's a very good hitting instructor. We've just had injuries. We've had young hitters come up, and we've had some of the veterans come up and have bad years.

"The whole unit didn't get it done. And you can throw that on the hitting instructor, but the same guy got it done for three years when we won championships. We got it done, and he's worked his tail off, so I'm not going to blame it on Scotty."

For the record, when Gardy says, "the same guy got it done for three years when we won championships," he is thinking of an offense that was 9th in the AL with 4.77 runs per game in 2002, 6th with 4.94 rpg in 2003, and 10th with 4.81 rpg in 2004.

You may remember spending the three years pining for just one hitter to build on the individual accomplishments of 2001-2 and become the big presence in the middle of the order which the team so desperately needed.

You may recall how one young player after another would tease us with a promising, apparent breakout season, only to hit a plateau or regress under our hitting coach's tutelage. You probably can name at least a few more top prospects who hit at every level of the minors only to disappoint us after arriving in Minnesota.

Of course you know Scotty Ullger is the guy who worked at it for 4+ seasons but couldn't unlock the potential in David Ortiz which came out within a few months of landing in Boston.

Now this offense is last in the American League with 4.20 rpg; it might not even score 700 runs for the season.

On what basis does the hitting coach deserve a break?

10 Comments:

At 9/28/2005 12:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think your critique of the organization needs to go higher and deeper than the hitting coach. The Twins have been a light hitting team for more than a decade. While you seem to be focused un Ulger and Gardenhire bashing, what about mixing in a little "hate" for Tom Kelly - who advocated the same hitting philosophy carried forward by Gardenhire, or Jim Rantz for not developing the right blend of minor league talent. Or how about throwing a little smack Terry Ryan's way for providing the current line-up?

The way you talk, I'd like to see you calling for a mass exodus in the front office in favor of a more sabermetric crew from top to bottom instead of swapping out the hitting coach.

Doesn't the manager report to the GM? Could it be the current GM and manager share the same philosophies and the whole kit and caboodle is rotten to the core, right up to the top of the crap-pile with that skinflint Pohlad?

Let's just blame Jim Souhan and call it a year.

 
At 9/28/2005 3:48 PM, Blogger amr said...

It's Souhan's Fault!

 
At 9/28/2005 5:17 PM, Blogger Fourth pew, center said...

Apparently on the basis of "Gardy sez so." I sure can't see any other.

 
At 9/28/2005 6:19 PM, Blogger frightwig said...

Anon, believe me, I'm not someone who pines for Tom Kelly. I never thought TK was God's Gift. Some of the imprint he's left on the Twins organization has not necessarily been for the better, I believe.

I hope that Terry Ryan will take a hard look at the whole organizational philosophy and his own job performance and ambitions over the past few years. I think he made poor use of his resources last winter and he set his sights too low. He's acted like a man content to win a weak division by focusing on building the best pitching staff he could afford, until the division caught up to him.

But I also think that he and the farm system delivered a team that's better than what Gardy and his staff got out of it this season, and maybe last season, too. This shouldn't be a .500 team. This offense shouldn't be dead last in the league. We shouldn't be seeing so many players come up and fail to progress. The solutions probably won't end with firing the hitting coach, but it would be a start in the right direction.

 
At 9/28/2005 7:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FW- I agree with most everything but the last two points. The grand experiment this year failed for many reasons and talent was one of those reasons. I don't think you can definitively say, for certain, we have the talent, outside of the pitching staff. Anyone pinning their hopes on the likes of Jason Kubel in combination with Morneau, Cuddyer and Bartlett getting past Cleveland in '06 is delusional.

If it's so apparent Gardenhire and co. didn't get the maximum out of this rag tag bunch, why wasn't Ryan critical at all of the coaching staff?

I would have liked to have seen what would have happened if they had stayed the course this with the original plan and not jerked around the kids, but I can understand why they panicked when the team's fortune was tied to a bunch of guys who looked like deer in the headlights. It didn't help that the White Sox were absurd in the 1st half. The Twins got caught in the middle and in the end pi--ed away a years' worth of above average pitching.

I don't see Ryan as a man who will blow up the machine - the same way Beane did in Oakland, but then again Oakland's not likely to make the playoff's this year either.

Also, I think the organization is just as committed to productive outs, moving runners station to station and all the "little things" you despise so much. You may be right, the statistics seem to support your theories, but the Twins management of today is not smoking off the same pipe. Changing the hitting coach isn't going to change the talent or the current game management philosophy.

 
At 9/29/2005 2:58 AM, Blogger frightwig said...

I hope that TR will make moves to upgrade the OF and find a 2B who can hit a bit, so we're not just hoping that Kubel/Morneau/Mauer/Cuddyer/Bartlett will do better next year. But I'm not ready to write off the young core, either. Remember that David Ortiz was consigned to the scrap heap after turning 27, having made 1,693 PA's in 455 games with the Twins. None of the 5 players I just mentioned, not even Cuddyer, are even close to matching that much experience or pool of data.

 
At 9/29/2005 7:48 AM, Blogger SBG said...

I'm sick and tired of hearing about Cuddyer's struggles. F@#%!

The team keeps pointing to him as a disappointment. Even now, when the string is being played out, he's out in right field some games, for Christ's sake! His OPS is only .002 lower than Jacque Jones! He has the best OPS on the team since the All-Star Break. He's hitting .273/.343/.456/.800 since May 1. The management of this team should have shown some confidence in this kid. Instead, they are looking for someone, anyone, to play 3B instead of him.

He probably doesn't like to play cards with the manager. Or go bowling with him.

 
At 9/29/2005 7:51 AM, Blogger SBG said...

If it's so apparent Gardenhire and co. didn't get the maximum out of this rag tag bunch, why wasn't Ryan critical at all of the coaching staff?

Perhaps behind closed doors (hopefully) he has different ideas. If so, he has more class than the manager who makes it almost a daily habit to rip one or more of his players in the paper.

 
At 9/29/2005 8:20 AM, Anonymous JustBeth said...

I'm good at taking the devil's advocate position.

I don't have stats in front of me, and haven't really looked at them, but I think the Twins in general don't sign the great hitters. Great pitchers are signed, and we get the lower-ranked hitters after we've picked our pitchers. I've seen abysmal win-loss records compared to ERA from the minor league Twins pitchers (y'know, like their counterparts that we see every day). I don't know that we can blame it all on Mr. Ullger. Somewhere, we have to realize that he doesn't start with much. (And, really, I'm fine with a team that's built on pitching and defense. I enjoy watching that.)

Right now, Ullger has a couple of kids in their first and second years in the majors. They're still learning to adjust to major league pitching, as major league pitching is learning to adjust to them.

And anyone who picks on Cuddyer will earn The Look from JustBeth. The kid's doing fine.

 
At 9/29/2005 1:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

SBG -

I don't buy that Ryan has more class than Gardenhire. I've heard plenty of Ryan's interviews on KFAN where he, without naming names, put the burden on the players.

To be fair, he will call out himself as someone who erred this year, but I don't buy for a second he's ripping Gardenhire or the other coaches behind the scenes. If that was the case, the mumbo jumbo line-ups and mass experimentation would have stopped. Ryan has said similar things in support of Ullger. Perhaps not as strongly as Gardenhire, but clear enough to indicate they don't think he's the main problem.

This is a group of mediocre hitters. I'd bet anyone is this forum a donut that they're not going to find the next Ortiz in this group. Short of Mauer I don't see any of these guys being demonstrably better over the long haul than Hunter or Jones and there's no way you're going to win the division, let alone the series with this level of talent.

 

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