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Twins owner: GM and manager are safe, payroll may drop

Oct 3, 2011, 11:51 AM EDT

jim pohlad

During a lengthy interview with LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune Twins owner Jim Pohlad predictably confirmed that manager Ron Gardenhire and general manager Bill Smithwill be back in 2012, saying: “We’re not a knee-jerk organization.”

When asked about holding people accountable following a 63-99 season that ranks as one of the worst years in Twins history, Pohlad cited “the perfect storm of injuries and players not performing”:

We need to address how can we keep the players healthy. We need to address how can we encourage the players during the offseason to get to a point where they’re going to play up to their capabilities. I’m not saying that the medical staff or the training staff has done anything wrong. I’m just saying let’s look at the injuries and see how they can be prevented in the future.

Pohlad told Neal that the Twins “are very pleased with the job [Gardenhire] has done” under “very difficult conditions.” He stopped short of praising Smith, saying instead that “he also has had a very tough situation” and then citing his 15 years in the organization. Neal brought up Smith saying he’s more administrator than talent evaluator and asked if he’s “the right man to turn things around.” Pohlad initially replied with “what’s Billy’s title?” and then said:

General manager, so he’s in charge of managing the baseball operation. I mean those are his words, like you said. I don’t remember reading that, but if those are his words that’s really his job, to manage the baseball department. We don’t look to Billy solely–I don’t know if any organization does, maybe they do at some place–we don’t look solely at him as the premier judge of talent. He has a whole bunch of people that he gets input from on the judgment of talent.

Not exactly a ringing endorsement of Smith, but Pohlad is absolutely right that the Twins’ front office decision-making involves a lot more voices than just the general manager. When asked how much money Smith and the front office will have available this offseason, Pohlad indicated that the payroll “is going to come down naturally because it exceeded where we wanted it” for this season “but it’s not going to be slashed.”

For a team that just spent $113 million to lose 99 games and is heading into Year 3 of a new ballpark that was supposed to allow a sustained, significant payroll increase the idea of cutting payroll isn’t what Twins fans want to hear.

  1. bigleagues - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:10 PM

    Does MLB have any provisions for trading billionaire owners?

    Hey Twins fans:

    Henry for Pohlad, straight up. Whatya say? Let’s get this deal done.

    • kopy - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:24 PM

      Deal.

      Pohlad is richer, but he runs the team too much like a business, and not like a luxury toy. Owners shouldn’t buy teams to make money, they should buy them because they’re already freakin’ rich and they have nothing else to spend the money on, and they want to win a pissing contest. Even though the Twins have now passed onto the sons, I stopped being a Pohlad supporter when he offered to have the Twins contracted 10 short years ago.

      • ThatGuy - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:36 PM

        Pohlad is not richer. Carl Pohlad was richer, but when he died his assets got divided between three sons. Jim did inherit the “ownership” title of the Twins, but didn’t get all the billions. Probably got less because he got the franchise.

      • kopy - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:41 PM

        Then I really would trade for Henry. I don’t know of another plus for the Pohlads other then they are from the area and therefore less likely to move the team away a la Norm Green.

      • bigleagues - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:26 PM

        Oh yeah. Forgot that Carl is deceased.

        No deal.

        I’m gonna go back to lobbying the CEO’s office (“Commissioner”) to install John Henry as the owner of the Dodgers and grant ownership of the Red Sox to Mark Cuban.

  2. paperlions - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    While it may not be what Twins fans want to hear….it is probably exactly what they expected to hear. The Twins have always been run as a business, with the goal of being good enough to keep fans spending money, but with no real intent on being an elite club (unless they just luck into it on the cheap).

    The new stadium will make the Pohlad family a lot of money, it will not make the twins more competitive because that has always been up to the owners…not a function of the stadium.

    • kopy - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:26 PM

      Yup.

  3. thegonz13 - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:22 PM

    A vote of confidence usually means you will get fired soon!

  4. Ben - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:25 PM

    As a huge Twins fan, the Twins need to take note of the Pirates and Indians. Losing teams in new ballparks with expensive tickets tend to spiral downwards. There’s already a lot of talk of season ticket sales imploding.

    • meteor32 - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:31 PM

      As someone on the waitlist, I look forward to it.

  5. sacharisma - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Yankees: Fire 5-time champion manager after playoff loss
    Red Sox: Part ways with curse-breaking, 2-time champion manager, GM may be on his way out after a 90 win season in baseball’s toughest division even with freak injuries.

    Twins: Lose 99 games, have obvious, glaring flaws in their organization and process, declare they’re keeping everyone.

    • paperlions - Oct 3, 2011 at 12:43 PM

      Twins: Realize that managers have a limited ability to effect positive outcomes on games and that player talent, far more than anything, leads to winning games (even if they aren’t willing to spend money on those players), and keep their manager because he is good at putting his players in a position to succeed

      Yankees: Let go manager who watched 5 uber-talented teams win championships because he wanted too much money and the Yankees realize that player talent, farm more than anything else, leads to winning games and they spend money on the rare resource (players) not the fungible resource (managers).

      Red Sox: Manager decided enough was enough and he wanted out, which the Red Sox respected because they realize that player talent, more than anything else, leads to winning games, etc. etc.

    • aaronmoreno - Oct 3, 2011 at 2:09 PM

      The Twins are right to take a step back and not flip out like they do is Boston, but wrong to stand pat and change nothing. Which is what they will do.

  6. Chipmaker - Oct 3, 2011 at 1:50 PM

    Sticking to his personal policy, Neal neglected any mention of Twins pitching in his article, since pitchers are never very valuable.

  7. clydeserra - Oct 3, 2011 at 3:36 PM

    Payroll will drop because they won’t pick up Nathan’s option. But then they will have $37M tied up in two player that played 150 games this year.

  8. royalsfaninfargo - Oct 3, 2011 at 6:15 PM

    Gardy is a good manager and should get the benefit of the doubt, but the Twins minor league system has taken a step backward in recent years and that is the GM’s fault. They proved this year that just because you spend a lot of money doesnt mean you win a lot of games.

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