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GARDENHIRE TWINS 10TH MAN ON THE FIELD

He gets thrown out more than an obnoxious drunk at a strip club who runs out of dollar bills. His bowling score is almost higher than his best hitter’s batting average. He looks like an average guy next door who you’d like to go out with for a beer

And he is one of the best managers in baseball.

Ron Gardenhire, the Twins’ manager since 2002, was signed to a new two-year deal last November that will take him through the first year of the new Twins’ ballpark. Arguably, that has been the biggest and most important Twins signing of the ’08-’09 off season.

In his seven seasons as manager, Gardenhire has taken his team to the AL Central Division championship four times and has posted a winning record in six of those seven seasons. In 2008, Gardy finished second in the voting for manager of the year, beaten out only by the incredible year Joe Maddon had for the Tampa Rays.

With a record of 622-512 (.549), Gardenhire has the second –highest winning percentage of any Twins manager except Tom Kelly. Since 2002, Gardy possesses the fifth most wins among a list of current managers that that reads like a modern-day Who’s Who. The list, from first to fifth, includes Joe Torre at 675 wins, Mike Scioscia with 646, Tony LaRussa at 634 and Bobby Cox with 623. That’s pretty impressive company, and every one of those managers has had a bigger payroll and more talent to work with.

Gardy keeps his team loose with a quirky combination of pranks and goofy antics, mixed with the ability to lay down the law to a player when it’s needed. He’s known as a player’s manager, instilling confidence in rookies and re-building the careers or veterans.

More importantly, he has a keen understanding of the game and its strategy, uses excellent judgment and has the ability to shrewdly place talent in a position to succeed. Whatever the reason, Gardenhire has the innate ability to get veterans and youngsters to play together. That’s promises to be just what the Twins need this season to get the most from a patchwork bullpen, greenhorn outfield and leaky, punchless infield.

So take note R.A. Dickey and Nick Punto. Your signings were not the big news for the coming season. The chunky guy who kicks dirt on the shoes of umpires was. And he’s the one who may give the Twins their best hope for success in ’09.

Twins Blog Writer: Rick Jourdan
Make sure to catch Rick's article every Monday on Twinsmix.com!

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