The first nine years of the Ron Gardenhire Managing Era were glorious ones in Minnesota, an extended honeymoon. The Twins won six AL Central division titles between 2002-2010, with only one losing record (a reasonable 79-83) thrown into the mix. Playoff success was elusive for Gardenhire’s Gang – the Twins collected just one playoff series victory in the 2000s – but it’s hard to quibble with a team cranking out October appearances on a modest budget. Throw in a snappy new ballpark and the Twins were one of baseball’s small-market success stories.
And then, without any warning, the wave broke. And now the Twins are just another team stuck in the doldrums, trying to figure out how to fix things and return to contention.
Minnesota has owned the basement of the AL Central for two years running, and it’s hard to see this team making a strong playoff push in 2013. Injuries were the main component to 2011′s collapse, while last year’s team was sunk mostly by a lack of talent (though a patchwork pitching staff also held the club at bay). There haven’t been sweeping changes or upgrades. Even the most optimistic fan from the Twin Cities probably has to concede it’s going to take a while to fix the broken foundation.
Crank up your favorite Replacements record and let’s try to sort this all out.
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