Storylines: Longtime Twins manager Gardenhire fired
In this MLB News and Notes segment, I will be giving occasional reports on the latest news and rumors throughout the MLB. I also will try to tweet news and rumors as I see them, so feel free to follow me on Twitter: @AndrewIBI.
Here are the stories from Monday, Sept. 29.
- The Twins fired longtime manager Ron Gardenhire, the team announced. The 2010 AL Manager of the Year will be replaced following four straight seasons of 90+ losses, and the Twins will immediately begin looking for Gardenhire's replacement. Gardenhire has been offered a different position within the organization, GM Terry Ryan said at yesterday's press conference, while Gardenhire said that he hasn't decided whether or not he would have interest. La Velle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune reported that the "entire coaching staff is not being brought back," though he did note that because the new manager will get to choose his staff, some of the current coaches could find their way onto next year's staff. Presumably, that would happen if the Twins were to hire an internal candidate such as Paul Molitor or Terry Steinbach, both of whom were coaches on this year's staff.
- The Astros officially announced A.J. Hinch as their new manager. Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle first reported that A.J. Hinch was close to becoming the Astros' manager. Hinch, 40, served as the Diamondbacks' manager for parts of the 2009-10 seasons, leading the team to an 89-123 record after being hired despite his young age (34 at the time) and the fact that he hadn't managed at any previous level. More recently, Hinch has served as the vice president of professional scouting for the Padres — a position he left earlier this summer. Hinch was one of three men, along with assistant GMs Omar Minaya and Fred Uhlman Jr., to fill in making baseball operations decisions for the Padres following the dismissal of GM Josh Byrnes earlier this year. A Stanford graduate, Hinch has been called a "numbers guy" by some, so the match with the analytics-driven Astros isn't a total surprise.
- Indians slugger Jason Giambi isn't thinking about whether or not he'll play in 2015, for now just focusing on spending time with his family in the offseason, MLB.com's Jordan Bastian wrote. Giambi will turn 44 in January and has played an even 20 seasons in the majors. If he does hang up his cleats, it seems likely that a coaching job awaits Giambi, quite possibly with the Tribe; the slugger said in April 2013 that he'd already turned down several coaching offers in order to keep playing for as long as he could.
News and Notes:
- Paul Konerko's 18-year career officially ended yesterday, as he left the field for a defensive replacement before the sixth inning and received a lengthy ovation from the fans at U.S. Cellular Field. Konerko retires with a career .279/.354/.486 slash line, 439 homers, a 2005 World Series ring and an ALCS MVP Award from that same championship season. ESPN's Jayson Stark noted that Konerko's career path is unique in baseball history, as he spent his first two seasons in brief stints with the Dodgers and Reds before spending his final 16 years with the White Sox.
- Rick Hahn thinks the White Sox can contend in 2015, the general manager told reporters (including CSN Chicago's Dan Hayes). The central goal is to keep adding to the team's core, Hahn said, though extra payroll space will make an expensive short-term contract possible if the team feels such a deal will help put them over the top. "I think we are pleased with a lot of the progress we've made in the last 15 months, but we're by no means, first satisfied, nor operating under the belief that we're by any means finished, in terms of assembling a core and a unit that can contend on annual basis," Hahn said.
- When asked if he'd return to the Yankees in 2015, Ichiro Suzuki told reporters (including NJ.com's Brendan Kuty) via an interpreter, "That might be a question you shouldn't ask right now." Suzuki said he intends to continue his career, though other comments hinting at some clubhouse drama seem to imply that his time in the pinstripes could be over. "Obviously there's a lot of things that go on that the fans and the media can't see, that goes on inside (the club)," Suzuki said. "But what I can say is that the experiences I had this year, those experiences are going to help me in the future. It'll be somewhat of a support for me because of the experiences I had this year."
- Rickie Weeks doesn't think that he'll be back with the Brewers next season, he told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel. Weeks, who has an $11.5 million club option that won't be exercised, didn't request a final appearance with the team in the season's last game. "I told the manager if the time permitted itself during the game to put me out there, OK. If not, so be it," he said. "Life still goes on. It's not like this is the end of all (things). I'm the type of person that I move on. That's the way it is. I don't think I'm going to be here next year. It's just for me to go out there and move forward with my life."
- Francisco Rodriguez also spoke to Haudricourt about his future, and unlike Weeks, who seems resigned to being elsewhere, K-Rod hopes to return to the Brewers in 2015. "I definitely know where I want to be," he said. "I want to be here. But it is not my decision." As Haudricourt pointed out, Milwaukee's trade for Jonathan Broxton and his $9 million salary next season could give Broxton the inside track for the closer's gig and push K-Rod out of the picture. The team additionally saw a breakout performance from Jeremy Jeffress and expects to have Jim Henderson returning to health.
- While the Yankees will keep an eye on free agents Jon Lester, Max Scherzer and James Shields, "the early industry vibe is the Yankees aren't going to spend big money this winter," George A. King III of the New York Post reported. It makes sense that the Yankees would take a step back after spending over $550 million on player salaries last offseason, though by the Yankees' standards, what they consider "not big money" could still result in a significant cash outlay.
- Also from King, free agent shortstop J.J. Hardy is "the early favorite" to take over the shortstop job in the Bronx next season. Hardy will draw a lot of attention on the open market, though there's also a chance he could stay in Baltimore — MASNsports.com's Steve Melewski made the point in August that the O's could see Hardy as a long-term answer at shortstop if Manny Machado's injuries prevent him from eventually switching positions.
- The Mariners re-instated Jesus Montero to their 40-man roster and designated pending free agent Corey Hart for assignment in order to make room, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. Because Hart is a pending free agent, the move was a largely procedural one; he'd have been off the team's 40-man roster following the postseason anyway and wasn't a candidate for a qualifying offer base on a down season. The former Brewer batted just .203/.271/.319 in his lone season with the Mariners — a clear disappointment for a team that was undoubtedly hoping to have secured something closer to the .279/.343/.514 batting line he posted from 2010-12 in Milwaukee.
- The Reds are prepared to "undergo an overhaul" to their front office, Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan reported. Several changes are coming to the organization, the first of which is vice president and assistant GM Bob Miller leaving the team. Miller's departure seems to be an amicable one, as FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal reported that Miller is leaving to start his own business. Miller, who has been working in baseball for over 30 years, originally joined the Reds in 2006 as the director of baseball administration and was promoted to VP and assistant GM later in the year. Whatever changes are coming to Cincinnati's front office, they won't involve the man in charge, Walt Jocketty. The general manager just signed a two-year extension to continue running the club through the 2016 season.
- The Yankees outrighted southpaw Josh Outman off the 40-man roster, Brendan Kuty of NJ.com reported. Outman was designated for assignment last week. The left-hander posted a 2.86 ERA and 8.3 K/9 over 28 1/3 IP with Cleveland and New York this season, though he battled control issues, walking 16 batters in those 28 1/3 innings. Outman has a 4.43 ERA over 274 1/3 career innings during six Major League seasons with the Yankees, Indians, Rockies and A's. With Outman's situation now resolved, that leaves the Orioles' Preston Guilmet as the only player currently in "DFA limbo," according to MLB Trade Rumors.
The Twins organization had problems, but Gardenhire wasn't one of them.