Fire Gardy

Mismanaging games since 2002

Mijares and the Adventure in Venezuela

This morning FunBobby alerted me to the Mijares situation, and it was the first I’d heard of it. My initial reaction was to take a bit of  a wait-and-see approach before jumping to any conclusions about what it means:

I’m worried about this news about Mijares, but I don’t think the Dominican league is all that important and I don’t want to jump to conclusions. It’s possible that he had a disagreement with the manager, who may have wanted to increase/decrease his role against his will, and he didn’t want to endanger his actual major league career for the sake of his Dominican team. It’s also possible that he had a Silva-walking-off-the-mound moment and will get his head straight again. Again, no need to panic, but I certainly hope he talks to the Twins about this and gets everything straightened out.
Given that there’s now an update on the situation, now might be time for a little bit of further analysis here. Essentially what happened is that Mijares was looking great, then in a brief period of days he alternated between good and bad games with little rest in between, and in his second bad game he faced 4 batters without recording an out (obviously terrible) and ended up blowing a 3-0 lead and losing the game.
From there, the details are fuzzy. Depends on who you talk to, Twins officials say. But Mijares had a feud with Aragua manager Buddy Bailey, a no-nonsense skipper who has butted heads with players in the past.
A no-nonsense skipper who has butted heads with players in the past? It sure doesn’t sound like our friend Gardy, who’s an emotional player’s manager and likes to be everyone’s friend. So I don’t know if Mijares’ inability to get along with this no-nonsense jerk of a coach named Buddy Bailey who happens to have no connection whatsoever to the Twins really indicates that we’re going to have a problem with his attitude. This sounds like a disagreement that could have been resolved by a little humility from the manager and a willingness to talk to the player. Since Bailey doesn’t have to deal with Mijares for a whole season (or more), he doesn’t need to make that investment in a young player.

That said, however, Gardy does have some quirks that effect his ability to show humility and willingness to get over issues with players. He seems to particularly hate players who have the poisonous combination of youth and talent; if you have just one of them, he likes you okay … but if you have neither, you’re his new best friend. Rondell White? Garrett Jones? Lew Ford? Luis Rodriguez? Jason Tyner? Nick Punto? These are names that bring a little bit of bile to the back of my throat, but that Gardy has in the past written into the lineup like it’s his favoriate pastime. Since Mijares is young and talented, Gardy may want to give him the Alexi Casilla treatment — ie, jerk him around and sit his ass on the bench until he gets sent down, and who cares if that hurts the team I’m making a point!

If this event is an indication of Mijares’ general attitude, that treatment from Gardy will probably result in the same outcome, which is what we don’t want.

Want a bit of hope?

Mijares, 24, has struggled with his weight in the past.
Ooh, goody. Gardy loves him a fat Mexican*! So maybe we’re safe after all.

By “Mexican” I mean “Hispanic,” but “fat Hispanic guy” doesn’t have that same poetic feel to it. Thanks for your understanding, everyone.

Gardy hasn’t reacted to this yet, so I’ll get back with something when/if he ever does. But Bill Smith is doing what he can to lose his “Wild” prefix, and is spewing some boilerplate for public consumption.

“We’re happy he pitched winter ball; he had a good regular season,” Twins General Manager Bill Smith said.
Really Bill? You mean you didn’t want him to sit on his ass eating burritos all winter? And yes, he had a good regular season. Thank you. An 0.87 ERA is, you know, good.
As for walking out on the Aragua team, Smith said, “I’m not sure [Mijares] handled it as well as anyone would have liked.”
Ah. Yes, thanks. Obviously, walking out on the team and then getting thrown off it isn’t the best way to handle yourself. It’s a good thing we have a GM to clear this stuff up for us.

Then Smith was asked if Mijares is a lock to make the Twins’ Opening Day roster.

“No he’s not,” he said. “If he comes to camp thinking he’s a lock for our bullpen, he’ll probably be in [Class AAA] Rochester after our first cuts. If he pitches the way he did in September, he has a good chance of making our club.”
You mean a young player with 10 games of major league experience isn’t guaranteed a spot on the roster? Weird, I thought 10 good games was all you needed to get into the Hall of Fame. What, it was years? 10 good years? Oh, never mind then.

But I certainly hope that Mijares goes down with the “first cuts” just because of an incident in Venezuela involving the bruised ego of some nobody of a manager, name of Buddy Bailey. Why the shit should we care about Buddy Bailey?

Everybody just relax and evaluate him based on his ability to get people out, and his ability to bounce back from a bad outing under the tutelage of Gardy and Anderson. Not based on the opinion of Buddy Bailey.


8 Comments so far

  1. Erica January 30th, 2009 1:14 pm

    If Gardy treats Mijares like Casilla and it gets the same result (given this scenario, Mijares will come up in 2010, become a fixture of the roster immediately, and help the team contend for a division title), I’m okay with it.

  2. sirsean January 30th, 2009 1:22 pm

    By “same outcome,” I meant the one that is currently happening — Mijares freaking out and walking out on the team.

    And Casilla should have been contributing more significantly earlier; if only Gardy hadn’t treated him worse than other, older, less talented players.

  3. Erica January 30th, 2009 2:40 pm

    I can’t really argue about Casilla’s situation in ‘07 because I wasn’t able to follow the games closely that year (so glad I got the MLB package last season). What do you mean by “treating him worse?” Giving him less playing time or being unfriendly, or what? I seem to recall lots of lousy defense from Casilla during his time with the Twins, and that may have influenced Gardy’s decision about playing time.

    Gardy doesn’t have to prove himself to the rookies- they have to prove themselves to him. There should be no sense of entitlement from ANY rookie, no matter how good they are.

  4. sirsean January 30th, 2009 2:44 pm

    There was an incident involving an alarm clock that Gardy did not forgive Casilla for, and Gardy repeatedly benched Casilla after both good and bad performances. All players agree that it’s impossible to play well when you’re constantly looking over your shoulder worrying about your playing time should you make a mistake; Cuddyer didn’t meet his offensive or defensive promise until Gardy finally decided to give him a position, make him a starter, and leave him alone. At that point, he could relax and play.

    Casilla didn’t get that chance until 2008, and he should have gotten it a year earlier. This is one of my recurring problems with Gardenhire as a manager.

  5. Erica January 30th, 2009 3:27 pm

    I see your point- but in both cases, Cuddyer and Casilla DID eventually become good major-league players. Maybe they simply needed more time. Both switched positions, and I wonder if that was a factor (in Cuddy’s case, a BIG factor). I just don’t feel too outraged when an absolute rookie isn’t given significant trust or playing time during their first year. It’s reasonable to expect them to earn it. Casilla certainly didn’t light the world on fire when he came up in ‘07, and maybe getting a dose of reality with the club helped him when he came up again last year.

  6. FunBobby January 30th, 2009 3:52 pm

    I don’t think the position switch for Cuddyer was the driving force, it was the confidence. He knew right field was his, when he was at third he was constantly moving around and being benched. Another thing to consider is he was given a static spot in the lineup. Prior to 2006 when he was the everyday RF and 4th hitter, he was not only moving around the field on defense, but moving around in the order. Stability and routine is key with people as supersitious as baseball players.

  7. sirsean January 30th, 2009 3:53 pm

    I think you’re missing the gap between “not being actively jerked around” and “given significant trust.”

    Example: In 2007, Gardy refused to skip Ramon Ortiz in the rotation, because he didn’t want to mess with his head; it was better, he thought, to keep Ortiz on his schedule no matter what. Consequently, he repeatedly skipped Baker’s spot in the rotation despite the fact that he was a rookie and by definition less able to deal with getting off his schedule like that — AND his ERA was about twice as high when he had a longer than normal rest between starts, AND when he was on normal rest his ERA was better than Ortiz’s.

    This is what Gardy does — coddle mediocre veterans while actively setting up younger players to fail. I’m not saying a young player should just be given a starting spot no matter what, but they should be given a reasonable chance to succeed.

  8. sirsean January 30th, 2009 3:55 pm

    FunBobby: True.

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