Friday, October 26, 2012

Reaction to Twins New Coaches

Reaction to Twins New Coaches

Today the Minnesota Twins announced they have filled their three coaching vacancies.  This is a subject that hits home because it has to do with a former coach and friend of mine.  

The Twins hired Terry Steinbach to take over as bench coach on Ron Gardenhire’s on-field staff.  This is Steinbach’s first experience as a professional coach but after knowing Terry for many years, this is a great hire for the Twins.

I spoke with Steiny in the spring of 2012 shortly before he was set to report for spring training where he used to be a guest catching instructor.  He told me about how Tom Kelly every year hinted to him that he would make a good professional coach.  Kelly might have finally gotten to him because he is sacrificing time he could be watching his sons play at the University of Minnesota-Duluth.  

Prior to this, Steiny, who received Hall of Fame votes, was coaching at Wayzata High School (Plymouth, MN) as the assistant-varsity coach.  Though this is nowhere near the level of Major League Baseball, I know how committed he will be to turning the Twins around.  While coaching 15-18 year olds, he put in more preparation to ensure our team victory than any of us had seen before.

Another reason to believe there is success in Steinbach and the Twins future is that he was a long-time MLB catcher and he was a part of some great teams with his time in Oakland.  

In 1989 remember he was on an Oakland A’s team that won the World Series.  The team featured sluggers like Mark McGwire and Ricky Henderson and hurlers Dave Stewart and Dennis Eckersley.  Within a few years, the Twins could be in contention and surrounding current players around winners, can change the mentality in the clubhouse and on the field.

What I think will be most interesting, is how Steiny will handle duties when Gardenhire gets ejected from games.  This is no comparison but in high school, Terry was big on playing small ball which somewhat fits Gardy’s style.  Granted when a guy like Justin Morneau is up to bat, he won’t have him lay one down but when a guy such as Chris Parmelee is up late in a game with a runner on first and less than two outs, would Steiny give him the bunt or let him swing away?

As the bench coach, Steinbach’s tasks will vary but generally bench coaches consult with the manager throughout a game depending on the situation.  He can position the infielders or outfielders for a particular hitter or determine whether he thinks, on offense, if the team can take advantage in the running game if the opposing pitcher is too slow to the plate.

These are questions which won’t be solved until the regular season roles around but all-in-all, I think the Twins have found a gem.  

Story time: After knowing Steiny for most of my baseball career, I have heard some of the best baseball stories.  This one though, gives me confidence that he will do all in his power to win baseball games for Minnesota.  

During my sophomore year of high school, the spring break baseball trip was to St. Louis and the Cardinals were days away from opening the brand-new Busch Stadium.  

Because of Terry’s connections, he got us a tour of the field just days before the first game was set to be played.  While we were standing in the Cardinals clubhouse, Terry looked at a few of us and said, “Just being here makes me think I can lace up and play still.”

Baseball is in his blood, as is winning.

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