Down on the Farm 10 Sep 12

Down on the Farm
Photos and story by Gordy Jones

Former Twin's slugger Jason Kubel was Rookie of the Year and won the batting title while playing for the Red Wings in 2004.

The Twins have extended their contract with their Triple-A affiliate in the International League, the Rochester Red Wings, for two years. I have always thought it would be the most frustrating job to run a minor-league team. It’s a bittersweet deal: As much as you want your players to succeed, the better they do, the better your chance of losing them to the “big boys.” And with the Twins slumping, sick, and battered the last couple of years, people were moving back and forth from Rochester like crazy. I heard that Delta added a direct flight just for the Twins.

Even the Red Wings’ president, Naomi Silver, had a tough time saying this positively: “The Minnesota Twins is an organization that develops quality major-leaguers through their minor-league system,” Silver said. “While that clearly does not guarantee us a winner every year, we believe that the development bodes well for us in most years.”

Jake Mauer, manager of the Fort Myers Miracle, finished his season on Labor Day, and flew home to play in a charity golf tournament with his brother, Bill (left). Jake will probably be with the Twins as a coach one day.

One thing about the Red Wings: They teach the same fundamental philosophy as the Twins. Sure, the Twins hire the coaches and draft the players, but the Red Wing organization supports the same type of baseball, as well as being active in the Rochester charitable community. The players learn not only how to perform on the field, but also how to be leaders in the real world, too.

The Red Wings have produced three International League Rookies of the Year: Jason Kubel in 2004, Francisco Liriano in 2005, and Randy Ruiz in 2008. Rochester has also produced two IL batting titles (Kubel in 2004 and Ruiz in 2008) and two IL ERA leaders (Scott Baker in 2005 and Kevin Slowey in 2007).

I’ve always thought that Ron Gardenhire’s replacement (whenever he leaves, probably 2014 or 15) would be Jake Mauer. I no longer believe that. Not that I think any less of Jake, but I now believe that Gene Glynn, the manager in Rochester, will replace Gardy. Jake will either be promoted and will manage somewhere up the ladder, or be offered a job on Glynn’s major-league staff, maybe as a hitting coach. Gene grew up in Waseca and starred at Mankato State in both baseball and basketball. He was Minnesota’s first Mr. Basketball in 1975. After college he played seven years of minor-league ball, managed, and then became a major-league scout. The Twins tried to hire Gene to manage twice, and both times he was unavailable. Then a year ago, Jim Rantz, Director of Minor Leagues for the Twins, heard that Gene was looking for work. One last time he would offer Gene a job. “Three strikes and you’re out,” Jim told me.

Glynn accepted, and I’ve heard nothing but good ever since. He’s a real people person and can relate well to the staff and players, and knows the game like the best in the business know it.”

I don’t know if it’s just a small world, or if there are about a million Mauers in it. While Gene went to college in Mankato, he shared a house with Joe Mauer’s cousins.