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Updated: September 30th, 2013 10:18am
An overlooked topic: Should Ron Gardenhire even want to come back?

An overlooked topic: Should Ron Gardenhire even want to come back?

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by Phil Mackey

Most of the conversation about Ron Gardenhire's future revolves around whether the Minnesota Twins should or shouldn't bring him back for a new contract.

But think about it from Gardenhire's perspective.

For one, there will be multiple job openings around baseball, although Gardenhire said Sunday he is not entertaining any of those possibilities right now.

Gardenhire was named Manager of the Year in 2010 - with a payroll that peaked around $113 million later that offseason. From that point forward, the talent on Gardenhire's roster was stripped down to the point where guys like Tsuyoshi Nishioka, Drew Butera, Danny Valencia, Luke Hughes, Matt Tolbert and Rene Tosoni were seeing regular playing time in 2011.

In 2012, the Twins ran out Cole De Vries, P.J. Walters, Nick Blackburn, Liam Hendriks, Brian Duensing and Esmerling Vasquez for a combined total of 70 starts.

Clete Thomas was forced to play in 92 games this season. Pedro Hernandez, Andrew Albers, Hendriks and Walters each started at least eight games.

Since 2006, only two drafted pitchers have emerged through the Twins' minor league system to make a start in the bigs - Jeff Manship and Kyle Gibson.

And even though it was obvious the Twins viewed 2013 as a rebuilding year from the start - as Terry Ryan admitted on Saturday's Inside Twins show - Gardenhire was put in a bad spot when the organization talked openly about contending this season. That was never a possibility.

We can debate whether Gardenhire's message has gotten stale over the past decade-plus (and sources in the clubhouse say it hasn't), but no matter how much the conversation is being framed as, "Should the Twins bring Gardenhire back?" Gardenhire can look at the last three years and fire three legitimate questions back across the table:

Why did the payroll drop $33 million?

Why is Kevin Correia my No. 1 starter?

Why aren't more good starting pitchers emerging through the minor league system?

And a fourth question from Gardenhire...

Why should I want to sign a new contract? 

Phil Mackey is a columnist for He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
Email Phil | @PhilMackey | Mackey & Judd