Doug Mientkiewicz Rips Twins for How They Handled Byron Buxton in Minors


Experts across baseball and fans across Twins nation have questioned how the Minnesota organization has handled Byron Buxton since the moment he was drafted #1 overall back in 2012, ahead of Carlos Correa, who was drafted with the #2 pick.

Doug Mientkiewicz thinks Twins nearly screwed up Byron Buxton

From the draft pick itself, to attempted swing changes, to injury prevention… all things Byron Buxton have been scrutinized since day one. But recently, on AJ Pierzynski’s podcast “Foul Territory”, another former Twin, Doug Mientkiewicz, added to the pile of criticism surrounding how the organization handled Byron Buxton’s rise through their minor league system early in his career (full transcript below).

DOUG: “It’s surprising that [Byron Buxton] is doing as well as he is because, I mean to me, we developed him in the [most] wrong fashion possible and, thankfully, he was just good enough to where his talent finally came out. I still don’t think that he’s put it all together yet but when he does it’s going to be epic.”

AJ: “What do you mean you developed him the wrong way? I was going to go to somewhere else but now…”

DOUG: “[The Twins] moved him up and down too much. They would let him play a half [season] — this is not just for Byron, this is a lot of the guys — they let them play a half [season] and they have success, let’s just say at the Midwest League back when it was low-A ball. [Player A] would have a good half [season], then they move up to the Florida State League and they have [another great half season] and if they have [another good half season] they go double-A. It’s like, well, the number one thing you always hear in baseball is what? You gotta make adjustments.

In Byron’s case, like yeah you throw him heaters in A-ball, he’s gonna kill you, right? It’s like, we all knew the slider was his boo boo, you know, [it] was his kryptonite. For example, I put him in the three hole one night in A-ball and [the Twins] were like, ‘you can’t do that’. I’m like, ‘well why not?’ And they’re like, ‘well we want him to lead off’. I said ‘well, what’s his number one problem, it’s off speed pitches’. I said, ‘you think he’s gonna get [offspeed pitches] in the one hole? Like, if we put him in the three hole and he sees more sliders throughout his career before he gets to the big leagues, he’s gonna be better in the big leagues because of this.

[The Twins were] like, ‘well his numbers will suffer now’. I’m like, ‘no one gives a flying shit what your A-ball average is 3-4 years from now’. They’re not gonna be like, ‘wow, Byron’s an All Star but man he hit .227 in the Florida State League’. No one cares about that. Sometimes these guys wrap their heads around they wanna get minor league numbers, and we all did. But at the same token, the more sliders he sees in the minors, the better off he’s gonna be and the quicker he’s gonna make adjustments at the major level.”

Doug Mientkiewicz on the “Foul Territory Podcast”
Mientkiewicz believes he should have been Twins manager

In the extended clip of Mientkiewicz on this topic, Doug makes it clear that he believes he would have been the best coaching option for the Twins, after they fired Ron Gardenhire following the 2014 season.

Mientkiewicz points to the fact he coached Buxton, Miguel Sano, Max Kepler, Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Jose Berrios and other top prospects throughout their minor league careers, winning two-straight minor league championships along the way.

“I felt like that was my group. We won two championships in a row in the minor leagues. People think, in today’s world, that you just win at the big league level. It doesn’t work that way. You have to learn how to win at the minor league level and, eventually, that group will win at the big league level.”

Doug Mientkiewicz on the “Foul Territory Podcast”
doug mientkiewicz byron buxton minnesota twins minor leagues

Instead, then GM Terry Ryan hired Paul Molitor, before Ryan was fired one offseason later and replaced by the current combination of PoBO Derek Falvey + GM Thad Levine. Clearly there is still bad blood between Mientkiewicz and the current Twins regime.

Most of that comes from a difference in how they view the game of baseball. Doug is an old-schooler who believes “ball guys” know better than “nerds”. Of course, we all know that the Twins have built themselves into one of the nerdier organizations in the entire sport so it’s obvious why the two sides parted ways.

“Dealing with some of these people, it’s like you’re trying to describe the color blue to a blind person. They don’t get it. Baseball guys don’t need a number to tell us what our eyes already tell us.”

Doug Mientkiewicz on the “Foul Territory Podcast”

Mientkiewicz was under the Falvine umbrella for one season with the Twins, as single-A manager, before he took a job with the Tigers as their triple-A manager. Ron Gardenhire was Detroit’s big league manager at the time.

Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan

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