If you have watched Minnesota Twins baseball games over the past decade or more, you are likely to know the names of Dick Bremer and Bert Blyleven. Both have been staples of the organization’s television broadcasts on Fox Sports North and Blyleven has become a fan favorite for his signature “Circle Me Bert” segments throughout Twins’ broadcasts.
Many fans also may remember Blyleven for his Hall of Fame career with numerous teams—especially the Twins—at the Major League level. Blyleven posted a career record of 287-250 with a 3.31 ERA 692 games pitched and was known for his durability and lethal curveball. His talents aren’t confined to the broadcast booth, either. He is now entering his second stint as pitching coach for the Netherlands team in the World Baseball Classic.
In 2009, the Dutch finished in seventh place in the WBC while pulling a stunning upset of the Dominican Republic in the pool play rounds. Working with considerably less talent than most Major League organizations or other WBC teams, Blyleven has been able to get the most out of his pitching staff and has helped the Dutch compete at their highest level. Since he has been successful as a pitching coach at the international level, I have often wondered if he would ever be interested in becoming a full-time pitching coach at the big league level.
At age 61, Blyleven has quite the gig as a broadcaster at Fox Sports North and I find it hard to believe that he would want to pursue any other type of employment than the job he has now. If he did, wouldn’t a return to baseball as a pitching coach seem like a logical fit? Luckily for him, I can also think of a team whose pitching coach has been on the hot seat over the past few seasons and may be looking to move in a different direction—whether deservedly so or not—by season’s end. (Cough, I am talking about the Twins, cough.)
Blyleven has demonstrated his ability to help pitchers mature and develop into quality pitchers in a short amount of time and it poses the question as to whether or not he could translate that success over an entire big league season. Another thing to consider is whether or not he could handle the grind of a full Major League season. As it currently stands, he doesn’t even broadcast a full schedule for the Twins and has frequent vacations built in to his schedule to maximize his time spent with his family.
While it may be a long shot at best, if Rick Anderson were to be replaced as Twins’ pitching coach, I would like to see the Twins consider pursuing Blyleven for their pitching coach position. If there were any organization that he would consider working for, it would be the team he went into the Hall of Fame with and the team where his number has been retired.
Blyleven would be a breath of fresh air for the organization and an ideal person for returning the organization to their hopeful “Twins’ Way” of conducting a team. Whether or not I believe this is the best way to run an organization or not is irrelevant. The bottom line is this: Blyleven would be a quality replacement if the Twins were to ever need a new pitching coach.
I believe Blyleven’s track record—albeit short—provides a promising future for the way he could help develop our promising young pitching talent. In the end, Blyleven may not be able to circle any more fans during Twins’ television broadcasts, but if he can circle the wagons and return the Twins to contention, then he will be remembered in Minnesota for more than his knee-buckling curveball.