Terry Ryan, in happier times
The Twins fired Terry Ryan earlier this week in a move that will likely devastate the organization for the next several years. The handling of Terry Ryan’s dismissal was nothing short of disturbing, and none of the conclusions I draw from the dismissal and its aftermath are good.
Let’s first get one thing out of the way. The Twins were right to let Terry Ryan go. The Twins have regressed heavily this season, many of his free agent moves have failed to pan out, and reflecting on the past run of success the Twins had, he was reluctant to make a move that would put the Twins over the top if it meant giving up a prospect. I think everyone recognizes that the Twins are on the cusp of having a very solid core, and I’m not convinced Terry Ryan is the right guy to build around it.
The Twins, though, completely butchered the process, and in interviews since the termination, and a reflection of what has gone on since then, I am not sure they will recover.
Let’s first address the timing, which came about at approximately the worst time to have a change in the leadership of the organization. The Twins didn’t choose to dismiss him at this time. Terry Ryan was allowed to choose how he went out. The organization elected to tell him a month ago that they didn’t plan to bring him back, and he waited until just now, again, the worst time, to leave the team. I don’t care what other excuses or reasons the Twins have for the timing of the move, but Terry Ryan had to know what this would do the organization. For a loyal soldier to put his old team in such a bad spot tells me only bad things about the working environment at Target Field.
Then, of course, there is the notion that the Twins will be going outside the organization for someone, and they would like to hire someone before the season is through. That means Rob Antony is in charge, and was given the reins to a team that he likely will have no investment in going forward. At the very least, the Twins should have made it clear that the rest of the season was an audition for Antony. What move will Antony have to make the right moves for the Twins? Or any moves, for that matter?
For that matter, who will the Twins hire in the middle of the season? Who is available in August to take over as general manager? You aren’t going to hire anyone that is currently in a front office, because their current employer wouldn’t allow them to interview with the Twins. So that leaves GM candidates that are presently unemployed, while having the team run by someone with no stake in the future of the organization. Yikes.
And these are just the things that I worry about without opening things up to speculation. Let’s consider a few things that have been said, or have occurred in the past several years within the Twins organization. First, let’s look at the primary requirement of the next general manager.
“If I had to pick one requirement for somebody going forward, it’s someone that’s lovable. The only way you can be loved is if you’re lovable. We want someone that can ultimately be loved.” – Jim Pohlad
This is, of course, ludicrous. That said, it speaks to the mentality the Twins have maintained for as long as I can remember. They care deeply about the members of their organization, loyalty and personability. Ron Gardenhire and Bill Smith both still have jobs in the organization, for example. The Twins want to make sure that Paul Molitor remains the manager next year, further boxing in the new GM, who is beginning to sound more and more like a precious unicorn.
Jim Pohlad, in part because of the new stadium, but also in part because he is his own man, has been more willing to spend in free agency. The first splash he made was Joe Mauer, the hometown hero but that was followed by a much more expensive rotation. It’s clear that Pohlad doesn’t have the patience (indifference?) of his father. With reports that there was a disagreement about the best way to improve the team, it leads to an obvious conclusion.
The Pohlads want to win with what they have already paid for, and the players that are already on the roster. Terry Ryan isn’t and likely will never be, good at adding veterans, but at least he recognized when a team needs to be reset. I’m guessing that he told the Pohlads as much, and Jim, with his heavy investment and a need to win now to staunch the loss of attendance, didn’t like this.
The Twins need to make drastic moves, and that needs to start by trading away veterans, some of them even beloved (Brian Dozier and Ervin Santana stand out in my mind) in order to open positions for prospects already within the organization and to add new talent from without. It’s not a quick fix, but it may be the only fix.
Jim Pohlad expected unquestioning loyalty among Terry Ryan, despite confirming that he would be let go, and prior to that, continued sycophancy from the GM, continuing to operate a plan that wasn’t going to work. Ryan had definitely run his course in Minnesota, but the transition is being bungled in such a way, and the prospects for the future when taken in the scope of the past are so troublesome that I can’t help but believe the real issue was Jim Pohlad all along.