Posted at 11:11 AM on September 13, 2007
by Chris Dall
The Star Tribune is reporting that Twins General Manager Terry Ryan will step down at the end of this season, to be replaced by longtim assistant Bill White. Ryan will apparently remain with the team as a senior advisor.
General managers have a habit of leaving when they see their team's "window" for winning closing. A window is generally about 3 years. The Twins' window is about to close. Ryan is no fool.
I disagree. There is something more at play here. I can't think of GM that even fits your scenario in the last 10 years, Bob. Maybe Jon Hart in Cleveland, but that's it. Most perrenial contenders teams -- Braves, Yankees, A's, White Sox -- have had the same GMs forever and their 'windows' have opened and closed a few times.
Well, the Yankees have NOT had their window close a few times. Otherwise the Red Sox would have a division title to their name. The Braves also have been in, up until last year, I believe, had won 12 straight division titles.
Hart quit for a good reason; he saw what was coming; there was little hope on the horizon.
I think Ryan sees the same thing. He's got a skinflint owner who's going to use the revenue of a new ballpark and stick it as deep into his pocket as he possibly can...he's about to lose the face of the franchise (sorry, as much as I like Torii Hunter, he's not worth much more than they're offering) and he's going to lose Johan Santana.
So, he's not going to be the one to either lose Santana or have to make the choice of trading him this year.
I also think Ryan -- like any smart-thinking baseball person who can pull himself away from the "he's one of us" syndrome -- knows that Mauer can't catch AND be a fulltime player. My suspicion, based on Gardenhire's ridiculous reaction to the suggestion, is that there's tension between the two also.
But why NOT leave now (and of course, you have to not be the type to just take the paycheck while your team loses). The team doesn't have a lot coming along, it's going to lose a few of its stars, it still thinks fielding half a lineup of 25th players can make you competitive. Why not just call it quits, point to your division titles, and then shrug your shoulders two years from now and say "hey, they were winning when *I* was the GM?
When GM's or Secretary's of State resign is it really because of their wishes or is it due to the subtle wishes of their keepers or owners or Presidents?
Let's read into some of Terry Ryan's comments: Terry said that his succesor has a cooler tempermant for negotiations.
If you read between the lines, and listen to what the players have said about Terry Ryan, it appears management thought that they may lose Santana and Hunter if Ryan remained in his position. Both Hunter and Santana were very vocal in the Star Tribune about the flaws in the contract negotiations of the Twins. When Castillo was traded away Santana was critical about the thought process behind Ryan's decisions.
Ryan could have been given the "resign gracefully or be fired" at the end of the season. Ryan leaving will likely inject a renewed sense of hope into the contract negotiation process.
For example: rumor had it that Ryan and Hunter were squabbling over three years (Ryan) versus five (Hunter). Why not give the guy five years, but then ask in return that the contract be back end loaded for the monetary compensation with no stipulations on trade clauses in years four and five.
If the ballpark is expected to bring in a surge in revenue for Pohlad in a few years, then back end loaded contracts are the ways to go with no clauses allowed for trade restrictions.
The bottom line is that if the players looking for multi-year contracts believed that the "mentality" of the organization was doomed, they would steer away from contract negotiations. Now it is likely that they come to the table with a more open mind.
But then you hear Hunter turned down about $15 million a year. Your analysis is quite plausible, Eric, but is Carl Pohlad really the type to make a GM walk the plank because he wasn't offering more?
True enough, that Ryan's trading of his starting secondbaseman at the trade deadline was, ummm... botched. But perhaps there's a feeling that if Santana and Hunter were coddled more and massaged, they'd offer a home team discount.
Which is too bad because lots of other small market cities -- not named Baltimore -- that have clung to the concept of the discount in the face of the overwhelming evidence of the reality of Major League Baseball economics -- have learned the hard way that there's no such thing and only money talks.
That said, perhaps Pohlad's plan is to blame Terry Ryan when the stars take a walk.
Ideally, the fan would blame the players but that doesn't make such good copy.
A 5-year contract for Hunter? An interesting concept but the reason you wouldn't do that is that it makes no sense.
Look, I like Torii Hunter. But let's be clear here. A .336 OBP is NOT that good. An .861 Total Ops this year is pretty good. Superstar? Ummm... no.
And I tend to throw out contract year performance anyway.
Hunter's career TotOps is .795. That's not very good.
Check out baseball-reference.com list of players most like Torii Huner: Preston Wilson, Jacque Jones, Jose Gillen, Juan Encarnacion, Richard Hidalgo, Jim Ray Hart, Glenallen Hill, Don Demeter, Larry Hisle and Sixto Lezcano.
That's not a guy you open the bank for.
The problem with the Torii Hunter contract negotiations isn't that Terry Ryan doesn't recognize the value of Torii Hunter.
The problem with the Torii Hunter contract negotiations is that Terry Ryan does.
I think agree with Bob here. This team's window is about to close, because it's clear that Pohlad isn't going to shell out the money to keep Hunter, Santana, and Nathan, plus the money he'd need to get a better supporting cast. So that leaves Ryan with having to be the guy to let Hunter walk and trade Santana, and maybe he just doesn't have the stomach for that.
And the flaws in the Twins contract negotiating don't lie with Ryan, they lie with Pohlad. Yes, Ryan could have been more flexible about negotiating during the season, but there's only so much room to maneuver when the fundamental issue is that the owner only wants to spend a certain amount of money. I think what guys like Hunter and Santana really want is for Ryan to convince Pohlad to loosen the purse strings, and they're frustrated that he hasn't been able to do that. Ultimately, Ryan's been put in a pretty tough position, and I don't think it's going to be any easier for Bill White, even if he does have a cooler temperament for negotiations.
I think Reusse has it nailed. Ryan has no hidden agenda - he saw the game had changed, he is getting worn out and he's leaving the organization in better shape than when he found it.
And it's Bill Smith..................
"He's leaving the organization in better shape than he found it..."
Heh heh. Well, there's little help in the minors coming at positions, but I guess that's true. Still, the bar is pretty low. Tough times are a' comin'.
To me, it's time to revisit Moneyball. (And not just the Twins version of it) It may make money, it may get a team to the playoffs. It doesn't win championships.
OTOH, I've always thought that winning breeds attendance and attendance lifts revenues. Cleveland's attendance this year has told me that that's no longer true either.
//he's leaving the organization in better shape than when he found it.
I wonder if that's true. First, of course, it's a low bar since the Twins -- at the Major League level -- were a basket case when Andy MacPhail left. Puckett (35) was still on the team but probably not for long.
It had a young chuck Knoblauch at 2nd. Gar bage (Scott Leius) at third, a nobody (Stahoviak) at first, a kid named Matt Lawton coming along... a 22-year old kid named Brad Radke and a really great closer (Aguilera) who probably would soon be gone. And they hd a good manager.
Fast forward: Hunter is Puckett... Stahoviak/Leius are Nick Punto, is Casilla Knoblauch? Nathan is Aguilera... and pick your pitcher for who would be Radke. and they have a good manager.
There was also a little bit in the farm system.
I'm not sure -- acknolwedging the bar you've set is low -- that it's that much better off.
of course they are getting a taxpayer-financed stadium that will allow their owner to make more money and still not field a competitive team.
I think you (and a lot of other people) are overreacting to this season, Bob.
The Twins have won 4 division titles in 6 years and their farm system is loaded with quality arms. It's always easier to trade pitching for a bat than vice versa
They have two potential franchise players in Mauer and Morneau and have the best pitcher in baseball over the past 4 years......they are A LOT better off.
Remember, this 72-74 season would have looked pretty good in the late 90s.
another possibility is that since I don't live and die with the Twins -- and, in fact, have allegiance to another Central Division team -- I don't have the emotional baggage entwind in lots of baseball judgments where the home team is concerned.
Let's take Mauer, for example. Twins fans, Dave, are late to the party when it comes to the reality of Joe Mauer as a "franchise player." At what position?
Do a BROCK2 spreadsheet on Mauer. There's a relationship between the number of games missed by injury for a player at a young age, and the projection of his carer.
The Twins, by the way, have had good pitching for years. Name the last effective bat they traded for using any of it?
Although all of this discussion has to include the disclaimer of "Angels in the Outfield" : it could happen.
I do think, overall, that one of the difficulties of a GOOD small market GM is you're required to be more analytical about the quality of a particular player than the average fan of the team is. It doesn't win points with the fan, but it does help a ballclub.
Remember all the whining Guardado and Mienkiewicz and Hunter did when Pzyrzinski was traded? And Hawkins? It was utter nonsense. Fans listen to ballplayers' analysis. Ballplayers are quite often stupid.