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  • TwinsDaily Interview With Terry Ryan: Gardenhire and Molitor

    Once again, this year's Offseason Handbook will include a 30+ minute interview with Minnesota Twins General Manager Terry Ryan. It was conducted Tuesday, shortly after it was announced that Paul Molitor would be joining the Twins coaching staff. Ryan talked about the Molitor hire and very candidly about the decision to bring back Ron Gardenhire, how he evaluated the coach of a 90-loss team and how much it reflected on himself.

    Parker: Switching gears: Ron Gardenhire had a very successful run, followed by three straight very bad years. How do you evaluate a manger’s performance that goes beyond the record?

    Ryan: If Ron wasn’t coming back, I probably shouldn’t be back. Now, Jim Pohlad and Dave St. Peter invited me back, so I brought Ron back with me. A lot of time you should evaluate a manager on the personnel he has. And unfortunately, we’ve fallen a tad short here as far as productivity. And I take total responsibility on that, so I shouldn’t pass the buck on the manager and the coaching staff.

    So, you evaluate him on discipline and respect and organizational skills and how the clubhouse sets up and are we prepared – all that stuff that you evaluate anybody’s job on. Same stuff. How does he handle the media? How does he handle a player that doesn’t want to get in line? How does he run spring training? How does he set up strategy? What does he do with his bullpen?

    Now I’ve never managed. And it’s easy to sit up there about 50 yards from the game and second-guess everything that goes on. I’ve got a lot of respect for him. And he’s an up-front guy. He’s accountable. I think players enjoy this organization. I don’t have any problem ever in luring a guy here if we’re close in the dollars and stuff like that. They never say “I wouldn’t want to play for him.” If I would’ve gone a different direction and somebody would have said “What are you looking for in a manager?”, I’d say “A lot of traits Ron Gardenhire has.”

    Parker: Speaking of your coaching staff, you just added Paul Molitor to it. What is he going to bring?

    Ryan: He’s a very good baseball mind Parker. He’s a very smart guy. He looks at the game differently than a lot of people. He and Tom Kelly watch games different than I do. I’ve always respected that, his baserunning intelligence, bunting and he’s going to be responsible too. He’s going to be in the dugout with Gardy and [Terry] Steinbach. He’s been with us for quite a long time. He knows our minor league system and stuff like that. He’s got a lot of knowledge that I think will benefit the organization. That’s why I put him on here.

    Parker: You guys got seven guys now in the dugout? You going to have to expand the dugout?

    Ryan: No. Almost all of the clubs – not almost all, but most of the clubs – have seven coaches now. Major League Baseball changed the rule early April, which was funny timing. They allowed teams to go. We didn’t. We chose not to and now we’re going to do it. We’ve got Paul in the system here, so it makes sense. He’s a good baseball man. He’s been our baserunning and infield instructor for the last – I don’t know – eight, nine years. There’s some continuity here with bringing [Miguel] Sano and [Byron] Buxton and [Eddie] Rosario and those types of guys. They’re very familiar with him. I don’t think that’s all of a bad thing.

    Parker: Was that a big factor?

    Ryan: Not a big factor. It happens to be a convenient factor. No, his baseball IQ is the big factor.

    You can find a lot more in the Offseason Handbook from this far-ranging interview, and it will be shipped to you on the first day of the World Series if you order it today. TwinsDaily would like to thank Terry Ryan for taking 45 minutes for a very candid interview, as well as the Minnesota Twins for their recent efforts to reach out to and accommodate independent media and bloggers.
    Comments 64 Comments
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      Um, I said I'd change processes, which is pretty much what I listed, other than 1 spot. Not sure what you expected, given that.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      1. Embrace math and science as helpful things, not things to be mocked.
      2. Hired people from outside the org, with different ideas, to reduce groupthink
      3. Realized the good players cost real money, and spend it
      4. Fired the scouts that recommended the same old tired pitcher types, that he trusts so much, that appear to be wrong over and over, not listened to them more
      5. Hired a coaching staff that believes in shifts, and other "new ways" of thinking, that so far have proven to be effective
      6. Looked hard at my development processes, and wonder why they have turned out so few good players. Without doing that, I can't say how I'd change them.
      7. Embraced better nutrition and training in the minors, not trusting young adults to eat well based on low pay.

      that's off the top of my head, without having time to give it more thought.
      Despite the fact that you can't satisfy some folks no matter what you say....let me add:

      8) Solve the expanded platooning options issues by setting a strict limit for pitchers on the 25-man roster at 12...which can be readily accomplished by employing the DL strategically.....and especially by utilizing a couple more younger and limited service time RPs with unlimited options like Tonkin and Thielbar on shuttle runs between the Twins and Rochester.
    1. Boom Boom's Avatar
      Boom Boom -
      I'd just like to know what corrective measures the Twins have taken to right the ship besides the replacement of Bill Smith with TR. From the outside, it's hard to see what else they've done, and though I'm not a Bill Smith fan, the problems ran much deeper than him.
    1. nicksaviking's Avatar
      nicksaviking -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Most of these are just how you'd do things differently, none that would improve the team.
      How can you matter-of-factly make that statment? Each of those things very likely would impact the team in some manner, why is it not possible they would improve the club if embraced?

      You seem to take the most umbrage with his #6:

      --6. Looked hard at my development processes, and wonder why they have turned out so few good players. Without doing that, I can't say how I'd change them. --

      What possbible reason is there to disagree with this? This should be done by every GM constantly. The Twins haven't turned out quality players lately, why wouldn't you try to assess the reasons? If the reason is, "there is no reason," fine, but Mike clearly said he couldn't state what he would change without an internal evaluation.

      There are legitimate issues to be concerned about within this organization, Ryan acknowledges as much. The poster you replied to clearly and rationally listed reasonable areas to address or fix, I'm sorry but Ryan himself says he has to do better, why can't we?
    1. IdahoPilgrim's Avatar
      IdahoPilgrim -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      8) Solve the expanded platooning options issues by setting a strict limit for pitchers on the 25-man roster at 12...which can be readily accomplished by employing the DL strategically.....and especially by utilizing a couple more younger and limited service time RPs with unlimited options like Tonkin and Thielbar on shuttle runs between the Twins and Rochester.
      I understand your point, but I don't think you can blame poor use of the DL for the 13-man staff this year - I thought they handled the DL pretty well and certainly more aggressively than last year. The problem was starting pitching that usually didn't get out of the 6th inning - almost have to have a 13-man staff when that happens.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      How can you matter-of-factly make that statment? Each of those things very likely would impact the team in some manner, why is it not possible they would improve the club if embraced?
      Because it's true. His comments - Ryan mocks science and math, team suffers from groupthink - aren't necessarily true, just his opinion of Ryan. Saying "I'd do things differently" isn't the same as "I'd do things better." And saying "I'd do it differently" isn't a way to solve the problem when you don't know what the problem is. Even with the benefit of hindsight, no one has suggested a better way to do what Ryan has done, except abstract get rid of everyone posts.

      Ryan seems to have figured that the team lacks talent, put people in charge of minor league development that he trusts and has given them talent. He has a track record of successfully rebuilding this team and there's no reason to think that he needs to fire a bunch of scouts b/c the a draft 7 years ago sucked. I find it stunning that people can look at what he's done the last two years as GM and still be anti-Ryan. He's a very good GM.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Because it's true. His comments - Ryan mocks science and math, team suffers from groupthink - aren't necessarily true, just his opinion of Ryan. .
      Sorry, but this statement is what's, demonstrably, not true.....just your opinion.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by IdahoPilgrim View Post
      I understand your point, but I don't think you can blame poor use of the DL for the 13-man staff this year - I thought they handled the DL pretty well and certainly more aggressively than last year. The problem was starting pitching that usually didn't get out of the 6th inning - almost have to have a 13-man staff when that happens.
      Why not just have your 13th...and 14th man...in Rochester....or on the DL?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by nicksaviking View Post
      How can you matter-of-factly make that statment? Each of those things very likely would impact the team in some manner, why is it not possible they would improve the club if embraced?

      You seem to take the most umbrage with his #6:

      --6. Looked hard at my development processes, and wonder why they have turned out so few good players. Without doing that, I can't say how I'd change them. --

      What possbible reason is there to disagree with this? This should be done by every GM constantly. The Twins haven't turned out quality players lately, why wouldn't you try to assess the reasons? If the reason is, "there is no reason," fine, but Mike clearly said he couldn't state what he would change without an internal evaluation.

      There are legitimate issues to be concerned about within this organization, Ryan acknowledges as much. The poster you replied to clearly and rationally listed reasonable areas to address or fix, I'm sorry but Ryan himself says he has to do better, why can't we?
      The answer we got was "Because he's a good GM.".....which apparently is supposed to cut off all debate and alternative proposals. Even when asked for.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Most of these are just how you'd do things differently, none that would improve the team. And Ryan did bring in Jack Goin to do stats. You also make the claim of spend money but don't say how, even with the benefit of hindsight.

      You seem stuck on some notion that the Twins can't develop talent despite a pretty successful history of doing that and currently having one of the top ranked farm systems. Why can't you accept the idea that it's just cyclical? That teams, esp low payroll teams as they were until 2010, don't always stay on top? Why does the normal ebb and flow have to mean that Ryan, who took over two years ago, is an old guy who doesn't understand the game? Since he's come back, has he been snookered in a trade? Has he been burned in a FA signing? Has he reorganized the organization? Have top prospects been rushed? Has the team drafted well? Has he brought in younger coaches and managers throughout the system? Has he made good small moves - waiver claims, minor league free agents, rule v picks?

      What he hasn't done is waste money on large FA signings that wouldn't have helped the team anyway.
      Has he made any improvement to the W/L record?
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Has he made any improvement to the W/L record?
      No...but TR got smiley bonus points for "not making any large FA signings"...Because...they "wouldn't help"....even though, now, based on this interview with TR, and what Jim Pohlad has stated....large FA signings will help...it gets confusing......
    1. S.'s Avatar
      S. -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      I find it stunning that people can look at what he's done the last two years as GM and still be anti-Ryan. He's a very good GM.
      What has he done these last two years that constitutes being very good? I definitely like the May and Meyer trades, but beyond that, I'm not sure what you think he's done that is so undeniably great. From my side of the picture, I see a GM who has more or less done nothing to improve any of the team's pressing needs, and had the benefit of a miserable team for high draft picks, if Buxton signing was supposed to be something impressive about TR.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      I find it stunning that people can look at what he's done the last two years as GM and still be anti-Ryan. He's a very good GM.
      That's a bizarre stance. From this article - Ryan appears to be anti-Ryan. He refused to fire a manage because of what he perceived to be his own failures.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Has he made any improvement to the W/L record?
      Do you think the Twins were in a situation where a quick fix was possible?
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I really have no interest in continuing this discussion. I laid out things I would change. You disagree. Neither of us is going to change the others mind.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      Has he made any improvement to the W/L record?
      To be fair, a GM doesn't make much of an impact on a MLB roster until year 4. You can find interviews by Epstein and many other execs that give that number.

      Looking at the Billy Beane teams to whichever GM...it's not until year 3 that teams even begin to have 30% of the rostered players under the direction/action of the new GM.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Where is Ryan against Math & Science? Is it stated somewhere?

      I may have missed it if so.
    1. USAFChief's Avatar
      USAFChief -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post
      Do you think the Twins were in a situation where a quick fix was possible?
      I think improving a 95 loss team with obvious needs and abundant resources over the space of 2 offseasons is a low bar to jump. He wasn't able to do that.

      Success is pretty easy to measure in MLB. Anything other than wins and losses doesn't count for much in my book.
    1. Old Twins Cap's Avatar
      Old Twins Cap -
      Ryan says the judges Gardy on things like "in-game strategy" and how he handles guys out of line, how "prepared" the players are for games.

      Should we start with first inning runs? I guess that wouldn't be fair because the Twins starters are so poor. Not really a measure of "preparation" for a MLB game, I guess.

      Should we talk about pick-off plays, hit and run plays, bunt defense, positioning? I guess, those are hard to measure, but one cannot argue that the Twins excel in these areas, can one?

      Well, okay, let's take the in-game strategy part of this. Look at the Yankees four-game series against the Twins in early July. Robinson Cano, who was basically the only guy who could beat the Twins because of all their injuries, was allowed to beat the Twins four games in a row. They pitched to him, they pitched to him, and they pitched to him -- and, he beat them, four games in a row. The worst Yankee's team in quite some time, allowed to come in and sweep -- like the Twins are their doormat. Mostly because the Twins pitchers were, I'm sorry, unprepared and had no strategy.

      Guys out of line. I don't like the way Gardy disciplines his rookies through the media -- complaining about Hicks and the way he one-hands a fly ball. Rookies, in particular, should be handled one-on-one out of the glare of the media. Gardy has a hard time with that. He goes after his young players in the media constantly. Sorry, very poor skills there.

      The problem here is that Ryan is shielding Gardy. It is true, as far as it goes, that Ryan gives Gardy the players. But, you know what, look at the Cardinals, look at Boston, sure they have more talent, but they also are getting more mileage out of their young and role-players than the Twins and many teams in baseball. How do they do it? That's the gazillion dollar question.

      But, just to say, it is possible, given Gardy's cards to get more out of them than he does, or has, for the last number of years. Gardy is not getting any extra mileage out of the guys he's given. That's called "adding value" and that is, at the end of the day, how a manager can and should be judged.

      After 11 years, maybe it's because Gardy has lost something or the players tune him out. Either way, after a full decade, sometimes you need a change, sometimes a new strategy, sometimes a new voice, and that's what Ryan doesn't get. Sure, he's still Gardy, but IT HAS BEEN 11 YEARS, TERRY.

      The fact that management is willing to just dither through this is proof the Twins are one of the most poorly owned organizations in MLB.

      Sorry. But true. This would not happen to any other team in baseball. Look it up.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      I find myself a bit 'indifferent' to Ron Gardenhire. If I was/am leaning one way, it's probably to see him go. But that's probably because I've had visceral reactions to losing and losing how we've lost this season. I can handle losing if you are outplayed, but this past season...sending up the hitters and pitchers we had...to let them get actual MLB at bats and innings pitched? Unnerving.

      All that to say, Ron Gardenhire is the best manager the Minnesota Twins have ever had. He's had 7 winning seasons to 5 losing seasons. Manager of the Year, runner up 3 times. Six division championships. Five 90 win seasons.

      Tom Kelly has 2 World Series Championships on him. Lightning caught fire for those two magical Falls. But he only had 5 winning seasons in 15. Three 90 win seasons.

      Sam Meale had 4 winning seasons in 7. Three 90 win seasons.

      Shrugs. I mean, if you want a resume. He's not that bad.

      And Terry Ryan has to defend him. And he's also right, name a manager who could have took last year's team to a winning record? Jim Leyland said it plainly, "talent wins games."

      Mauer, Perkins, Burton, Dosier, and maybe Arcia...who else would even make the rosters of the teams with winning records? The rest of the team, AAAA talent. Maybe Correia is a #5 starter level on those teams. Maybe.
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