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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. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      Where is Ryan against Math & Science? Is it stated somewhere?

      I may have missed it if so.
      Yes, you did. Not to be flippant, but this has been hashed out after each Ryan interview, and Ryan repeatedly comes up short in any claims to be embracing the ways in which the game has changed since he first came on the scene.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by Old Twins Cap View Post
      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

      Well stated and documented (thanks for reminding me of the Cano farce in July). You speak for many- it's not hate, its the rotting philosophical staleness and bland messaging that epitomizes this organization, you aptly provided yet further ammo to the POV to back up your fairly stated points.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      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.



      And Terry Ryan has to defend him.

      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.
      Tom Kelly was working with Calvin Griffith's and Andy McPhail's players for the first 8 years of his tenure. Carl Pohlad dropped his commitment to remaining perenially competitive soon after the 2nd World Series win (not enough ROI, paying off the collusion case, attempting to break the Players Union in 94-95, were all greater priorities). Terry Ryan was in charge during Kelly's last 7 years in the wilderness.

      Ron Gardenhire's 5 90+ win seasons is partly diminished by the unbalanced schedule that gave the Twins almost half of their scheduled games intra-divisionally- in the weakest Division in the AL, if not all of baseball. He was blessed to have MVPs and Cy Young winners on his roster, which obviously makes a manager's job less challenging. While the 00s were feel-good in Twinsland (and Gardy deserves the credit for constantly getting the team in position to compete for postseason), it masked Gardenhire's biggest failing- not growing within his job. He perenially crawled into the fetal position when playing the AL East, and particularly so in postseason sweep after postseason sweep.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by USAFChief View Post
      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.
      Well, that's an answer I guess. By that logic, I would assume you also think poorly of Hoyer's job the last two years in Chicago, as those Cubs have actually managed to lose more games than the Twins despite higher payroll, more FA signings and (apparently) more use of advanced stats.
    1. glunn's Avatar
      glunn -
      Moderator note -- this is a good debate, but a few posts have bordered on bickering. Disagree as much as you wish with other posters, but please be polite and respectful.
    1. old nurse's Avatar
      old nurse -
      Lost on the Ryan is old school crowd is the notion that all along he may have been doing his own form of statistical analysis that use many of the same concepts the so called advanced statistics people use. Any of these stats use a key component that the designer views as their key. He has his. If he appears dismissive it is because it may well have already been done for years.
    1. TheLeviathan's Avatar
      TheLeviathan -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      If he appears dismissive it is because it may well have already been done for years.
      If he's been doing them for years....wouldn't he just say "yeah, we've been looking at stuff like that for awhile" rather than crying "WITCH!" every time something like FIP is brought up? It doesn't seem like a plausible explanation.

      He's repeated many times his adoration for human scouting over metrics. Which is fine, I'd just like it to be brought more into balance. Or the metrics less shunned.
    1. Hosken Bombo Disco's Avatar
      Hosken Bombo Disco -
      Quote Originally Posted by twinsfan34 View Post
      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.
      There are Gardy fans, and then there are Gardy fans.

      I'll take the rings.
    1. Shane Wahl's Avatar
      Shane Wahl -
      The full interview just makes one actually more depressed, by the way.
    1. Willihammer's Avatar
      Willihammer -
      I finished reading the interview thinking what I always think when Ryan talks about payroll: If its not an excuse for winning, and its not an excuse for losing, then what did we finance a new ballpark for?
    1. Kwak's Avatar
      Kwak -
      I think the interview is just PR to mollify the choir so they stop singing off-key. Consider what really happened--no change! Same "leadership team" and we'll soon see mostly the same players--just provided with yet another opportunity to see if they can somehow succeed--which would permit "valididation" for "leadership". If failure occurs (when?) in 2014 expect a recycling of excuses--after all everybody has a second year on their contract.
    1. Alex's Avatar
      Alex -
      Quote Originally Posted by old nurse View Post
      Lost on the Ryan is old school crowd is the notion that all along he may have been doing his own form of statistical analysis that use many of the same concepts the so called advanced statistics people use. Any of these stats use a key component that the designer views as their key. He has his. If he appears dismissive it is because it may well have already been done for years.
      I'd love to see anything that points this. I think he uses the term "analytics" loosely.
    1. gunnarthor's Avatar
      gunnarthor -
      Quote Originally Posted by Alex View Post
      I'd love to see anything that points this. I think he uses the term "analytics" loosely.
      In all honesty, why would Ryan reveal any of the things he does? I'm not suggesting that the Twins are more sabrematically inclined than the Rays but the BP article I linked above does suggest they're in the middle, not the bottom.

      As to Ryan himself, he doesn't leak anything, ever. It sorta makes the hot stove league boring for us Twins fans. Regardless of how some fans may feel, Ryan clearly has the trust of ownership to do whatever he needs to and he doesn't need to give out information to feel vindicated to fans. He didn't ok Michael Lewis to write about his work (so Lewis wrote Moneyball instead).

      As I mentioned above, he's made a number of good moves in the two years since he's been back that suggests he's not out of his depth in running the team again.
    1. jokin's Avatar
      jokin -
      Quote Originally Posted by gunnarthor View Post

      As I mentioned above, he's made a number of good moves in the two years since he's been back that suggests he's not out of his depth in running the team again.
      Please feel free to list, specify, delineate and annotate.

      I'm having a much harder time coming up with a "number" beyond "One" (Meyer-Span trade).
    1. Brock Beauchamp's Avatar
      Brock Beauchamp -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Please feel free to list, specify, delineate and annotate.

      I'm having a much harder time coming up with a "number" beyond "One" (Meyer-Span trade).
      The Revere trade is still far from decided but there's a good chance the Twins come out of that just fine and they come out of it with pitching while trading from an excess of outfielders.

      If you're including the draft or international FAs, there are a handful of guys that have done quite well. Thorpe, for one. Berrios, another.

      It's not hard to come up with more than one example of Ryan doing something right in the past two years.
    1. mike wants wins's Avatar
      mike wants wins -
      I have been reminded over and over that the GM does not run the draft.......
    1. The Wise One's Avatar
      The Wise One -
      Signing international free agents at age 16 mean that it will take quite a few years to find out if you are any good at it. It has been said by many the GM is responsible for the work of the front office personnel and those that work under said people.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by mike wants wins View Post
      I have been reminded over and over that the GM does not run the draft.......
      Can't tell if that's sarcasm or not.

      To those who says he doesn't run the draft....

      What does the GM do?

      Owner seems to dictate the Free Agency/money deals. Manager seems to manage. Someone other than the GM drafts. I mean, but honestly, what does he do?

      Accountable for everything, but responsible for nothing? Trades the only thing?
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Brock Beauchamp View Post
      The Revere trade is still far from decided but there's a good chance the Twins come out of that just fine and they come out of it with pitching while trading from an excess of outfielders.

      If you're including the draft or international FAs, there are a handful of guys that have done quite well. Thorpe, for one. Berrios, another.

      It's not hard to come up with more than one example of Ryan doing something right in the past two years.
      I agree.

      2012 Draft was great. Could go down as the best draft in Twins history. 2013, lost 2 guys who didn't sign. If Kohl Stewart ends up being an Ace or #2 in2-4 years that's a great draft too. We got 3 possible catchers out of the 2013 draft as well. Gonslaves had a very successful start as well. Brandon Bixler made it from the Gulf league to the Midwest at 21 years old. Tyler Stirewalt has looked impressive too.
    1. twinsfan34's Avatar
      twinsfan34 -
      Quote Originally Posted by jokin View Post
      Yes, you did. Not to be flippant, but this has been hashed out after each Ryan interview, and Ryan repeatedly comes up short in any claims to be embracing the ways in which the game has changed since he first came on the scene.
      Even with the clubs who have a bunch of analytics guys ignore at 95% of their advice anyway. It's like 'we got a stats guy, check' now go sit in the corner and be quiet.

      Twins have Jack Goins. Probably a few other guys he gets data/info from.

      I have degrees in Chemistry & Mathematics, almost another in Physics. My Career is in analytics. Find someone who has connections with the Twins front office, I'll work for the Twins for free.
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