With the Tigers beginning a three-game weekend series against the Twins, it seems appropriate to at least address yesterday's announcement out of Minneapolis that could play a significant role in the future of the AL Central. Minnesota general manager Terry Ryan announced his resignation, effective at the end of the Twins' season. And the organization has already lined up his successor, promoting assistant GM Bill Smith.
Making an inside hire seems to be the right way to go, given the success of the Twins' front office during Ryan's 13-year tenure (the second longest among his peers). I think it's pretty widely known and understood among those who follow baseball that Minnesota has to run their team by different rules, following small market dictates. Throwing money at a problem to fix it isn't really an option. We'll see yet another example of how the Twins have to do business when Torii Hunter has to move on after the season.
Player development is key, along with some savvy deal-making. This appears to be a classic example of "if it ain't broke, don't fix it." And if promoting from within works as well for the front office as it did for the on-field managerial staff, when Ron Gardenhire took over for Tom Kelly in 2002, there's no reason to believe the Twins won't continue to be a factor in the AL Central. As Kelly has done since he retired, Ryan will also remain with the organization in an advisory capacity, further ensuring consistency in the Twins' approach to putting together a baseball team.
That philosophy stands to be tested in the next couple of years, however, as Minnesota will have to make some tough decisions on player contracts. As mentioned above, Torii Hunter is expected to be playing elsewhere next season. Earlier this year, Johan Santana squawked his displeasure with the Twins' passiveness at the trade deadline, and strongly hinted he'd be playing elsewhere when his contract expires after next season. Minnesota also has to look at whether or not to pick up Joe Nathan's $7 million option for next year (it's hard to imagine they won't), and are facing negotiations on a long-term contract with Justin Morneau.
For a guy who admits that the game has changed to favor "bright, energetic negotiators," rather than those with scouting backgrounds, is it any wonder that Ryan looked at what was facing him this off-season and decided it might be time to step aside for those who might be better suited to the modern school of general managing? In his case, it's better to fade away than burn out. And if Ryan's successor could actually improve upon what's already been established, that should make the other general managers in the AL Central a bit uneasy.
Here's what those who follow the Twins on a regular basis have to say:
- Aaron Gleeman takes a closer look at the Terry Ryan regime in Minnesota.
- The Star Tribune's La Valle E. Neal loved dealing with Ryan, and thinks his career is better for it.
- TwinsGeek thinks this is a bad development for the Twins organization.
- SethSpeaks is looking forward to watching how Bill Smith handles personnel decisions, in comparison to Ryan.
- Ryan's resignation followed his style, according to Stick and Ball Guy.