October 2012

Twins announce Diamond Award winners

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins announced the winners of the Diamond Awards, the club’s annual awards for the 2012 season based on voting conducted by the Twin Cities chapter of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America.

Left fielder Josh Willingham was named the Twins’ Most Valuable Player as the recipient of the Calvin R. Griffith Award. And left-hander Scott Diamond was named both the Twins’ Pitcher of the Year, receiving the Joseph W. Haynes Award, and the Twins’ Most Outstanding Rookie receiving the Bill Boni Award.

The awards will be given out at the eighth annual Diamond Awards dinner on Jan. 24, 2013, at Target Field. The event will benefit brain, nerve and muscle disorders research at the University of Minnesota.

Additionally, outfielder Ben Revere won the Charles O. Johnson Award given to the Twins’ Most Improved Player and will be the first-ever recipient of the Jim Kaat Defensive Player of the Year Award.

Catcher Joe Mauer was also named the winner of the Dick Siebert Award given to the Upper Midwest Player of the Year. It’s the fifth time the St. Paul native has won the award.

For the second time in his career, first baseman Justin Morneau won the Bob Allison Award given to the Twins player who exemplifies determination, hustle, tenacity, competitive spirit and leadership both on and off the field. And left-hander Glen Perkins was named the winner of the Mike Augustin Award given to the Twins player who fosters healthy relations with the media.

The eighth annual Diamond Awards dinner will honor the 2012 BBWAA award recipients as well as the winners of the Sherry Robertson Award (Oswaldo Arcia, Twins Minor League Player of the Year), the Jim Rantz Award (B.J. Hermsen, Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year), the Carl R. Pohlad Community Service Award (Denard Span) and the Kirby Puckett Award for alumni community service (Roy Smalley).

All proceeds from the event will benefit the University of Minnesota’s innovative research and patient care focused on ataxia, muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s disease and ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease). For more information on the event, call (612) 624-8668 or visit http://www.minnesotadiamondawards.org.

Twins announce coaching staff hires

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins named Tom Brunansky as hitting coach, Bobby Cuellar as bullpen coach and Terry Steinbach as bench coach and catching instructor, general manager Terry Ryan announced Monday.

Additionally, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire announced Scott Ullger will coach first base in addition to outfield instruction, while Joe Vavra will be the club’s third base coach as well as infield instructor. Rick Anderson will also remain pitching coach.

The moves come after the club did not offer 2013 contacts to bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third-base coach Steve Liddle, first-base coach Jerry White and head athletic trainer Rick McWane. The Twins have yet to name McWane’s replacement.

Brunansky finished his second full year coaching in the Twins’ organization, as he served as hitting coach for Double-A New Britain in 2011 and as hitting coach for Triple-A Rochester in 2012. Brunansky, 52, played 14 years in the Majors, finishing with a .245 average and 271 homers in 1,800 games with the Twins, Red Sox, Cardinals, Brewers and Angels.

Cuellar finished his ninth season in Minnesota’s organization and his fourth as Rochester’s pitching coach. He also served as New Britain’s manager in ’08. Cuellar, 60, also served as the Pirates’ bullpen coach from 2006-07 after serving as Rochester’s pitching coach from 2003-05. Cuellar, who pitched in the Minors for 11 seasons, also served as pitching coach for the Rangers (2001), Expos (1997-2000) and Mariners (1995-96).

Steinbach, meanwhile, will begin his first coaching job next season. The Minnesota native played parts of 14 seasons in the Majors with the A’s and Twins after playing collegiately at the University of Minnesota. Steinbach, 50, was a three-time All-Star, and since retiring in ’99, has assisted the Twins in Spring Training for 13 seasons.

Ryan sheds interim label from his title as GM

MINNEAPOLIS — A day after letting four coaches go and reassigning two others, general manager Terry Ryan removed the interim label from his position with the Twins on Friday.

Ryan, in a press conference with owner Jim Pohlad and president Dave St. Peter, said he’s not going to walk away from the club after a 96-loss season. He took over as interim general manager on Nov. 7, when he replaced Bill Smith, and is now the permanent general manager, which is the same position he held from 1994-2007.

“I’m all set, committed and ready to go,” Ryan said. “So we’re going to move forward with that. We’re coming off a difficult year — 66 wins isn’t going to cut it.”

Ryan made it clear that finishing with the worst record in the American League for a second straight year wasn’t acceptable on Thursday, when he did not offer 2013 contacts to bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third-base coach Steve Liddle, first-base coach Jerry White and head athletic trainer Rick McWane.

He also reassigned hitting coach Joe Vavra to a new role as Major League infielder instructor while also reassigning bench coach Scott Ullger to a new role as Major League outfield instructor.

Only manager Ron Gardenhire and pitching coach Rick Anderson will back in their current roles, and Ryan said that Gardenhire was on board with the decisions even though the coaches were all his good friends.

“It was a difficult day for us because most of those guys were with us 20-plus years,” Ryan said.
“It’s not easy. They’re loyal and hard-working but in this business sometimes change is a necessary evil.”

Gardenhire, who has led the Twins to six division titles, also will not be getting an extension this offseason, as his contract is set to expire after next year. Ryan, though, said that Gardenhire could get an extension if the team turns it around next season.

“I explained it to Ron and he accepted that,” Ryan said. “He said he didn’t deserve an extension.”

Ryan said he’ll work with Gardenhire over the next few weeks to hire three new coaches. Top candidates are Triple-A Rochester manager Gene Glynn, Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky and Triple-A pitching coach Bobby Cuellar. Assistant trainer Dave Pruemer is also a candidate to replace McWane.

“There are rumors flying around about who is coming up here but those names are legitimate candidates,” Ryan said. “That’s about as far as I’ll go on that.”

Ryan, who said he hopes to hire a Spanish-speaking coach, added that Hall of Famer Paul Molitor is no longer in the running despite publicly stating interest on Thursday in a radio interview with 1500 ESPN.

“I’ve talked to Paul about this and at this time he’s not going to be a fit,” Ryan said.

Ryan said once the coaching staff is set, the next goal will be to improve the roster and acquiring starting pitching will be the top priority.

Pohlad said that payroll will not be a concern this offseason but wouldn’t give a firm number on what that’ll be. The Twins entered the 2012 season with a payroll right around $100 million.

“We’ve never told anybody they have to spend X dollars or that they can’t spend whatever they are recommending,” Pohlad said. “So it could go up, it could go down. It’s whatever Terry tells us. We’ve talked about spending in that 50 percent of revenue but it doesn’t mean Terry will spend that.”

Ryan said that the payroll situation will be fluid and that it should not hinder him from acquiring the starting pitching the club needs to compete next season.

“I think we can quit fooling ourselves that money is the answer,” Ryan said. “We’re going to have to make good decisions to create a pitching staff that’s going to give us a chance.”

Ryan, though, added that it won’t be an easy task for the Twins to bounce back after two disappointing seasons to be contenders in 2013.

“It’s going to take everything we’ve got to turn it around quickly,” Ryan said. “We’re going to have to hit better, field better, pitch better and close games better. We didn’t get to where we are by doing too many things right. We had a tough go.”

Twins shake up their coaching staff

MINNEAPOLIS — The Twins shook up their coaching staff on Thursday, as they did not offer 2013 contacts to bullpen coach Rick Stelmaszek, third-base coach Steve Liddle, first-base coach Jerry White and head athletic trainer Rick McWane.

Additionally, the Twins reassigned hitting coach Joe Vavra to a new role as infielder instructor while also reassigning bench coach Scott Ullger to a new role as outfield instructor. Manager Ron Gardenhire will remain in his current role as well as pitching coach Rick Anderson.

General manager Terry Ryan was not available for comment, as he is slated to meet with the media on Friday along with owner Jim Pohlad and president Dave St. Peter.

The moves come a day after the club finished with the worst record in the American League for a second straight year. Ryan met with all of the coaches individually on Thursday.

Stelmaszek was the longest-tenured member of the staff, as he completed his 32nd year as a coach with the Twins. He got his start in the organization as the manager of Class A Wisconsin in 1978 before joining Minnesota’s coaching staff in 1981.

Liddle, who had been with the organization since 1987, was the club’s third-base coach for the two seasons after serving as bench coach for the previous 10 years. He also served as Twins Minor League Field Coordinator from ’99-01.

White joined the Twins organization in ’87 as a Minor League instructor before joining the Major League staff as first-base coach in ’98. He played in parts of 11 big league seasons with the Expos and Cardinals.

McWane spent 24 seasons in the Twins organization and the last eight as the head trainer after serving as the Triple-A trainer from ’96-01 and Twins assistant trainer from ’02-04.

Vavra, meanwhile, became Minnesota’s hitting coach before the 2006 season after serving as the Twins’ Minor League field coordinator from 2002-05. The Twins finished this season with the eighth-most runs in the AL out of 14 teams.

And Ullger served as bench coach for the last two seasons after serving as third-base coach from ’06-11. Ullger, who was drafted by the Twins in 1977, also served as Minnesota’s hitting caoch from ’99-05.

Candidates for promotions include Triple-A Rochester manager Gene Glynn, Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky and Triple-A pitching coach Bobby Cuellar. Hall of Famer Paul Molitor is also a potential candidate to join the staff.

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