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.”