In a Perfect World… Terry Ryan Will Right the Ship

In a perfect world as a Minnesota Twins fan…

  • The Twins would build a brand new, state-of-the-art stadium that would provide a sense of pride to the organization and fan base. This stadium would bring in excess revenues to the team, the city, and surrounding businesses in the area. Fans would be able to enjoy outdoor baseball – as baseball should be played – from, meteorology-wise, one of the nicest areas in the country during the summer. Oh wait, they already built that…
  • Pitching and defense have been a strong suit for the Twins since the early-2000s, experiencing talent such as Johan Santana, Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano (pre-Tommy John surgery), Jesse Crain, Matt Guerrier, Brad Radke, Eddie Guardado, and making due with players like Scott Baker, Kenny Rogers, Kyle Lohse (pre-last couple seasons dominating for the St. Louis Cardinals), Nick Blackburn, Juan Rincon, and J.C. Romero. A few stars are highlighted from this list but, for the most part, the Twins have won with nothing more then a slightly above average pitching staff. A staff that pitches to contact and lets the defense work, and work well the defense did. Yeah, that is what the Twins need! Oh wait, they already had that…
  • The Twins offense had been the blame for lackluster playoff performances since the early-2000s, which means the Twins need to get themselves a potent offense in order to succeed. Oh wait, Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau have each won an MVP award, system players like Denard Span, Ben Revere, Torii Hunter, Jason Kubel, Michael Cuddyer, and Trevor Plouffe have all contributed offensively, and the Twins have brought in players like Josh Willingham, Orlando Hudson, Shannon Stewart, Delmon Young, Ryan Doumit, and Jim Thome to provide an offensive edge against there opponents? Yeah, they already did that…
  • The Twins would have won at least one World Series since the early-2000s. They brought up talent through their farm system, provided enough hitting and pitching, and brought in players from outside their organization to aid in winning some games. Oh wait, despite all of those improvements, the Twins have yet to win a World Series this millennium…

The World Series is over and teams have begun feverishly hashing out game plans to tweak their rosters in hopes of having a parade through the streets of their city next year. The same goes for the Twins, and this offseason in particular has that “win, or else…” mentality already embedded. Perhaps the pressures of aggravated fans, based on record low attendance numbers at Target Field in 2012, and a horrendous win-loss record has ownership and Terry Ryan reeling to try and put a winning team on the field for next season. Ryan has embodied a ”tough guy” persona since his interim label was removed a few weeks ago and he is not shy about letting everyone know that no one’s job is safe:

There are not too many untouchables on this ballclub, if any… We’ve got to do some things to get some pitching in this organization. That is our main objective going into the winter months, fall months.

Finally, a man with power in the front office that has some grit. Yes, Ryan was previously the Twins GM from 1994-2007, so the organization has experienced what he has to offer. But the grit and cutthroat mentality is what the Twins are looking to gain in bringing him back to office, permanently.

Ryan has been a part of some of the most lopsided trades in recent memory the last 20 seasons. He sent Chuck Knoblauch to the New York Yankees in exchange for future All-Star pitcher Eric Milton, outfielder Brian Buchanon (who he flipped for Jason Bartlett years later), Christian Guzman and cash. Knoblauch never achieved the success he had with the Twins in New York, and the eventual success of Milton, Guzman, and Bartlett more than made up for what they had in Knoblauch. Ryan also sent, at the time a fan-favorite, catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for closer-extraordinaire Joe Nathan, Cy Young candidate Francisco Liriano (if not for injury, easily could have been a perennial for the award) and innings eater Boof Bonser. Had Liriano kept true to his rookie season, this trade could have been – very arguably – the most lopsided trade in half a century.

With Terry Ryan at the helm this offseason, his focus is to add up to three starting pitchers he can plug into the rotation immediately. Who those three will be, no one knows, but there are a few almost guarantees he gets to work with. Scott Diamond is all but a lock to be in the starting rotation next season, especially since he won the Twins’ Pitcher of the Year and Most Outstanding Rookie awards this afternoon. Budding starter, Kyle Gibson, is currently tearing up the Arizona Fall League and is showing his potential while recovering from Tommy John surgery. Remember though, if Gibson starts the season with the Major League team he will be on an innings limit, similar to that of Stephen Strasburg. Keeping Gibson’s innings restriction in mind, the Twins and Terry Ryan need to pursue starters that eat up innings in order to protect Gibson as well as fellow young starter, Diamond from over-exertion. If anyone can pull off bringing in talented starting pitching while keeping the Twins within budget, it is Ryan.

In a perfect world… Terry Ryan will bring in two or three starting pitchers via free agency or even through one of his patented lopsided trades, with hopes those pitchers can contribute to a winning season immediately. Pitchers like Brandon McCarthy and Shaun Marcum would be excellent fits via free agency, perhaps even Paul Maholm to add help from the left side of the mound. Even trading lead-off hitter and center-fielder Denard Span for a top-tier starter would not be the worst idea ever, considering the log-jam of talent the Twins system has in the outfield. Kyle Gibson would prove he is a no.1 or no.2 starter and Liam Hendriks erases the notion he is only a really good AAAA-pitcher. Aaron Hicks and Oswaldo Arcia would make their much anticipated Major League debuts and provide a spark around August that catapults them and the team into the playoffs. The bullpen would stay consistent and fresh with the starters all averaging over six innings per start. All defensive struggles from last year would subside. They would be successful by sticking with and learning the fundamentals, and of course starting pitchers would induce more broken bats than line drives into the gaps. Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau go back to their respective MVP-type selves and Josh Willingham proves last year was not a fluke. Ryan Doumit duplicates his season from last year which showed he was the best backup to Mauer. Chris Parmelee stays and sticks as a main-stay in the Twins lineup, providing pop and flexibility at first base, outfield and designated hitter. Either Brian Dozier, Pedro Florimon, or Eduardo Escobar emerges as a quality, every day shortstop. Trevor Plouffe plays third base like he has to keep an egg from breaking all season and cuts his errors in half. And Glen Perkins latches on to the closer role without fault, turning into a left-handed version of late-2000s, Joe Nathan.

All of these projections and name-dropping sound fantastic and make believe, but remember, this speculation is all… in a perfect world.

 

Aug 10, 2012; Minneapolis, MN, USA: Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer (7) celebrates with first baseman Justin Morneau (33) after scoring a run in the first inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Target Field. Mandatory Credit: Jesse Johnson-US PRESSWIRE

 

Topics: Minnesota Twins

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  • PMinell

    If only it were a perfect world…

    I hope Terry Ryan is going to be gritty and make tough decisions, especially when it comes to trades. His track record indicates he might just do it. The world isn’t perfect, but I think there is hope for success in 2013, or at least marked improvement.