Earlier this week, the Minnesota Twins fired Terry Ryan, the club’s general manager since 2011, and from 1994 through 2007 before that. The Twins got off to a historically bad start in 2016, and the season is set to become the organization’s fifth losing campaign in six years. Next year should be similar, because of restrictions put on the future general manager by owner Jim Pohlad at a team press conference on Monday.
According to Star Tribune columnist Jim Souhan, Paul Molitor will remain as manager of the club next season. While keeping Molitor as the manager is not a mistake—he did bring the team within three games of the playoffs and to a winning record in 2015—mandating it can put significant limits on what Ryan’s replacement will be able to do.
When Jed Hoyer went to the Cubs in 2011, he brought in Dale Sveum for his first two years in Chicago. Now, he has Joe Maddon, and the Cubs are, as of this writing, 20 games above .500 and hold a significant lead in the National League Central Division. Hoyer had a partner in Theo Epstein, the club’s president of baseball operations. That will not be the case for the next general manager of the Twins. David St. Peter will still be the Twins’ president, and with Molitor as the manager, the next GM will be positioned both above and below someone from the “old” regime.
Molitor may be the manager for the team for years to come, and he may be the right man for the job, but the mandate has the potential to cool interest from available candidates, who should have the ability to insert a manager that shares the candidate’s vision for how to move forward.
If the general manager’s role is to play the long game, and position the franchise for success beyond this year or next, then even if the future general manager takes steps to fix what the team’s owner once called a “total system failure,” it will not happen fast. Whoever becomes the next general manager may be quick to sign free agents that fit his vision, but that alone would be a short term fix, if even that.
It starts with scouting for both the draft and free agents. The Twins have whiffed on too many players to count, such as Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Highly touted prospect Byron Buxton, the second overall pick in 2012, carries a career .205 batting average into the trade deadline, and has bounced between the majors and minors for parts of the last two seasons.
When the next general manager gets scouting under control and drafts smart, it may still take a few years for that talent to reach the major league club. Until then, the Minnesota Twins are likely to continue being bad; next year, and potentially beyond.
Gordy Stillman is a sports reporter/columnist/blogger currently based in the New York area, who still listens to his hometown sports radio stations. Be sure to follow him on Twitter and check out his portfolio site for more of his columns and articles.
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