Friday September 5, 2003
DISCUSSION QUESTION OF THE WEEK RESULTS
MORE TWINS THOUGHTS
VIEWPOINT FROM A VIKING FANATIC
Is Terry Ryan “THE MAN” or “THE GOAT”?
It’s time again for the results of another Discussion Question of the Week. But before we get to this week’s question, feel free to take a look at the previous Questions of the Week:
Who Would You Want to Talk To? - Which ball players would you ask questions to?
All-Time Best Lineups - Who would you pick to play on your team?
Your Thoughts on the Twins Chances - Lots of you were ready to give up on the Twins!!
This week’s question actually came as a result of last week’s question. I asked if people thought the Twins still had a chance to win the division, and who would either get them there, or keep them from getting there. Mike, from Chicago, took the question one step further. Let’s take a look again at what he wrote, because it is the source of this week’s question:
“I'm astounded how Terry Ryan has gotten virtually a free ride this year, not only from the press but from observers like you who follow the team a lot more closely than the so-called experts. Wasn't it obvious to everyone after the ALCS (no homers in 5 games) that this team was in desperate need for a thumper, a veteran who could bat in the four hole, drive in 100+ runs with 35-40 homers. I talked to Terry Ryan in spring training this year and asked point blank why he made no effort to fill this glaring void. His response was "what do you expect me to do, sign Barry Bonds?" I said no, but what about Frank Thomas who was very available this off-season or Jim Thome? Obviously, salaries are an issue for this team, but Pohlad says he wants to go out a winner, and I'm sure if Ryan could have put together a package of a couple of his "phenoms" plus throw in Mientkiewicz or one of the other average starters, he could have landed a big bat without a major hit on payroll. Look what Kenny Williams did to land Alomar and Everett or what KC did to get Anderson and <Rondell White>. They're smaller market teams than the Twins, but the difference is their GM's are unafraid to roll the dice. Terry still has the mindset of a scout and believes that his minor league system can produce future stars to keep the twins competitive. This might happen if he(or his scouting department) had any talent, but look at the crap we're left with, despite all the high draft choices we've had: does anyone even remember BJ Garbe, Adam Johnson, Ryan Mills, et. al. Have we developed internally one all-star during his reign? Does anyone think drafting Mauer (another non-power threat) over Mark Prior was a shrewd move? My point is the Ryan regime is a disaster. He's afraid to take risks, even when a couple of moves in the off-season could have built upon last year, rather than make 2002 a one year wonder. Executive of the Year! Organization of the Year! How many votes do you think Mr. Ryan and the Twins will get this year?
This is the real debate that should be going on among true, knowledgeable fans - not the sophomoric question of trying to imagine why anyone thinks this lineup can be expected to finish better than third or over .500. Forget this year and concentrate on the dysfunctional organization that's led to this one-year wonder. Maybe if enough of us put the microscope over this current management, even Carl Pohlad (or better yet, a new, more vigorous ownership unafraid to rock the boat) will realize that a complete overhaul starting with Ryan's firing is a necessity. But I'm afraid that's wishful thinking and we're going to fall to the same pre-2001 levels we had hoped were a thing of the past. Put these questions to your readers and we might get some real dialogue going.
So, we did just that. Here is the question:
Looking at this e-mail, should Terry Ryan take some blame for what’s been going on with the Twins this year? From his lack of bringing in the power hitter they needed, so some of the roster moves during the season, to drafting, to scouting? Basically, how has Terry Ryan done as the Twins GM?
What did you think?
Our good friend Leslie says:
Should Terry Ryan take the blame? Good question. I was a big Terry Ryan critic during the horrible era in the late 90s because his prospects never panned out, not to mention he made horrible trades. To his credit, he has really turned it around lately with the help of the Knoblauch trade. Now the Twins farm system is legit and deep. Sure some guys have struggled like Adam Johnson, but prospects are such a crapshoot.
I think he has done a good job overall. I can't blame him. He is being handcuffed by Pohlad. I am sure if he had his way, Jim Thome would be playing for the Twins not Phillies. If TR had his way, Tony Pena is the manager, not Ron Gardenhire. Basically, Carl Pohlad has the final say on how the Twins are operated.
It would be interesting if Ryan took the Blue Jays job because he would work with a greater budget, not to mention full power too, without the interference of the owner. That would be a good barometer to judge Terry.
He is doing good with what he has to work with.
I would give him a B- mainly because some of the guys that he has drafted in recent years have not panned out well.
This week, I received my first e-mail from outside the contiguous US. This is from Brian, in Homer, Alaska:
Greetings.....this Alaskan Twins fan hasn't given up on Terry at all. I feel it was unrealistic this past off-season expecting this organization to 1.) sign a Thome / Thomas-type contract or 2.) part with the prospects necessary for that type of a trade. Is it so wrong to expect LeCroy or Morneau to step up and produce in the 4-spot? If Hunter were anything close to what he should be doing there certainly wouldn't be as much debate on this. He's as frustrated as any player that I've ever seen in a slump - it has officially gotten to the screaming stage. He's got to look at how Konerko got through his slump and learn something there. We do have a lot to thank Ryan for, but he does think too much like a scout. That, combined with Gardenhire's mistrust of anyone close to being a rookie, is a bad combo. Someone needs to bring these two closer together in philosophy. I bet that there have been some major arguments between the two of them. I'll also bet it was totally Gardenhire's decision to bring Orosco into the fold. What a waste of a roster spot and we lost Padilla AND Sears for him. How many times are we going to see a righty come in and pinch hit against him? What manager wouldn't?
So, as you can see, the general opinion of our readers, however sophomoric it may be, is that Terry Ryan is doing just fine. And, to be honest, I don’t disagree. Did I think Terry Ryan should have made a deal at the trade deadline? Probably. But, you know what, he didn’t, and I’m also OK with that. I happen to think that his thought that the Twins as they are (now with the addition of Shannon Stewart, a move I certainly didn’t agree with at that time!), were good enough to win the American League Central Division. And, well, he’s absolutely right. This is generally the same team that won the division last year. It has seriously struggled with complacency and consistency, but that is not the fault of the General Manager.
To specifically answer the questions that Mike asked:
Do you really think the Twins were in any position to sign Jim Thome? He signed a $65 million contract with Philadelphia! The Twins wouldn’t have been allowed to give half that much. At the time, I thought that Frank Thomas was someone the Twins should talk to. With the way the White Sox disrespected Thomas, I couldn’t believe he re-signed with them. However, for what he signed with the White Sox, he could never have been a Twins player.
And, I noticed you wrote above, regarding the White Sox and Royals, “They're smaller market teams than the Twins”… Since when is Chicago a ‘smaller market’ than Minneapolis?
Although Alomar and Everett may be the bigger names, the Royals may have done better getting Rondell White and Brian Anderson, and especially in my opinion, Curtis Leskanic! But, aside from Leskanic, which of these players would have made the Twins better? Again, I wanted the Twins to make a deal to get better, NOT make a deal just to make a deal! Taking risks, just for the sake of taking risks doesn’t always pay off. I do think Terry Ryan knows what he’s doing.
The draft choices - Garbe, Mills and Johnson could probably all be considered busts at this point. I won’t even pretend to argue that point! But on the Mauer question… No one will probably say they’d rather have Mauer and all his potential than Mark Prior, but Prior would not have signed with the Twins. Mark Texeira (who was drafted 4th in the 2001 draft) wouldn’t have either. Joe Mauer is proving to be a far bigger prospect than anyone would have even predicted! So, it’s impossible to say that drafting Mauer was a bad thing!
I do have to agree with Mike on a couple of points though. First, I do think a new ownership regime would be very good for the Twins and their fans! Carl Pohlad did a wonderful thing when he purchased the Twins in the mid-‘80s. But, over the past five or six years, he just does not seem to care as much, no matter what he might say. And, Twins fans won’t, and shouldn’t, forget the fact that he was more than willing to have the team simply contracted!
Secondly, I think Terry Ryan has assembled a pretty good team, a team that last year won over 90 games. Even this year, the Twins are on a pace to win 85 games, and still have a chance at a post-season berth. However, this team has not played well, has not played consistently, has been uptight, has had plenty of internal controversy, and that can’t be blamed on the General Manager. The blame for that needs to go to the manager. Actually, it should go to certain individual players, but it will go to the manager. As we all have noticed, Ron Gardenhire does not have a contract yet for next season! How they finish the season may very well decide whether he returns next year.
So, to summarize, I think Terry Ryan is doing just fine and should be commended. Did he deserve Executive of the Year for 2002? Absolutely. Does he deserve it for 2003? Absolutely not. But has he really done anything differently? Nope.
More Twins Thoughts
Yesterday, the Royals lost a 6-5 decision to the Arizona Diamondbacks in a make-up game from an earlier rain-out. So again, going into this weekend’s Texas Rangers series, the Twins and White Sox are tied for first place, while the Kansas City Royals are 1.5 games back.
Last month, I wrote about a number of the different charities that the Twins players and their wives, specifically Doug and Jodi Mientkiewicz, participate in throughout the year. Last night, the Mientkiewicz’s hosted their “Night of 1,000 Heroes” event for the Parker Hughes Cancer Center.
Most Minnesota Twins-related sites wondered aloud all season why Johan Santana remained in the bullpen for so long. It made no sense to have their best pitcher working in mop-up type situations. Santana has now been in the starting rotation for a couple of months now, and how has he done? Well, yesterday, Johan Santana was named the AL Pitcher of the Month for August. For the month, Johan went 5-0 with a 1.07 ERA. He also struck out 44 batters in 42 innings. In his 13 starts this season, Santana is 8-2 with a 2.24 ERA.
I should also point out that Kyle Lohse went 5-1 with a 3.83 ERA for August. Kenny Rogers was 3-1 with a 2.61 ERA in August, and Brad Radke finished the month 3-1 as well.
Here are the pitching matchups for this weekend’s Twins/Rangers series (a series in which I will be in attendance for both Friday and Saturday’s games!):
Friday night - Johan Santana (9-3, 2.72) vs. Mickey Calloway (1-5, 6.29)
Saturday morning - Brad Radke (10-10-5.02) vs. R.A. Dickey (8-6, 4.92)
Sunday afternoon - Kenny Rogers (11-7, 4.80) vs. Colby Lewis (7-9, 7.85)
If you read my Vikings Preview this week, you read:
“I think the Vikings can be compared to baseball’s Texas Rangers. The Rangers can score some runs, they have a lot of big boppers. One has to think that if they had ANY pitching, the Rangers would be great. Likewise, the Vikings have all kinds of offensive weapons (even without Michael Bennett), and I think that if they have ANY form of defense, they should be successful.”
Hopefully the Twins will be able to win 2 out of 3 again this weekend! But I am looking forward to being out in the left field seats when the Rangers are taking Batting Practice!
Just one more quick baseball note. This came from the Lee Sinnis entry from yesterday:
One of the best baseball related lines I've seen in a while comes from Rotoworld.com--"Doug Mirabelli missed tonight's game to be with his wife, Kristin, who is expecting a child. We'll assume she's pregnant. Otherwise, she's likely to be disappointed."
I have nothing to add to that. I just thought it was hilarious and wanted to share it!
VIEWPOINT OF A VIKING FANATIC
This is a new segment of the site. At this point, we don’t know if it’ll be a weekly segment or what, but if you think it should be, please let us know! Denise is a good friend of mine, who, despite being small in stature, is one of the Biggest Vikings fans, I have ever met. I thought it might be interesting for her to write a brief segment heading into the season opener on Sunday. I thought it would be good to get a different perspective of the Vikings from time to time. So, here is installment #1.
Hi everyone! My name is Denise, and I am a HUGE Vikings fan! I have been for as long as I can remember. And NO, I am not one of those fair weather fans either….I am a TRUE fan. Whether they are up or down, I’m there…watching them or crying with them.
There is one thing that bugs me. Actually, it really makes it tough to be a fan sometimes!
Up until that 1998 season, I would always go into a game with the thought that our Vikes are not all that great (but I still loved them anyways). But when they did win, there was a celebration (and boy did I celebrate!!). But when they lost…I still celebrated cuz we just didn’t have the talent like the other teams did. So when we did win one of those games that we were not supposed to, that was the all-time best!
But, the day we drafted and signed Randy Moss, things changed. We (the Vikings) put together that 15-1 season. I sat there going into these games with the thought “another year of getting our butts kicked” but with hopes that we would be that fairy tale team that come out of nowhere”. Well, I sat there watching that team win week after week, still not getting my hopes up…but it was getting harder not too. With Three Deep (WRs Cris Carter, Jake Reed and Randy Moss), the Vikings were rolling to the Division Championship. Then to see members of our team being able to pull those legs off the irregular Turkey (Turduckett) on Thanksgiving Day – my world had changed…I was now sucked into that “our team is unbeatable and watch out(!) cuz here we come” attitude.
But then, as you all know, Morten Anderson and the Falcons took that Super Bowl dream away – I was crushed! I remember watching that game in my basement with a bunch of friends and family and thinking “in less than 3 minutes, my dream of seeing the Vikings in the Super Bowl will be a reality. It has finally arrived!” Well, it didn’t, and ever since that year I have had such high hopes that it’s almost hard to watch the games that we are getting our butts kicked! But, I still do with the hopes of some day seeing our Vikings in the Super Bowl!!
Well, will 2003-04 be our Season to shine again? Is Culpepper going to be able to be more relaxed out on the field with that nice new contract he has?? Well, I guess we’ll just have to wait and see!! Hope you all watch the best season opener yet…Green Bay vs. Minnesota @ Green Bay. A victory like that to start off the year would be SWEET! GOOD LUCK BOYS!!
So there you have it, the thoughts of a Big-Time Vikings fan. Be sure to check out my Vikings Preview. Also, be sure to look at the Football Picks/Predictions posting from yesterday. In it, there is a panel of nine people who picked the winners of all 16 NFL games this weekend, as well as other predictions for the 2003 NFL Season. To keep up with how we are all doing with our picks, click here.
Well, by the time you read this, I will be on the road toward the Metrodome! Everyone, have a great Friday, and a wonderful and safe weekend!
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