As I did last year, I paid a visit to TwinsFest 2007 today. However, Mr. Nelson did not accompany me this time around, so I represent the blog in this facility. As expected, people are still very exicited about this club despite the way the off-season has gone.
One of the things I enjoyed the most last year was listening in on live interviews on Twins radio. As I did last year, I briefly met Terry Ryan before listening to the interview. Ryan seemed to understand the issues at hand for the Twins, mainly with starting pitching. The unfortunate thing is that, unlike last year, the fans weren't asking questions and instead the discussion was guided by Dan Gladden.
Thus, no one asked why Ryan was so eager to give Ortiz a one-year, $3.1 million contract or his feelings on Sidney Ponson. However, Gladden did prompt Ryan on the youth and their role in the previous year, specifically referencing Matt Garza. Ryan responded that Garza was somewhat "arrogant," but very confident, has four good pitches, and can be a top-of-the-line starter in the very near future. He said that we haven't "seen the real Garza yet."
Ryan seemed to imply that Garza may have a good chance in spring training to get a rotation spot, as he said that the only real focus he and his advisors will have during spring training will be the starting rotation. Let's hope that at least one of the younger pitchers will get a "fair shake," as Ryan would put it.
Ryan also discussed the future of Johan Santana. A recent ESPN article suggests that Santana may be looking for a very big pay-day. His agent Peter Greenberg was quoted as saying, "You're not going to tell me that the Royals have more money than the Twins... Carl Pohlad is one of the richest men in the world."
Many Twins fans, and this site in particular, have been concerned with Santana's future. The article suggests that the Twins have only this off-season to extend Santana's contract or they will have to trade him. Ryan seemed optimistic about the chances of getting extensions done for Santana and others, as he said that players deserve their "fair shake" and that many had outstanding years deserving of high raises.
Ryan, in other words, continued his trademark honesty that makes him so respected amongst his GM peers, who voted him Executive of the Year for the '06 season. I'm not sure the optimism is easily shared after seeing the kind of contracts awful or mediocre pitchers like Gil Meche and Jason Marquis got this off-season, but there is always the chance that Ryan can get Pohlad to drop a little more cash when the potential rewards are considered.
TwinsFest was once again a fun and interesting experience. Personally, I enjoyed my Dome Dog and acquiring Johan Santana, Joe Mauer, and Brad Radke rookie cards on the cheap. Needless to say, its time to get excited about Twins baseball.