It makes no difference if the Twins commit $60 to $75 million to Torii Hunter and thus have him back for 2008 and beyond. Even with Torii, there will be too many holes in the lineup and pitching staff for the Twins to be looked at as anything more than also-rans when they arrive in southwest Florida in February.
The timing is odd, the move comes as a surprise, Ryan will be missed, and Smith will be forced to hit the ground running immediately, but the Twins are a franchise that remains well positioned for success.
Howard [Sinker] notes this quote from Mr. Ryan right up front:
“The defeats are getting a little bit tougher to take and the wins aren’t as much fun.” — Terry Ryan
That stuck out to me, too, since it sounded eerily familiar to what Mike Hargrove said when unexpectedly resigning from his post as field manager in the middle of a long winning streak:
“But the highs weren’t high enough, the lows were too low. That’s putting it about as simple as I can.” — Mike Hargrove, July 1st
It’s going to be strange not talking to Ryan on a daily basis. I have a job to do, he didn’t like it sometimes and we sparred. But I’m going to make two statements about my 10 years interviewing him. One, you want Terry Ryan to be your next door neighbor. Two, my career is better off for dealing with him.
Given his replacement, the organization, and some signs of decline, losing Ryan may not be as bad as losing a big name star. But nobody, not Hunter or Santana or Mauer or Morneau, has had the positive impact on this franchise that Ryan has over the last ten years. That should be his legacy.
Twins fans should be forever grateful to Ryan for standing tall and displaying loyalty beyond all reason during the attempted contraction of the franchise after the 2001 season.
With the Twins on the brink of contraction, and with the Toronto Blue Jays on the phone to offer him their general manager's job, Ryan put on his life jacket, took a deep breath and prepared to go down with his ship.
Now the last two years have been littered with some questionable free agent signings and unwillingness to trade, but that should not tarnish the reputation of Terry Ryan as a man who can build a franchise the right way, through player development. His unwillingness to trade prospects is part of who Terry Ryan is. It is part of what the Twins stand for, building from within. It is why Bill Smith has earned the opportunity to be the new GM.