A Kubrick-Style Breakdown of Minnesota Twins’ GM Terry Ryan’s Descent Into Madness

It’s no secret that the advisory board here at Dubsism is laden with fans of the Minnesota Twins. The Chairman of that board, the esteemed Dick Marple, is our man on all things Twins, and the newspaper article he pointed out was simply to good not to share.  To appreciate this, you don’t need to be a fan of the Twins; hell, you don’t even need to be a baseball fan. But, if you love a breakdown of a Jack-Nicholson-in-“The Shining” style descent into complete madness, then we have a treat for you, courtesy of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

The article lists several bullet points, but the original piece doesn’t put them in an order in which they really show how bat-shit crazy Ryan really has become. By a simple  re-ordering of these points in terms of how insane they are, the picture becomes clear.

Redrum.

The Bullet Point:  “Doubts he will pursue any elite free-agent pitchers this winter, saying it will be a “thin” market and that he’s averse to signing such pitchers to the long-term deals required to land them.”

“Shining” Crazy Level:  Just getting to the hotel, not crazy yet.

The Rationale: Ryan is actually right about this. If you stop and think about it, especially while perusing the list of pitchers likely to be available, there are precious few exceptions to the original author’s ludicrous use of the word “elite” to describe any of these guys. From Cot’s Baseball Contracts:

* – Player whose current contract includes 2013 option

  • Scott Baker *
  • Erik Bedard
  • Joe Blanton
  • Bartolo Colon
  • Aaron Cook
  • Kevin Correia
  • Jorge De La Rosa *
  • Ryan Dempster
  • R.A. Dickey *
  • Scott Feldman *
  • Gavin Floyd *
  • Jeff Francis
  • Freddy Garcia
  • Zack Greinke
  • Jeremy Guthrie
  • Rich Harden
  • Dan Haren *
  • Roberto Hernandez *
  • Tim Hudson *
  • Edwin Jackson
  • Hiroki Kuroda
  • Colby Lewis
  • Francisco Liriano
  • Kyle Lohse
  • Derek Lowe
  • Paul Maholm *
  • Shaun Marcum
  • Jason Marquis
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka
  • Brandon McCarthy
  • Kevin Millwood
  • Jamie Moyer
  • Roy Oswalt
  • Carl Pavano
  • Jake Peavy *
  • Anibal Sanchez
  • Jonathan Sanchez
  • Ervin Santana *
  • Joe Saunders
  • James Shields *
  • Carlos Villanueva
  • Chien-Ming Wang
  • Kip Wells
  • Randy Wolf
  • Chris Young
  • Carlos Zambrano

It gets a little better if you want to try to shore up the bullpen, but there will still a lot of slag-heaps out there.

  • David Aardsma
  • Jeremy Accardo
  • Mike Adams
  • Jeremy Affeldt
  • Luis Ayala
  • Grant Balfour *
  • Miguel Batista
  • Matt Belisle
  • Rafael Betancourt *
  • Jonathan Broxton
  • Taylor Buchholz
  • Sean Burnett *
  • Tim Byrdak
  • Shawn Camp
  • Matt Capps *
  • D.J. Carrasco
  • Randy Choate
  • Todd Coffey *
  • Jose Contreras *
  • Francisco Cordero
  • Juan Cruz
  • Octavio Dotel
  • Chad Durbin
  • Kyle Farnsworth
  • Pedro Feliciano *
  • Jason Frasor
  • Brian Fuentes *
  • Mike Gonzalez
  • Sean Green
  • Kevin Gregg *
  • Jason Grilli
  • LaTroy Hawkins
  • Clay Hensley
  • Livan Hernandez
  • J.P. Howell
  • Hong-Chih Kuo
  • Casey Janssen
  • Bobby Jenks
  • Brandon League
  • Brad Lidge
  • Matt Lindstrom *
  • Mark Lowe
  • Brandon Lyon
  • Ryan Madson
  • Shawn Marshall
  • Dustin McGowan
  • Guillermo Mota
  • Peter Moylan
  • Brett Myers *
  • Pat Neshek
  • Will Ohman
  • Darren Oliver *
  • Juan Carlos Oviedo (aka Leo Nunez)
  • Vicente Padilla
  • Tony Pena
  • Brad Penny
  • Joel Peralta
  • J.J. Putz *
  • Chad Qualls
  • Ramon Ramirez
  • Jon Rauch
  • Francisco Rodriguez
  • Mariano Rivera
  • Fernando Rodney
  • J.C. Romero
  • Takashi Saito
  • Joakim Soria *
  • Rafael Soriano *
  • Hisanori Takahashi
  • Robinson Tejeda
  • Jose Valverde
  • Carlos Villanueva
  • Jamey Wright

Sure, there might be a few guys that might be interesting, but it isn’t crazy to say “I’m not going to be the guy who gives R.A. Dickey $12 million.”

The Bullet Point:  “Would consider re-signing pending free-agent pitchers Scott Baker and Carl Pavano.”

“Shining” Crazy Level:  The writer’s block is just setting in; he’s more frustrated than crazy.

The Rationale: Unless you are going to take a Louisville Slugger to the piggy-back, why not stick with the devil you know versus the one you don’t?

“You have to be open to a lot of things when you’re looking for starting pitching,” he said. “You’ve going to have to take some risks and you’re going to have to look at all markets, not just free agency, but trades and waivers and Rule 5s. But if you want to do it the correct way, that’s going to provide stability over the long haul, you’re going to have to draft and develop guys, too.

“Even when we had rotations that were darn good, we got them from about every avenue. We have to do the same thing moving forward here.”

After all, it isn’t like the Twins are climbing out of the crapper in 2013, so why blow money now on what could easily be another flame-job?

The Bullet Point:  “Insists that he, not the previous general manager, the manager or ownership, should take the blame for this season.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: He’s now talking to Lloyd the invisible bartender; welcome to Warning Sign City.

The Rationale: Terry, it’s time to realize a few basic facts here. The Twins didn’t go from perennial-division winner to the Blue Astros overnight. There was a progression involved here, and on that started long before you stepped back in the general manager’s seat.  Now, having said that, let’s look at some examples of your work from both stints as the general manager:

  • Butch Huskey
  • Rondell White
  • Tony Batista
  • Ruben Sierra
  • Ramon Ortiz
  • Sidney Ponson
  • Joel Zumaya

Now, Terry, before you try to hoggy-pants all the blame for what has gone wrong in Minnesota, let’s take a look at what your immediate predecessor Bill Smith did.

His two best moves:

  • Carl Pavano (now, if he cost $16.5 million for two years, imagine what some of the guys on the aforementioned list might get…)
  • Jim Thome (once for $3 million, then again for $1.5 million, then traded for the dreaded “player to be named later”)

But then there’s this list of Smith signees…

  • Orlando Hudson – one year, $5 million
  • Joe Crede – one year, $2.5 million
  • Luis Ayala – one year, $1.3 million
  • Nick Punto – two years, $8.5 million
  • Livan Hernandez  – one year, $5 million
  • Mike Lamb –  two years, $6.6 million
  • Adam Everett – one year, $2.8 million

Shelley Duvall could be the typical weak-hitting middle-infielder of the Bill Smith era.

Ryan goes on to the following quote:

“We have not played well,” Ryan said. “And everything comes underneath my umbrella. So I’ll go through the next month and we’ll see exactly where we stand here, but sooner rather than later Mr. Pohlad has got to get a decision out of me. I know he can’t go on forever with this setup.”

There’s enough blame to go around here, Terry. Trying to pretend this is all your doing won’t help it get fixed.

The Bullet Point:  “Wants people to stop blaming Joe Mauer for the team’s problems.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: Making out with the naked ghost of Room 237

The Rationale: Forget about it Terry. It’s never going to happen.

“Does the eight-year, $184 million contract belonging to his other former MVP, Mauer, make his job more difficult? “No, it does not,” he said. “We’ve got to quit blaming Joe Mauer for any ills we have. If you took his name off the line and just looked at the statistics, you’d say, geez, this guy is really good.”

When a quasi-anonymous assistant football coach gets caught raping kids, the famous head coach takes the fall. When a team goes from division-winners to cellar-dwellars, the $23 million dollar singles-hitter is going to take the blame, fairly or not.

To quote the aforementioned Chairman Marple: “Minneapolis man reports several years of being butt-fucked by Jim Pohlad, Bill Smith, Terry Ryan, and Ron Gardenhire.”

“Come and play with us, Danny Valencia.”

The Bullet Point:  “Considers Justin Morneau a “core” player whom he expects to thrive next season.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: The hallway, the elevator full of blood, and those creepy twins

The Rationale: Time for some brutal honesty. Justin Morneau is never again going to be the MVP caliber player he once was.  The concussion issue has taken its toll, and despite the fact he is having a respectable season, he’s making MVP money.  That’s the problem.

“Morneau has been the subject of trade rumors. Ryan spoke of him as a key part of next year’s team.”

“I look at this as a transition year for him, because last year he didn’t get enough at-bats,” Ryan said. “I’m pleased with his progress. There was a time this spring when we didn’t think he was going to play any first base for us. We’ve come a long way from that point.”

While it is true “they’ve come a long way,” it is also true that they haven’t come back nearly to the height of the original fall.  Think about it this way. The Twins couldn’t unload Morneau on the Dodgers, a team who later ate nearly a quarter-billion dollars in salary to take on risks like Carl Crawford and Josh Beckett.

“I think his numbers are going to return. I think he’s a core guy. He’s a former MVP who’s what, 31? He’s one of the most important people in this organization, no doubt.”

Twins fans are all too familiar with big. slugging, Canadian lefties who show off a brief period of huge promise, then concussions end it all.  Raise your hand if you remember Corey Koskie.

The Bullet Point: “Won’t force Gardenhire to make changes to his coaching staff.”

“Shining” Crazy Level:  He’s coning through the door with the axe.

The Rationale: Two more dead-give away quotes:

“The most likely scapegoats in any baseball organization are the major league coaches. Ryan said he would never force Gardenhire to make a change. “It’s not that I would force him or he would force me,” Ryan said. “It would never come to that. If we need to make a change, in my opinion, I would recommend it to him. If he felt the need to make a change, he would bring that to me. Then we would discuss it.”

“I don’t think either one of us should independently make that call. I wouldn’t want to force-feed a coach on a manager. That never works in a clubhouse.”

Somebody ought to put George Stienbrenner’s grave on full Roll-Over Alert.

That leads to the piece d’resistance

The Bullet Point: “Will not fire manager Ron Gardenhire.”

“Shining” Crazy Level: Dude just got it with the axe.

The Rationale: The following two quotes illustrates the problem:

“I’ve never fired a manager because I’ve never had to. That’s as simple as I can put it. I have no interest in changing managers. I don’t see where Ronnie is the problem here.”

“Ryan did not fire Tom Kelly when Kelly was in the midst of eight consecutive losing seasons. He doesn’t plan to fire Gardenhire after two. “Gardy has a good track record,” Ryan said. “We’ve had a couple of tough years. Am I opposed to firing people? No. I’ve fired people in my life. Quite a few, in different departments. You have to do that on occasion. You don’t like to, but sometimes you have to.”

The fact that he’s comparing Tom Kelly, a manager who lived from 1993 on with essentially a Triple-A line-up, to Gardenhire, a manager who couldn’t win with two MVP-caliber players and a host of All-Stars is “makes little snowmen out of his own poop” crazy.

Now, if we could just get Terry Ryan to spend the winter at an isolated resort in the mountains somewhere…

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6 responses

  1. Matt Lawton, Hero to the AAC | Reply

    I feel like you are trolling me into writing 2300 words on the subject. Here is a shorthand response to the points raised.

    1) Bringing back Baker at 6/1yr or 12/2yrs is fine. Reupping Pavano at any price is insane.

    Umm… look at that FA SP list again. Good god. After Grienke, Jackson, Marcum and Dempster – why can’t a healthy Baker be the best FA pitcher? His upside is slightly above average. Besides Diamond, the Twins have only longshot AAA kids Gibson and Wimmers who have above average upside. Every single other SP in the organizations upside is average or slightly below.

    Read that sentence again – the UPSIDE of Deduno, Devries, Blackburn, Duensing, Fien and Hendriks is average or slightly below. This is akin to a restaurant staffing 6 cooks who’s best case scenario is they don’t get anyone sick. Pavano qualifies here. Why pay any more than league minimum for upside of average?

    Slightly above average does not grow on trees. As the Twins have painfully realized over 2011 and 2012. Thus paying Baker 6 mil (what they are forced to play Blackburn in 2013) is the definition or a calculated risk.

    More in next comment…

  2. -Gardenhire’s lifetime contract with his buddy-system coaching staff defies logic. His “success” has been winning division titles in the AL Central. His playoff record is 6-21 with an absurd number of consecutive losses. For those of us following the team closely, his roster and line up decisions seem to lean strongly toward white guys without Spanish accents (a few exceptions this September, with expanded rosters). How can a team not have a
    Spanish-speaking coach at this time in BB history ? Guys with competitive fire (regardless of color) are deemed to have attitude problems and rarely escape the manager’s doghouse.

    -The failure of the Twins’ “pitch to contact” (aka soft-tossers) philosophy was recently illustrated by the fact that major league hitters produce numbers almost identical to Buster Posey -WHEN they put a ball in play. Twins P’s are a distant last in the majors in K’s over the last decade which means more balls are put in play against them.. .

    -There will be no joy in Twinsville until Ryan re-retires, Bill Smith is gone, and Gardenhire and his coaches are “allowed to resign”. Changes are also needed in the scouting and training/medical staffs. Nothing to lose by promoting the Rochester (AAA) crew of Mgr Gene Glynn*, and coaches Tom Brunansky and Bobby Cuellar. Dramatic improvement was seen this year on that club after a few nightmare seasons.

    *Glynn has coached under Felipe Alou and Don Baylor, so he might have more tolerance for players who don’t look or sound exactly like he does. .

    -I’m not as down on Morneau. He’s been hitting and driving in runs since his wrist has improved. Must be leery of anyone with “concussion symptoms”, but I think he is making an effort.

    Thanks for the column and the kudos in the intro.

    1. When you say Gardenhire should be “allowed to retire,” I’m assuming you mean like how Scatman Crothers was “allowed to retire” from the hotel…

  3. I wish I could take credit for that. I got so wound up in the local agony that I forgot to tip the proverbial hat to you and to my favorite Stanley
    (sorry, Mr Musial).

    1. It’s is acceptable to separate “Stan” and “Stanley.” That’s how we can simulateously appreaciate Dick Allen and Richie Ashburn, or Robert Feller and Bob Uecker…

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