Notebook: GM Ryan's 'interim' tag removed; Paul Molitor 'not a fit'
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MINNEAPOLIS -- In a roundtable discussion with local media members on Friday, Minnesota Twins owner Jim Pohlad expressed his full confidence in Terry Ryan to turn around a team that has lost nearly 200 games over the past two seasons.
In addition to officially removing the "interim" label from Ryan's general manager title, Pohlad said Ryan can have the job as long as he wants it.
"I'll take Terry any way he wants to be here," Pohlad said. "As long as he's here, that's good enough for me."
Ryan's first stint as Twins general manager began in 1994, and it took seven years before the Twins eventually emerged as American League contenders once again. Ryan stepped down prior to the 2008 season, then took the job once again on an interim basis when Bill Smith was fired on Nov. 7 last year.
Pohlad's high level of confidence in Ryan is not the exception. Ryan, by and large, is well-respected at all levels of the organization.
His multiple tasks this offseason will include hiring a new bullpen coach, hitting coach, bench coach and head athletic trainer. And when offseason transactions begin after the World Series, Ryan must find quality starting pitching.
Molitor 'not a fit'
Paul Molitor expressed his desire to interview for one of the Twins' open coaching positions in an interview with 1500 ESPN Thursday.
But that idea can be put to rest.
"At this time he is not going to be a fit," Ryan said of Molitor, who remains a minor league instructor for the Twins. "I've talked to him about it. We had the discussion. And I know he has interest."
Ryan and Molitor last spoke on Friday morning.
Triple-A hitting coach Tom Brunansky, Triple-A pitching coach Bobby Cuellar and Triple-A manager Gene Glynn appear to be leading candidates to fill the three coaching voids.
Pitching coach Rick Anderson was the only coach who wasn't dismissed or reassigned in Thursday's mass changes.
On the surface, Anderson's stay of execution is a bit of a head-scratcher, considering how many others lost their jobs, and also considering Twins starters posted the worst ERA in the American League this season.
"The starting pitching, all you got to do is look at the numbers," Ryan said. "We were last in starters and team ERA. The relief core -- if you're going to give him the blame for the starters, then let's give him praise for the relief.
"I'm taking the responsibility of this club. It's tough to do business when you don't get enough innings out of your starters. We all know that. But (Anderson) is accountable. He didn't feel too good about what we did. We had that long discussion yesterday. We're going to do some things differently, we're going to end up certainly having some different personnel.
"He's accountable. He isn't hiding, making excuses. We had a difficult year."
Ryan didn't elaborate on what he meant when he said some things might be done differently.
Finding a new head trainer
The dismissal of head athletic trainer Rick McWane is a significant move.
While there is no way to determine who deserves blame for the barrage of injuries the Twins have dealt with over the past couple seasons, there is no denying injuries have been one of the main problems for two 90-loss teams.
According to data collected through the Baseball Prospectus injury database, Twins pitchers have been unavailable for approximately 1,000 days (in-season) since April, 2010. That figure does not include Joel Zumaya (elbow), Kyle Gibson (elbow) or Alex Wimmers (elbow).
Many injuries are not preventable. But Ryan decided a change was needed.
"We did improve (in 2012)," Ryan said. "We had a decent year in that medical area. ... We had a tough year two years ago."
Ryan said assistant trainer Dave Pruemer is a candidate to replace McWane.
"I'm not going to guarantee that I'm going to go outside (the organization)," Ryan said. "I never like to. But if I have to I will. You certainly have to have knowledge, you've got to have a personality that is conducive to about 35 players, a coaching staff. You have got to have freedom, obviously. We ask a lot of them. You have to have a rapport with team physicians. You have to have a rapport with the front office. Those are types of items that you look for in a trainer. ...
"Maybe that's a good thought, and you might have something there. (But) I always make the manager and coaches accountable for injuries. I don't worry about the trainer. He's the one that fixes them, frankly. I worry about how they're used, how many times they're used, making sure their weight's correct, their body fat's correct."
Other coaching notes
- Ryan thinks it's important to hire an Hispanic coach, which could bode well for Cuellar. The Twins have dealt with communication issues with some Hispanic players recently. Alexi Casilla generally acts as the translator for any media sessions with Hispanic players.
- During his time on the major league staff, Scott Ullger has been reassigned from hitting coach to third base coach to bench coach and now to outfield instructor. When asked about the perception that Ullger has been demoted three times, Ryan said, "I believe Scott is a good baseball man. There's always room for improvement, no matter what area you're talking about on the coaching staff. But I do believe Scott Ullger is a good baseball man no matter where you put him. He's managed in our minor leagues forever and done a wonderful job. Just because we've moved him around to various areas, I don't necessarily equate that to a demotion. Changing it up, I don't see any reason to think that's the wrong way to go."