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Updated: December 21st, 2012 9:15am
Q&A with Twins GM Terry Ryan: Kevin Correia 'left money on the table'

Q&A with Twins GM Terry Ryan: Kevin Correia 'left money on the table'

by Darren Wolfson
1500ESPN.com
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Editor's note: This was conducted a day before news broke the Twins have agreed to terms with right-hander Mike Pelfrey on a one-year deal.

Why sign pitcher Kevin Correia?

Well, you know we need starting pitching. He has innings history. He still has stuff in him. We had a lot of people see this guy. We train up the road from (the Pirates, whose facility is in Bradenton). We saw him a lot in the spring and summer. We like this guy. He doesn't strike people out, but he has enough stuff makeup-wise that he'll fit in here. He obviously wants to start. He ran into a tough situation with the Pirates when they moved him to the bullpen. He would've been at 200 innings if he didn't get removed from the rotation. He's been durable for about five years, which is good. We need starting pitching and he ultimately is a guy we'll rely on the backend of our rotation.

Why two years and $10 million? Couldn't you have gotten him for one year?

We weren't going to get him.

So, you need to overpay free agents to get them here?

No. He left money on the table.

That surprises me.

He left money on the table. It is as simple as that. The market has gone up.
Correct. Anibal Sanchez's contract (five years, $80 million with Detroit) surprised me.

He was one of the premiere guys. But look at some of the other guys. Joe Blanton at two years, $15 million surprises me.

That's your example. I'll go with it. When you saw that signing come in, I got a couple calls from reporters questioning that money. That's the market. When you want to match up with other clubs, you either have to step up or get out of the way.

You're still talking to a number of agents?

There are a number of guys still out there that we have sincere interest in.

You're spanning the globe for pitchers whether it's Brandon Webb (who hasn't thrown a pitch in the majors since 2009) or many others.

We are. We are looking at guys that require multiple years and roster spots, but also guys that would not. Some are risky, but if you bring them in on a minor league deal, it's advantageous.

Another surprising deal: Jack Hannahan getting two years, $4 million. You liked him though.

We did. We liked him as a guy to complement at third, first and second a little bit. Good for him. He's played a long time. He finally has some security and dollars. He's bounced around the minors. I feel good that Jack got that contract. I hated to lose out because he was a good fit. But I feel good about him getting security.

Who's still left at third base?

There are guys. We'll find somebody.

Any chance Trevor Plouffe moves back to the outfield?

No.

You just want to create competition then, not find someone to trump him?

He'll get every opportunity to play third. That's where we plan on having him.

Is your preference to have a guy play at Triple-A over going from Double-A to the majors?

Not unless they're ready. (Chuck) Knoblauch was. (Scott) Erickson was. Joe Mauer skipped over. Right now, we have some spots open. If the young guys show they're ready physically and mentally, I wouldn't hesitate.

Well, what I'm getting at is Aaron Hicks.

I know. He's coming in. He'll have an opportunity. He had a solid year. The only thing you're a little apprehensive about is he had some years previous where he just didn't separate himself. This year, he did that to a certain extent.

How do you strike this balance? He has a good March, but you then recall his last few years. How do you come to the conclusion of bringing him north?

We would consider everything we know and see. It's not just what he does on the field in March -- handling the left side of the bat, which it looks like he has figured out, how he fits in, whether he could handle the leadoff spot, stuff like that. It's not just how many hits he gets. There's a lot of other factors -- maturity, an ability to lead in center especially if you have (Josh) Willingham and (Chris) Parmelee on the corners. We need a guy who takes charge in center.

Still a good chance Josh Willingham is your opening day left fielder?

Very good chance.

What about Justin Morneau as your opening day first baseman?

Very good chance.

There's still healthy trade dialogue, though.

Always. Willingham put up very good numbers. There has to be interest from a couple clubs. But he fits well here. He had a good year. He fits in nicely between Mauer and Morneau. He's been an ideal piece in the clubhouse. We just found a guy that can do all the things you beg a right-handed power hitter to do. It would be very difficult to part with him.

Any chance you extend Morneau this winter?

He had a transitional year. I'd like to tell you that we should start thinking about that, but I'm not sure we should do that. We need to see how he responds this year. We can always do that. There's no hesitation to do that as we go through the year. That's the right approach right now.

Owner Jim Pohlad told me recently that the playoffs are probably not realistic in 2013, but it's a goal.

On paper you can say that. There's no doubt. The Tigers just signed Sanchez. They have a good club. It's a deep rotation and they have a good offense. I can see on paper how people say we have no chance. But that paper goes away once you get to spring training. We've had years where we didn't look good on paper and then things start to roll. A year ago the Angels were the team everyone was talking about. It didn't work.

Here's another example: White Sox executive Kenny Williams using the word "rebuild" and they were good.

That's true. They had rebound years from a few of their hitters and then (Jose) Quintana is found for the rotation. Also, guys in their bullpen (had good years).
Oakland is another. Nobody talked about them a year ago. It can be done.

But that's the exception. Way more often than not Oakland doesn't happen.

Well, more often than not it happens where a team is favored (and they don't win), so the reverse can hold true.

So, you won't use the word rebuild?

No. We're not rebuilding. We have issues and openings, but we can't call this a rebuilding year. If it was a rebuilding year, we would've done a lot more drastic things.

You and manager Ron Gardenhire in a good spot after he didn't get an extension?

That's never been an issue. The dialogue went two ways. We talked about it. He said he didn't deserve a contract. I volunteered that we weren't going to offer one. He understands. We've had two awful years and that is not acceptable.

Give us a scouting report on Vance Worley.

He's got good size. He's a bulldog. He's got sink. He's got enough velocity. His best pitch is a slider. He's not afraid. He'll use both sides of the plate. He's pretty good.

Does he have to win a job in March?

No. He's locked in. That's a guarantee.

You figure somebody will win a job, maybe Sam Deduno who's pitching well in the Dominican.

He's pitched well. He should be. The level down there is closer to Double- or Triple-A. He's got the capability. As long as he throws it over, he is a guy. But he hasn't. I'm hoping (Nick) Blackburn comes in with the idea that he'll take a spot. There's no reason he should be in the minor leagues.

Have you had some interesting conversations with Blackburn this offseason?

Yes. I'm trying to tell him that people are in his corner. We are. We have a lot invested in him and we'd like to get a return. There was a day he was a darn good pitcher for us. We have to get back to those days.

Outside of a third baseman, any chance you tinker elsewhere with the lineup?

There's a chance. We're looking at a couple spots. But most of our shopping has been around that starting pitching. You can always help with the bullpen and some other areas. Somebody will fall through that we like.

A center fielder?

Could be. We can always add to that number out there.

How hard was it to trade Ben Revere?

Not too easy. He's one of the nicer, energetic guys we've had in a while. It was difficult. When you trade someone with Ben's personality and he's been a good man for us, it's tough when you make that call.

He made you guys look good after many people doubted you when you took him.

Billy Corrigan (scout), Tim O'Neil (scout) and Joe McIlvaine (former front office special assistant) all stamped him as a first rounder. (Senior Vice President of Personnel) Mike Radcliff too. We took heat when we made that selection. But we always liked his bat and his range and his ability to steal a base.

Better chance you sign another pitcher or trade for one?

Sign.

So, no trade for Los Angeles' Chris Capuano?

Sign.

Doug Mientkiewicz as a Single-A manager is a nice move.

He knows how we operate. Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario and a couple other guys will be on that ball club. Doug knows defense and we're trying to get that through to those guys. It's an ideal fit. We are fortunate he wanted to come here. He's a good baseball man.

Jake Mauer moving down a level (to Low-A ball) is not a demotion, right?

Cedar Rapids is right down the road. He has a family with young kids. It's not a demotion. It's a fit. I wouldn't worry about it. Sometimes it's better to be at a lower level. Jake is doing fine.

Darren "Doogie" Wolfson is the jack-of-all-trades sports guy for 5 Eyewitness News and a contributor to 1500ESPN.com.
Email Darren | @darrenwolfson
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