Terry Ryan estimates $100 million payroll; Krivsky coming aboard
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Shortly after the Minnesota Twins held a press conference to announce the firing of Bill Smith and the re-introduction of Terry Ryan as team general manager, Ryan spoke off to the side about his initial plans to help fix a 99-loss team.
Ryan didn't dive into many specifics regarding free agents, trades or other personnel moves, but he did speak openly about other issues.
• Ryan, sitting next to the team owner and president, said he expects the payroll to drop. "I think our payroll is going to be south of where we were last year," he said. "I'm not a big payroll figure guy. It's not bothersome to me. Whatever it is it's going to be a heck of a lot more than I ever worked with. ... I think it's going to somewhere around 100 (million)." Ryan added, "There's nobody up here that wants to hide anything. If it's 95, if it's 100, if it's 90, we're going to make due with what Jim (Pohlad) and the family and (team president) Dave (St. Peter) give us. I don't believe in payroll being the ultimate factor on success by any stretch. It doesn't hurt any."
The team already has approximately $83 million tied up when estimated arbitration figures are included.
• Ryan doesn't plan on making any changes to the major league coaching staff. He said he will leave it up to manager Ron Gardenhire whether they want to make any changes or not.
• Wayne Krivsky will join the Twins as a pro scout and special advisor to Ryan. Krivsky, the former Reds' GM, has nearly 30 years of experience in baseball, including a stint as a top advisor to Ryan. "He is going to do more professional scouting than anything. Obviously I'm talking to Wayne a lot because I value his opinion a lot."
• When asked if he intended on beefing up international scouting -- presumably in regards to the failed Tsuyoshi Nishioka experiment -- Ryan said, "We've brought in quite a number of pretty good international players in the last five years. Anybody could always do better, but some of our better prospects are from the international world. (Miguel) Sano is an interesting young man. He's got a lot of life in his bat. He's exactly what everybody in this market would hope that we'd sign, and we did, and he's on the right path."
• Paul Molitor's role will likely remain unchanged from last season. "I think he and Bill (Smith) already have an agreement, and I would side with that. I think that agreement has worked well for all of us. I have not talked to Paul yet, because this thing just came together in the last day, but I will. And I'm hoping that would be the case. I love him in that role. I think he's a tremendous asset to this organization in a lot of areas."
• Assistant general manager Rob Antony's role will remain the same as well. "Rob's done a wonderful job. He's got a knack for those contracts, he's got a knack for baseball, he's got a lot more patience than some. And he's got a good rapport with agents, particularly with the players we have that are represented. If anything I'm going to see if I can delegate more to Rob."
• Regarding luring potential free agent targets, Ryan said, "Some players won't have much interest in coming here. Some will relish the fact that they can come here. This isn't exactly the year that we're coming off of 94 wins, that everybody's going to want to come to Minnesota. We've got some issues. Players know that."
• Last month, in an interview with 1500 ESPN, Smith said he expected the team's training and medical staffs would remain the same, but Ryan would not offer the same assurance on Monday. "That needs to be talked about," he said, "We had a tough year in medical, we had a tough year in a lot of areas. Not only up here, but right through the system. We need to do some tweaking at the very least there. When it comes to communication there's areas there that need to be addressed and I plan on doing that. I know Bill was in the process of doing that up until last week. He was worried about it and I'm worried about it. ... The players can only take advice. Players take the advice you give them. ... I would never put it on the players. It's our responsibility to take control of that and we will."
• Ryan emphasized that the team has to be prepared "just in case" Justin Morneau can't play first base. "Parmelee played well. That was a positive. He came up in September and probably was our best guy that we've brought up here as a September recall in years. That was a positive, and it gave us some hope. But I think we'd better be careful anointing him if Justin can't play. But we do have to be prepared. In my wildest dreams, if we can get 140 to 150 games out of Morneau and 130 to 140 out of Mauer somehow, someway, that would be fantastic. That's what we all hope, but I'm not sure it's realistic yet."
• Continuing on the subject of health, Ryan said, "Getting everybody healthy, wouldn't that be a tremendous thing? That would be great. But sometimes you've got to have a backup plan. What happens if they're not healthy? We've got a lot of questions. When we show up to spring training, we've got a lot of questions on the health of this club. We've got to go into it with, 'OK, what happens if he isn't healthy?' We've got to be prepared. ... I know Joe's down in Florida, and he's doing well. Justin's coming off surgeries. I know he has visited physicians. I have not talked to him, obviously, yet. But I will."
• Ryan did confirm that Smith and Antony had been in contact with a number of free agents, but he said he has yet to personally speak with the agents for Joe Nathan, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Kubel or Matt Capps. Cuddyer is already reportedly being heavily pursued by the Philadelphia Phillies, with a number of other teams interested as well.