Jim Souhan: Patience might not work for Ryan this time

  • Article by: JIM SOUHAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 15, 2007 - 12:03 AM

The Twins GM is known for his caution in building a team, but time might be running out.

What many general managers are to stopwatches, Terry Ryan is to the sun dial.

Ryan, the Twins' renowned GM, has wielded patience as both weapon and shield. His patience has allowed him to avoid the kind of grotesque, long-term free-agent signings that hamstring other franchises, has allowed him to wait for young players to develop long after other GMs would have given up on them.

Torii Hunter, Michael Cuddyer, Jason Bartlett and Justin Morneau were considered slow-developing or disappointing at one point in their careers, and Johan Santana was a Rule 5 draftee who didn't know how to throw a changeup.

So it's difficult to criticize Ryan — the best sports executive in town — for continuing to exercise caution and patience. This week's developments — including Ichiro Suzuki agreeing to a $90 million deal — provided a lesson Ryan should heed:

If you want to be able to afford a star player tomorrow, you should have signed him yesterday.

Ryan is facing a different set of challenges with his current roster than he did with the resurrection Twins of 2001-04. That team played better than the sum of its Mientkiewiczes, but Ryan made the right decision in letting Eddie Guardado, Cristian Guzman and LaTroy Hawkins leave, in trading A.J. Pierzynski.

Ryan has made remarkably few major mistakes since his franchise-changing masterstroke — the Chuck Knoblauch deal — in 1998.

He cut loose David Ortiz, which was obviously a mistake but made sense at the time. Ortiz was injury-prone and underachieving, and that wasn't the kind of player Ryan wanted to reward. And he signed Joe Mays to a $20 million contract based on one outstanding year.

Ryan has made lesser mistakes, like thinking the likes of Sidney Ponson, Ramon Ortiz, Tony Batista and Juan Castro could help a contender. If he would have taken all the money he's spent on those players — and Lew Ford, and Ruben Sierra, and Rondell White, etc. — he might have been able to add one productive free agent, or be in a better position to sign one of his big-time players now.

In terms of the overall job he's done, this is nitpicking. Ryan has resurrected an entire low-revenue franchise, helping it become remarkably popular and positioned it to acquire public support for a new stadium.

Ryan's old tactics might not serve him well in his current situation, though. Now he's facing the loss of two prime Twins in the next two seasons.

In the last calendar year, Torii Hunter has become the best all-around center fielder in the game. Johan Santana has been the best pitcher in baseball since August of 2003.

Typically, the Pohlads have anted up for franchise players. Kirby Puckett's deal was briefly the richest in baseball history. Because of the decline of the Twins' fortunes and, eventually, his health, Puckett's deal could be considered a mistake, in terms of wins-per-dollar ratio.

Does anybody affiliated with the Twins regret it, even in the light of Puckett's off-field problems? Hardly.

It's decision time again, and the recent negotiations conducted by other teams haven't helped Ryan's cause. Ichiro's deal and agent Scott Boras' assertion that Alex Rodriguez will seek a $30 million a year deal indicate that the market will explode again this winter, and tell us how Ryan should have proceeded.

He should have signed Justin Morneau to a long-term deal this spring, back when Morneau was thought to be willing to accept a deal in the same range as Joe Mauer's. Now Morneau could destroy the Twins in arbitration. Ryan should have signed Hunter and Santana before they had a chance to contemplate the current, gilded marketplace.

Ryan's patience is the bedrock on which the Twins are built. As baseball becomes increasingly lucrative and expensive by the minute, and Hunter and Santana eye their options, that bedrock is starting to feel a bit like quicksand.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Chicago 17 FINAL
Detroit 34
Philadelphia 33 FINAL
Dallas 10
Seattle 19 FINAL
San Francisco 3
Cleveland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Washington 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee 11/30/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 11/30/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Cincinnati 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Oakland 11/30/14 12:00 PM
St. Louis
New Orleans 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Carolina 11/30/14 12:00 PM
Arizona 11/30/14 3:05 PM
New England 11/30/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Denver 11/30/14 7:30 PM
Kansas City
Miami 12/1/14 7:30 PM
NY Jets
Edmonton 0 FINAL(OT)
Nashville 1
Robert Morris 71
Santa Clara 57 FINAL
Tennessee 64
Oklahoma 59 FINAL
Butler 46
Austin Peay 79 FINAL
Brown 58
Princeton 56 FINAL
Texas-El Paso 62
Coastal Carolina 67 FINAL
Chattanooga 78
Kansas 76 FINAL
Rhode Island 60
Wisconsin 68 FINAL
Georgetown 65
USC Upstate 68
Long Island 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 73
San Diego 71 FINAL
Xavier 82
Illinois 88 FINAL
Indiana State 62
Cal State Fullerton 67 FINAL
Wright State 62
Western Ky 62 FINAL
Saint Josephs 59
Michigan State 77 FINAL
Rider 45
North Carolina 78
Long Beach State 73 FINAL
Western Mich 55
Marquette 72 FINAL
Georgia Tech 70
Stephen F Austin 73 FINAL
Prairie View 61
Florida 56
Rice 71 FINAL
Mercer 77
San Jose St 56 FINAL
Washington 78
Washington St 43 FINAL
UC Santa Barbara 71
Baylor 71 FINAL
Memphis 47
Texas A&M 17
(6) TCU 48 FINAL
Texas 10
Northern Ill 10:00 AM
Western Mich
Nebraska 11:00 AM
Western Ky 11:00 AM
(19) Marshall
UCF 11:00 AM
So Florida
Houston 11:00 AM
Akron 12:00 PM
Kent State
Ball State 12:00 PM
Bowling Green
Buffalo 12:00 PM
Toledo 12:00 PM
Eastern Mich
Arkansas 1:30 PM
(17) Missouri
Navy 2:00 PM
South Alabama
(13) Arizona State 2:30 PM
(12) Arizona
Stanford 2:30 PM
(9) UCLA
(21) Colorado State 2:30 PM
Air Force
Virginia 7:00 PM
Virginia Tech
East Carolina 7:30 PM
North Texas 11/29/14 11:00 AM
TX-San Antonio
Old Dominion 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Fla Atlantic
(16) Georgia Tech 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(8) Georgia
Kentucky 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(24) Louisville
So Carolina 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(23) Clemson
West Virginia 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Iowa State
Rice 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Louisiana Tech
Michigan 11/29/14 11:00 AM
(7) Ohio State
Purdue 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Illinois 11/29/14 11:00 AM
Cincinnati 11/29/14 11:00 AM
NC State 11/29/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Syracuse 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Louisiana 11/29/14 11:30 AM
Utah 11/29/14 12:00 PM
Texas State 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Georgia State
Idaho 11/29/14 1:00 PM
Appalachian St
Wyoming 11/29/14 2:00 PM
New Mexico
New Mexico St 11/29/14 2:00 PM
Arkansas State
UAB 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Southern Miss
(4) Miss State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(18) Ole Miss
Notre Dame 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(10) Michigan State 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Penn State
(22) Minnesota 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(14) Wisconsin
(5) Baylor 11/29/14 2:30 PM
Texas Tech
Florida 11/29/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
Rutgers 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Jose St 11/29/14 2:30 PM
San Diego St
Tennessee 11/29/14 3:00 PM
Kansas 11/29/14 3:00 PM
(11) Kansas State
Connecticut 11/29/14 3:00 PM
BYU 11/29/14 3:30 PM
ULM 11/29/14 5:00 PM
Ga Southern
Middle Tennessee 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Texas-El Paso
Hawaii 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Fresno State
Wake Forest 11/29/14 6:00 PM
Pittsburgh 11/29/14 6:00 PM
(15) Auburn 11/29/14 6:45 PM
(2) Alabama
(3) Oregon 11/29/14 7:00 PM
Oregon State
Utah State 11/29/14 9:15 PM
(25) Boise State
Washington 11/29/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Nevada 11/29/14 9:30 PM
UCF 12/4/14 6:30 PM
East Carolina
Hamilton 11/30/14 5:00 PM
Hartford 43 FINAL
Furman 53
Clemson 77 FINAL
Ohio State 86
Idaho State 53 FINAL
San Diego State 68
East Carolina 58 FINAL
(22) Syracuse 69
Santa Clara 0 Cancelled
Texas-El Paso 0
Florida State 68 FINAL
Washington 80
Wichita State 39 FINAL
Fla Gulf Coast 56
Wisconsin 44 FINAL
(1) South Carolina 67
Kansas State 0 Cancelled
BYU-Hawaii 52
Charlotte 58 FINAL
Montana 67
Illinois 77 FINAL
(9) Kentucky 71
Central Michigan 61 FINAL
Richmond 56
Oklahoma 68 FINAL
South Florida 83
Princeton 72 FINAL
Wake Forest 55
(19) Oregon State 85 FINAL
Butler 53


question of the day

Poll: Will the Gophers bring home The Axe?

Weekly Question





Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters