Sid Hartman: Months ago, Ryan told team of his plan

  • Article by: SID HARTMAN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 14, 2007 - 12:47 PM

Jim Pohlad said upcoming contract issues didn’t factor in Terry Ryan’s decision — and that the Twins will make every effort to keep their stars.

Twins President Dave St. Peter said Thursday that it was several months ago when Terry Ryan approached Twins Sports Inc. CEO Jim Pohlad, Twins Sports Inc. President Jerry Bell and St. Peter and informed them of his decision to give up the general manager job at the end of the season. All three tried to talk Ryan out of his decision, but he stood by it.

With a big challenge facing Ryan — including Torii Hunter's upcoming free agency and contract concerns for Johan Santana, Joe Nathan and Justin Morneau in following years — Pohlad was asked if Ryan quit because the job of putting a winning team on the field was going to be impossible, given the team's budget restraints.

Pohlad made it clear that this subject never came up and that every effort will be made by the Twins to keep all their productive players.

"I know for a fact that Terry's been thinking about this for probably a little bit longer than he acknowledged up here today. So, I don't think that had anything to do with it," Pohlad said. "I don't want to betray Terry's confidence, but I think he's been thinking about it, like he said, months. It's probably been more than just a few months.

"Well, maybe, but it was tough this season. It was tough in [2005], it could be tougher this year, but not by that significant of a degree."

Pohlad said Bill Smith was a clear choice to be Ryan's successor. "There was no doubt in our mind," Pohlad said. "We listened to what Terry had to say, we listened to what Dave had to say, and what Jerry Bell had to say, and it was pretty much unanimous."

There is no doubt the Twins will do everything they can to bring back Hunter. Pohlad said that there will be a strong effort to keep all the Twins' top talent.

"We've already made some effort [to sign Hunter], but the decision must wait until the end of the season now," Pohlad said. "We'll make an effort again at the end of the season.

"I think probably that Torii's right about that. Maybe during the season is not the right time to talk about that. He's a valuable player. I'm sure he wants to get a feel for the market, as I would. We don't begrudge a player trying to get as much as they possibly are worth."

Pohlad said the additional income from the new stadium will make it easier to sign the players compared to what the revenue is at the Metrodome.

"Clearly, having the additional revenue from the new stadium on the horizon, we're committed to spending in the range ... [of] 50-52 percent of revenue, and with the increase in revenue from the new stadium, there's going to be ample dollars to pay players. It will make a huge difference," he said.

"We go to the major league meetings, we see the statistics. We know what teams in our market size can do. As long as they are willing to spend the money ... and keep it within that percentage of revenue, they can compete."

Pohlad said there isn't any consideration on his family's part to sell the team.

"Absolutely not," he said. "We definitely want to keep baseball here, and we're excited the new stadium is underway and hopefully the little issues that are going on on the side can get resolved."

Kelly not surprised

Tom Kelly, the longtime Twins manager who surprised everybody in 2001 when he decided to quit at the young age of 51, wasn't too surprised Ryan decided to end his run as GM after 13 years.

"I had some inkling that he was maybe thinking that it was time to move along and maybe try something else, and again, you're always a little shocked when somebody finally does that," Kelly said.

"I can't say too much, because I did basically the same thing that he's doing, so if he's happy, then that's all that's important."

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