Familiar face puts new ideas into place

  • Article by: JOE CHRISTENSEN , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 9, 2011 - 9:23 AM

Former/current Twins GM Terry Ryan began his new tenure with some reshuffling.

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Twins interim general manager Terry Ryan

Photo: Mckenna Ewen, Star Tribune

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Terry Ryan had his first full day in his new job Tuesday, but he was hardly the new guy at Target Field.

"I knew at least half to three-quarters of the people down in the dining room," Ryan said, one day after being named Twins interim general manager. "That makes it easier, there's no question. I can't imagine jumping into another organization and just coming in cold."

As Ryan zeros his focus on improving the major league roster, front office roles quickly are taking shape. He's surrounded by familiar faces from his previous term as GM, from 1994 to 2007.

Twins insiders believe Bill Smith will return after being fired as GM on Monday. The team offered him a position that would let him tackle some of his former administrative duties for both Ryan and team President Dave St. Peter.

"I would treasure him coming back," Ryan said. "Not just because he and I are close, but he and I have different skill sets. His play off of mine and vice versa."

The Twins are a bigger operation now than 2007, when Smith took over as GM and Ryan moved into a senior adviser role. Target Field has afforded them a bigger budget. In the Metrodome, the Twins knew they had to focus on mining talent through the draft.

That's still important, but they have a bigger payroll, so the pool of major league players they can consider through free agency and trade is larger. The Twins have struggled of late with trades -- see J.J. Hardy for Jim Hoey -- so they are determined to get better at evaluating pro players.

Vice president of player personnel Mike Radcliff and pro scouting coordinator Vern Followell are finalizing plans to beef up the major league scouting staff, adding two positions.

Former assistant GM Wayne Krivsky has been rehired as a special assistant to the GM. Krivsky will scout 15 major league teams, with scout Kenny Compton handling the other 15.

Another subset of major league scouts will divide up the 30 teams and each Class AAA and AA affiliate, but Krivsky and Compton will report directly to Ryan. The system will be much like it was when Krivsky covered the National League and Larry Corrigan covered the American League during Ryan's first term.

This time, the breakdown will be more geographical, with Compton scouting the west and Krivsky scouting the east. Krivsky's fingerprints already could be showing. As Reds GM in 2007, he traded former Twin Kyle Lohse to Philadelphia for lefthander Matt Maloney. The Reds recently placed Maloney on waivers, and the Twins claimed him last week.

On Tuesday, a Cincinnati radio station reported that the Twins have asked the Reds about a trade for righthander Johnny Cueto, who was 9-5 with a 2.31 ERA last season and came through the Reds system when Krivsky was their GM.

Krivsky's return to the Twins won't change current assistant GM Rob Antony's duties. Antony has been the Twins' point man on contract negotiations.

"Rob's done a wonderful job," Ryan said. "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, specifically the ones representing our players."

The Twins think so highly of Radcliff, they declined permission last week for the Orioles to interview him for their GM opening. But Ryan believes Radcliff was "spread too thin" under Smith.

The plan now is to have Radcliff evaluating major league talent in spring training, then focus on the amateur ranks in April, especially this year, with the Twins holding the No. 2 overall pick in the June draft.

"It evolves with the calendar," Ryan said. "At the trade deadline, [Radcliff's] got to be by my side. During the free agent period, he's got to be by my side."

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