The Twins’ front office wrapped up its annual meetings Thursday in Fort Myers, Fla., with consensus and clarity on the direction of the franchise, the plan for next season, and the status of every player in the organization. Everything except one important thing.
“I wouldn’t pretend to tell you that we’re done” with the search for a new manager, said Terry Ryan, the team’s general manager. “We still have a ways to go yet before we get there. But I would say we’re right on schedule.”
Whether that schedule produces the team’s third manager since 1986 before the World Series begins next Tuesday, Ryan wouldn’t say. Major League Baseball discourages teams from making major announcements during the season’s climactic series, and Ryan said he would have no problem waiting until after it’s over to hire Ron Gardenhire’s successor.
For one thing, he said, the decision won’t be easy. “There have been some pleasant surprises so far,” he said after conducting interviews with an undisclosed number of candidates. “People have been very well prepared. They’re well-informed about our team, and that’s people who have been involved with our organization and people outside. It’s been very educational for me.”
Ryan said he has received “a wealth of recommendations” about various candidates, from all over the game. “It’s been good to get some different perspectives,” he said.
In addition to in-house candidates Gene Glynn, Doug Mientkiewicz, Paul Molitor and Terry Steinbach, Ryan is known to have discussed the opening with Boston bench coach Torey Lovullo, Cleveland bench coach Sandy Alomar Jr. and White Sox coach Joe McEwing. And a KSTP report added Toronto coach DeMarlo Hale on Thursday, though Ryan declined to discuss any particular candidates.
“This has been a good process,” Ryan said. “I’m very encouraged about the skills of the people I’ve talked to.”
Hughes is MVP
Phil Hughes was a Yankee castoff last December, allowed to walk away after a 4-14 season, but the Twins believed he was better than that. Turns out, he was.
Hughes, a free agent signee last December, has been elected the 54th winner of the Calvin Griffith Award as Twins’ Most Valuable Player, the team announced on Thursday. Hughes is the sixth pitcher to earn the overall MVP honor in a vote of the Twin Cities chapter of the Baseball Writers Association of America.
After winning 16 games, posting a 3.78 ERA, and walking only 16 batters, Hughes was also named the team’s Pitcher of the Year.
Hughes wasn’t the only pitcher honored by the local BBWAA, however. Pat Neshek, a Park Center graduate with the St. Louis Cardinals, was voted the winner of the Dick Seibert Award as the best major-league player from the Upper Midwest.
For his .319-with-20-steals season, Danny Santana was voted Twins rookie of the year, while shortstop Eduardo Escobar was honored as the most improved Twin. Second baseman Brian Dozier was selected the defensive player of the year, and catcher Kurt Suzuki was chosen for the Bob Allison Award for outstanding leadership.
The Mike Augustin Award winner was Ron Gardenhire, fired earlier this month as Twins manager. He was elected by BBWAA members for his cooperation with the media.
Those award winners, along with minor-league players of the year Kennys Vargas and J.O. Berrios, and community-service award winner Brian Duensing, will be honored at the annual Diamond Awards at Target Field on Jan. 22, 2015.