Blunt and as straightforward as ever, Terry Ryan explained how he ended up being fired as the Twins general manager during last season.
“I just didn’t win enough games,” Ryan said. “If we did I would probably still be around. So 30 years is a long time with one club. For both parties, maybe it was the right time to make a switch and a change and go our separate ways. I’ll be watching the Twins closely, hoping they do well.’
Ryan, hired by the Phillies as a special assignment scout Wednesday, made his first comments since being relieved of his duties on July 18, when the Twins were 26 games below .500. All optimism at the start of the season was washed away by an 0-9 start; the team eventually finished a major league worst 59-103.
Ryan said he, owner Jim Pohlad and team president Dave St. Peter took the losses hard. But he also dispelled any idea that he and Pohlad had a difference of opinion toward the end of his tenure with the Twins.
“I better not get into that,’’ Ryan said. “We were struggling. We got off to a tough start, as everyone knows. Jim and Dave and I — many people in the organization — many of us weren’t happy.
“Jim and Dave and I, it falls on our shoulders. I understand that. You can’t have that kind of record with the optimism we had in spring training. You just can’t have that without certain ramifications.’’
New Twins Chief Baseball Officer Derek Falvey reached out to Ryan after Falvey was named to the position in early November, and Ryan gave Falvey his views of what was working and what needed to be addressed. But there was little chance Ryan was going to stay on in any capacity. Ryan spoke to several teams before opting to join the Phillies.
“I think, based on some conversations he had with Dave, and just generally where Terry was at the time, it felt like a mutual break was the best thing moving forward,” Falvey said. “Certainly, his relationship with Andy and that group in Philadelphia played a role. I couldn’t be happier for him that he has that opportunity now.’’
And Ryan knew even before the season ended that he wanted to remain in the game
“I’ve been out for about four months and it is time for me to get back in the game,’’ Ryan said. “If I’m going to get back in, now is the time. You’re out too long, you lose touch.
New hitting coach
The Twins have hired former Yankees minor league hitting coordinator James Rowson as their new hitting coach, according to a report by the New York Post. He will replace Tom Brunansky, who was not brought back after last season.
Rowson, 40, has been the Yankees minor league hitting instructor for the past three seasons. But he does have some major league experience. He was the Cubs minor league hitting coordinator in 2012 when he was promoted to the majors to replace Rudy Jaramillo. He remained the hitting coach for all of 2013, but the Cubs finished next to last in runs scored. Rowson has spent the last three seasons as the Yankees minor league hitting coordinator.
Rowson was a ninth round draft pick by Seattle in 1994 and played in the minors for three seasons before moving on to independent ball.
Smith to leave
Long time Twins executive Bill Smith is leaving the organization to pursue other interests.
Smith has been with the Twins since 1986 in a variety of roles, most notably when he took over GM duties from 2008-11 when Ryan stepped aside. Smith was in charge when the club moved to Target Field in 2010, the last year the Twins were in the playoffs. He was criticized for some of his moves, but it was during his watch as GM when the club landed international prospects Miguel Sano, Max Kepler and Jorge Polanco in 2009.
Smith will remain with the club through Jan. 31.