The firing of Twins GM Terry Ryan on Monday caught many people off-guard — primarily because it just isn't the kind of thing the organization traditionally has done. As the dust settles and we've had a couple of days to digest the impact, it's clear there are lingering questions:
1) Why did Ryan decide that now was the time to do this?
According to Twins owner Jim Pohlad, he decided a month ago that Ryan wasn't going to be back in 2017 — news he communicated with Ryan, while leaving it up to him as to how he wanted to handle the transition. Ryan neither walked away immediately, nor did he stick it out to the end of the season — instead opting to let the process unfold in the middle of the season, right after the All-Star break, with the trade deadline looming.
The timing struck some as odd, as did the notion that Ryan was allowed to choose his own exit strategy. Without hearing from him, it's hard to know exactly why he decided now was the time. One guess: he wanted to give his assistants, most notably interim GM Rob Antony, a chance to prove themselves in order to receive consideration for keeping their jobs (or in Antony's case being promoted to full-time GM).
2) What will Antony do at the trade deadline?
Ryan had been adamant in recent weeks — even after finding out he was not going to be retained — that the Twins would be active at the nonwaiver trade deadline coming up at the end of July. That's less than two weeks away, and with plenty of interesting decisions to be made Antony is suddenly in the spotlight.
In a recent interview with La Velle E. Neal, Antony shed some light on how he will proceed: "The only thing I can do is try to do the right things," he said. "I'm not going to make a radical move or fire somebody to show the owner that I'm willing to do something if it's not the right thing. It's not going to be a charade. I'm going to do things the way I would as we move forward."
3) How much of an impact will owner Jim Pohlad saying manager Paul Molitor is safe for the 2017 season have on the search for a permanent GM?
We won't really know until the process plays out. That said, it's hard to imagine a top-flight candidate ceding control over who his or her manager will be, even if it's just for one season. That's not how the sports world operates — at least not big-time sports.
4) What kind of candidate are the Twins looking for in searching for a permanent hire?
The Twins have used analytics to a degree in the past, but going with a younger, more data-driven GM would be a shift. It will be interesting to see if the Twins hire someone similar to Ryan and perhaps even hire from within (with someone like Antony) … or shake things up with a newer-school type of GM outside the organization? Virtually all of their fans would prefer the latter, but that guarantees nothing.
5) How will we remember Ryan's two-part tenure with the Twins?
In the first part Ryan was the architect of the Twins' success in the 2000s — through shrewd trades and good drafts. In the second part he was responsible for the organization's collapse this decade. Ultimately, it probably will be a mixed bag, though we often tend to remember more of what happened recently.