Twins President Dave St. Peter said that despite reports of discord in the Twins front office, Terry Ryan was not fired over any particular argument.
“There has been a lot of reporting over the past week, and a lot of it is speculation,” St. Peter said. “I can tell you that [owner] Jim Pohlad, Terry Ryan, myself have regular conversations about our baseball team over time. Certainly the dialogue over the first part of this season was probably more animated and more rapid relative to the start we got off to, but I think it ultimately came down to Jim Pohlad, myself, others deciding that in order to make the changes we ultimately thought were going to be necessary, that a change in leadership was required.
“I don’t think that was really born out of a disagreement or anything of that nature. I just think it was born out of the vision that a change was required. So Jim ultimately communicated that to Terry, and that led to the announcement [July 18].”
With the news this week that the Twins had hired search firm Korn Ferry to identify candidates for a new general manager, the team is going into uncharted waters. They traditionally have hired staff internally.
St. Peter was asked what sort of control the new GM will have in naming his own staff.
“We certainly expect to have a very collaborative discussion as far as what the new baseball operations leadership sees in terms of the future of our franchise in terms of on-field matters,” he said. “Clearly the structure within our front office, and the way we’re going to make decisions is something of the upmost importance.
“We’ve made a point to state that anybody coming from the outside would not have a mandate to clean house, so to speak, but we also understand [there] needs to be changes relative to the way we do things, and some of those things might impact personnel. Time will tell, but we certainly think we have some good people in place, but that will be a dialogue that takes place with the new baseball leadership.”
Still moving forward
While the front office’s structure remains unsettled, the Twins still have been playing better than their abysmal start to the season. St. Peter was asked if part of the reason for firing Ryan was to help with ticket sales moving forward.
“Some of the financial ramifications of five losing seasons out of the last six, some of that is factual,” he said. “At the same time, I’m not sure that changing baseball operations leadership is going to stem that tide. We need to win baseball games, which I’m encouraged we’re doing more of, of late.
“I think it was more about the long-term vision for our baseball operations group. Thus the decision was made that in order to ensure some of the things we thought needed to happen, a change in vision and a new voice was needed. We’ll go through that process.”
The Twins are certainly at a critical juncture when it comes to the trade deadline. They have veteran players such as Brian Dozier, Trevor Plouffe, Ervin Santana and Eduardo Nunez who could potentially have interest from contending clubs.
It will be up to interim General Manager Rob Antony to make those decisions, and St. Peter said he doesn’t believe Antony’s status should affect the team’s moves.
“I don’t know that it changes [trade discussions] dramatically,” St. Peter said. “I think we’re encouraged by some of the things that have started to happen on the field, but I can assure you that Rob Antony has been given full authority to do whatever he thinks needs to be done relative to our franchise, not only just over the short term but in the long term.
“There’s a lot of dialogue taking place with other clubs, I can confirm that. Whether we’re first choices or second choices or backup plans, I don’t know. But it’s a balancing act and we think Rob is very capable of leading us through that process.”
Despite the Twins having a rough decade, St. Peter still believes the GM job and this baseball market is desirable.
“I think this is a tremendous opportunity, and I think it’s viewed as a great job because of the stability our organization has had over the years,” he said. “The Twin Cities market, Target Field, the history of our franchise, and probably most importantly, the number of good, young players in our system. That has been confirmed relative to the amount of outreach that has come into our organization from folks wanting to talk about the future leadership role.”
St. Peter said he believes there are good candidates available across a wide spectrum.
“I think it’s a dream job for many to head up a baseball operation, so there’s no shortage of great candidates,” he said. “People that have been in the game a long time, people that are new to the game, some folks that have had leadership experience as a general manager, others that have had leadership experience maybe even outside of baseball. There is all kinds of conventional or nonconventional candidates.”
Some 2,400 people — including business leaders, top people in labor and elected officials — were invited by the Wilf family, owners of the Vikings, to celebrate the completion of U.S. Bank Stadium at an event they termed “The Voyage Begins, The Purple Gala” on Tuesday. It was what I consider one of the most outstanding parties ever held in the Twin Cities, at a cost to the Wilfs of maybe more than $300,000 out of their pocket.
The Wilfs also invited 21 members of the Vikings Ring of Honor. A number of them, including Hall of Fame tackle Ron Yary, came from out of town and were introduced by broadcaster and Ring of Honor member Ahmad Rashad, who acted as MC for the night. Among the group was former fullback Bill Brown, who is in a wheelchair and not in the best of health.
There was great entertainment, and the first big event at the stadium was a complete success, one the Wilfs could look back on with pride. You could see a lot of big shows coming to the stadium.
On top of that, the Wilfs put a note on their program that read: “As we embark upon this journey, we would like to graciously thank everyone who has supported the Minnesota Vikings along the way. Your commitment to the organization is inspiring, and we are thankful for your unwavering support.”
Sid Hartman can be heard weekdays on 830-AM at 7:40 and 8:40 a.m. and on Sundays at 9:30 a.m. email@example.com