The Minnesota Twins are at the halfway point of the 2013 season and enter this week’s All-Star break with a 39-53 record. FOX Sports North caught up with Twins general manager Terry Ryan for a question and answer session to get his thoughts on how things went in the first half and what he’s hoping to see from his team after the break.
FSN: First off, what is your overall impression of how things went for the Twins in the first half of the year?
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TERRY RYAN: It’s disappointing, there’s no question. We struggled in a lot of areas, (including) starting pitching. We’ve had trouble as of late offensively more than anything. We just can’t seem to get people in. We get them on often and we don’t seem to get the hit when we need it. Consequently, we’ve got a record that indicates that. It’s not good. We’ve got to start executing more and getting the job done when the opportunity presents itself. We aren’t going to just get this done with one area. All parts of this organization and team is going to have to contribute. We need to get this turned around soon.
FSN: You mentioned the starting pitching. That was an area the front office really emphasized improving this past offseason. Has that been the biggest disappointment?
RYAN: The one piece here is (Vance) Worley is in Triple-A. I didn’t expect that. There’s no question about that. (Kevin) Correia has certainly held his own, and (Mike) Pelfrey has given us the innings. We promoted (Kyle) Gibson, which is the thing that we were eventually hoping to do after spring training. Some of the things that we did try to accomplish, it’s not a total disappointment. Some of those things have been OK. The relief corps, for the most part, up until maybe 10 days ago or so, that has hold its own as well. So if you’re speaking just about the starters, some have worked, some have been disappointing. For the most part, the bullpen has been OK, as long as we don’t have to overexpose it.
FSN: One pitcher you didn’t mention was Scott Diamond. He was your most consistent starter last year but has struggled this year. What’s been the biggest difference for him?
RYAN: I think the only thing I can state there — and I’ve seen him enough to think that this is an accurate statement — he’s had trouble putting innings away. It’s not just one guy. He usually gets people into a count where he’s in a pretty favorable spot, and all of a sudden it might get to 3-2 and then we can’t put them away. That’s the biggest difference, I might say, just on the surface. He’s having trouble putting people away. That’s probably location as much as anything.
FSN: Which players have been pleasant surprises in the first half of the year?
RYAN: There have been. I’m not real sure I’m in a position to just start talking about individuals that have been some surprises. We’ve got two All-Star guys that are on the All-Star team, which is very favorable. Obviously, a Rule 5 guy like (Ryan) Pressly, he held his own here in more of a meaningful position than most Rule 5 guys are put. (Oswaldo) Arcia came up and he’s done a decent job. He’s struggled as of late, but he got off here pretty good. We’ve seen glimpses of almost every one of these guys that’s done fine. (Pedro) Florimon’s had his moments and (Brian) Dozier’s had his moments and (Trevor) Plouffe has had his moments. So there have been people here that have done some things that we were hoping to get. It’s probably not as consistent and long as we would like.
FSN: You named a lot of young players. How much is it just letting them go through growing pains of getting adjusted to this level before making too much of an assessment on where they’re at?
RYAN: The only guys you’d put in that category for me, really, would be Pressly, probably Arcia and (Aaron) Hicks. For the most part all these other guys have been around long enough. They’ve been around and have major league time and so forth. Now (Michael) Tonkin was up here and he would be in that same category. I don’t think the Doziers and the Plouffes and the (Chris) Parmelees and those types of guys, they’ve been in here enough to the point where they ought to be comfortable and be going in the right direction.
FSN: Late last month you said you weren’t sure yet whether you guys would be buyers or sellers at the July 31 trade deadline. I’m guessing you have a better sense now of where you’re at as the deadline gets closer.
RYAN: I think that’s evident. We’re deep in these standings here. We’re a long way away from .500. It’s very evident we’ll be in the trade mode, there’s no doubt about that.
FSN:A lot of people have focused on the depth of talent in the minor league system. How would you assess the depth you have all the way from Low-A to Triple-A, compared to what it was a few years ago?
RYAN: We’re in good shape in the minor leagues. Our Triple-A and Double-A clubs have started to play pretty well and of course the two A clubs have been the strength of this organization. We just got done with the draft and we signed 24 of the top 25, so all those kids for the most part are out playing. That’s a good thing. We have some high-end prospects, there’s no question, and they’re getting their share of attention. We’re struggling up at the big league team and people are starting to look below. That’s not exactly what I want, but it is what it is. Our system is healthy, probably more so position wise than pitching wise, although we have some decent pitchers in the system. Some of those guys might be a little farther away than maybe some of those position players.
FSN:One of those top minor leaguers is third baseman Miguel Sano. You were asked a few weeks ago about whether he might be an option for a September call-up, and you didn’t totally rule it out. Is that safe to say you’re not ruling out a guy like Sano come September?
RYAN: He’s struggling right now, so I think that’s a reach. He’s got all he can handle at Double-A right now. We’ll let him dictate what happens to him in the future. Right now, he’s getting acclimated to better competition. The game’s sped up. His offense is actually been behind his defense at Double-A. He’s got to prove himself at every level, and right now he’s going through a little bit of a difficult time. I would say we’ll let him get his feet on the ground at Double-A before we worry too much beyond that.
FSN: Some have criticized the job manager Ron Gardenhire has done over the past few seasons. With what he’s been given, can the blame really be placed on him? Do you think the criticism has been fair?
RYAN: I don’t know what recent criticism he’s gotten, but I do know what his record is. It’s an organizational reality here that we’ve got to get together as an organization and become a better team and a better organization. It’s not Ron Gardenhire, it’s our organization, pure and simple, and it starts with me. I think Gardy’s doing the best we can. Until we start turning this thing around, we’re going to have to figure out how to get better. Execution’s certainly going to help. There’s no one person that’s responsible for anything that’s going on, whether it’s positive or negative. This is one of those times we’re going through a tough stretch, and we’re going to have to hang in there together and see if we can get it right.
FSN: What are you hoping to see from this team in the second half of the season?
RYAN: Improvement, more wins, execution — the same stuff I said at the beginning of the year. Progress, improvement. Some of these younger players, you’d like to see them go in the right direction, not having them go back to Triple-A and get more seasoning. You’d like to see them stay here and get better at this level.
FSN: Is part of that trying to assess what these young players might be able to offer in the years to come?
RYAN: What they do on the diamond is ultimately going to decide their future. There are people in this organization, and certainly on this club right now, that we’re counting on in the future, but more so the present. I’m not too worried about the future. I’m worried about the present right now.