Terry Ryan: It's as much about preparing for the future as it is that particular day. I mean, we're getting ready with advance [scouting] work, if we're fortunate enough to qualify for postseason. I'm dealing with Instructional League, our AAA club is in the playoffs right now, and there's a lot of decisions to make about your front office, your scouting department, your minor league department, as we get into October and November. We're preparing for organizational meetings. We're watching what's going on in Detroit and with the White Sox, Oakland, the Yankees, all the teams that are contending. I don't have everything scripted on a day-to-day, hour-to-hour basis. First and foremost, there's no question that I am hoping on a daily basis that things go well leading up to our game at 7:05 every night....
What happens today, yeah, it's big. But if you wind up on the short end, then you regroup and head into Cleveland. We're always looking to win series. And especially on the road. We haven't played great baseball on the road. We're about at .500, finally, but it's been a struggle to get there. We've played well at home. And if we win this game today, it makes tomorrow's game huge, and the next day. But we need to win series right now. We've got a chance to determine our own fate, which is fantastic. Who would have ever thought that back in April and May? We got into a tough spot there, and all of a sudden nothing went right. Now we can decide our own fate in September, and that's what you hope to get to.
CP: About the team's start: You did make a lot of personnel moves in late May/early June, both among position players and starting pitchers, and even in the bullpen—bringing in Dennys Reyes, for example. In retrospect, do you think you guys made bad calls at the start of the season, or do you still think they were the right calls given what you knew at the time?
Ryan: At the time, those were probably the calls that needed to be made. There were too many other question marks about certain situations. For instance, Dennys Reyes. He was at the World Baseball Classic for most of the month of March. And ultimately it was a blessing in disguise, because we sent him down to Rochester—actually, he accepted assignment, because he had an out in his contract that meant he didn't have to go. Thankfully, he accepted it. We put him in the rotation and had him work on holding runners, and he's been quite good ever since.
So maybe that was a blessing. You never know how those things are going to work out. I can't tell you that I have every answer to putting a team together, but sometimes you get lucky. Dennys Reyes has responded favorably to just about everything he's had come his way. The Batista thing—that certainly wasn't working. But I wouldn't have been able to tell you that Nick Punto would have responded quite as well as he has, either.
There are always question marks at the start of the season. Over the course of the first six weeks or two months, it pretty much crystallizes to the point where you can say, all right, we need to do something here. This is working. We might have to make a trade for that. Every club goes through this. We're not alone.
CP: Have you begun the process of assessing this season and deciding where you'd like to see the team get stronger next year?
Ryan: That's ongoing. I never want to make decisions with an eye just to the present. But no, I'm not too worried about next year's major league team right now. A season is evaluated over 162 games. Back in April and May, I would have told you one thing [about the Twins' needs]. Now I wouldn't tell you the same thing. We'll look at it on the basis of the whole year, instead of half a year or two months. Because you can make a lot of mistakes when you end up evaluating a person or a ballclub over a couple of months instead of a year.
CP: And yet you did exactly that this year. You started slow and then made several changes in a short time...
Ryan: Things weren't working. They weren't working.
CP: Can you take me back through your thinking, and Gardenhire's, about why you started the season with veteran players and journeymen like Tony Batista and Juan Castro in the lineup rather than your youngsters?
Ryan: Well, the Castro situation—we would have liked Bartlett to step up and take that spot, and unfortunately it just didn't seem like he was quite ready. So we sent him back down. Which is all right. I never thought there's anything negative about sending a player back to AAA. He responded when we brought him back up, and it seemed like he was ready to take it on. That was the reason behind that.