When Jim Pohlad came to what he called “a stomach-churning’’ conclusion that general manager Bill Smith needed to be fired, the Minnesota Twins owner was making the kind of decision rarely seen in one of the most loyal and patient organizations in baseball.
A 99-loss season is equally unique in these parts, so Pohlad swallowed hard, made the move, and turned to one of the most trusted and revered figures in the organization to pick up the pieces.
Terry Ryan reclaimed the job he had for 13 years yesterday, taking over for the man he recommended to take his place when Ryan stepped down four years ago.
“We do this with a heavy heart,’’ Pohlad said. “But we also do this knowing that it is what’s best for the organization.’’
Ryan stepped down in 2007, citing burnout. Ryan remained in the organization on the scouting level and said he turned down several inquiries from other teams about taking over a front office again.
Yesterday, he said his “batteries are recharged’’ and he’s ready to get back to work.
Ryan, 58, said he would have a role in grooming and choosing his eventual successor, but both he and Pohlad said they hoped things went well enough where Ryan would want to keep the job for a while.
“I don’t know if it will be for one year or 10 years,’’ Ryan said. “[I’m] going to see how it goes and see exactly the direction and success and workload and all the things that about 4 1/2 years ago we talked about over at the Dome.’’
Giants get Cabrera
The Royals traded outfielder Melky Cabrera to the San Francisco Giants for lefthander Jonathan Sanchez, upgrading their rotation and clearing the way for hotshot prospect Lorenzo Cain to get a chance in center field.
The subject of trade speculation for several years, Sanchez threw a no-hitter on July 10, 2009, against San Diego. Sanchez was the Giants’ best pitcher during the latter part of 2010, when they beat the Rangers to win the World Series, finishing the year with a 13-9 record and a 3.07 ERA.
Sanchez, 28, struggled most of this season, partly due to a case of biceps tendinitis, going 4-7 with a 4.26 ERA before missing the final month with a left ankle sprain. But the injuries weren’t enough to dissuade the Royals from making a bold move to help their young pitching staff.
Giants general manager Brian Sabean said he was never close to moving Sanchez in the past but put him on the trading block after the season in hopes of finding a player to bolster an offense that finished last in the NL in runs.
Cabrera rebounded from a disastrous season with Atlanta by hitting .305 with 44 doubles, 18 homes, and 87 RBIs in his first season in Kansas City. He was the first Royals player with at least 200 hits in a season since 2000 as his improved conditioning paid off at the plate.
The Royals are confident enough in Cain to give him a shot at the everyday job. Cain hit .312 with 16 homers and 81 RBIs this year in Triple A. “It was very important for us to free up an opportunity for Lorenzo Cain to play center field for us every day,’’ general manager Dayton Moore said. “We felt we needed to move on this deal with Jonathan Sanchez before it moved away.’’
Duquette joins O’s
The Orioles have formally announced the hiring of Dan Duquette as executive vice president of baseball operations. Duquette, the former Red Sox GM who has not worked in a major league front office since 2002, signed a three-year contract Sunday. Duquette, 53, will attempt to bring the Orioles out of their run of 14 successive losing seasons. He takes over for Andy MacPhail, who stepped down from the post last month . . . It was déja vu all over again for Dale Sveum when he interviewed for the Cubs’ managing job. The Brewers’ hitting coach said the process mirrored what he went through in Boston last week, with management firing similar questions his way and putting him through a game simulation . . . The Rangers have determined one of their employees made an audio recording of the clubhouse speech manager Ron Washington gave to his players before Game 7 of the World Series. The team investigated after the JoeSportsFan.com website posted the six-minute recording and said it was made by a member of the clubhouse staff it did not identify. The profanity-filled speech includes Washington encouraging and laughing with his players.