Ryan continues to survey the action
Twins make some inroads by meeting with agents
LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- Quiet days at the Winter Meetings have become commonplace for the Twins.Halfway through this year's event at Walt Disney World, the Twins have held steady to their trend of remaining silent in terms of transactions. But on Tuesday, the second day of the four-day event, the Twins weren't the only club maintaining silence around the lobby of the Dolphin Hotel. In a year full of overpriced free agents, there appears to be a wait-and-see approach being taken by many teams. Prime free agents such as Barry Zito and Jason Schmidt remain on the market, as well as many other "middle-tier" players. Even with some holes to fill, Twins general manager Terry Ryan has made it clear the Twins' approach will stay the same when it comes to how the club will operate this week. For Ryan, that mantra is simple -- if it's best to stay quiet at these meetings, then that's exactly what he'll do. "It's not anything different than we did last year, and the year before that and the year before that," Ryan said of remaining largely inactive during the meetings. "I certainly pay attention to what's going on but I don't react to it." Silence may not fill the holes that the Twins currently have in their rotation, but the silver lining may be that the team's division rivals haven't made much noise during these sessions either. It was just a year ago at the Winter Meetings in Dallas that the White Sox were making splashes during the offseason with acquisitions such as Jim Thome and Javier Vazquez. Detroit did the same at last year's session by signing Kenny Rogers and closer Todd Jones to deals. The big news by the other clubs made it seem like the Twins were losing ground as other clubs made big improvements. "Obviously, I knew about those at the time and it's something that catches your eye," Ryan said. Nevertheless, at the end of the year, it was the Twins who ended up walking away with yet another division title. So if it seems Ryan is hesitant to follow suit of other club's free spending in this year's high-priced bidding war, it's because he is. "We are not going to pretend we're somebody we're not," Ryan said. "Our philosophy has pretty much been in place for years and it has served us well. Unfortunately, it doesn't make big news." Ryan spent most of his day Tuesday joining in on committee meetings and attending the awards banquet held by Baseball America to accept Johan Santana's Player of the Year award. But while he was busy with things that drew him away from making breakthrough deals, the day wasn't a complete loss.
The Twins were able to hold some meetings with other teams, and Ryan even spoke with a few agents of both free agents and his arbitration-eligible players. While it may not be anything that spells out immediate answers for the club, it marked some progress for Ryan."I think we've got a pretty good feel for where we're at here in terms of matches," Ryan said. "See the best fit, like other Winter Meetings, and there are some people that are a better fit than others. I had the chance to talk to talk to a lot of people today, so that's a start." Bonds unlikely: One rumor that has seemed to persist during this year's meetings is the notion the Twins could be looking at Barry Bonds to fill their void at designated hitter.
A column that ran in the New York Times on Sunday argued Minnesota could be the best fit for Bonds. The same article speculated that the team might have to spend $17 million but it would be worth it for the club to reach out of its price range to sign the slugger.The Twins don't have a history of signing big-name free agents and the idea of the Bonds coming to the Twin Cities seems somewhat ridiculous. Some members of other clubs were quick to agree with that notion, including White Sox manager Ozzie Guillen. "I just heard a rumor that Barry Bonds is going to Minnesota," Guillen said during his session with the media Tuesday. "When you hear that, I don't know what people are drinking. That's the kind of rumor you are going to hear. I don't think Barry fits good with the piranhas. Barry is a shark, he's not a piranha. I don't see Barry there." Without Wayne: One fixture noticeably absent from the Twins' suite at this year's meetings is former assistant GM Wayne Krivsky. Krivsky was one of the chief negotiators for the club before he left to take over as the Reds' general manager. His presence in completing contracts and helping out in arbitration cases has been lauded by many in the business. This offseason, there has been much speculation as to what Ryan would do to fill the hole left by Krivsky. Yet here the organization is at the annual meetings, with nothing new in terms of front-office staff or talk of what might be done to fill the spot. But Ryan didn't feel as if the departure had really affected how the Twins were operating at this year's meetings. "I wanted to make sure we continue to do exactly what we've always done," Ryan said. "And it's about the same, just minus him."
Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.