Twins general manager Terry Ryan had an active offseason. He participated in an online chat with fans from Fort Myers, Fla., to discuss the latest from Spring Training. He updated fans on the health status of several players and gave some insight into the Twins' 2005 starting lineup.
Terry Ryan: I'm online. Let's go.
koskierox: What do you think of Joe Mauer and his knee? I am really excited to see him play a full season and believe that his knee is all better. However, if something happens to it again, would we get another catcher or rely on our backup?
Ryan: We'd have to make an adjustment. Our first alternative would be go with Mike Redmond and probably Matt LeCroy. Certainly, we'd have to keep an eye on anybody that might be available through the course of Spring Training. So far so good. Mauer is doing fine and going through all the drills. we haven't had any problems.
Dustin_Skilbred: It seems there's a lot of debate over Nick Punto/Jason Bartlett. Why not use Bartlett at shortstop and Punto as the starting second baseman as opposed to Luis Rivas?
Ryan: First, Punto hasn't shown he can be healthy enough yet, durable enough. The shortstop position is wide open. At second base, we have confidence Rivas can take the next step, we'll give him every opportunity to do that.
gonnawintwins: What are some of the aspects of the Twins that are of concern to you in terms of weaknesses?
Ryan: Usually, it comes down to health. If we stay healthy, we're going to be fine. We have some of our best prospects at the higher levels. The biggest uncertainty is the infield because we have so many new faces. Third, short, first and Mauer are all going to be relatively new.
Ryan: We hope so. We're all hoping so. That would be a tremendous thing for our market. It's just a matter of how we'll finance it and how the state and ownership will finance it.
brian_mohr: Terry, Where do you see Scott Baker and J.D. Durbin at the end of 2005?
Ryan: Both of those pitchers could surface. We have high hopes for those guys. They'll dictate their future by their performance in Spring Training and the course of April and May. They could surprise us this spring.
imacorkyfan: With five catchers on the 40-man roster, where will Corky Miller fit in the mix?
Ryan: We have a lot of respect for Miller. We've liked him since he was with the Reds. We respect the way he goes about his business. Nobody can have too much catching. A lot will depend on what happens as far as the health. A couple of our scouts recommended we claim him and that's what we did in the waiver process. He's in for a battle.
mlb_com_member: Which team do you believe will be our biggest rival in the Central Division?
Ryan: This is a very competitive division. Similar markets, similar payrolls, similar revenues. And depending on who you talk to, some pick us, some pick the Indians. Some pick Chicago. Some might even pick the Tigers. We're the defending champs and until somebody proves us wrong, we feel we're in decent shape competing for this division.
krysumn: Do you pay a lot of attention to the moves the other AL Central teams make? And if so, how worried are you about them?
Ryan: I don't pay as much attention as some. All of us have to do work in the winter to get prepared for Spring Training. I worry more about our roster and our team more than anything else. I certainly respect what other clubs are trying to accomplish. But you don't play the game in the winter and you don't play the game on paper.
canada24: Do you personally have any regrets with any players you've signed or have missed signing in the past?
Ryan: Sure, I always do. Certainly we made a good run at Eddie Guardado and Corey Koskie. We wanted to bring back LaTroy Hawkins. To be honest, we made our share of mistakes and our share of positive decisions. Everybody that runs a baseball team wishes they could do it differently. All you have to do is learn from your mistakes.
eseseseses: What's the status of Justin Morneau? In your opinion, is there any chance he isn't in the lineup Opening Day?
Ryan: He has had a number of things happen to him this winter. Wisdom teeth removed, appendix removed -- he had chicken pox and now's he got a little bit of a lung problem. He should arrive today or tomorrow. Hopefully, we'll get him enough strength to be ready by Opening Day.
dewey_moede:Is Rod Carew in uniform for the entire spring?
Ryan: No -- just March 6-12.
krysumn: What's your opinion on Interleague Play?
Ryan: I like Interleague Play. I like visiting different ballparks, different leagues and different cities. It breaks up the schedule and it's a positive break. I like Interleague Play.
Base_Ball_4: First off, very good job this offseason in resigning the top three guys in the rotation to extended contracts. I was wondering how you feel heading into Spring Training, do you think you will have to make any more moves or is everything in order?
Ryan: We need to sort out shortstop. We've got to finalize who our extra outfielders are. Certainly you have take into consideration the injury factor. Our roster is more set than it ever has been. We need to evaluate where Joe Mays is.
eseseseses: Can you give a scouting report on Ryan Rowland-Smith. What are his chances of making the team?
Ryan: He's a big strong left-hander and has velocity, which is a good start. Our people that scouted him with Seattle thought he had the type of velocity to spin a breaking ball. Size, velocity and he knows how to spin a breaking ball. It's a bit of a reach because he's coming out of Class A, but we took Johan Santana in the same scenario. Maybe we'll get lucky.
olpnch: What are the plans for Eric Munson? The way it sounds, he has little chance of being the starting third baseman.
Ryan: I would say he will provide some depth at third, first, catcher and DH. He's a left-handed bat off the bench.
Alyssa_Kramer: Do you plan to use Lew Ford as the everyday designated hitter?
Ryan: No -- he'll rotate amongst others. He'll play left center and right. And he'll DH.
Anthony_Moscaret: Terry, what is the role of Michael Restovich in the Twins lineup?
Ryan: He is in the mix for the extra outfield position. He broke his collarbone this winter so we'll have to ease him back in this spring. We like his skills. He's big, strong, athletic and has power.
gato34: Obviously, the only thing that kept the Twins from beating the Yankees in the playoffs the last two years was a player like David Ortiz. Do you regret releasing him?
Ryan: I am certainly happy for David and any club could use the type of production he gave the Red Sox.
Travis_Gray: Are there any thoughts that you may trade one of our many outfield talents to help strengthen our infield?
Ryan: You can make a trade any time with anybody almost. In the right scenario, you have to consider any trade.
Base_Ball_4: What abbreviated advice would you give to a young men/women who have the dream of eventually becoming a GM for a pro sports team?
Ryan: Hang around the game and hang around baseball people. Read and watch the game. Try to get some sort of internship of a major or minor league professional franchise. Education would be important in public speaking, computers, bi-lingual, writing skills and sports administration are some of the things you can pursue.
Travis_Gray: What are your feelings on all the steroid accusations? Any thoughts on how baseball can remedy this problem? It seems to be bigger than the game right now.
Ryan: Steroids are illegal. They are dangerous. Hopefully we'll clean the game up.
simonmac21: The Twins have always played well on defense, but they've been struggling on runs. What are you going to do to improve on that?
Ryan: We scored enough runs to win 92 games last year. We rely on pitching and defense. As long as we win more games than the competition, we don't care how we do it. Most of the time, we're young and offense usually comes as players mature in their free agent years. We don't have that many hitters like that here. Most of our hitters are 26 or 27 years old. We do think our offense has more upside if we keep Morneau, Mauer and Shannon Stewart. Having them healthy will help a lot.
krysumn: Any news on Paul Molitor coming back to the Twins?
Ryan: He's back as our minor league base running/infield coordinator. He'll attend minor league camp starting March 11-April 5.
eicemann: What role do you for see for Terry Mulholland? Would he be the fifth starter if Mays isn't ready to go in April? Or is it more likely that a youngster would get a shot at that spot?
Ryan: That's a possibility. Mulholland would possibly be our fifth starter or a swing guy in the bullpen. He is a good influence and teammate and a positive influence on this team.
twinsbb: Being a Twins fan is better now than ever because we do it the old fashioned way and it works pretty well. Doesn't it bother you just a bit to see a team win by "buying the players" rather than smart drafting and smart trades?
Ryan: It's always been the case in sports. There are teams that have wealthy markets and high payrolls. And there are teams in mid and small markets that succeed. We certainly are proud of any accomplishments we've had. Just because you spend money doesn't necessarily guarantee success.
Adam_Silver: You mention that young people trying to break into the front office should "read and watch the game." Whose work do you view as important (i.e. magazines, articles, books, etc.)?
Ryan: I certainly read Baseball America, Baseball Weekly, The Sporting News and the Internet. I read newspapers every day from around the country. Most baseball books on the market -- "Moneyball" is a good baseball book. Any scouting information you can get is good.
krysumn: Thank you so much for re-signing Jacque Jones!
Ryan: Jacque is a big part of our club. He provided offense for us last year. There are a lot of us who think Jacque has a higher ceiling than last year's numbers indicate. Jacque plays the game the right way.
murraygd13: What role do you see Matt LeCroy playing this year? Are you looking at him mainly as a first baseman, DH and right-handed pinch hitter, or do you see him catching some days to give Joe a break?
Ryan: All of the above, yes. He's maybe one of the most popular players we've got in that clubhouse.
Dustin_Skilbred: Are there any dark horse prospects that could help the team this year that we don't know about?
Ryan: Baker is kind of a dark horse because people haven't seen him -- Jason Bartlett, Terry Tiffee, Restovich, Durbin -- those are some of our better prospects.
olpnch: What was the biggest steal of this offseason?
Ryan: The Mets had a good winter certainly, I always respect the job the Giants do. The Braves always seem to be there in the end annually.
sammeleguy: What kind of offensive numbers are you expecting from Michael Cuddyer this year?
Ryan: I'm not going to put numbers out there. I do expect him to take the offensive responsibility in being a third baseman. He has power. He can run. And he's got the ability to drive in runs. It's just a matter now of maturing as a hitter.
Ryan: Thanks to everyone who shows interest in the Twins. Bye!
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.