Dear Mr. Ryan,
Congratulations on resuming your job as General Manager of the Minnesota Twins! I realize that you have plenty of experience as GM, but since you haven't served in that role since 2007, you might need a refresher course. Well, look no further. Over the span of my baseball career, I've served as GM of the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks, and the Angels, so I know what I'm talking about.
Sure, you're the GM of a major league baseball team and I'm a volunteer, unofficial GM in Little League. So why should you listen to me? Well, one of us was GM of a team that won its division last season, and one of us was associated with a team that lost 99 games and finished last in the AL Central, not to mention second-to-last in all of Major League Baseball. Are you following me, Mr. Ryan?
I can understand why you stepped down four years ago. I've considered throwing in the towel many times myself. The GM deals with a lot of pressure; the schedule is grueling, the players don't listen to you, and Minnesota weather isn't conducive to baseball, save for a couple of weeks in July. Isn't it heartbreaking to see the players cry from the pain of hitting a ball in 35-degree weather? But, despite the stress, I stick with it, partly because I love the game, but mostly because my husband is the manager and my kids are on the team, so I have no choice.
So, even though we're dealing with players at different levels of the game, I think you'll find my advice helpful.
Treat Rookies With Kid Gloves (Literally)
It's fun to get a fresh-faced, enthusiastic newbie on the team, don't you think? Of course, technically, Tsuyoshi Nishioka has played baseball before, but nevertheless, I think the Twins may have handled him incorrectly. When I have a player like Nishi, who can neither hit nor field the ball, I start slowly. I have him try fielding a wiffle ball, and hitting a wiffle ball with an oversized bat. When he's mastered those, I move on to a t-ball bat and a rubber ball, and so on. Talk to Gardy...see what he thinks about that idea.
Successfully Handle Unhappy Players
There are always going to be unhappy players for various reasons. For you, it might be that a player feels he isn't getting enough playing time, or he feels he's not paid enough. Or maybe a player feels he's being unfairly criticized for accepting a $184 million contract and then sitting out much of the season, complaining of "leg pain". For me, players are unhappy for other reasons, like they can't find their cap, their jersey doesn't fit, they hate wearing a cup, or they don't want to play right field again. In our dugout, a little Gatorade and some Swedish fish go a long way toward quelling any discontent; perhaps you could try the same. (Don't bother with the multicolored Swedish fish though; the players will just squabble over who gets the red ones.)
What to Do When You Run Out of Money
I understand that $112 million doesn't go as far as it used to. In fact, I wasn't aware of this, but in the big leagues, apparently it doesn't even buy a team that can put up a winning record. So what do you do when you're out of money but your team needs help? Well, don't despair. Do what we do: have a bake sale! Set up shop outside Target Field and I promise, people will come in droves. You might even make enough to sign that solid pitcher the Twins desperately need. Or the shortstop. Or maybe a good run-prevention seminar for the fielders. A team psychiatrist? Well, whatever you decide.
You've got a herculean task ahead of you, Mr, Ryan. But consider yourself lucky; you're actually paid for your job. You don't have to take over for the manager and coaches when one (or all of them) don't show up. Nobody yells at you when you frantically create the lineup five minutes before the game and you inadvertently put two players at second base (but only because while you were writing down the lineup, multiple players and parents were talking to you). You don't have to field phone calls throughout the game because parents can't find the ballpark (perhaps because you sent inaccurate directions). So who has the tougher job? I guess it's a toss up.
All the best to you and our Minnesota Twins in 2012! Please contact me anytime if you'd like further advice.
Sincerely, Sara Jane
General Manager, RAYB Dodgers
2011 C League White Division Champions