NAPLES, Fla. -- Minnesota Twins longtime general manager Terry Ryan was named the 2006 Major League Baseball Executive of the Year by The Sporting News on Monday night during a reception for the general managers at this year's annual meetings. He won the honor for the second time. Two executives from each big-league club voted for the award, which was won last year by Cleveland GM Mark Shapiro and in 2004 by St. Louis GM Walt Jocketty. Ryan, who also won the award from The Sporting News in 2002, received 15 votes, four more than the Marlins' Larry Beinfest and seven more than both Oakland's Billy Beane and Omar Minaya of the Mets. Ryan also won the award in 2002.
"Everyone in baseball admires what Terry has accomplished, sustaining a winning team with one of the lowest payrolls in baseball," said John Rawlings, The Sporting News' vice president and editorial director. "He has proven to be an excellent talent evaluator and a very patient leader. When the Twins got off to a rocky start, Terry never panicked, and the team ended up only one loss away from the best record in baseball. Terry -- and he will graciously credit his staff -- is very deserving of this award again." Ryan replaced Andy MacPhail as general manager in 1994, when MacPhail left to become president of the Cubs. Under Ryan, a former scout and player-personnel director, and manager Ron Gardenhire, the Twins have won the American League Central title four times in the last five years. This year the Twins came roaring back from a first-half deficit and won the division title over the Tigers on the final day of the season with a 96-66 mark, the second-best record in the league behind the Yankees and third-best in baseball behind the Yankees and Mets. The Twins were dispatched by the Oakland A's in a three-game AL Division Series. And despite all the recent regular-season success, the Twins have gone no farther than the AL Championship Series (2002) during their current run. Under MacPhail and manager Tom Kelly, the Twins won the World Series twice, in 1987 and 1991. But as a small-market team with a limited player-personnel budget and significant stadium problems, Ryan has defied all the odds keeping the Twins competitive. A candidate for contraction after the 2001 season, the Twins remained alive by court order because they were bound by their lease at the Metrodome. Instead of fading into oblivion, the team won the division title in 2002 and defeated the A's in the first round before bowing to the eventual World Series-winning Angels in a five-game ALCS. Ryan won his first Executive of the Year award after that season and continued to build on that success. This season, as the Twins battled the White Sox and Tigers for playoff spots, the Minnesota Legislature finally approved a plan to erect a new ballpark in downtown Minneapolis. Ryan, 53, has put his Twins teams together through deft handling of the draft, key trades and by maintaining a potent pitching staff. "Terry has built the Twins into one of the top teams in baseball," said Dave Dombrowski, the president of the AL champion Tigers. "Through his leadership, the Twins are one of the best organizations on a yearly basis."
Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.