MINNEAPOLIS -- With one week until the Aug. 1 non-waiver Trade Deadline, Twins interim general manager Rob Antony knows how important this week could be for the future of the franchise and his potential to remain the club's full-time GM.
Antony, named the interim GM when Terry Ryan was unexpectedly relieved of his duties on July 18, has full discretion to make trades. Antony has been with the organization since 1987, serving in a variety of roles, including one as Ryan's right-hand man as an assistant general manager since 2007. Despite the fact that the Twins are mired in last place in the American League, he was just as surprised as everyone else when Ryan stepped down once he was informed by owner Jim Pohlad he would not return as GM next year.
So while Antony is a disciple of Ryan, he doesn't share the same extensive background in scouting, and he is more open to analytics, as the Twins have built their own internal database with the help of their analytics department led by Jack Goin. Antony has said he'll use advanced statistics as the first tool to evaluate players before relying on the club's scouts.
Antony spoke with MLB.com during Minnesota's series in Boston for a question-and-answer session on a wide range of subjects, including his thoughts on the upcoming Trade Deadline, the likelihood of Ervin Santana being moved, when he believes the Twins can compete again and his views on sabermetrics.
MLB.com: It's a big week for you and the organization. What's it been like so far? And what are you anticipating?
Antony: It's been busy. In kind of an awkward way, it's been an opening for people to call me and wish me luck, and then segue into what they might have interest in our club, and vice versa. There's been a lot of conversation, but sometimes it takes a while for things to come to fruition. We'll continue to talk and discuss and stay in touch with our people and determine what we would need back. But we have a game plan of what we'd like to accomplish and what we'd like to acquire. We just have to see if we can get something done.
MLB.com: How tough is it to straddle the line between being aggressive and making a deal just to make a deal?
Antony: You don't want to make a deal just to make a deal. Sometimes you make a deal just to shake things up, but we're not at that point right now. If we can leverage our assets of some people who might not figure in long-term with us, I'll listen in on that. But with people we have for a year or two, and we see them as being part of our team next year, those are guys [you] have to think twice about moving. But sometimes that's what you have to do to acquire what you want. If you're going to get better, you have to be open to anything. Nothing is really off the table. I've even had some discussions about some of our younger players.
MLB.com: What do you believe are the top organizational needs? What kinds of players are you targeting?
Antony: I don't know if I want to get too deep on targets and what we're looking to do, but we're looking for guys who are under control for a long time that we can use to build with our younger players. So if we can trade some players that might not be long-term for us, that's something I'd be interested in doing. You've seen all the names of players teams are asking about, and it's fairly accurate [names such as Kurt Suzuki, Eduardo Nunez, Brandon Kintzler and Fernando Abad]. But at the same time, there are some guys we might not have replacements for.
MLB.com: Considering a lack of rotation depth, is Santana among those players you feel you might not have an adequate replacement for?
Antony: Ervin Santana, people ask about him. But for me, you can't go get him in the free-agent market this offseason. We know the list of free agents after the season, and [we] don't know what free agent like that you can go sign for just a two-year deal with a club option. He's our best starting pitcher right now. So I'm not in any hurry to move him. I'll listen if it makes sense. I've told everyone it's not a financial thing. Our owner told me we didn't need to shed payroll or anything. With a guy like that, he can [be] part of the solution for us as we try to get back on the right track. I don't think we're that far away, but I also know we have opportunities to improve this club, and I'd like to seize those opportunities.
MLB.com: How far away do you feel the Twins are from being competitive, especially considering they've started to play better of late?
Antony: We have every intention of trying to be competitive next year. This isn't something we see as a three-year rebuilding process. It's going to take some things like our younger players taking a step forward, so I'd like to get some pieces that are close to being Major League ready. Sometimes you get more value from guys who are far away, because there's risk involved with projecting, so we'll weigh those things. I'm not afraid either way, so if we can get someone who can help us next year, that's great. And if not, if it's someone who is a year or two away with a lot of ceiling, I'm open to that.
MLB.com: Do you view this as an audition for the job?
Antony: I look at it as that I'm trying to step in and do the kinds of things I would do if I was not in an audition, as you put it. Treating it as if I wasn't an interim, because [Pohlad] has given me full authority to be the general manager and make deals, so I'm going to take advantage of that and do the things that are right. When the time comes, we'll figure that part out whether they drop the interim tag or hire somebody else. Either way, I just want to do things to benefit the organization down the road.
MLB.com: If you don't make any moves this week, would you consider it a failure?
Antony: One thing you need to be careful of is to do something for the fans or get people excited, when in your heart, you don't think it's the right thing. But if I don't make any deals, I'd say I'd be disappointed. At the same time, I'd be more disappointed if I made a trade where I didn't think it was a good deal.
MLB.com: How much do you value advanced stats?
Antony: We've done a lot to really bulk up our analytics department. Now, we have a lot more information than we had in the past. It would be foolish not to use that information. It's probably going to play more of a role. I think it's all part of the puzzle, and [it] can be a starting point instead of scouting reports, so it's more of a reversal. We'll look at analytics, and then talk to the guys who have laid eyes on players. You don't get makeup, competitiveness or aggressiveness in analytics or how they handle things, so it's all a piece of the puzzle.