Though the Twins had a severely disappointing 2011 season, ownership never hinted that any major changes would be taking place this winter. For this reason, most everyone around baseball was caught off guard by Monday’s announcement and club’s decision to swap general managers, replacing Bill Smith with former GM Terry Ryan.
Minnesota’s ownership tried to make it clear to the media that the change hadn’t occurred as a knee-jerk reaction or because of pressure from fans. Instead, the Twins say there was simply “philosophical differences” that caused the swap.
According to Twins’ president Dave St. Peter, these philosophical differences were “in terms of the direction the club’s baseball operations should be headed”. St. Peter noted that talk has been ongoing for the past few months, and that over the last week it became clear “that a change in leadership was in the best interest of our organization”.
Smith’s comments fall right in line with those of the franchise, though he was surprised to be removed from the post he has held since 2007. Smith said that Minnesota has extended him a job that would keep him with the team, but it is still undecided if he will accept the offer.
The Twins have been competitive under Smith, but he has made several questionable moves since taking over the club. Smith traded away top catching prospect Wilson Ramos for reliever Matt Capps, J.J. Hardy for a pair of underwhelming relievers, and starter Matt Garza for outfielder Delmon Young, who never met expectations in Minnesota. Smith did arguably his worst job during his biggest trade, as the GM received no significant future pieces in return for ace Johan Santana.
To replace Smith, the Twins have named former general manager Terry Ryan as their interim GM. Ryan had been in charge of Minnesota’s front office from 1994 until 2007, when he took on the role of senior advisor to the general manager.
At this point, the club isn’t sure how long Ryan will hold the position, as he told reporters “it could be a short amount of time or it could be a long time”.
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