Monday, November 7, 2011

Bill Smith out as Twins general manager

Bill Smith and Terry Ryan in 2007, when Smith took over
for the semi-retiring Ryan. Now Ryan is stepping in for
the fired Smith.
Terry Ryan is back in charge of the Minnesota Twins on-field product, at least for now; Bill Smith's future with the club is uncertain, but he isn't the general manager anymore.

Verrry interesting, given that Jim Pohlad had implied that the 2011 disaster was not sufficient reason to clean the organizational house -- an assessment with which I largely agreed. So what changed?

From CEO Pohlad:

The Twins' goal is to get better in 2012 and beyond. Bill was equally motivated to achieve that goal but we differed in the scope and approach that was required.

I infer from that portion of Pohlad's statement that there was division within the organization over where the club stands. Are they realistic contenders in 2012, or is it time to tear it down and rebuild? If the former, it's reason to bid heavily to retain Michael Cuddyer; if the latter, it's reason to wish him well and move on (Cuddyer being one concrete example of how that abstract question applies to the immediate offseason).

I don't know where Smith stood on that basic question. We'll see as the winter progresses what the operating consensus is.

Perhaps more pertinent: I don't know, not being a fly on the wall, how the player evaluation process worked with a GM who was more an administrator than a scout. The talent evaluators around Smith -- in particular Ryan, Mike Radcliff, Tom Kelly, the already-departed Joe McIlvane -- were by and large the same people evaluating players when Ryan was on top of the heap. I doubt everybody involved agreed on every move, and perhaps -- perhaps -- there was a growing sense/realization that Smith was consistently making the wrong choice when confronted with diverging opinions.

One other thought about Monday's move: That Ryan is being described as "interim" general manager suggests that he's not truly invested in getting back into the job. I wonder if the pending return of Wayne Krivsky -- who, as I said during the weekend, probably would have been Ryan's successor after the 2007 season had he not already taken the Cincinnati job -- is intended to get him familiar once more with the Twins organization before turning the reins over to him. Another in-house possibility would be Radcliff, who was blocked from interviewing for the Orioles job. But if the intent is to make Radcliff the top dog, there was probably no need to install an interim GM.

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