The team announced that Bill Smith will no longer be the team's general manager and Terry Ryan will take over his former role with the organization on an interim basis. For many that follow the Twins, this was a very surprising move and in an interview with Smith on 1500 ESPN shortly after his firing, he seemed to be surprised as well.
There were many things that went wrong for the Twins in 2011 and as an outsider, it is hard to know how much of the blame should be placed on Mr. Smith. Many people had a problem with the decisions that were made by Smith during his four seasons in charge of the putting the Twins roster together. There were many injuries and the trades that have been made were questionable to say the least. In the press conference and statement released by the team, they cited "philosophical differences" for the future.
Every general manager is going to have to make some tough decisions during their time in charge of the team. On the heels of a 99-loss season, the moves that Smith had made stuck out to a fan base that has become accustom to winning. JJ Hardy was traded to Baltimore the year before a huge season for two relief pitchers that might never make an impact on the Twins roster. Joe Mauer spent most of the 2011 season unable to catch and this came a year after the Twins traded their top catching prospect Wilson Ramos to the Nationals for Matt Capps. Earlier trades like the Johan Santana deal and Garza-for-Young trade have not left significant marks on the organization.
There were some positives during the short tenure of Smith as Twins GM. Signing Jim Thome to a free agent contract in back to back offseasons allowed Twins fans the opportunity to watch his chase for the 600 home run plateau. Other veterans like Orlando Hudson, Jon Rauch, and Orlando Cabrera were able to succeed in their short time with the Twins organization. The club also won two division titles and was one win away from a third during his time at the helm.
The team's focus on the "philosophical differences" lead to some interesting responses from the Jim Polhad and Dave St. Peter. The leaders of the organization made sure not to shed too much light on the situation when talking to the media on Monday afternoon. The atmosphere was very somber at the press conference and Ryan made sure to let people know that he did not want Smith's job. But the organization was ready to make a change and Ryan was "re-energized" after not serving as GM for the last four years.
There are plenty of areas for Ryan to address during his first offseason back as the GM. Ryan did not find any humor in all these areas of weakness from last year. He let the media know that the Twins need to address their pitching, their defense, and their ability to score runs. That could mean plenty of changes for the Twins next year and other MLB team's might have a jump on the free agent market.
The Twins offseason plans could be going in a new direction and most fans seem to be in favor of the change.