Bill Smith out as Twins general manager; Terry Ryan takes interim role
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Bill Smith is out as the Minnesota Twins' general manager -- and Terry Ryan is back in, at least for now.
The team announced the unexpected decision on Monday afternoon, citing differences of opinion about how to rebuild a team that lost 99 games last season.
Ryan takes over as interim general manager, returning to the post he held for 13 years before Smith replaced him on Sept. 13, 2007.
"No one in the Twins' organization wants to win any more than Bill," Twins owner and CEO Jim Pohlad said in a statement issued by the team.
"He is unquestionably loyal, committed and talented. 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. Going forward, we intend to have additional discussions with Bill about an ongoing role within the organization. We wish Bill, Becky and the entire Smith family nothing but the best."
Smith, 53, joined the Twins organization in March 1986 as assistant director of minor leagues and scouting. He was named director of baseball administration in October 1989 and later spent 13 years as team vice president and Ryan's assistant general manager.
The Twins won two division titles and were close to a third under Smith's watch, but high-profile trades of Matt Capps, J.J. Hardy and Delmon Young as well as the signing of Japanese infielder Tsuyoshi Nishioka all yielded minimal dividends over the past 18 months.
"We had a disaster in '11, and that's my responsibility," Smith said in an interview with 1500 ESPN. "No one feels worse about it than I do. Believe me, I wish everybody over there nothing but continued success, and I'm sure this group is going to figure it out."
Smith said he learned of the decision in a Monday morning meeting with Pohland and team president Dave St. Peter, who offered him a job to stay in the organization. Smith said he's "going to step back for a little bit here" before deciding whether to accept.
"It's a tough thing," Smith said, "but at the same time, if it's for the best for the organization, I'm all for it and there's no one I would rather hand the baton back to than Terry Ryan."
Ryan, 58, has spent 28 years in the Twins organization. The team's release said he "will be responsible for succession planning with the intent to identify future leadership candidates" in addition to overseeing the team's baseball operation.
"As we move ahead, I'm looking forward to the challenge of improving this club for 2012 and beyond," Ryan said in the statement. "We have many assets in place including a strong front office, manager, coaching staff and returning core of players. We have a lot of work to do in relation to development of our roster."