Updated: November 7th, 2011 5:22pm
Bill Smith's ouster as GM is result of 'philosophical differences'

Bill Smith's ouster as GM is result of 'philosophical differences'

by Judd Zulgad
1500ESPN.com
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MINNEAPOLIS -- Minnesota Twins President Dave St. Peter said "philosophical differences," led to Monday's surprising announcement that Bill Smith was out as the team's general manager and Terry Ryan would return to the role he left in 2007.

Despite repeated questions on the matter, St. Peter and owner Jim Pohlad both declined to go into detail of what happened with Smith or to elaborate on the differences that existed during a news conference at Target Field. The decision comes after the Twins lost 99 games this season.

"(This is a) cumulation of multiple internal conversations between Bill Smith, Jim Pohlad and myself dating back several months," St. Peter said. "Over that time it became evident that there were philosophical differences in terms of the direction the club's baseball operations should be headed.

"In the past week, it was clear to all of us that a change in leadership was in the best interest of our organization. We proceed with that change with a high level of respect and sensitivity to Bill Smith and his family."

St. Peter said that Smith has requested some time to "sort things out and determine his future plans." Ryan expressed an interest in keeping Smith with the organization.

"To that end it's our intent in the near future to have further conversations with Bill with hopes that we can work together to shape a role to maximize his many talents," St. Peter said.

Ryan was the Twins general manager for 13 years before he decided to step down. He has remained with the organization and made it clear he's up to speed on the operations.

"This is a sensitive day," Ryan said. "Bill and I have talked about this the last couple of days actually and he had a lot of success three out of the four years here. A relentless worker, passion, everything that's good about a baseball employee, Billy was. We had a tough year in 2011. The Pohlad family has asked me to come in and take over as interim GM.

I don't know if it will be for one year or 10 years. (I'm) going to see how it goes and see exactly the direction and success and workload and all the things that about four-and-a-half years ago we talked about over at the Dome.

"I'm certainly up to speed about everything that's going on in the baseball department. I was a piece of the organizational meetings and the conference calls and all the things that Bill put together. Actually, the last four years I've been out scouting more than probably at the Major League games but I'm up to speed on what's going on with the roster.

"We've got a lot of work to do over the next month certainly. GM meetings are coming up, free agency is upon us already, 40-man roster and the winter meetings, arbitration, all the stuff that comes with the offseason. But I think we have people intact here that we can get this thing going back the way it was prior to the 2011 season."

Ryan said he's talked to manager Ron Gardenhire about the situation and some others in the front office.

"This is certainly going to be a challenge, I'm up to the challenge, I appreciate the opportunity," Ryan said. "I hope Billy considers coming back in a job description that Dave and myself and Jim have laid out and some of the things that he enjoys and frankly are right up his alley."

Pohlad said the move was made "with a heavy heart," but also done with, "what we believe is in the best interest of the organization."

"To echo what Dave said, it did come down to just a difference in philosophy about what needed to be done going forward to make the team better in 2012 and beyond," Pohlad said.

Said St. Peter when asked pointed blank about specific philosophical differences: "I don't think there's a lot of value of getting into the specifics. We have a lot of discussions about a lot of different things that impact the organization with ownership and certainly I'm going to leave those discussions between Jim and Bill and myself."

Some other items to come out of the press conference:

• Ryan left as the Twins' general manager in part because he had tired of some of the things that went along with the role and at the time said he didn't envision being back in that job. So what changed?

"I've been away for four years," he said. "I didn't take much time off. I was still working at a pretty good clip and if Bill wanted me to do something I did it. There's a need right now. I certainly believe in continuity and stability and what we stand for here in the organization. It's an interim tag.

"That could be a short amount of time or it could be a long time. Nothing has really changed. I would say that maybe I recharged my battery some. I'm going to take this job head on. I'm not going to do it part time. It's a challenge. Being a general manager is a 365 (day) out of the year job. That's the way I'm going to go at it.

"I might take a few different approaches and maybe have a little bit more patience and maybe do some other things differently. But it's not going to change much for me. We've got some work to do here. We lost 99 games this year. Some of it was bad luck, some of it wasn't. We need to start going in the right direction again."

• Ryan said it already has been discussed that he's going to be able to recommend to Pohlad who his successor will be. "I would say that if I like this job, I think Jim will let me stay," Ryan said. "If I don't, I'm going to try to set up a successor."

• Ryan confirmed that the Twins "anticipate" Wayne Krivsky returning to the organization as a professional scout and assistant to the general manager. "I think Wayne's a valuable baseball guy," Ryan said. "As you know, he's got a lot of talent." Krivsky left the Twins after the 2005 season to become GM of the Cincinnati Reds. He was ousted from that job in April 2008 and has served as a special assistant for the Baltimore Orioles and New York Mets.

• Ryan plans to "thin" Mike Radcliff's duties, "just a little bit." Radcliff is the Twins vice president of player personnel. Last week, the team reportedly denied the Orioles permission to interview Radcliff for their general manager's job.

"I think Mike's got a lot on his plate," Ryan said. "I think one of the strengths I have is putting personnel on the roster so that will help Mike some. But we've got the No. 2 pick in the draft this year. It's important that we get good looks for that selection, but I would try to take the load off a few of these guys. But for the most part we're going to remain intact."

• Ryan said he received a few calls from teams when GM jobs opened up over the past four years but he has not pursued them.

"I'm very happy here," he said. "I like the situation, I like living here, my family's here. The situation dictated that we were going to make a move (with Smith) and Jim asked me if I would like to take control of the general manager's job again. If we had won 94 games I wouldn't be sitting here. I didn't want Bill Smith's job. He knows it and it just happened. I don't like the way it happened but unfortunately here we are. I'm willing to take this on."

• St. Peter refused to comment on the report the Orioles were pursuing Radcliff. "I'm not going to speak to what other teams are doing with searches, what have you," he said. "That has been our policy and will remain our policy."

• St. Peter was asked how much the trades of Wilson Ramos and J.J. Hardy and the signing of Tsuyoshi Nishioka played into the decision to remove Smith from the GM's role.

"If you're going to point out those, you should point out Orlando Cabrera and Brian Fuentes and some of the moves that we've made over the last few that worked out. Being in the general manager's chair you're going to have some trades that worked, some that didn't. Believe it or not, some of Terry's trades previously didn't workout either. It happens. To be honest with you, I don't think that had any impact whatsoever on this decision."

Judd Zulgad is a columnist for 1500ESPN.com. He co-hosts "Mackey & Judd" from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. weekdays and "Saturday Morning SportsTalk" from 10 a.m. to noon on 1500 ESPN Twin Cities.
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