It was one of those rare moments where I was actually on Twitter when some big Twins story broke and I was so surprised I had to read it twice. Bill Smith has been fired as GM by the Twins and has been offered another position within the organization...which I'm guessing is one he will likely turn down. His replacement, at least on an interim basis, is former Twins' GM Terry Ryan who was captain of the Twins ship from 1994 to 2007.
This is some pretty exciting news. Calls for Bill Smith's head have been going around the Twins blogosphere for awhile now and he has been rightfully (IMO anyway) blamed for the current state of the team and for a dreadful 2011 season. Terry Ryan certainly has quite a big job ahead of his for this off-season, but my level of trust in his decision-making abilities is far-higher. When Terry Ryan was the Twins GM, he consistently made good trades and good free-agent pickups using a limited payroll AND he also helped build a powerhouse farm-system that churned out many of the starters on the current Twins roster (Mauer, Morneau, Kubel, Cuddyer, Span, Valencia, etc). He also executed several trades, some of which are among the best in recent memory (Liriano and Nathan for Pierzynski and he acquired Johan Santana in the Rule 5 draft). He wasn't immune to bad deals (brought Drew Butera to the team in 2007) but more times than not he made good decisions that brought quality players to the Twins organization and ultimately turned the team back into a winner in 2001.
As a fan of the team, this is a great way to start the off-season in my opinion. I feel comfortable knowing that it is Terry Ryan rather than Bill Smith who has $20-$30M to spend this off-season and I think Ryan will make deals that will benefit the Twins both in the short-term and the long-term.
Terry Ryan is by no means a savior. Let's not forget that Terry Ryan was a Sr. Advisor with the Twins during the entire time that Bill Smith has been the GM. I don't know to what degree he was involved in making decisions, but he was definitely involved and yet the Twins made bad move after bad move during that time. Additionally, the Twins have a number of holes they need to address this off-season and even with $20-$30M to spend, any Twins GM is going to need to be extremely savvy to fill those holes. On top of that are the health concerns with Mauer, Morneau, Liriano, etc that are mostly out of Ryan's hands, but will ultimately go a long way in determining the outcome of the 2012 season and beyond. Oh, and the farm-system is mostly depleted of near-Major-League-ready talent. Make no mistake, it's a big job. Like I said though, I feel better knowing that Terry Ryan is making the final decisions, here's hoping for a good off-season.