In a surprising move, the Twins have fired general manager Bill Smith. Former GM Terry Ryan, who has remained with the organization on a special assistant basis since being replaced by Smith in October 2007, will take over the job on an interim basis.
Just last week, the Twins denied the Baltimore Orioles permission to meet with VP of Player Personnel Mike Radcliff, and were rumored to be bringing former assistant GM Wayne Krivsky back as a special assistant to Smith. As it turns out, those moves were part of a bigger strategy that sees longtime employee Smith lose his job.
Twins fans had not been happy with several of Smith's moves, chief among them the decision to trade shortstop J.J. Hardy to Baltimore following an injury-plagued 2010 season, despite not having a major league-ready shortstop to replace him. Smith also was pilloried for trading up-and-coming young catcher Wilson Ramos to Washington for reliever Matt Capps in the summer of 2010, despite Capps being a middling reliever and closer and Ramos being the insurance policy for Joe Mauer. Both of those moves went on to backfire spectacularly, as the Twins were treated to the comedy batting stylings of Drew Butera and the incompetent fielding of Trevor Plouffe and Tsuyoshi Nishioka for much of 2011.
There will be a press conference at 4:30 pm to announce Ryan's appointment. I'm sure we'll have more following that.