Today, the Twins shocked most in the baseball community and relieved Bill Smith of the GM duties, and put his predecessor Terry Ryan back in as the interim. The moves comes after the team lost 99 games in 2011, which followed back to back division titles in 2009 and 2010. The team said that there were "Philosophical Differences" between them and Smith, which lead to this decision. Ryan lead the Twins from the GM seat from 1994-2007 (Replacing Andy MacPhail), and shaped the teams that won division titles in 2002, 2003, 2004, and 2006.
Winning those division titles for Ryan and his staff was not easy. They had to do it, with the financial constraints of playing in the Metrodome. So, Ryan returns to the team now in Target Field and a 9 figure payroll. But, as we learned today, the payroll for next year will go down to somewhere around $100 million. So take in to account the fact the Twins have around $80 million spent on payroll next year already, it will make things tight for Ryan and company.
His free agent signees list wasnt the greatest. But his list of trades made was. Ryan was a genius at making a trade, and pulled off many that helped the Twins in more ways than one. Perhaps there is no better example of a trade Ryan made that benefited the Twins so well was the November 2003 trade that sent catcher AJ Pierzynski to San Francisco. In return for the catcher, the Twins recieved P's Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. Nathan went on to become the team's all time saves leader, Liriano was a stud until he had to undergo Tommy John surgery and has been inconsistent since, and Bonser was a serviceable starter/reliever until he battled various injuries and was released. Many times Ryan pulled off trades like this, and hopefully he can continue his magic going forward, especially if the team has just $20 million to spend on free agents, they will need to make some trades.
I guess the thing that excites me the most about seeing Ryan return to the GM chair, is the fact he wanted to come back and is willing to be the GM for many years going forward. He was one of the best back then, and he should still be one of the best going forward. He clearly has his work cut out for him as he tries to get a 99 loss team back to a 90+ win team. But, if he can duplicate his success from his previous stint, he can make the Twins a great team once again...