I would guess that Bill Smith was more removed from the decision on who to target than Terry Ryan is but based on Ryan's statements when he "retired", I have to think that Smith was more involved in the negotiation process itself (the game has changed and is for "bright young negotiators).
The problem with this article is that it fits with a larger narrative about Smith that seems hell-bent on painting his tenure as an utter disaster. But take in just a few things quick:
His pre-2010 offseason was probably the best of any GM for this team in....well, forever. He dealt for Hardy, resigned Pavano after stealing him from Cleveland, brought in Thome, brought in Hudson, and resigned Mauer.
His work in the international market landed us a cornerstone of our rebuild in Sano. He's also responsible for Kepler, Rosario, Hicks, Gibson, etc.
So, yeah, the guy wasn't very good. He definitely dug a deeper hole with his own blunders, but Ryan and bad luck has a stake in many of those issues in 2011 as well. So just a little balance and fairness in some of these assessments would be nice. (The author did try to do that for sure)
From the article; "...Smith was hired with the thinking that he could provide a seamless transition. Since Smith was seen as more of an administrator, the team also promoted then-scouting director Mike Radcliff to vice-president in charge of player personnel."
I infer the following from this statement: 1) When Ryan was GM he was the boss of the player personnel director (Radcliff); 2) the organization was changed to reflect that Smith was not "in charge" of player personnel, or Radcliff; 3) Radcliff's position (VP player personnel) was horizontal and slightly elevated to Smith's position (Radcliff was a VP, but Smith wasn't a VP, only the GM). Thus Smith, as GM, did not have the same power that Ryan held as GM. Smith would need to balance the interests of different mangers, some of whom were outside of his authority. Ergo, he must build consensus between people which may involve "horse-trading" of decisions and goals. It isn't realistic to conclude that Smith could act with the same latitude as Ryan--Smith didn't have Ryan's power. Smith wasn't "at the top" as his title suggests--player personnel was outside of his purview. Therefore, Radcliff (and his subordinates) who are making player evaluations (Gardenhire would evaluate the Active Roster also) is just as responsible as Smith for poor personnel decisions--because his (department's) provides the evaluations which would serve as the justification for taking an action (or non-action). In short, any blistering of Smith must include the very same for Radcliff and quite likely Gardenhire as well, their input served as the basis for the organization to take an action, Smith was simply (as he has stated) the last signature on the paper. Smith was "an organization guy", he wasn't the commanding general.
One thing I do respect Bill Smith for is that he had the guts to at least try to make the big decisions that were coming after 2007 (Hunter($90)/Santana($137)/Mauer($189)/Morneau($80)/Cuddyer($24)/Nathan($47)). I feel that more of the reason that Terry Ryan left was that he didn't enjoy the "Big" contracts and felt that the negotiations and money involved were not exciting so he took his ball and went home to scouting to let someone else have to deal with this problem.
The Twins Organization very rarely removes or fires anyone. They are seemingly loyal to a fault.
Bill Smith was removed from the position.
I have no inside knowledge but the fact that Bill Smith was removed when people rarely are... Tells me that... It was determined by the Twins that Bill Smith should not continue in the GM position for some reason.
I don't know about anyone else but that speaks pretty loudly to me.
All because someone refused to go 5 years on Hunter.Quote:
Less than two months into Smith’s tenure as Twins general manager, free agent center fielder Torii Hunter signed a five-year, $90 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. The Twins had been offering three years, and a candid Hunter later said that he probably would have signed for five years and $75 million. The consensus around baseball was that the Angels had significantly overpaid, but the Twins were still left with a crater in the middle of their outfield and their lineup.
Within a week, Smith moved to address this newly-created hole. He dealt 23-year-old starter Matt Garza—an elite pitching prospect whom Baseball Prospectus had ranked as baseball’s no. 13 prospect before the season—and starting shortstop Jason Bartlett to the Tampa Bay Rays for a package headlined by outfielder Delmon Young, the runner-up for AL Rookie of the Year Award the season before, who had checked in at no. 3 on that same BP list of prospects.
Less than two months later, the other shoe dropped. Fearing that the team would lose Johan Santana as it had lost Hunter, Smith pulled off a trade, sending Santana to the New York Mets in exchange for four prospects, including highly-touted center fielder Carlos Gomez (BP’s no. 34 overall prospect) and oft-injured pitcher Phillip Humber (no. 26). The moves, while defensible on paper, were controversial at the time, and they don’t look any better in retrospect.
The guy wasn't a good GM and he needed to go, but some fairness in evaluating him would be nice. We can all be happy Ryan's back without painting the past with a pollyanna brush.
Maybe when he retires Ryan will sit down with Bonnes and write an e book. Then we will all know the proocess and can rehash these issues.
But given that bad situation, Smith went out and did just about the worst possible thing he could have done... Two or three times in a row. At the end of the day, I blame Ryan for punting on some important decisions but most of the blame falls on the guy who executed those trades in just about the worst way possible.
And just think how different we would perceive him if 2010 hadn't had a flukes concussion hurt the best player and Ramos hadn't got hurt literally days before he pulled the trigger on Cliff Lee.
2006 they were a stellar team... And then Liriano goes down.
2010 they were a stellar team... And then Morneau goes down, Ramos gets injured and hurts his trade value.
Either one of those seasons, a healthy Twins team is a dominant force in the AL. It doesn't mean they would have won it all but it means they would have had a hell of a lot better shot at winning it all, that's for sure.