I am not a Bill Smith fan -- I was begging for him to be fired in 2011 -- but I consider what happened to be a massive organizational failure, not just a failure of the GM (although I certainly think he was in over his head).
I actually think that what happened is that the Twins were distracted. They began to anticipate the opening of TF and the new revenue streams it would bring and began to think more about marketing and publicity than they did the product on the field (I think both the Mauer and Nishioka signings were based primarily on marketing rather than baseball.) To some extent they got away from the idea of making every penny count and they did squander some of their assets. I think Bill Smith & Co. thought they were "going for it" with some of their decisions (Matt Capps, anyone?) -- even though they appeared questionable to many fans.
Despite his years with the organization, Bill Smith seemed a bit of an odd choice for G.M. Neither someone in a traditional mold who had risen from the scouting ranks or someone in the new "wunderkind" mold who understands and uses statistical analysis. As stated above, he was really an administrator and I'm not sure he had a solid framework for analyzing the information provided to him by others. And I think that the way he prioritized the "voices" was different than someone who had either a strong scouting background OR a strong statistical analysis background -- I think that's why Gardenhire may have gotten as much "say" as it appears he had.
Would the organization be in better shape if Terry Ryan had been G.M. from 2007-2011? I'm not sure. I think he might have been better able to keep the organization focused on "every penny counting" but I think the opening of TF was going to have some impact on their thinking regardless of who was G.M. Plus, they were cyclically at a point where they were faced with tough decisions.
The organization seems to have swung back to a very small market mindset over the last 2 years. It is only now, after the misery of the last 3 years and an OWNER who finally stepped up and made it clear that there was $$$ available to be spent and that should be spent, where it seems to me that the Twins are finally finding their footing as a "small-to-midmarket" team. A place where they follow the small market mindset of building the farm and acquiring prospects but where they ALSO can take some monetary risks in free agency.
They still need to make every dollar count. But maybe now they can watch every dollar instead of every penny.
Edited by JB_Iowa, 10 December 2013 - 01:08 PM.