Monday, November 07, 2011

Bill Smith Firing - Past or Future?

There are a number of comments around the internet by people who thought Bill Smith was doing a poor job. But comments at the news conference seemed to indicate the problem was more differences about the future. As was to be expected, they refused to be specific about those differences. But there were some clues:

1) Terry Ryan was clearly unhappy about how injuries had played out. He talked about the inability to get guys with a sprained ankle back on the field. And he made a comment about he was in Forty Myers and "saw what these guys went through" and that Smith had certainly heard from him about it. We may see some changes in the training and medical staff.

2) Ryan made a comment that some of this years problems were bad luck, but not all. Then he said they didn't pitch, they didn't pick up the ball and the offense had problems. This brought a laugh, and he was clearly annoyed by that. He did say improving the fielding would help the pitching.

3) Ryan went out of his way to rebuff the suggestion that the Twins farm system lacked talent. But then he made a comment that "he certainly believed in the farm system, more than most" other GM's. But went on to say if the players weren't there you had to go out and find them. It sounded like he was acknowledging there were not immediate internal solutions.

4) When asked how much any of the trades had been a factor, they said none. That every GM had some good ones and bad ones, and joked that Terry Ryan had some bad ones.

The repeated message of the news conference was this was about the future, not the past. And it seems likely, based on the fact that they are making a major change, that Smith plan was to stand pat and see what happened with the players they had. The Pohlad's and Jerry Bell, and probably others in the organization, didn't think that was the direction they wanted to go. The team needed significant changes, not minor tweaks. Most of Ryan's comments reinforced that.

I would expect to see some moves. Whether those are in a rebuilding mode or aggressively filling holes to compete next season. Most likely, if Ryan sticks to past patterns, they will be moves with an eye on both.

I would expect Ryan to try to move players with less than stellar defense. A focus on defense probably also means not bringing Kubel back in the outfield. The other players who don't fit well on defense are Valencia, Plouffe and Hughes.

I don't think Smith did a bad job. Lets hope Terry Ryan hasn't lost anything in the four years since he left the job. In some ways, its a different organization than the one he ran. He joked about the fact that he was going to have more money, albeit he expected the budget to drop back to around $100,000.

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