Twins fire GM after ugly year

MINNEAPOLIS — The fallout from a 99-loss season for the Twins has started with the firing of general manager Bill Smith.

Smith was dismissed Monday, when Minnesota returned Terry Ryan to the role on an interim basis. Smith was Ryan's top assistant when Ryan stepped down in 2007, citing burnout, after holding the job for 13 years.

Widely recognized for their stability, positive atmosphere and ability to make the most out of a medium-range payroll, the Twins made what was a startling move despite the embarrassment and disappointment of the 2011 season following two straight AL Central titles.

The Twins fired a general manager for the first time since the franchise moved from Washington to Minnesota in 1961. Calvin Griffith was the owner and general manager until selling the team in 1984. Andy MacPhail became the full-time successor, leaving for a prime job with the Cubs, and Ryan followed him.

Ryan's moves helped turn the Twins from one of the worst teams in baseball in the mid '90s to one of the best the next decade. They won four division titles over Ryan's last five full seasons, without spending much money in free agency and instead drafting and developing their core players, augmented by shrewd trades.

Smith's decisions haven't turned out as well.

"No one in the Twins' organization wants to win any more than Bill," Twins owner Jim Pohlad said in a statement. "He is unquestionably loyal, committed and talented. The Twins' goal is to get better in 2012 and beyond. Bill was equally motivated to achieve that goal, but we differed in the scope and approach that was required."

Pohlad added that the Twins will speak with Smith about "an ongoing role within the organization." Smith has been with the club since 1986.

DUQUETTE ON BOARD: The Orioles formally announced the hiring of Dan Duquette as executive vice president of baseball operations. Duquette, 53, signed a three-year contract Sunday. He will be introduced to the media in a news conference this morning.

ROYALS-GIANTS TRADE: The Royals traded outfielder Melky Cabrera to the Giants for left-hander Jonathan Sanchez as they aimed to upgrade their rotation and clear the way for hotshot prospect Lorenzo Cain to get a chance in centerfield. The Royals also received Double-A pitcher Ryan Verdugo.

SPEECH LEAKED: The Rangers are investigating who leaked an audio recording of the clubhouse speech manager Ron Washington gave to his players before Game 7 of the World Series. Joesportsfan.com posted the six-minute recording and said it was made by a member of the clubhouse staff it did not identify. The profanity-filled speech includes Washington encouraging and laughing with his players.

CARTER HONORED: Hall of Famer Gary Carter, diagnosed in May with a malignant brain tumor, will be honored by the New York chapter of the Baseball Writers' Association of America at its annual dinner Jan. 21. Carter, who helped the Mets win the World Series in 1986, was voted the Milton and Arthur Richman You Gotta Have Heart award at the chapter's annual meeting.

MADDUX REBUFFS BOSOX: Rangers pitching coach Mike Maddux withdrew from consideration for the Red Sox's manager's job. The job opened when Terry Francona left after Boston's titanic September collapse, which allowed the Rays to win the AL wild card.

BLUE JAYS: Pete Walker replaced former AL Cy Young Award winner Pat Hentgen as bullpen coach.

CUBS: Joe Bohringer was hired as director of pro scouting. Bohringer, 41, spent the past five seasons as a pro scout for the Diamondbacks.

Twins fire GM after ugly year 11/07/11 [Last modified: Monday, November 7, 2011 8:58pm]

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