Ryan steps down as Twins GM

Ryan steps down as Twins GM

MINNEAPOLIS -- Terry Ryan has often been lauded as one of the best talent evaluators in baseball.

And now he'll get a chance to fulfill his love of scouting talent, full-time.

Ryan announced in a press conference on Thursday afternoon that he was stepping down as Twins general manager after 13 seasons. Bill Smith, formerly vice president/assistant general manager for the Twins, was named as Ryan's replacement.

The move will be effective at the end of the season. Ryan will then assume the role of senior adviser to the GM.

"Thirteen years as a GM is a long shelf life," Ryan said. "It's one of those situations where I'm surprised with the longevity and thrilled that the [Carl] Pohlad family gave me the opportunity to stay in this position as long as I have."

"The right thing for the person in the chair is to develop people and players that will come in behind you and make the transition seamless, which I think we have done and will do."

The timing of the announcement was a bit ironic. It came exactly 13 years to the day that Ryan was named the organization's fourth GM on Sept. 13, 1994.

Despite a rough '07 season for the Twins, the announcement came as quite a surprise, considering Ryan's track record of success. But Ryan, 53, said his decision had nothing to do with his health or the way the team had performed on the field. Instead, it was a feeling that he wasn't enjoying the position the way he had previously.

"I felt a lot of elation when we won, and sorrow when we lost," Ryan said. "Now, all of a sudden, the defeats are getting a little harder to take, and the wins aren't as much fun. That's not a good thing to experience as a general manager."

Ryan choked up during his press conference when reading a long list of people he had to thank during his time as GM. Among those were his wife, Karilyn, and two children, Tim and Kathleen.

His decision to step down has been something that Ryan said he's thought about for several months. But very few people actually knew until Thursday that it was happening, including his wife, whom he told on Wednesday night.

Even though Ryan will remain in the organization, the news was still taken hard by those in the front office. Twins president Dave St. Peter and the Pohlad family acknowledged they tried to talk Ryan out of his decision.

"We asked him to think about it," Jim Pohlad said. "But you know, he's pretty committed, because it's what is right for him personally and his family. We're just pleased we can keep Terry around in the organization."

It's certainly been a long and, at times, turbulent ride for Ryan in his role as GM for the Twins. Ryan, the second-longest tenured GM in the game, helped lead the club out of a rough period in the 90s, dealing with losing seasons and even the possibility of contraction. But he helped turn around the organization, engineering the Twins to four American League Central titles in the past six seasons.

Ryan twice earned the distinction of the Sporting News Executive of the Year, once in 2002 and again in 2006. In 2002, the Twins were also named the Organization of the Year under his watch.

During his tenure, Ryan also had his share of successful trades, including sending Chuck Knoblauch to the Yankees in 1998 for shortstop Cristian Guzman and left-handed pitcher Eric Milton. Both players would go on to become All-Stars and contributors in some of the division-winning seasons.

But Ryan will likely be most remembered most for the trade he made in December 2003, which sent catcher A.J. Pierzynski to the Giants for closer Joe Nathan, left-hander Francisco Liriano and right-hander Boof Bonser. It's a deal that has been described as one of the most lopsided in baseball history.

For the many good deals, Ryan has also weathered the ups and downs of what many deemed "mistakes." This season, Ryan came under fire for his decision to trade clubhouse favorite and veteran infielder Luis Castillo at the trade deadline, and his inability to add any offensive bats to a team seeking more run production.

Yet, for all the good and bad, Ryan was always accessible to anyone -- both media and fans -- for the criticism and the praise. And it was him noticing some changes in that demeanor that finally led to Ryan saying enough was enough.

"There were a couple instances this year that I changed, and I didn't like it," Ryan said. "I need to get out. I don't want to change. So I'm going to move on and I'll turn this over to Billy."

Kelly Thesier is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.