Terry Ryan replaces his replacement

The last time the Minnesota Twins had a major firing was on Nov. 24, 1986, when Andy MacPhail was promoted to general manager and Tom Kelly went from interim to permanent manager. Yesterday, that streak ended when they fired GM Bill Smith and brought back Terry Ryan, who had left the job four years ago, when he was burnt out after being the team’s GM from 1994 through 2007. Smith had served as an assistant GM under Ryan.

Ryan on Monday accepted the title of interim general manager, although he said that he didn’t know “if it’ll be for one year or 10 years.” Later, Ryan added: “I would say, if I like this job, I think [owner Jim Pohlad] will let me stay. If I don’t, I’m going to try to set up a successor.”

“It’s a decision the ballclub felt it had to make and I respect that,” Smith said. “When you take this position, you know it’s probably not forever. It’s much like dealing with players. You can’t look at the last three or four years. You have to look at the next three or four years.

“And if the Pohlad family feels they need a little bit different voice, a little bit different leadership, then they have that obligation to make that move.”

Smith added: “I’m absolutely thrilled that Terry Ryan has accepted this position. He’s probably my closest friend in the game. He’s as good a baseball man as I’ve ever met.”

The Twins won division titles in 2009 and 2010, only to suffer first-round playoff defeats to the New York Yankees both times, but lost 99 games last season despite having a franchise record $115 million payroll.

Ryan confirmed former assistant GM Wayne Krivsky will be returning as a special assistant. Krivsky, who left the Twins to become the Reds GM in 2005, will focus on professional scouting. Ryan also said the payroll could be trimmed to $100 million.

Ryan will be acquiring from Smith a much weaker Twins team than Smith acquired from Ryan.