The Minnesota Twins have announced that, effective immediately, Terry Ryan will take over as interim general manager for the team, replacing Bill Smith, who replaced Ryan in September of 2007.

According to Twins owner and CEO Jim Pohlad:

No one in the Twins’ organization wants to win any more than Bill. 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. We are fortunate and grateful for Terry Ryan’s willingness to step in as interim general manager.

The surprising news comes shortly after it was announced last week that former assistant general manager Wayne Krivsky would be returning to the organization as a special assistant. Krivksy and Ryan worked together to win four division titles between 2002 and 2006.

As much as I may have disagreed with Smith’s questionable (and failed) attempts to move Denard Span at the trade deadline to the Washington Nationals for Drew Storen, anyone quick to criticize him for Minnesota’s failings in 2011 would do well to remember that Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau missed a combined 173 games this past season.

Nonetheless, Minnesota Twins fans appear to be happy to see Smith’s departure despite the strange timing.

While most expect Ryan to take full control of the team for the foreseeable future, the interim tag is interesting considering the presence of Mike Radcliff as Vice President of Player Personnel. If you’ll recall, the Baltimore Orioles were refused permission to speak with Radcliff about their recent GM job opening up.

Rob Neyer from SB Nation suggests that perhaps “Ryan is merely keeping the chair warm until the Twins are able to work out a new deal with Radcliff.”