Some of Ryan's baseball peers were not surprised by the move.
"Terry's one of those guys, just knowing him, he never seemed real happy," San Diego GM Kevin Towers said. "He was like being a GM is what it is. If this is what the organization wants me to do, I'll do it. He could have done it for 40 years, but with Terry, you figured there was a point in time where he'd say, 'I've had enough.' He's an honest man with a tremendous integrity, and a great evaluator. The best way I can put it is he's a baseball man."
Ryan was hard on himself, expressing frustration over his failure to add offensive punch at this season's trade deadline. Instead, he dealt leadoff hitter and second baseman Luis Castillo, a move that upset the clubhouse.
Ryan mentioned a couple of rare outbursts with the media this season were more signs a change was needed.
"There were a couple instances this year where I changed and I didn't like it," he said. "I need to get out. I don't want to change."
The timing comes at a critical juncture for the team. Hunter and righthander Carlos Silva can file for free agency after the season. Nathan, whom the club holds an option on for 2008, would like to stay beyond that. Cuddyer and first baseman Justin Morneau are core players, but the club failed to get multiyear deals done with them last offseason.
Ryan felt now was the right time for a change, pointing out that the busy season for GMs runs from Oct. 1 through spring training, when roster decisions of all kinds are required. As for negotiating contracts, Smith actually was the one in contact with Larry Rey- nolds, Hunter's agent, this season before Hunter decided to wait until after the season.
"This gives us two weeks to transition so we are ready to go Oct. 1," Smith said.
On Oct. 1, Ryan will move into another office -- the one in his home in Eagan -- where he can spend more time with his wife, Karilyn, son, Tim, and daughter, Kathleen.
"[Karilyn] had an inkling," Ryan said of his decision, "but she told me that she never thought she'd see this day coming."