Sunday, July 20, 2008

If not Bowden, then Who?

I argue in the "Basic Case for Firing Bowden" note on the front page that "MLB is loaded with talented young executives from Chris Antonetti to Kim Ng to our own Mike Rizzo who deserve a chance to improve on Bowden's record of failure."

I'm not in the industry and other than what I've read I don't know much about these people, but it makes sense to me that there would be a lot of talented young options because 1) these are really desirable jobs that don't open up very much 2) MLB is a notoriously insular world and slow to embrace new ideas and new faces, and 3) young GMs like Josh Byrnes and Theo Epstein are doing pretty good.

Will Carroll over at Baseball Prospectus did a column not long ago walking through "The Next Ten." He left out former GMs like Gord Ash, Gerry Hunsicker, and Pat Gillick as well as the widely admired Chris Antonetti because he wanted to focus on the up-and-comers you may not have heard of. I'd rather go with a new face because I think there's a better chance of getting a superstar by grabbing the best of the next generation than by recycling.

Here's his list, with my commentary:

1. Boston AGM Jed Hoyer: the 34-year-old replaced Josh Byrnes as Theo's right-hand man and operated as co-GM during Epstein's time away from the Sox. Hoyer has had his hand in a bunch of different areas and "doesn't seem to have any pronounced weaknesses," according to Carroll. Given the success the Sox have had with young execs, you gotta like the pedigree. And the Sox have been not only dominant players in the free agent market, but have done a great job using their financial clout to stockpile young talent as well, which is what we need to accelerate the pace of the plan.

2. Milwaukee Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik: I cringe at the idea of having to type that name daily, but he's the only non-GM ever to win the Exec of the Year award. His drafts for the Brew Crew (Fielder, Weeks, Braun, Gallardo in one 3-year span) have been brilliant. Carroll says the knock on him is lack of media savvy, but how refreshing would it be to have a GM more interested in fielding a good team than getting his name in the paper? We already have Stan as a pitch man. We need a baseball man, not a PR consultant.

3. ChiSox AGM Rick Hahn: top execs for small market teams that win it all tend to pop up on lists like this. Carroll makes him sound like a charasmatic contract lawyer who would need help with talent evaluation. I'm not sure that's fair, but his profile don't really turn me on. I want a talent maven, not a schmoozer.

4. Nationals AGM/Head of Scouting Mike Rizzo: clearly the favorite of people who frequent this site, his drafts in Arizona are probably the only drafts that beat
Zduriencik's in Milwaukee, snagging Justin Upton, Carlos Quentin, Stephen Drew, Conor Jackson, Mark Reynolds, and Micah Owings in one magnificent three-year span. We all know the rave reviews the Nationals' 2007 draft got. He too is criticized for lack of media savvy, but again, winning doesn't require spin.

5. Toronto AGM Tony LaCava: Carroll says, "First, he knows everyone. Second, everyone loves him." It's nice to be liked, but one problem--the Blue Jays aren't really very good. I don't think we have much to learn from what's happened there the last few years.

6. Indians Director of Baseball Operations Mike Chernoff: he's number three in one of baseball's best organizations. Shapiro is among the best in the game, and Antonetti would have had a GM job long ago if he was willing to leave Cleveland. Chernoff is next in line and presumably has learned some things. Soundsl like not quite enough reason to pick him over Rizzo or some of the others on this list.

7. Mets AGM John Ricco: low key persona who did most of the legwork to build the Mets while Omar got the headlines. Unfortunately, "Mets credit" is turning into "Mets blame" pretty fast these days.

8. St. Louis AGM John Abbamondi: a very well respected alum of MIT, Stanford, and the Commissioner's office, he's new just this year to his first AGM job and it's probably a little early to consider him as a GM candidate.

9. Texas AGM Thad Levine: mentored by Josh Byrnes in Denver and Jon Daniels in Texas, he's not considered a top talent evaluator and the Rangers are bad. Seems like an uninspired choice compared to some others here.

10. D'Backs AGM Peter Woodfork: another alum of the league's labor office, he worked with Byrnes in Boston and now Phoenix. His name has popped up connected to a number of jobs in the past, and Carroll says he's "perhaps the most inevitable of all the names on this list."

Finally, Carroll lists five other "names to remember": Damon Oppenheimer, Tony Bernazard, Jerry DiPoto, Kim Ng, and Dick Tidrow.

So that should whet your appetite.

Who do you like? Who would be on your list?
  • Great minds think alike, part 2: By total coincidence, Mike Harris at Nationals Fanboy Looser posed the same question today. Check out his ideas and the comments as well, which are worth the read.


MikeHarris said...

Good stuff.
Jerry DiPoto is from VCU. Have no clue what kind of GM he'd make.

Hendo said...

Woodfork and Rizzo worked together briefly in Phoenix, didn't they?

Woodfork is praised as an analyst, which would probably doom him with the Dodgers but could be a nifty fit with the drafting and scouting skills of Rizzo and Brown.

Mike said...

The Rangers aren't bad(50-48), and they rebuilt the farm system in the last year or two under Daniels. Levine gets a lot of praise for having the respect of both the statistical analysis types as well as the scouting types. I don't know if I would have him at the top of the list, but I'm also not so sure he'd be a bad pick either.

At this point, I'd be really surprised if Kasten didn't go with Rizzo when the time comes.

Nationals Fan said...

You're right, the Rangers are getting better. That franchise has been in the wilderness for so long that I haven't really noticed.

Mike said...

Also, this was another solid post with a lot of information.

Nationals Fan said...


The Nationals Enquirer said...

Nice work -- wanted to try to expand on something like this this this morning myself, but I'm too damn lazy. So instead I just threw up the link to the Heyman piece.

Rizzo seems to make sense to me...

Nationals Fan said...

I intentionally didn't pick a favorite in my post because I don't really know enough to say, but based on what I know, Rizzo seems like the best choice. First, that D'Backs drafting was incredible. Second, I don't see how we keep Rizzo if we bring in someone else. It just seems dysfunctional--you already have Rizzo coming in over Dana Brown, who was the incumbent scouting director, then you're going to bring in another new face over Rizzo? That's no way to run an organization.

Also, I just kinda have always thought that Rizzo was brought in to be Bowden's successor. Why they didn't just make the hire two years ago I don't know. Maybe they felt like Rizzo needed some seasoning or (please no let it not be this) some coaching from Bowden on dealing with the media.

But I'm with the majority of the people who have voted on the site. Rizzo's the logical choice and the guy I'd want.