Looking Through the Classifieds
Headlines: Paul DePodesta Fired. Theo Epstein Resigns.
So you want to be a general manager, huh? Well, there are four openings at the moment. The Dodgers, Red Sox, Phillies, and Devil Rays are all looking to hire a GM. The list of candidates includes Jim Bowden, Pat Gillick, Gerry Hunsicker, and all the other unemployed former GMs. Kevin Malone, are you listening?
The qualifications for the various jobs are detailed below.
Dodgers: Must be a good friend of Tommy Lasorda. Mutual admiration society preferred. Ability to work side-by-side with Bobby Valentine, our next manager. Knowing what it means to be a Dodger will please carpetbagging Chairman and President. So will getting on the good side of Plaschke. No computer experience necessary.
Red Sox: Working knowledge of sabermetrics is indispensable. Strong aptitude desired. Knowing your place in the hierarchy of organizations required. Call a plumber if leaks bother you. Bonus points awarded for being a former college baseball or basketball player.
Phillies: Must have been fired at least once by another MLB team. Any suggestions on how to void Jim Thome's contract a huge plus. Contractor's license preferred to coordinate movement of outfield wall back to more normal distances.
Devil Rays: If you've ever heard of the Rule 5 draft, you're our man. Ability to think outside the box to create something different than a traditional general manager's role secondary consideration. Manager interviews have already taken place. Having little or no say in who that person might be a fact of life.
By the way, don't jump to any conclusions about DePodesta's and Epstein's departures having anything to do with the decline or demise of Moneyball. Even though a lot of old school types would love nothing more than that, the use of statistical analysis in player evaluation, taking advantage of inefficient markets, and using one's limited resources as wisely as possible are all here to stay, so help me Joe Morgan. No? For proof, look no further than Arizona and Texas where Josh Byrnes, 35, and Jon Daniels, 28, now have corner offices. Both were schooled in combining the best that stats and scouting have to offer.
Tom Timmermann, sports columnist for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, makes a great point about this very matter.
For those who think that the Los Angeles Dodgers' firing of general manager/whiz kid Paul DePodesta is an indictment of the "moneyball" methodology of baseball, a defeat for those who puts statistics over flesh-and-blood analysis, I would say that only applies if you agree that the firing of every other general manager in the history of baseball is an indictment of the old-school method.
Timmermann is the older brother of Bob, longtime SABR member and known in the baseball blogosphere as a respected Dodger Thoughts reader/commenter.
OK, here is how I see this game of musical chairs playing out. Gillick or Bowden will wind up in L.A. If pressed to name one or the other, I would say Bowden. Gillick (60%) or Hunsicker (40%) will end up in Philly. Hunsicker or Andrew Friedman will get the nod in Tampa Bay. Either Kevin Towers will land in Boston to be reunited with Larry Lucchino, his old boss in San Diego (see photo below of pending press conference), or look for Hunsicker -- if he hasn't been gobbled up elsewhere -- to be the one to worry about what to do with Manny. Sandy Alderson will appreciate Epstein's talents and offer him the Padres job should Towers bolt for greener pastures.
Longshot: Epstein remains the Red Sox GM. He never resigned from Boston. He simply re-signed with the Sox. John Henry intercedes, sits down Lucchino and Epstein, and lays down the law. Hey, it happened in Oakland.
[Additional reader comments and retorts at Baseball Primer.]