Is a GM Gap Behind the AL/NL Disparity?

The American League’s current superiority (as a whole) to the National League is well-established. Here is one brief illustration of the gap. In short: if someone asks why you think the AL is better than the NL, ask them why they think a 90-win team is better than a 70-win team.

The more interesting issue is source of the disparity. One can imagine various explanations with different degrees of credibility: money, the DH, luck, and so on. It’s likely a combination of a number of different factors. I won’t pretend to have all the answers, but I will suggest that the relative quality of front offices (represented here by general managers) plays a major role.

Rather than going through every team, I’ll avoid the illusion of being definitive and pick whom I see as the five best and five worst current general managers. I know that every choice is debatable, but I’ll try to be relatively uncontroversial. It is also worth looking back at the “Front Office” sections of Dave Cameron’s organizational rankings from last off-season, although the judgments presented here are my own. Keep in mind that this is merely a brief reflection. These are not rankings, but merely groupings the five best and the five worst GMs in baseball.

The best: Andrew Friedman (TBA) and Theo Epstein (BOS) work in very different situations, but would be on anyone’s short list for “Best GM” given the numerous ways in which their organizations excel. Billy Beane (OAK) is still one of the top GMs in the game, despite the current rebuild. It’s easy to forget just how good the As were from 1999-2006 on a shoestring budget. It’s only been one full season and less than two off-seasons, but Jack “Jack Z.” Zduriencik (SEA) has vaulted himself into this conversation. As for a fifth member in this group… well, that’s tough. I’d like to put Brian Cashman (NYY) here, given his metamorphosis the last few years from the Yankees’ Tom Hagen into their Michael Corleone, but I’m trying to avoid too much controversy and people always get hung up on the budget. Mark Shapiro (CLE) would also be a good choice, but given Cleveland’s recently struggles, I can understand why some would object. Josh Byrnes (ARI) would be another good candidate, but if Shapiro doesn’t make it, neither should Byrnes. For #5 I’ll go with Doug Melvin (MIL), who does a good job of blending traditional and contemporary methods, but any of the other guys could make it. In no particular order: Friedman, Epstein, Beane, Zduriencik, and Melvin.

Best GMs Tally: AL 4, NL 1

The Worst: Oh boy… This was surprisingly (and depressingly) easy. In no particular order, the Frightful Five are: Dayton Moore (KCA), Omar Minaya (NYM), Ed Wade (HOU), Ned Colletti (LAN), and Brian Sabean (SFN). Seeing those names together gives “Murderer’s Row” a new meaning. I’ll pursue the increasingly uncanny Moore/Minaya dynamic at length some other time. Suffice it to say, no one would blink an eye if tomorrow Minaya lectured Mets fans about “trusting the process” while Dayton Moore held a press conference at which he accused Joe Posnanski of gunning for a player development position with the Royals. Ed Wade’s Brandon Lyon contract aside, his organization is sort of like the Royals except older and without the glimmers of hope in the minor leagues. Some may feel it is unfair to put Colletti on this list given his team’s success, but look at the cash he has (or, more accurately, had) at his disposal relative to his divisional rivals. Then there’s Colletti’s mentor, Brian Sabean… That I’m so impressed that he’s restrained himself from resigning Bengie Molina sort of says it all.

Worst GMs Tally: AL 1, NL 4

The NL only has one of the best GMs (and again, there were other candidates in the AL that could have taken his place), and all but one of the worst. One or two changes would not alter the overall point: front office excellence seems slant heavily toward the American League, and the opposite of excellence toward the National League. Neither the selections nor the “method” employed are definitive, but I do think there is something here.



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Matt Klaassen reads and writes obituaries in the Greater Toronto Area. If you can't get enough of him, follow him on Twitter.


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R y a n
Guest
R y a n
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t want to come off like a jack*** here, but how could Jim Hendry be left off of the “Worst GM” list?! I’d put him in there instead of Colletti, I personally think Hendry is the worst GM in baseball.

And in the AL, I would put Cash instead of Melvin (thought I understand the not wanting controversy part). It isn’t just the money (though it certainly helps) – Cash has pulled off some really nice trades lately, the Nick Johnson/Andy Pettitte signing.

Just my opinion.

YC
Guest
YC
6 years 7 months ago

Excellent post. I’ve always mentioned that the difference in talent between the AL and the NL included the great disparity in the talent of General Managers and that would be representative in the relative strength of the leagues. I also believe that General Managers are very very undervalued by the market.

For example, Theo Epstein was paid 1.5M between 2006-2008. But in terms in value for the team, his salary dwarfs his true value. I’m a Red Sox fan and assuming a trade between GM’s are allowed by the league, I would veto a trade between Theo Epstein and Brian Sabean + Tim Lincecum.

Of course, Theo is not the only person that is calling the shots and guys like John Henry and Bill James will mitigate the Brian Sabean effect, but my point stands nonetheless. At this point, very few individual players make a bigger difference to an overall performance of a team compared to the team’s General Manager, if any.

Brendan Scolari
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I agree. GM’s seem quite underpayed to me. I’d think to a team like the Giants or the Dodgers Theo Epstein would be more valuable than any individual player could be…

Eric M. Van
Guest
Eric M. Van
6 years 7 months ago

If you think GMs are underpaid, think what assistant GMs make. And in an organization like the Red Sox (at least), they’re working insane hours, to boot.

The illogic of this has not escaped the parties involved. There was much grim hilarity in the room when I brought the value of a marginal win on the free agent market into the discussion of how much a *baseball ops statistical consultant* might make. I’m pleased to say that both the grossly underpaid guys in that room now have GM jobs of their own and the GM has gotten a raise (even if he had to wear a gorilla suit to get it).

The fact is, there are a ton of guys willing to do these jobs who are at least vaguely qualified, and it’s very hard to establish yourself as better than your peers (especially at any level below GM). The market is set by supply and demand, not intrinsic worth.

Of course, the corollary of this is that a F.O. who has not hired smart talent to help their GM has no excuse at all. There is no small market disadvantage whatsoever.

Brendan Scolari
Guest
Brendan Scolari
6 years 7 months ago

Good points. I should probably adjust my statement to “the value of a top front office is higher than the value of any individual player”. I definitely agree that there are many capable people and that would deflate the value of any one GM candidate, but the value of having those types of people running your organization is enourmous. Which as you said makes it all the more inexcusable that some teams don’t have many/any of these capable people.

Joe R
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Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

I kind of use this same argument for managers.

Example, we’ve established that a marginal win is worth about $3.5-$5 million dollars.

The Mets were rumored to be looking to replace Jerry Manuel with Bobby Valentine. On top of the likely positive media to that move, Valentine’s also, by all accounts, a good manager.

Jerry Manuel, known for bizarre strategy calls, makes what, $1.5 mil a year? If you can make an argument that bringing Valentine in would provide 1 extra win vs. Jerry Manuel, then doesn’t offering him a 3 year / $12 million contract make sense? People forget that he was fired not for incompetance, but because he and fatty-chaser didn’t like each other, and Phillips jumped on the chance to can him after one sub-.500 season.

Tim In Missouri
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Tim In Missouri
6 years 7 months ago

It’s not just GM’s that are underpaid. GM’s and Managers can at least get into the HOF. Assistants and coaches don’t get that compenstation. Think of the single best pitching coach in the majors and Dave Duncan probably comes to mind. John Smoltz pitched his way right out of Boston and it took Duncan all of a week to “fix him”. When players make millions and are only great in their contract year(Joel Pinero, anyone?) and GM’s, Assistants, Managers, and Coaches get so little compared to the hours they put in…well…

blb
Member
blb
6 years 7 months ago

Not sure how Jim Hendry didn’t make it onto the Worst list.

I’d take Sabean or Colletti over Hendry any day.

Stay tuned on Ruben Amaro as well. The 2011-12 off season is going to be a telling one in Philly.

Chris d
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I am a Seattle fan and I count my blessings everyday that Jack Z has come along. If M’s management had hired someone like Bill Bavasi, our last GM, then they would have had to fear for their lives, and I think they knew it. I hope that Jack Z can get the M’s turned around to where they can win a WS before the other teams figure out his secret.

AxDxMx
Member
AxDxMx
6 years 7 months ago

Every day I spend as a KC fan just makes me more insanely jealous of M’s fans. Not only do you have a GM that gets it, but our GM doesn’t and picks up all your old players!

blb
Member
blb
6 years 7 months ago

As an O’s fan, I’ve been sending a Christmas card to Bill Bavasi for the past two years.

Pepper Brooks
Guest
Pepper Brooks
6 years 7 months ago

Ouchtown, population you, bro!

Chris d
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

blb, I thank Bill Bavasi for making that trade as well because if he hadn’t we never would have gotten Jack Z. And I like our Gutierrez in CF much more than Jones. It is too bad we lost Tillman but I will trade Jack for Tillman and Jones any day.

TixList.com
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t disagree with your overall point, but Gutierrez over Jones? Really? I’m pretty sure if given the choice Jack Z would jump through hoops to pry Jones away from Balt for Gutierrez.

Chris d
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Guttierez was by far the best defensive CF in MLB last year and I believe he will continue to improve offensively. He might not catch Jones offensively but his Defense more than makes up for the difference. So, no I don’t think Jack Z would trade G for Jones.

Brendan Scolari
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Brendan Scolari
6 years 7 months ago

Are you factoring in the inherent variance in UZR? I wouldn’t expect Gutierrez to put up a +30 again.

Chris d
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Brandon, I don’t expect Gutierrez to put up a +30 again but Jones’ defensive numbers may not be as high as originally thought and his offense has been faltering as well. So we will see over the next 2 years who is superior. I think jack Z likes Gutierrez as well.

Jack R
Guest
Jack R
6 years 7 months ago

Guti’s WAR was 5.9 last year compared to Jones’ 2.1 and Jones is only 2 years younger. Also Gutierrez’s UZR/150 has been above 20 each of the past 3 years so I wouldn’t count on that coming down anytime soon. Jack Z would trade Gutierrez for Jones over his dead body. Although as an M’s fan it would be nice if Jones was playing left field or could be used in a trade for someone not named Erik Bedard.

Chris d
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

One other thing, I feel so bad for KC Royals fans. I can’t believe their GM traded for Yuniesky Betancourt. That trade alone just shows his incompetence. I wonder if Jack Z feels bad when he takes someone “to the cleaners” like that.

geo
Guest
geo
6 years 7 months ago

And the really sad thing is that Dayton Moore was considered one of the brightest young executives in the game when he was with the Braves. One of the top GM candidates at the time. The entire baseball world had him misjudged.

Funny too that he learned at John Schuerholz’s knee. And Schuerholz used to be the Royals GM in his pre-Braves days.

Derek
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Derek
6 years 7 months ago

Lest we not forget Moore’s brilliant trade for Mike Jacobs, either.

Brendan Scolari
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

An interesting comparison can be made with Joe Sheehan’s list in his final BP chat (link in my name).

He was asked to rank his top 5 and listed Epstein, Beane, Cashman, and Zduriencik as a clear top four and then thought the fifth spot was a toss up between Kenny WIlliams and Jon Daniels. The last two seem pretty interesting choices to me, as I’d consider Melvin or Freidman (and perhaps a couple other guys) over them, but Joe didn’t seem to think any NL GM even merited serious consideration.

I agree that’s it is definitely a factor in the disparity between the two leagues.

Joe R
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Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

I think you have to replace Colletti with Hendry. I know you wanted to avoid being hung up on one year results, but he has won 2 straight NL West titles, and stuff generally works out for snakeskin boots.

The Cubs shelled out nearly $135 million in salary in 2009. The Cards and Brew Crew are competing (and in cases like this year, beating) the Cubs w/ barely half that spending power. Dodgers won off $100 mil in 2009.

Of course, those are beginning of 2009 #’s, but still, it’s not like the Yankees v. Pirates out in the NL West.

Pepper Brooks
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Pepper Brooks
6 years 7 months ago

His teams won with players largely drafted or acquired prior to his arrival. I don’t think Colletti gets bonus points for not trading Kemp/Kershaw.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

He was the guy who orchastrated Ethier for Bradley, though. Beating Beane at his own game gives him a pass until his team is tangibly affected.

I mean I still have him in my bottom 1/3rd, but if we’re talking bottom 5, there’s no way he’s on it for me.

& Matt, no love for Michael Hill? This season, the Marlins spent $1.11 mil per marginal win and two straight seasons in the mid-80’s for wins in a tough NL East. This guy’s going to be awesome once he actually has some money to spend.

Pepper Brooks
Guest
Pepper Brooks
6 years 7 months ago

And he’s also the guy who sold Carlos Santana to the Indians, who gave 3/47 to a pitcher with a torn labrum, and who gave a fourth outfielder/pinch runner 5/44. He’s done plenty to avoid getting a pass.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

Once again, to be fair, Blake did perform well for the Dodgers in 2009, and I’m not sure how many people had Russell Martin turning into Jason Kendall Jr.

I’m not saying Coletti is good, it’s just the GM that’s winning vs. the GM that isn’t winning for me. Tony Reagins, for example, keeps making weird moves, especially in regards to OF/DH’s and RP’s, but his team’s keep winning. I just don’t feel right indicting a guy until the results on the field say so.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

Is Hill the guy doing the work in Miami, or is it Beinfest/

Pepper Brooks
Guest
Pepper Brooks
6 years 7 months ago

Joe R – Blake did not perform well. After the trade, over 58 games, his slash line was .251/.313/.460. Might he have been unlucky? Well, the .285 BABIP is .019 below his career BABIP, so there was some bad luck involved, but that doesn’t matter much in the broad view. A player who would become one of the top 10 prospects in baseball in less than a year was sold, and what was acquired was a guy who had an OPS of .773 the rest of the way – hardly equitable. A team like the Dodgers shouldn’t be selling prospects anyway, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.

Pepper Brooks
Guest
Pepper Brooks
6 years 7 months ago

Joe R – the opportunity cost can’t be ignored either. In selling Santana to the Indians, the Dodgers lacked the chip to get Lee or Halladay (a nearly ML-ready top-flight prospect). So, the Blake deal is the gift that keeps on giving.

Brendan Scolari
Guest
Brendan Scolari
6 years 7 months ago

@ Pepper Brooks

Joe R only mentioned Blake’s performance in 2009, not 2008 (the year he was traded). Blake was fairly good in 2009. And I don’t think anyone will disagree with you that the trade was all kinds of awful.

Pepper Brooks
Guest
Pepper Brooks
6 years 7 months ago

Joe R – regarding Russell Martin turning into Jason Kendall… Martin led all of major league baseball in cumulative innings caught for the past three seasons. He also suffered significant offensive declines in the second halves of all three seasons.

Martin actually caught a historic number of innings over that three year period. Johnny Bench once caught 15 more innings over a three year period, and what followed was arguably his worst offensive season of his career, given when it came. In looking at some contemporary offensive-minded catchers – Piazza, Pudge, Mauer, McCann, on and on, and not a single one caught more innings over a three year period than Martin. On top of that, prior to Blake being acquired, he spent 11 of his “days off” playing third base.

Now, whether a mandate comes from the GM or if it’s entirely up to the manager probably changes from team to team, but running Martin into the ground like that is asking for him to turn into Jason Kendall, isn’t it?

Pepper Brooks
Guest
Pepper Brooks
6 years 7 months ago

Brendan Scolari – the 2009 performance is a moot point though, isn’t it? The 2009 performance didn’t cost Santana, the 2008 performance did. However, you’re right, I don’t need to really convince anyone how bad the deal was – hindsight does that for me.

Michael
Member
6 years 7 months ago

@Kevin S: It’s Beinfest’s plan, I think. Hill is in there as help, but he has the GM title. I’d call them at least Beinfest/Hill when awarding them the honorable mention.

Jon B.
Guest
Jon B.
6 years 7 months ago

I am not a big fan of Jim Hendry. Indeed, as a Cubs fan I would love to see him replaced and see what a better GM could do with the kind of organization and payroll that he has to work with. That said, I also don’t think people are evaluating him fairly. Here’s my reasoning:

1. His absolute worst move was the Soriano contract. Pretty much nobody is going to argue with you if you say that contract is all sorts of awful in all sorts of ways, but let’s put it in context: The Cubs finish another losing season, the team president (Andy McPhail) steps down and is replaced by somebody from the corporate owners who announce that, dammit, we’re going to win! And oh by the way, the team is for sale.

Suddenly, the Cubs become the Yankees. Did Hendry overpay? Oh god yes–particularly in years. Did the mandate to do what it takes come down from upper management of a corporation looking to add value to a team before a sale? We’ll never know for sure, but almost definitely.

Soriano, on paper, was the type of player the Cubs needed: A big slugger we hadn’t really had since Sammy Sosa’s heyday, who could also steal you some bags at the top of the lineup. Sadly he has turned out to be almost none of those things, but I don’t see what reason there would have been to believe that at the time of the deal. Particularly considering the years he had previous.

Soriano was never going to be a great hitter, but I don’t see why anyone would have believed that his 30- to 40-steal ability would top out at 19 for the Cubs, or why his 30-40 home run power would sit so much closer to 20. This wasn’t a lucky year or two that Hendry was evaluating based on; it was six full major league seasons, even if he did overpay based on the previous one.

It’s a fault, yes, but a minor one in itself. This contract may have been destined to be bad at the end, but I don’t think the fact that it is turning out bad at the beginning can be laid at Hendry’s feet.

2. The Milton Bradley deal, in a vacuum, really wasn’t that bad. Neither the length (3 years) nor the monetary commitment ($10MM) crippled the team. He may have been overpaid slightly relative to his career production, but it wasn’t significantly so. FanGraphs’ value for his performance has exceeded $10MM a year every year except two since 2003, and one of those was last year.

The deal turned out to be bad, but it wasn’t a horrible blunder walking in. Bradley just couldn’t handle the pressure and the media in a big market like Chicago. Maybe Hendry could have done a better job figuring that out, but I honestly don’t see it as a huge failure. A small one, sure.

3. The team shouldn’t have been that bad last year. In fact, many analysts were still picking them to win the NL Central and maybe everything–and with good reason. The players are ultimately responsible for their own performances, and just look at this list of ones on the team who underperformed compared to their previous career performances*: Carlos Zambrano, Kevin Gregg, Carlos Marmol, Geovany Soto, Ryan Theriot, Alfonso Soriano, Kosuke Fukudome, and Milton Bradley (and Mike Fontenot plain sucked, but I don’t include him since last year was his first as a regular player). The only players who really played at or above their level were Derrek Lee, Aramis Ramirez for the few games he was healthy, and Ted Lilly.

When 5-6 of your everyday starters suck ass, one is out most of the year with injury and only one performs well, you’re going to have a horrid season. I don’t lay any of that at Hendry’s feet.

These are, seemingly, the bulk of the criticisms of Hendry and I feel most are at least partially unfair. So what do I think his faults are?

1. He does tend to overpay for veterans, particularly his own players. Accordingly, he doesn’t often give the kids much of a chance (not that we’ve had much in the way of kids lately). That problem was exacerbated by Lou Piniella whose lack of patience and propensity to mess with peoples’ swings doesn’t work well with young players. But the real problem isn’t that he’s overpaying, it’s that he turns out to be overpaying the wrong players.

2. Whenever he’s trying to improve his team for a stretch run, he tends to get fleeced in trades.

3. My biggest objection to him so far: He basically dismantled a 97 win team because Lou wanted to get more left-handed. It’s the reason that DeRosa is gone and Fontenot started; it’s the reason we had almost 100% turnover in the bullpen; it’s the reason Bradley was on the team at all. Whether it was his idea or he failed to stand up to Lou and tell him how stupid the concept was, I lay that blame squarely on his shoulders.

In short (yes, after all that) Hendry found himself in a situation where he was basically mandated to win. NOW. He did it, he took his shots, and he fell short — now the organization is in trouble for a few years. It blows, particularly to a fan of the Cubs like myself, but it is what it is.

Fire Hendry, by all means. I don’t find him to be a BAD GM, but neither do I find him to be a GOOD one–and the Cubs certainly deserve a good one. Let’s just evaluate things with a wider view. A lot of his blunders are primarily blunders in hindsight. I don’t find that a fair way to evaluate a GM.

* Admittedly, some of these evaluations are on small sample sizes.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

Bradley was a bad signing because everybody knew he needed to DH. It’d be like Matsui signing the contract he did with the Dodgers instead of the Angels, then saying “Hey, look at the deal they got!”

Ross
Guest
Ross
6 years 7 months ago

This was a very well thought out and reasonable response to Hendry., particularly the insights on Soriano.

The thing that gets me is the way Cubs fans harangue him for the team’s failure in the postseason. What they seem to forget is that the Cubs did reach the postseason. I am pretty sure that there are many fans from the era of 1946 through 1983 who would have loved to see the Cubs in the playoffs in back-to-back seasons.

Yes, losing in the playoffs was disappointing, but to discount the effort that Hendry made to get the team there is shortsighted and unfair. The playoffs are a crapshoot and the pressure on the Cubs players was immense – every media member bringing up some fairytale curse question, every one asking if this was going to be the year. It had to have an effect.

For all its warts, Hendry’s tenure has represented one of the most successful eras in Cubs history, and he deserves some credit for that.

gnomez
Guest
gnomez
6 years 7 months ago

You forgot John Mozeliak on the worst list for how much he overpaid for Holliday and shelled out a fortune for Kyle Lohse. Oh, and let the only compensation for Anthony Reyes go unprotected in the Rule 5 draft. And traded two solid prospects for Khalil Greene. And the same for Mark DeRosa.

chuckb
Member
chuckb
6 years 7 months ago

We don’t even know that the Cards are going to sign Holliday yet, much less what the details of the contract are so, unless you’re Carmac the Magnificent, we might want to hold off on that rating just a touch.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 7 months ago

he meant “overpaying” in terms of prospects for 1/2 season of Holliday.

Chris d
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Matt, are there any current Team Rankings since Dave C’s last March 09?

Jimbo
Guest
Jimbo
6 years 7 months ago

Follow the money? Not just on free agent contracts, but scouting, draft picks, international programs. Organizational commitment there probably has a correlation to front office salary/quality, no?

e poc
Guest
e poc
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t think he should supplant any of your top 5, but I’d throw a little love to Neal Huntington. It’s too early to tell how it’s going to work out, but you have to admit he’s doing exactly what needs to be done in Pittsburgh.

JoeM
Guest
JoeM
6 years 7 months ago

I think an important angle that is missing from the article is this…

In the AL there was a good correlation between clubs spending a lot of money and those clubs spending well (or in the Yankees case spending through their blunders.) To compete in this environment AL clubs were forced to improve their entire operations.

In the NL this was no such correlation. The Cubs, Mets and Dodgers were routinely outspending the league but they were making moves so terrible that it had no impact on the league. So NL clubs could compete without bettering themselves.

The point being that the Yankees, Sox and Angels have forced the rest of the AL to play catch up. No NL team has done the same.

Bill
Guest
Bill
6 years 7 months ago

It’s a great point. Perhaps the AL GM’s are better because the AL is the better league and not the other way around. If Seattle was in the NL west, they may well have made the playoffs in ’07. Bavasi then would probably not have been fired in ’08. The Yanks may have gone to the world series every year this decade if they were in the NL. Cashman would have never needed to learn how to build a team properly. If the O’s were in the NL, may have been a floundering .500 team and may not have seen the need to change their approach. Colletti and Sabean will not be fired as long as their teams are competitive. They could remain competitive as long as the NL remains weak, so they aren’t going anywhere in the near future.

OremLK
Guest
OremLK
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t think Ed Wade is a good GM by any measure, but I’d disagree that he fits among the worst five.

First, he was largely responsible for building the Phillies and their current success, finding good players in the draft and out of unknown nooks and crannies. Just take a look at how much of their current team was brought in under his reign.

Second, he was saddled with a truly wrecked Houston club and no way out of the mess of giant contracts with no trade clauses other than to, well, wait it out. He hasn’t been here long yet, and frankly, the Astros were already so messed up that it always looked like a 4-5 year project to even get back to respectability.

Third, while he’s made some stupid choices, he’s made good ones too (Michael Bourn). On the balance, I’d rate him as average, or a little below.

bflaff
Guest
bflaff
6 years 7 months ago

Ed Wade’s tenure in Philly is a large-sized sample of work indicating that he was more of a hindrance than a help. The Astros situation is pretty tenuous, and I don’t think he has the chops to navigate it without hitting the iceberg.

OremLK
Guest
OremLK
6 years 7 months ago

I think he’s doing a passable job so far. Contracts like Lyon’s and Matsui’s are bad, but in dollar amount, far from crippling. At least he hasn’t taken on any giant multi-year deals. And by most reports, Bobby Heck is doing a pretty good job with the draft.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

Um, Carlos Lee says hi, thanks for the 30 million dollars more than JD Drew.

Romeo
Guest
Romeo
6 years 7 months ago

Joe, Wade didn’t sign Lee. That was his predecessor, Tim Purpura. Purpura handed out the large contracts, made awful trades, and presided over terrible drafts.

It’s both ridiculous and ignorant to evaluate Wade based on the state of the Astros’ farm system or the contracts that dominate their payroll. They have three good prospects, all of whom were drafted under Wade (specifically, scouting director/asst. GM Bobby Heck, who could turn out to be the best addition Wade has made in Houston). Wade also didn’t hire Cecil Cooper, who was one of the most incompetent managers the MLB has ever seen. He hired Brad Mills, a disciple of Terry Francona.

And if you’re going to criticize Wade for not blowing up the team and rebuilding, consider that he’s working under an owner who has forbidden any such action. And even if McLane did allow a rebuilding effort, Wade would still have to work around the no-trade clauses Purpura handed to Lee, Berkman, and Oswalt. Wade has been given a mandate to put the most competitive team on the field he can every season while rebuilding the farm system–that’s exactly what he’s doing.

In all, he’s performed pretty well under a terrible set of circumstances. You have to look at context to evaluate his performance–but that’s not what people seem to be interested in. They’re interested in picking on an easy target, not realizing how baseless their criticisms are.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
6 years 7 months ago

Exactly how much credit should be given to GMs for drafts?

Isn’t that the job of the scouting director?

OremLK
Guest
OremLK
6 years 7 months ago

Typically the scouting director is hired by the GM, and works under his guidelines and supervision. Just like you credit an owner for hiring good people, stepping aside, and letting them do their jobs, the same goes one step down the chain. If Ed Wade hires good scouting directors, that’s one part of being a good general manager.

philosofool
Member
Member
philosofool
6 years 7 months ago

It’s also an incredible crap shoot.

TC20
Guest
TC20
6 years 7 months ago

“…but I’m trying to avoid too much controversy and people always get hung up on the budget. ”

That’s because it doesn’t take brains to throw a mountain of money at CC, Burnett and Teixeira. No other club could have afforded to do that. It covers up a boatload of mistakes like Kei Igawa, who Cashman will pay millions again to play in the minors. And those 3 were the Yankees’ ticket to the WS this year.

Bill
Guest
Bill
6 years 7 months ago

I think you can Julio that Lugo; I mean make that argument all day if you want to nitpick all the Pat Burrells; my mistake, bad decisions.

Brendan Scolari
Guest
Brendan Scolari
6 years 7 months ago

Well played.

TC20
Guest
TC20
6 years 7 months ago

Serious? You’re trying to equate a Julio Lugo or Pat Burrell signing with the much larger amounts of money Cashman has wasted and thrown away? Weak, very weak.

R y a n
Guest
R y a n
6 years 7 months ago

Kei Igawa – that is really all you got. Cash has done an excellent job, Kei Igawa has really been the only bad move he has made since that 2004 offseason when he panicked and threw way too much money at Pavano and Wright (although the Pavano thing, he had thrown 200 IP back to back seasons, always hard to predict injuries).

TC20
Guest
TC20
6 years 7 months ago

No. How about Pavano, Farnsworth, RJ, Hawkins. Those are just off the top of my head but I’m sure I can find even more.

Most GMs cannot afford to make mistakes like this but Cashman can just cover up his problems by throwing more money into the payroll.

Moreover, how can you give him any credit when he just overwhelms any free agent they want with huge contracts. He even had to beg CC to come to the Yankees but he fixed that by offering him a fortune.

TexasRanger
Guest
TexasRanger
6 years 7 months ago

Actually it takes a very smart General Manager to understand how to allocate all his resources. The Yankees have dumb money but they do smart things with it, they aren’t the Mets. Along with throwing money at CC and Tex, he traded nothing for Swisher, Vazquez, and gave up minimal talent to get Granderson. I am an unabashed Yankee hater but I give it up to Cashman, he definitely belongs in the top 5. Just imagine the kind of players a Sabean would sign with the Yankees budget, or the crap that Colletti would splurge on given that money.

bflaff
Guest
bflaff
6 years 7 months ago

Re: Cashman, he’s had a long time to figure out how to win in NY, and now that the Steinbrenner edicts seem to have dried up, we’re getting to see him hit his stride.

TC20
Guest
TC20
6 years 7 months ago

It takes a smart GM to allocate a lot of money wisely and I don’t think Cashman did until last winter. And then he just overwhelmed all the top free agents with the best offers. Big deal.

Give Cashman a budget of no more than the luxury tax threshold every year and he’ll do no better than the Rays with ZERO titles. He’s just not that good.

gorillagogo
Guest
gorillagogo
6 years 7 months ago

It’s true that the Yankees do some smart things with their money, but trades like the Granderson deal are only available to them because they have oodles of money available that other teams don’t. Does anyone really think the Tigers would make that trade if they didn’t need to unload millions in salary? Cashman is smart enough to take advantage of that situation, so give him props for that, but if he were managing any other team he could very easily be the one trading away the Grandersons of the world and we could be talking about how smart some other Yankees GM was. Given his track record, I’d say it’s likely he would be that guy.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

There are many teams this offseason that have spent the money required to absorb the eminently-reasonable Granderson contract. He was available because of Detroit’s mismanagement of other contracts, not because his own was bad.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
6 years 7 months ago

Perhaps he wouldn’t do so well with a smaller budget… but maybe he would.

Do you honestly believe Cashman would go after guys like Igawa if he had a smaller budget than he has now? One of the biggest reasons he took that risk was because of the breathing room he has due to the payroll.

That is why the Red Sox took risks and signed Penny, Smoltz, Dice-K, Rocco Baldelli, etc. They also have a large payroll to compensate for many mistakes.

Not all GMs do well with big payrolls.

Top 5 2009 payrolls:
Yanks, Mets, Cubs, Red Sox and Tigers.

I see two good teams there and three mediocre yet expensive teams.

The Hit Dog
Guest
The Hit Dog
6 years 7 months ago

The current disparity between the best and the worst GMs is too absurdly vast to last too much longer. I would have to believe that the Dayton Moores and the Omar Minayas of the world are a dying breed, and that they will soon be replaced by rational, competent GMs. I’m not saying that every GM will be (arguably) visionary like Beane or Jack Z.; at this point, 50% of Fangraphs readers could do a better job running the Royals than Moore. Blatant ignorance of what are coming to be commonly accepted modes of thinking about baseball just can’t continue. Once this happens, I think the disparity in true talent between the leagues, and just from team to team, will be governed more by drafting (luck/skill) and budgets. Of course, I could be wrong… but I’d like to think there’s some hope for Royals fans.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
6 years 7 months ago

So now Jack Z. is a visionary and comparable to Beane?????????? WTF!!!

You Seattle fans are getting a little bit ahead of yourselves…

The guy has made a few good moves his team hasnt won a thing yet…

TC20
Guest
TC20
6 years 7 months ago

The AL average team payroll is significantly higher than the NL, right? They spend more because they have to due to the Yankees spending such a high amount. The Yankees are like the rabbit in a race, setting the pace for the others in the AL.

So that’s why I think they are dominant. Better and deeper rosters due to paying more $$$ on average.

ofMontreal
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ofMontreal
6 years 7 months ago

Take the Red Sox & Yankees out of that average. They skew everything and if you leave them in we can’t have any discussion except whining about money.

TC20
Guest
TC20
6 years 7 months ago

You can’t just take them out because in recent years they’ve skewed spending up for the entire AL and are a big part of the dominance of the AL over the NL. And, they’ve been joined by the Tigers and Angels as big spenders in the AL. The Tigers even paid the LT last year. On average, those teams pay much more for their rosters than the top NL teams.

The AL just spend a lot more for payrolls than the NL and it shows up on the field. If it didn’t, then the dumbest GMs would be in the AL.

Jeff
Guest
Jeff
6 years 7 months ago

Right, and I guess the Pudge and Brandon Lyon signings are the Yankees’ fault too?

Yes, the Yankees have paid top dollar for the top players but you think it’s their fault for the increase in FA prices?! The NYY is ONE team; not the whole market. There are 29 other MLB teams that can CHOOSE not to sign guys like Carlos Silva and to NOT bring the price bar up for mediocre pitchers.

Let’s see who the Yankees have signed so far this offseason… Nick Johnson. (Damn those Yankees; damn them to hell…)

Of course, Holliday is still available but I doubt they’ll counter the rumored 8 year deal from St. Louis.

The only other team that they are “setting the pace” for is the other AL EAST teams. A Yankees roster is the biggest threat to division rivals because the Yankees directly affect their playoff chances. (That is why Theo has been playing catch up this offseason with Lackey and Cameron)

blb
Member
blb
6 years 7 months ago

Matt:

Here are my tiers…

Very Good:
– Friedman
– Epstein
– Beane
– Jack Z

Good:
– Melvin
– Cashman – I’m a part of the “If he didn’t have money…” crowd.
– Shapiro
– Byrnes
– Melvin
– Bill Smith – The Little Team That Could keeps winning. Bonus points if he can keep Mauer in town.
– Michael Hill – Major bonus points if he can figure out an extension for Josh Johnson.
– Dan O’Dowd – Still winning despite one of the most prohibitive contracts in the game (Helton). Holliday might be regretting turning down that extension a few years back.
– Jon Daniels – Not sure how much credit he deserves for the excellent minor league system, but the Rangers seem to have a nice core of solid players who will be around for a while. Bonus points for letting Marlon Byrd go and for trading most of Kevin Millwood’s salary after an outlier season.

Eh… (The Uninspiring Bunch):
– Frank Wren – Some goofy moves this offseason, but his history keeps him off a lower tier.
– Dave Dombrowski – Points for letting Polanco walk, but loses points for limiting payroll flex in an unstable mid market.
– Tony Reagins – The Angels keep winning, but I don’t like a lot of his moves, especially this offseason.
– Ned Colletti – Aside from the Bradley/Ethier trade, I don’t think I’ve liked a single move of his. But the Dodgers are still winning, so he’s a cut above the next tier.

Bad:
– Kenny Williams – Gave up too much for Nick Swisher than gave up Swish for too little.
– John Mozeliak – Inherited the best player on the planet along with a bunch of other solid guys, but I don’t like anything that he’s done. Might move up if Holliday signs for less than $18M.
– Mike Rizzo – Refusing to trade his biggest chip in Adam Dunn. Signed Pudge and his oldness for not one, but two years. Yuck.

Horrible:
– Jim Hendry
– Omar Minaya
– Ed Wade
– Brian Sabean
– Dayton Moore

Too Early To Tell:
– Andy MacPhail – Charged with rebuilding one of the worst franchises in the sport. Tons of young talent in Baltimore right now, but will Peter Angelos give the go ahead to spend on a big free agent or two to complete the process?
– Neal Huntington – As “e poc” said, he’s doing what needs done in Pittsburgh. We’ll see.
– Ruben Amaro – Riding Gillick’s coattails for the moment. The Phillies are surely built to win now, but he’s not doing them any favors for the future. 2011-12 Howard/Rollins offseason is key here.
– Jed Hoyer
– Alex Anthopolous – I don’t think he got enough for Halladay, but swapping Michael Taylor for Brett Wallace was solid.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

Yawn. I don’t feel like the fight about KW. Especially when a lot more respectable folks like Sheehan have come around on him. The suggestion that he’s in your “bad” list because of the Swisher transactions (the first of which I still agree with him doing) is ridiculous. When the tally is in KW doesn’t have anything to lower his head over. There is more than one way to build a team.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

It’s not just the Swisher deals. Didn’t really get enough for Vazquez, his infatuation with fast outfielders who don’t get on base, play good defense or steal efficiently, his roster-construction ADD (though that could be justified if he demonstrated he added value with each move)… he certainly has his warts.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

I didn’t say he was without flaws. I could list them for almost all the listed Gms. What I said was when you look at his tally, its a lot more positive then negative, especially as the years have gone by. And I’m guessing Flowers will more than pay for Vazquez which was a salary dump. What’s silly is picking a couple of transactions that didnt work out and ignoring all those that did for any GM.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
6 years 7 months ago

… yeah, and Josh Byrnes makes the “good” list despite the “Sorianoesque” contract to Eric Byrnes and contributing to hiring a manager with minimal experience.

I also agree that KW is not in the “bad” category.

“What’s silly is picking a couple of transactions that didnt work out and ignoring all those that did for any GM.”

That’s how ‘analysis’ goes far too often. Form an opinion and THEN look for reasons to support it.

Rob
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Rob
6 years 7 months ago

Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

You mean Carlos Lee for Scott Podsednik and Luis Vizcaino? The deal that also gave them to cash to sign P Orlando Hernandez and 2b Tadahito Iguchi? Is that the deal you are referring to? Thanks for chiming in.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

Vizcaino is the definition of fungible, and El Duque was like 826 years old at the time (though somewhat effective in limited duty). Basically, the trade is redeemed because KW couldn’t find $2-3 million to sign Iguchi elsewhere? No, thanks.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

Again no thanks what? See this is my issue with these types of statements. You say no thanks. Why? lol. Many times people say these things just because they “sound good.” Everything is not in a vacuum. Yes Lee was coming off a 4.5 War season but there were things the team didn’t like about him and they wanted to go in a different direction. That is very relevant, especially when people have a habit of just throwing out Lee for Podsednik and forgetting the rest of the story.

Lee was scheduled for a raise the next year he was paid 8 million in 05. By the way he provided 1.7 WAR that year and hasn’t reached the 4 WAR level since.

What did the White Sox get for the 8 million or 7.8 million to be exact?
Podsesnik 1.4 War for (.7 million). Vizcano .2 WAR for (1.3 million). Hernandez 1.3 WAR for (3.5 million) and no thanks Iguchi provided 3.4 WAR for (2.3 million). Im not a math major but 6+ WAR for 7.8 million vs what they expected on 8 million for Lee is pretty good if you can’t spend extra money.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

1. You seem to ignore 2006, during which Lee provided better value than that pu-pu platter. Scotty Pods was sub-replacement that year, Iguchi fell off his first year outlier, Vizcaino was the same fungible MR, and Duque wasn’t even on the team. We don’t evaluate trades only in the context.

2. I find it hard to believe that the team could not have found an extra $2.3 million to get Iguchi without the Lee trade. Without the value he provides, it’s not nearly as lopsided as you claimed it was in ’05, and ’06 looks even worse. The two events were seperate.

3. Continuing on point 2, the ChiSox traded a contract that paid $16.5 million and returned 4.3 WAR over two seasons for two contracts paying $11.8 million over six player-seasons and returning 2.1 WAR. He traded a contract paying market rate for two over-pays, thus losing value in the exchange. Give him credit for the Iguchi signing, but he gets none for failing to get any value out of Lee.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

Huh?
I didn’t ignore 06. Its not relevant in the what the Sox were trying to accomplish. The point of showing the collective 05 moves was not to show how lopsided it was or argue that things couldn’t have been done differently. It was to show that the issue has no business at all in a discussion of “bad.” Iguchi’s regression value still made him a better bargain than Lee and Hernandez and Vizcaino were flipped with Chris Young to acquire Javy Vasquez. Yes Podsednik fizzled out as expected but the playoff appearance afforded more payroll flexibility (which is kind of the point.)

Maybe you would have spent the money different but surely are not arguing the sum of the Lee’s 16.5 million over 2 years didn’t provide WAY more value (Javy was worth 4.5 WAR alone in 06) then his production. You argument is what? I would have spent it better? So what.

I was here for every article and interview and Williams clearly said the payroll flexibility allowed him to do the Iguchi deal flat out. They’re not related because you say so? The value out of the Lee is the money. The White Sox just happen to be a team that actually spends it when they do these types of deals. So no you can’t continue point number 2 because its false.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

If you only consider the immediate year when evaluating a trade, you fail trade evaluation school. Sorry.

If moving a player who returned fair value on his contract (and that was after he regressed mightily) for two players who returned close to nothing on their respective contracts was the only way to free up $2.3 million, then KW failed trade school. Sorry.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

Again I didn’t say that. What I said because of the added events of 06 its impossible to put them in the same context. A context that still comes out the White Sox way value wise (again that doesn’t mean things could not have been done differently)

What is utterly ridiculous is suggesting a team that has instructions for payroll in a given year should just find the money. And that after a deal in which there is a clear savings to the team uses said money on salary suggest the items are unrelated. What do the white sox have 2 different piggy banks and not co mingle cash? They obviously didn’t pocket the money.

Did you miss the part about there were things about Lee they didn’t like BEFORE the trade and regression.

No I’m sorry.

CircleChange11
Guest
CircleChange11
6 years 7 months ago

— Traded Joe Borchard ( 0 WAR in 08/09) for Matt Thornton (2.9 WAR in 08/09) .

— Traded Brandon McCarthy (2.8 WAR 07/09) for John Danks (8.9 WAR in 07/09).

— Claimed Jenks off waivers (7.1 WAR in 05/09, and key piece of champion team).

— Signed Dye for a good contract (2/10 for 5.8 WAR, and a WS ring)

— Traded Christopher Carter for Carlos Quentin (4 WAR in 1.5 seasons)

— Traded Freddy Garcia (0.2 WAR in 07 and 08) for Gavin Floyd (6.9 WAR in 08/09) and Gio Gonzalez.

— Flipped Gonzalez for Thome (10.6 WAR in 06/08).

Danks and Floyd are MAJOR acquisitions (and steals)! Quentin was a steal (now if he can just get out the way of inside pitches). Thorton is a bullpen STUD. Dye was a good piece for the title team. Jenks is a solid closer.

In these deals ALONE, KW traded away 3 total WAR for 29.3 WAR, and signed/claimed an additional 12.9 WAR (Jenks/Dye). I tried to cpmare the performance in guys traded away for the new acquires during the same “time span”.

.524 Win % since 01, with 2 ALC titles and a WS ring, and a team that will contend for the ALC title in 2010.

A team could do much worse than KW in the FO.

FWIW, I did not cherry pick trades to make KW look good. I simply went to their 2009 roster and went through to see where each guy “came from”.

Trading HIGH on Loaiza for LOW Contreras paid dividends as well. 7.8 WAR in 05/06 while Esteban was near replacement level.

valuearb
Guest
valuearb
6 years 7 months ago

J Byrnes never signed E Byrnes, J Moorad did.

valuearb
Guest
valuearb
6 years 7 months ago

Oh, and conventional wisdom is going to flip within a year on the AJ Hinch hiring and it will be regarded as genius. Hinch already got more out of less than the previous manager, is probably top 5 smartest manager in the game, once he gets more game experience his skills are going to be obvious.

wobatus
Guest
wobatus
6 years 7 months ago

Circle change, that list of trades (Thornton, Danks, Floyd, Quentin) etc. made me reevaluate my own, firly uninformed thoughts about Williams. He’s amde some head scatching moves but I think I underestimated him.

circlechange11
Guest
circlechange11
6 years 7 months ago

Listing the KW trades was kinda eye opening for me as well.

what other GM has “STOLEN” 2/5 of a high quality starting rotation? Picked up a dominant closer off waivers? and on and on.

Thanks for the corrections regarding JB and the EB signing. I had read comments from AZ fans about hating JB because of the EB contract, but I think the owner had more to do with that then the GM. Good point.

AJ Hinch may eventually turn out to be a good manager. I do know, from conversations, that the players weren’t (in 09) quite sure what to make of him. I don;t think he’s at the level where the veteran players respect and trust them as they would a more experienced/reputable manager. I don;t think one can really count 09 for or against him due to the Webb injury, the death of Schoenweiss’s wife, and Chris Young’s inconsistency.

I do think they mishandled Josh Whitesell BIG time. Started Tony “Grandpa” Clark over him at 1B, and then sent Whitesell down to MiLB following a month (June) where he hit .330. Then, Clark was DFA (or released) shortly after.

Parra seems to be an exciting piece, although he doesn;t have the power or discipline they initially thought. Upton emerged as bonafide star, and everyone is still waiting for Drew to have that “Tulo breakout year”. Reynolds is what he is. They have a potentially interesting team. They are also moving away from a catcher that was popular among the pitching staff. AJ will, once again, have a lot to “manage” on the team.

The X’s and O’s of managing is the EASIEST part (by far), dealing with the players, earning their trust/respect, communicating with various personalities, meshing youth and veterans, and keeping everyone (mostly) happy is the challenging part. Not many managers in MLB “outsmart” everyone through in-game strategy and roster construction. That part is over-rated IMO.

ms
Guest
ms
6 years 7 months ago

I notice a pretty minimal degree of correlation between being having what you consider a successful GM and winning World Series or Division Championships…is that intentional?

FBM3
Guest
FBM3
6 years 7 months ago

Curious, but if Jon Daniels doesn’t get the credit for establishing his great minor league system who does?

Certainly none of the current players he has there are from past regimes.

blb
Member
blb
6 years 7 months ago

“Certainly none of the current players he has there are from past regimes.”

That’s what I wasn’t sure of

Josh
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

The Toronto contingent is very happy with the work and change of pace Anthopolous has provided. It seems as though he knows what needs to be done in order to be an annual compeitor in the AL East and is now going about his work in a very diligent manner. Be on the lookout for his rise up this GM ladder over the next couple of years.

savek
Guest
savek
6 years 7 months ago

you listed Melvin twice

ofMontreal
Guest
ofMontreal
6 years 7 months ago

I didn’t see anyone mention this so I’ll throw it out there. Do this whole exercise while throwing out the AL East. Suddenly it seems a lot more even between the leagues. The RedSox-Yanks is driving the process and pushing baseball forward. I’m not a fan of either but it seems obvious what’s happening. The NL sets it’s own standard of competition and then hopes for a shootout in the WS. The Angels would seem to be the best AL organization outside the east and they aren’t substantially better than the Phillies or Dodgers. Jack Z. needs to win some more games before I sign off, no matter how much I like his style and Beane hasn’t done much for years, if not for trying.

blb
Member
blb
6 years 7 months ago

Watch out for Beane and the A’s this season. They could win the West on arms and defense alone, especially if they somehow figure out a way to get Beltre’s glove at the hot corner.

And they’ve got some pretty good looking bats coming up in the next year or so in Chris Carter and Michael Taylor.

pat hardin
Guest
pat hardin
6 years 7 months ago

Bob Melvin on a top GM list?

You lose all credibility on that one.

Trading JJ Hardy at his lowest value.

Jeff Suppan and Bill Hall to monster deals.

Overspending on middle relievers and bench players.

Taking a team positioned to dominate their division and selling it all for CC Sabathia and the wild card?

I’m a cards fan but him and john mozeliak could be in the same boat: Buy high, sell low, and resign unnecessary parts that could be replaced from within.

bflaff
Guest
bflaff
6 years 7 months ago

(Doug, not Bob Melvin). Doug Melvin has his Yount and Molitor in their primes, but apart from getting swept by Philly in the NLDS the one year they made the playoffs, the Brew Crew hasn’t sniffed the postseason. If he really was the best in the NL, your entire article could be headline plus “Doug Melvin is the best GM in the NL. QED.” Because he’s really not that good.

Ender
Guest
Ender
6 years 7 months ago

He took one of the worst teams in baseball and turned them into a team that has gone over .500 overall over the past 5 seasons. If you look at the teams roster when he took it over there were 2 major league quality players on the entire team and almost nothing in the minors.

He basically took over a smaller market version of last years Nationals and turned them into a .500 team in just 3 years. I think you are underrating him a bit here.

Sure he has some big mistakes as well, the Suppan deal is totally killing the team at this point. Every GM has a few hiccups on their resume.

BX
Guest
BX
6 years 7 months ago

Melvin is really, really tricky.

He took a really really bad small market team and turned it into a good one. That’s great.

But, he received a massive boost from some elite scouting. Similar to Logan White mitigating a lot of Colletti’s bad moves w/ the Dodgers. I’m loving the Brewers’ draft, but the trades and signings, not so much. Ultimately, for now, I’d put Melvin in the mix for top 5.

But then, he gets credit for bringing in the scouting team.

Although, I want to see Melvin’s body of work now that there are new scouts in place.

pat hardin
Guest
pat hardin
6 years 7 months ago

Also, the brandon morrow trade made absolutely no sense. Otherwise I’ve liked Jack Z’s moves in seattle.

chris d
Guest
5 years 7 months ago

The Morrow trade might not pan out in Z’s favor….but he has had numerous favorable trades so far that have panned out. But come on, turning Cliff Lee into Justin Smoak one of the Ranger’s top prospects and 1st baseman of the future was brilliant. And Z cannot make Smoak into a top ML player, he can only acquire him and hope. The GM’s are gambler’s and some play the cards better than others.

gogotabata
Member
gogotabata
6 years 7 months ago

This was a really good idea executed in an uninspiring fashion.

The Bunk
Guest
The Bunk
6 years 7 months ago

I’m really liking the early returns from Anthopoulos so the Al East could be 5/5 for with good gm’s, yikes.

James
Guest
James
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t understand how you can include a guy like Jack Z in your top 5. He’s been a GM for all of a year, which is not even remotely near enough time to judge a GM, while at the same time leaving off a guy like Dan O’dowd

James
Guest
James
6 years 7 months ago

O’Dowd, working with a limited budget in a small market has taken teams to the playoffs (and World Series) in 2 out of the last 3 years while building from within through the draft, international scouting/signing and through trades where he much more often than not in the past few years as come out way ahead (DeLaRosa, Hammel, Betancourt, Holiday, Marquis). Granted he had some questionable moves early in his career, but he has learned from them and rebounded quite nicely.
Cashman shouldn’t even be in the top 10, any monkey can go out and outbid every other team for the top Free Agents every year (Sabathia, Texiera, Burnett, ARod); the extension he gave ARod was awful. A guy who often bids against himself should not be considered “Great”. This is not to mention the fact that he has showed little ability to discover and develop amateur and minor league talent in quite some time.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

1) The A-Rod extension was personally handled by Hank Steinbrenner, over Cashman’s objections.

2) Since installing Damon Oppenheimer, the Yanks have built a farm system that’s probably in the second quartile. Not bad for a team constantly drafting at the end of the first round. It’s not the best, but the Yanks don’t need to have the best farm, only a good one, and that they have.

Whartonite
Guest
Whartonite
6 years 7 months ago

Kevin S.,

About the A-Rod extension, really? I never heard that. Interesting.

And, not only do they draft at the end of the first round. They draft at the end of every round. And, our farm at least has good enough prospects to trade for guys like Swisher, Granderson, and Vazquez, which counts for something.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

To be fair, the Yanks got Swisher for a bag of used balls. The farm system had nothing to do with that. It does appear to be reliably stocking the bullpen though, and we’ll see if Hughes and Joba develop into front-line starters or not.

bflaff
Guest
bflaff
6 years 7 months ago

So Theo’s a monkey who simply outbids other teams for free agents as well? There’s a compelling counterargument here.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

There’s a difference between outbidding everybody and and using one’s financial advantage wisely. I think the Sox did just that today by nabbing Beltre on the deal they did. They *could* have out-bid the Mets on Bay… but neither did, because that would have been a poor use of assets. They’ve both misfired (notably on Japanese pitchers), but if one looks at the *bad* nine-figure deals out there, the Yanks and Sox aren’t attached to that many of them.

jfish26101
Member
6 years 7 months ago

Devin, it doesn’t matter where you draft when your purchasing power is stronger than 90% of the other teams. I’ve read several articles recently about comp picks and how teams with a larger draft budget can afford to lose picks for signing type A FAs because they can just get a similar player later by going over slot.

I’m not going to knock the GMs that have higher payrolls because they have higher payrolls, you still have to spend those resources wisely as others have said. At the same time though, you can’t understate the importance of that competitive advantage. Teams like the Yankees and Red Sox can not only take more risks but they can recover quicker from their poor decisions.

jfish26101
Member
6 years 7 months ago

Devin = Kevin

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

I’m not disagreeing that the Yanks can’t swoop in and grab the signability guys (they do) or wield their muscle in the IFA market (not as much), but they don’t have access to the top-end talent other teams do. I’m not saying the Rays (to choose one team) only have a good farm because they draft high, but the Yanks never had a shot at guys like Price, Upton and Longoria, which is why I’m fine with them having a second-quartile farm system.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

This completely ignores the advantage of these teams in terms of international market signings and development.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

IFA = International Free Agents, so no, it doesn’t.

Terry
Guest
Terry
6 years 7 months ago

My bad.
I still think you understate it a bit though.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 7 months ago

meh. going over slot and nabbing a bunch of signability guys really doesn’t require *that* much money. we’re talking a few hundred grand for most of these guys.

the entire yankee draft budget this year was $7M. every team could manage a comparable draft budget if they simply avoided a dumb contract to a fungible reliever every once in a while.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

I was only referring to how the Yankees have operated, not how a team with a budget advantage could operate. IIRC, we generally see teams on all ends of the payroll spectrum in on the international signings, though. Iona, Sano are recent examples, although I admittedly haven’t seen any kind of aggregated numbers on teams’ spending in Latin America. It does seem the Yanks and Sox tend to do their big international spending on ML-ready players, but IMO, we should group those with the FA market, not player development operations.

Ender
Guest
Ender
6 years 7 months ago

I think the DH is just a huge part of it but not for the reason people seem to think. Every season around 10 pitchers go on the DL with injuries while batting and running the bases. Over time that really adds up and I’d say is one of the larger reasons for the disparity.

At this point in time it is painfully obvious that pitchers don’t get enough practice hitting. As the overall talent level of the game increase this will get worse and worse. Hopefully at some point the league comes to its senses and makes the NL play with the DH. Pitchers drop fast enough with arm injuries, you don’t have to add more to it.

Paul F.
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I’m going to jump on the O’Dowd wagon here, though I’m biased as a Rockies fan.

He’s definitely shown that he’s an excellent GM in the last few years, but that work goes all the way back to the middle of the decade, when he reversed his course from being “Dealin’ Dan” to building through scouting, the draft, and well-positioned acquisitions of other teams’ mistaken castoffs.* Not everything he does even now goes exactly right, but both of his last two major deals – Jennings to Houston and Holliday to Oakland – have ended up looking pretty good.

*Carlos Gonzalez, Jason Hammel, Jorge De La Rosa, Brian Fuentes, Willy Taveras, Jamey Carroll, Kazuo Matsui, etc. The great thing with most of these guys is that he got them just before their prime, and got rid of them (those that are gone, anyway) just after. That’s winning GMing.

I don’t know whether he’s top 5 or not, but he certainly ought to be in the conversation.

A side note: the Helton contract is onerous and burdensome, but I don’t buy the hogwash about it being one of the worst in baseball. Looking at WAR and value as FanGraphs calculates it, Helton has mostly performed in line or above what he’s been paid (with the exception of when he was hurt). It certainly hasn’t been a great contract, but it hasn’t been a bad one either. Helton remains one of the most productive hitters in baseball, it’s just that he does it with doubles and OBP instead of HR, which makes him seem less valuable than he is.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 7 months ago

O’Dowd is very good. I’d probably slot him over Melvin.

Patrick
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I wouldn’t necessarily dispute Sabean being included on the “bad” list, but I’ve always and still feel that he is a better-that-average judge of talent (just look at his farm system right now). He’s also quite simply a horrible businessman serving under a somewhat intrusive ownership group.

Chris
Guest
Chris
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t think Brian Sabean deserves to be in the bottom 5. In 13 seasons as GM, the Giants have had 4 losing seasons. That’s not the sign of a bad GM – it’s more the sign of a mediocre one. The Giants finished first or second in the NL West in each of his first 8 seasons as GM, and then entered a rebuilding period. That’s exactly the same path that Beane took that landed him in the top 5.

Ron
Guest
Ron
6 years 7 months ago

“ask them why they think a 90-win team is better than a 70-win team.”

This is wrong. Our idea of a 90-win team comes from a league in which the teams play a schedule against roughly league average competition. In this scenario, we have a better team playing 100% of its games against a lesser team and vice versa–it skews the results.

Ryan L
Guest
Ryan L
6 years 7 months ago

Whenever the words “bad” and “GM” are ever used in a sentence, Sabean’s name is always included.

shawndgoldman
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Matt,

What are the interleague records for the teams with the top-5 and bottom-5 GM’s? If you take those 10 teams out of the equation, what is the interleague record of the remaining teams? That’s a zeroth-order way to test your hypothesis.

DC
Guest
DC
6 years 7 months ago

good article but you discredited the entire thing when you said, “I won’t pretend to have any sort of well-researched answer.” while that may be true, don’t let us as readers know that.

smocon
Member
smocon
6 years 7 months ago

I am stunned that anyone with the voice associated with this site would put Doug Melvin in the same class as Theo Epstein, Andrew Friedman, Billy Beane and Jack Z. I would contend that the Brewers have been “successful” (two winning seasons in Melvin’s tenure) in spite of Melvin.

The guy made one big trade in exhange for one playoff win. In the process he was led by his nose like the bad dog he is and fired the manager that took the team to the promised land, and then brought in a curmudgeon good ole boy to manage a bunch of young kids.

His biggest mistake is that he tries to run the team like a mid/large market team, signing free agents to bad contracts, holding onto players longer than he should, and his unwillingness to accept the fact that he is the GM of the smallest market team in MLB in his dealings with Prince Fielder (i.e. he actually believes that its in the best interest of the franchise to hold onto him as long as they can or offer him a long term deal, instead of trading him for a big upgrade of the farm system).

JoeM
Guest
JoeM
6 years 7 months ago

Steve: the yankees only spending 7 million on the draft is surely tilted by them losing their top 3 picks for ccburnett and tex.

Doug
Guest
Doug
6 years 7 months ago

Not really, Joe; the Yankees and Damon Oppenheimer have always had a draft budget, and $7 mil isn’t a departure from previous years’ budgets.

Budgets have to be spent. If the Yankees don’t have draft picks in the first three rounds, they’ll offer more money in the middle rounds to players with more difficult signability issues. Like high school players with strong college commitments.

MichaelD
Guest
MichaelD
6 years 7 months ago

Personally, I’d have to put at least 9 GM’s below Brian Sabean — the nine who said Tim Lincecum was not worth a first-round draft pick.

Ned Colletti is a friend of mine, but I’d still have to say that nobody has signed more players to hideous contracts, Barry Zito notwithstanding, than Colletti since he’s taken over the reins in LA. A bounteous farm system and the desirability of playing in LA and getting all the money in the world has covered a multitude of sins, in which he was just carrying on a decade-long tradition of the worst signings in baseball (Dreifort, Andruw Jones, Juan Pierre, Jason Schmidt, ad nauseam).

obsessivegiantscompulsive
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Yeah, Sabean is so horrible, crafting an 88-win season, after rebuilding for only a few years, I mean, look at the Pirates and Royals talent and it’s only took them a decade or two to do that, and look at that rotation and bullpen, how can anybody win with losers like Lincecum, Cain, Sanchez, Wilson, Romo, Runzler, et al. And Sandoval is clearly a lousy player too.

Yeah, horrible work rebuilding a team, with talent like that, they will probably only be competitive in the NL West for 5, 6, 7 years, maybe a decade depending on how Wheeler turns out. Who would want a team like that?

Bob
Guest
Bob
6 years 7 months ago

I like Jack Z. plenty; after all, in one year the Mariners’ run differential improved from -140 to -52, a leap of 88 runs. But it was only *one* year.

However, I’d nominate instead a general manager who’s improved his team by *double* that in his *two* years at the helm.

What team went from -84 runs to +90 in the last two years? Whoever it is, wouldn’t their GM deserve a top 5 slot? ;)

Justin
Guest
Justin
6 years 7 months ago

OK- Let me tell everyone what the deal is here-

This is a good list. I personally would have put Hendry in there, but Colletti does just fine. It’s like saying who sucks more, when in reality, it does not matter, they both really suck.

How could anyone every say that Hendry has done a good job as a GM????

Giving out monstrous contracts that hamstring the organizations ability to do anything. Soriano, Zambrano, and now Carlos Silva’s contract (why in god’s green earth would you trade anyone for a player who does not even deserve to be on a 40-man roster-Silva-. Then you are paying 12-14M for Lee and Ramirez, and then 12 to Dempster. All these huge contracts for long years. And he does not use any type of advanced metrics to make informative and objective decisions. This is a business. Why not have all of the information that will be helpful into making the best decisions for your team at hand? It shows his ignorance, and frankly, in this day and age, he should not seriously be considered to build a championship team if he keeps making moves like he has been. The Cubs are turning into the yankees of 2001-2007 when they have just all old players with fat contracts. It is not a good way to run a baseball team. Bradley at least has some potential, and he truly was not not all that bad last year. And then sighning Byrd to a 3-yr commitment? Granted it was cheap, but come on, who wants Marlyn Byrd as there CF when they are contenders? He is 32 years old and he will prbbaly earn his contract since it is so small, but seriouslly? come on? Hendry is awful.

Moore is Moore- a good traditional scout and nothing more. He should be sitting in the bleachers, not the front office.

Sabean- The zito thing was more the owner but Rowand, and Molina, and the trading 2 top 10 pitching prospects for 2 avg- to below avg players in Garko and Sanchez was insane. His refusal to play Posey at the end of the year, etc. He says he is trying to get younger, but then signs a 32 year old in Mark Derosa. I just dont believe him. He just loves old vets, and guess what, not even that approach will cut it in the NL West. He has a good farm, but I would bet that is more on the scouting director and staff than himself. Definitely a top 5 candidate.

Ed Wade– I really dont need to explain myself. Worst GM in MLB.

Minyana- Dont really need to explain myself either- Just fails, at everything he does. If I was an owner, I would have already seen that anything he touches dies. He truly is the 2nd worst GM in baseball, and in strong contention for worst in the business.

Justin
Guest
Justin
6 years 7 months ago

Minyana refusal to spend in the draft, or unwillingness to designate more money to the draft shows his inability to operate as a sound GM in this day and age. They had the 2nd highest payroll, but spent the lowest amount of money on the draft.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

It’s all public, biased opinion. Little kids are greedy, have to earn it, blah blah blah.

Strasburg, for example, will earn $15.1 mil in the next 4 years. Good money for a kid.

That’s also paying for a grand total of about 1 win per season in the FA market.

Strasburg is about as expensive as it gets among rookies.

Isaac
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

Cashman can’t be better than Reagins. Both teams keep winning, but the Yankees need more money to do so. You’d have to at least consider them as equals. I don’t think it’s about liking a certain GM’s moves or about wether he evaluates an uses players the same way you do(based primarily on stats). I’ts about wether that GM’s methods work or not. Kenny Williams’ methods have worked well enough to keep the white sox as a contending team. Yes, he has made bad trades, but he has also been able to structure his team well enough to be a somewhat consistent contender and a world series winner in 05.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

Reagins, really?
This is the same Reagins that now has locked the Angels into $14 million of mediocre committee closer in 2010?
The same Reagins that just brought in Matsui to man LF and likely further cut into the better, cheaper Mike Napoli’s playing time?
The same Reagins that just let Figgins go rather than offer him more than $9 mil a year?

We thinking the same guy?

crix
Guest
crix
6 years 7 months ago

I think some of you guys might be missing the point. Who cares if there’s a GM or two who should or shouldn’t be on the list. I for one kinda agree, with a combination of the NL brand of baseball. For instance, if you’re in a close game in the 5th or 6th and you got a guy on third with two down and the NL manager pinch hits with a guy who has been sitting for couple hours and at best has a 30% chance of driving in that run, whether the run scores or not you have 3 to 4 innings to go with your bullpen. Who would you want in the game pitching for ya, a starter like a Zach Greinke or a middle releif pitcher? No matter how good your bullpen is, it’s always a shaky proposition when there’s still half the game to go. I see it all the time, I think it “Pidgeon Holds” teams in those situations, the AL doesn’t seem to have that problem. hmmmm Although I have no idea why the NL can’t win an all star game.

JeremyR
Guest
JeremyR
6 years 7 months ago

I think it’s simpler than that – it’s the money. On the one end, you have the Yankees with their $200+ million payroll, and on the bottom of the NL you have 4 teams with a combined payroll of that.

Also, the Cubs play in the NL.

neuter_your_dogma
Guest
neuter_your_dogma
6 years 7 months ago

If it were that simple, then the Cubs, Mets and Astros should have had playoff seasons – given that they are all in the top 10 in payroll at the start of 09.

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 7 months ago

it’s really not that simple.

look at what the Yankees have done this offseason without spending an exorbitant about of money:

the Mets spent about $80M for 5 seasons of Jason Bay. the Yankees spent about $50M for 3 seasons of Granderson, 1 season of Vazquez, 1 season of Pettitte, and 1 season of Nick Johnson. plus they’ll likely net 2 draft picks at the end of the year for Vazquez.

they did this with smart signings and having the pieces from their system to trade.

sometimes the Yankees spend a ton of money, sometimes they don’t. it depends on the state of the market and what is available. Cashman has a plan and he executes. Minaya has no plan.

no one is denying that the money helps Cashman tremendously, but Minaya also has access to a ton of money and usually squanders it. it’s not as simple as “it’s just the money”.

Adam Barrett
Guest
Adam Barrett
6 years 7 months ago

OK lets not get into the DH. Plain and simple baseball is a two way game, you hit and you field (pitch). The NL is the only true baseball league, the AL is a hitting league so its really an apples to oranges comparison. That being said your GM has to put together a team that competes in the league its in, so NL GM’s have to put more stock in middle relievers than AL GM’s. Thats why it seems NL overpays for bullpen help and the AL overpays for starting pitching and elite hitters. I do agree at the moment AL GM’s are doing a better overall job. As for Cashmen he has something no other GM has, esentially unlimited money and no reguard for the luxury tax. This does not make him a good GM, just a lucky one. As for Hendry at the close of the regular 2008 season everyone was talking about how great he was (minus Soriano). The Lilly deal was excellent, the earlier trades for Ramirez and Lee set up the corner infield for years. He also made some midseaon trades for complimentary players that sparked the team to 2 straight division wins and now 3 straight winning seasons. Took a flyer out on Dempster who was a decent closer and now a top of the rotation starter. Baseball is a great sport because it is very fluid, one simple move can make a big difference, and you won’t know for a season or two if those prospects pan out. Trading and Free Agents are often a crapshoot, right now the AL has a better aim, but it changes quickly. Look at how many GM’s are brilliant one year and bums then next.

scott
Guest
scott
6 years 7 months ago

lol @ “true league.”

give it up. the AL has a DH. has since 1973. the purpose to score & prevent runs exists in both leagues.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

The NL is the holdout here, not the AL. The rest of the civilized world has a DH for it’s major baseball leagues.

Matt
Guest
Matt
6 years 7 months ago

Theo Epstein also has plenty of money to work with. Why is that an uncontroversial choice but Cashman is so controversial?

It’s because everyone hates the Yankees, which is because they win all the time, which is why Cashman is one of the five best GMs! Since Cashman became the GM of the Yankees, they have far and away the best record in baseball. That sounds very uncontroversial to me.

Brian Walton
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

I am quite surprised that Epstein continues to get a free pass despite the series of bad contracts his team has had to eat. Yes his teams won two Series, but his organization is so wealthy they can afford to make their numerous mistakes quietly disappear.

I follow the Cardinals most closely and just the players with St. Louis ties that Theo and the Sox had to pay others to take off their hands include Edgar Renteria, Joel Pineiro, John Smoltz, Brad Penny and Julio Lugo. There are probably others that just don’t come to mind right now, but these guys alone total up well over $30 million wasted.

Now up is Mike Lowell, currently walking door-to-door with $9 million pinned to his jersey, trying to find a new home. Yet Theo is praised for signing Beltre and gets a free pass despite having to pay double for the third base position in 2010.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

You mean the last years of contracts for veterans are occasionally of poor value? What a shocking news development.

Lowell got 3 years, $37.5 million. He played to the contract in 2008, then got hurt, and now isn’t as good as he used to be. Sometimes guys just get injured. And a $37.5 mil contract for a projected 3 WAR / year guy in his age 34-36 years isn’t insane. Hindsight’s just 20/20.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

And you talk about 30 million wasted.

How about:
Tim Wakefield
Curt Schilling
Kevin Youkilis
J.D. Drew
Mark Bellhorn
Bill Mueller
Victor Martinez
Kevin Millar

All these guys are, or where, on the team at EXTREMELY team friendly terms. Bellhorn provided +3.2 WAR in 2004, for $500K. Lugo’s falling apart doesn’t cancel out the great work Theo’s done.

CJ
Guest
CJ
6 years 7 months ago

People’s ratings of GMs can be very fickle. I can remember when the Rockies’ O’Dowd was roundly accepted as the worst GM in baseball; but now many view him as one of the best GMs. I think many people would have viewed the Padres’ Towers as one of the top five GMs, but now he is out of a job. Hendry routinely goes from dunce to genius from year to year. I’m not a big fan of the Marlins’ ownership, but why isn’t the Marlins’ GM, Beinfest, as good as Bean? Given the budgetary constraints he operates under, the Marlins have been remarkably competitive.

I suspect that most of the GMs on the bottom of the list aren’t as bad as they are rated. For instance, I think Ed Wade is probably “average” to just “below average.” You have to taken into account circumstances for GMs. Wade came into the Astros’ situation with an almost impossible situation: his budget was hemmed in with three huge no trade long term contracts and a farm system rated as the worst in baseball. He has made both good and bad moves. Many criticized the Lidge for Bourn trade, but if both those guys continue to perform like they did last year, that will turn into a great trade. Wade is also among the best GMs at mining the waiver wires and junkpile for pitchers. And I don’t think there is much question that Wade has done a good job of straightening out the Astros’ drafting and player development side. When you combine that with the Phillies’ success in player development while he was GM there, I have to conclude that this is part of the GM job where he succeeds.

Joe R
Guest
Joe R
6 years 7 months ago

I think to be fair on the O’Dowd front, he used to be bad, but lately has been much better (though the Olivo signing is odd, maybe he thinks his lOwBP, high ISO catcher will flourish in Colorado).

Steve
Guest
Steve
6 years 7 months ago

Beinfest was excellent. but he’s no longer the Marlins’ GM.

CJ
Guest
CJ
6 years 7 months ago

Good point, Steve. Beinfest was promoted to president of baseball operations for the Marlins a couple of years ago. Sorry for the mistake.

Joe formerly of Brooklyn
Guest
Joe formerly of Brooklyn
6 years 7 months ago

Three points:

a. I really enjoyed reading the initial post and all the comments. Thanks to all of you. GMs don’t get enuf light!

b. I am a fan of the Yankees, as the Dodgers left Brooklyn at my 4th birthday. I followed the various comments on Cashman. My take is a bit different (I think): Last year, X Nady got hurt early in April — with A-Roid already down for at least another month(and Wang suffering mysterious horrors) — and Cash didn’t panic. I give him credit for that. Cashman had signed Swisher as a back-up for Tex + X — it worked.

In perfect hindsight, the 2009 season worked out great. But as of April 20th, let’s say — the OF looked sick without Nady — Wang was throwing like my grandma — and the lineup sucked without X + A-Rod. Yet they didn’t trade Hughes/Joba/Montero/whoever for an instant solution. I was happy that they didn’t make a dumb/instant-solution move at the time (I can remember 1965-1974 really well) . . . and much happier in November than I thot I’d be.

Note to Braves fans: Melky had 3 walk-off hits in April and May, which certainly helped the team at precisely the time that it needed such help!

c. I am TRYING (patience is not my long suit) to become a fan of the Nationals. I live outside of D.C. I can’t make up my mind about Rizzo (some of the people above certainly have!). I thought the I-Rod signing was foolish; a lot of money for a guy who, in 2009, seemed to prove he didn’t merit a lot of money!

I hope that Brian Bruney can be what I had hoped he WOULD be in 2009, and wasn’t (the 8th-inning set-up guy). I would like to be WRONG about I-Rod, and learn something great about Rizzo.

What’s the likelihood that my hopes will pan out — or be crushed like the pipedreams they truly are?

SJ
Guest
SJ
6 years 7 months ago

Good stuff here. I would put Hendry way down there and put Kenny Williams up there. KW is not top 5 put right on the outside. Yeah there were a few bad trades but look what he did to get a WS title to Chicago. The Gavin Floyd and John Danks trades were brilliant. This GM has made the most trades in the last 5 or 6 years and most of them go unoticed. What about getting Carlos Quinten for nothing?

All in all I think you are pretty close.

Casper
Guest
Casper
6 years 7 months ago

Matt,

I don’t disagree with you on Moore being just magnificently terrible with his FA signings (aka, abortions), but I’ve always tried to judge his tenure in the context of a complete organizational rebuild rather than just a ML roster overhaul. That said, I personally think his drafts have been VERY good. Just since he’s come on board we’ve drafted Luke Hochevar (c’mon – we all know that was his pick), Mike Moustakas, Danny Duffy, Eric Hosmer, Mike Montgomery, Tyler Sample, Tim Melville, Aaron Crow, Wil Myers, and Chris Dwyer (not to mention Noel Arguelles, which amounts to basically being an extra 1st round pick).

For my own learning, how did you evaluate the GM’s you selected – I’m not asking you to defend your picks or anything, but to offer me some insight into how you view the landscape a bit, because I’m coming from the perspective of trusting my own evaluations but also of one that realizes there are some who may be able to see things in a more insightful way than I can (you, T. Dierkes, D. Cameron, R. Jazayerli, J. Posnanski, R. Neyer, S. Mellinger, etc). Did you grade them by FA signings/win-loss record/draft record/etc…?

Casper
Guest
Casper
6 years 7 months ago

Yeesh, never mind, Matt. I only started reading fangraphs within the last few months and hadn’t read the Cameron piece last year from his organizational rankings. Don’t worry about answering me as it likely results in the kind of outcry from the rest of the readers that everyone else espoused last year. It’s cool man, no worries; I wouldn’t want to answer it either after reading the posts on the Cameron/Royals piece…

SD
Guest
6 years 7 months ago

minaya stole santana, signed reyes and wright to reasonable extensions, traded jay seo for duaner sanchez (he was very good before he got injured), got John Maine for Kris Benson, signed Beltran, traded mike jacobs and two others for Carlos Delgado. Also, check the previous 3 years of the Mets under Phillips & Duquette.

GrandSlam
Guest
GrandSlam
6 years 7 months ago

I am a Tigers fan who thinks Dave Dombrowski is without a doubt the worst GM in the league. I’m amazed at the free pass he gets & the fact that he is never mentioned with Ed Wade and other terrible GMs.

What other GM has $72 million in non-tradeable dead contracts on his books?

He’s an incompetent who handed a declining (he was the worst pitcher in the NL the year before he was acquired) D-Train a $30 million extension before he ever threw a pitch for the Tigers. For that $30 million, Dontrelle won ONE GAME!!!

He gave a back-of-the-rotation starter in Nate Robertson a completely unnecessary three-year extension that pays him $10 million in 2010. Robertson was under team control for two more seasons when he was extended, and his performance was not likely to ever exceed the contract.

He gave an over-the-hill and injury-prone Gary Sheffield a two-year extension that predictibly came back to bite the team. And his extension to another 30+ injury-prone player in Carlos Guillen will still haunt the team for two more seasons. $13 million a year to a guy who would be lucky to get a couple million in the open market.

And he stupidly let Magglio Ordonez’s $18 million option for 2010 vest. That money paid to a singles hitter could have been better spent retaining Curtis Granderson and signing free agents to plug the team’s holes. As flawed as the team is, they finished a game out of the playoffs last season (due to the weak division.) Instead of adding pieces over the offseason, he’s subtracted key contributors, leaving a roster of overpaid underachievers, rookies getting their feet wet in the big leagues and Miguel Cabrera & Justin Verlander (who I’m sure are wishing they were the ones traded about right now) – all because he blew the payroll by signing players to bad contract extensions. None of these bad contracts were even free agent contracts. He doesn’t sign free agents, outside of scrubs willing to take one-year deals on the cheap.

Dombrowski has no idea how to manage a payroll. He has shown he has no clue about building a consistent contender and can’t make good judgments about what moves will put the team over the top. His boneheaded trade of a good young SP in Jair Jurrjens for Edgar Renteria perfectly illustrates that. And his teams never have any depth because he can’t identify & develop positional players. He’s been GM of the Tigers for 7 years and only developed Curtis Granderson (who he then had to trade away because of his payroll mismanagement.)

If Mike Ilitch didn’t give him a $130 million payroll and allow him to sign drafted players to over-slot deals, the Tigers would be by far the worst team in the league. Give me Dayton Moore any day over this clown. I could do a better job building a team – with the financial resources he’s been given. I can’t believe he still has a job after wasting so much money on bad contracts.

Kevin S.
Member
Kevin S.
6 years 7 months ago

Dombrowski didn’t let Magglio’s option vest, Ilitch gave the okay to Leyland on playing him in an effort to win the division. I assume that to get to that $72 million number, you considered Magglio, Bonderman, Guillen, Dontrelle, Robertson and Inge? Inge has actually provided over $6 million more in value than the free market would have returned for his contract, so even though he wasn’t a FA, I’d say at worst the deal has been fair. Bonderman had just turned 24, had provided twelve and a half wins over his age 21-23 seasons and improved each year. Holding his collapse against Dombrowski is horrific hindsight analysis – there was no reason to expect it in the first place. Yes, Willis and Robertson were awful extensions, and he probably shouldn’t have banked on Guillen staying productive into his mid-thirties. As for Magglio, I reject that it was a bad contract. Mags was a nine-win player in ’07. Do you know how many better position player-seasons there have been in FG’s WAR era? Ten, by four players: A-Rod (4x), Bonds (3x), Pujols (2x) and Beltre’s crazy walk year. Furthermore, that deal was signed with the team still just a year and a half removed from the stench of that 119-loss season, and needed to restore credibility to the franchise. A contract that returned bountifully early on was well worth being a dud in its last year or two, IMO, especially given where the Tigers have come to since that nadir.

Brian Lonsway
Guest
Brian Lonsway
6 years 7 months ago

i agree it is insulting to include inge inn det’s “sunken costs” the man has outpreformed his contract.. however.. sheffied.. the renteria trade.. willis extension.. robertson extension.. guillen extension.. where horrific moves.. the man has identified good young pitching talent.. so go be a scout.. i swear if he signs valverde and loose our first round pick on a reliever.. i’m going to become a mariners’ fan.. ..tigers rotation inn 2013 Verlander.. Porcello..Crosby…Turner.. Scherzer… could be an ALL-TIME great.. please don’t mess it up dumbroski

Isaac
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6 years 7 months ago

Joe, let’s not get too far ahead. We don’t know how much LF Matsui will play. At least I dont. If you know for a fact that he’ll be the regular LFer, then I admit it is a terrible decision. Still, one bad offseason doesn’t make Reagins a bad GM, and certainly doesn’t make him 2 tiers worse than Cashman. We haven’t seen how well Figgins’ replacement will perform. And the fact that he is wildly overpaying for his closer doesn’t offset the fact that the team’s homegrown talent has been able to make up for some of those mistakes. If you consider that, there’s no way Reagins is that much worse.

The Nicker
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The Nicker
6 years 7 months ago

Is the proportional difference between the AL and NL in interleague play (or any other measurement, such as wRC comparisons between players switching leagues) greater than the proportional difference between AL and NL average payrolls?

I tend to agree that AL GMs are better, but I wonder if this is really true, and this top5/bottom 5 analysis is really lazy and essentially is only useful in the interesting question it proposes but does not solve.

Chuck
Guest
Chuck
6 years 7 months ago

I don’t think the GMs have anything to do with it. GMs come and go. Since the player strike of ’94, the AL has held a decided advantage in every aspect, inter-league play, all star games and World Series Championships plus World Series games won. Hell the NL hasn’t swept one WS since ’90 while the AL has 5 sweeps including 3 in 4 years. Apples & oranges. It’s all about the pitching, it’s always about the pitching. The NL hurlers argueably struggle when facing the AL lineups, and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a game being played with or without a DH, while the AL pitchers dominate the NL lineups. This gives a decided advantage to NL GM’s. What am I talking about you say? If I were a NL GM and I needed a pitcher, I could look to another NL pitcher or even better yet look to an AL pitcher. The AL GM doesn’t have that luxury. He can’t look to the NL for pitching help, NL pitchers can’t hold up in the AL, so the AL GMs are limited. The NL plays for a run at a time. As Earl Weaver once said, ” play for a run at a time, that’s all you’ll get”. The AL pitchers have to be better in order to get out the better lineups. Remember old pitchers never die, they just return to the NL, i.e Randy Johnson, Pedro Martinez. Watch Javy Vazquez get lite up like a Christmas tree back in the AL. There’s a good reason Greg Maddox never wanted to pitch for the Yankees. He’s not stupid. Let’s see what Jake Peavy does this year. Anyway, any GM knows you can’t import NL pitchers to pitch in the AL. Follow that creed and you’ll do allright.

Frank
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Frank
6 years 7 months ago

Disparity in talent? What disparity in talent? Since 94′ the AL has won 3 more WS Championships than the NL, I wouldn’t call that a decided advantage. As for the All Star game, in my opinion in recent years it has been a joke anyways. Why do they continue to play only one game for homefield advantage when a team never faces an opposed team just once and moves on the next team? They always play a series, whether it is a 2 game or 4 game series. Only time you see 1 game played against 1 team is when it’s a make up game. I have always thought it should be a series where the starter for the game actually gets to pitch 6 or 7 innings instead of throwing all of your talent out there who made the team so they can say they played in an All Star game. Therefore to me, All Star game is unimportant and irrelevant and it should not decided who gets homefield advantage in the WS. The best record of the 2 teams should.

As for the “old pitchers never die they just return to the NL” jab, that doesn’t mean the talent is anyless than the AL. It’s a little easier to pitch in the NL because the ballparks aren’t built like little league fields like the AL, it has nothing to do with the talent.

In what aspect are you saying there is a huge disparity in talent anyway? Since 98′ til present the NL has out homered the AL consecutively and that’s without having a DH. I know, I know….steroids right? Only comment to that is that steroids is in both leagues. Still stands, NL out homers the AL even with larger parks.

I’m afraid I need more evidence of this so called “disparity” that I have always heard about for the past 10 years.

Frank
Guest
Frank
6 years 7 months ago

That is a pretty solid explination. Can you, out of curiosity, break down which NL teams are playing which AL teams in interleague play and whether or not it’s teams such as the Jays or the A’s that are beating teams like the Phillies and Cards? Whare quality are the teams that are competing in interleague play?

Frank
Guest
Frank
6 years 7 months ago

Do you think the so called “disparity” in leagues has anything to do with the match ups that are being made for interleague play? For instance:
The Nations (59-103) had interleague series with the Yankees and Red Sox.
The Pirates (62-99) had interleagues series with the Tigers and Twins.
The Mets (70-92) had 2 interleague series with both the Red Sox and Yankees.
The Dbacks (70-92) had interleague series with the Angels and Mariners.
The Padres (75-87) had interleague series with The Angels twice, Rangers and Mariners.

All of the NL teams listed above are among the worst in MLB, The Padres being 12 games under .500 while the worse team these franchises faced (with a winner record) was 8 games above .500.

My point is that you cannot calcuate the superiority of either league through interleague play because as we all know interleague play brings big money market teams to smaller market teams in order to attract new fans and stimulate ticket sales. It doesn’t match up the teams very well based on their playing abilities. These match ups are like a heavy weightboxer fighting a lightweight. Sure the lightweight may get a jab or two in or maybe even take a round but ultimately they always lose the fight, collectively I mean.

Frank
Guest
Frank
6 years 7 months ago

I find this subject very interesting and I’ll definitely check out the link. Nice chatting with you Mr. Klassen, I like articles that can open my perception a bit.

Japanese Kimonos
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6 years 6 months ago

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