Thursday, October 9, 2014

Assistant General Manager and VP or Pitching/Position Player Consultation

There is a change in the way Major League Baseball organizations are structuring their front offices.  They are expanding and roles are being redefined and even defined in the case of newly found positions.  

There are three teams who come to mind when I think about the new structures.  The first is the Cubs and how Theo Epstein is now the President of Baseball Operations.  He has the final say on every matter but it is still Jed Hoyer’s job as general manager to assemble the 25-man roster and 40-man roster along with other various aspects. 

The second team I thought about was the Arizona Diamondbacks.  Never in baseball has a person had the position “CBO” or Chief Baseball Officer.  What is that?  I don’t think anybody can clearly define it so why not give the position to Tony LaRussa who is a very respected baseball guy with an intelligent baseball mind.  From the sounds of it, he is in a similar position to Epstein and has final say on all baseball matters.  So after months of observation he fired Kevin “ The Gunslinger” Towers and restructured the organization.  Dave Stewart (player turned pitching coach turned assistant GM turned agent) is now the GM and he is in charge of constructing the major league roster. 

Arizona also hired De Jon Watson as senior vice president of baseball operations.  In an interview during a D-backs game this season he’s basically there to fill in the gaps of where the organization might be lacking.  Remember the game has changed a lot since Stewart was last in a front office so Watson’s experience will come in handy helping him right a very wrong ship in the desert.

The third front office with a new structure is something that doesn’t have to be described much as it has been well documented in the past and that is the Houston Astros.  They created a position called Director of Decision Sciences for Sig Mejdal.  GM Jeff Luhnow is an extremely intelligent baseball man so I’m not going to question him and I don’t think I could do the position any justice by trying to explain it.  

So the five paragraph introduction is basically is to say that I think something interesting could be done in a front office to help a GM with difficult decisions.  Two men would be responsible for filling the positions of “Assistant GM and VP of Pitching Consultation” and “Assistant GM and VP of Position Player Consultation.”

Don’t those just roll of the tongue?

What these positions would be intended to do is help inform the man in charge make informed decisions about one role of the other.  Say a team is looking to put together a big package to obtain an ace-caliber pitcher.  At the trade deadline, trades start to happen very quickly, even if those trades have been discussed briefly in the past.  Well when this trade is about to go down, the VP of Pitching Consultation would be able to quickly gather all the information he has assembled on that given pitcher.  Hopefully, this pitcher has been a target and he has been able to scout him in person (preferably a few times) and been able to come up with an accurate and extensive statistical analysis of the pitcher.  

So when a GM has to pull the trigger, all the information is at his fingertips on an iPad and he can evaluate quickly.

These two men (or women for legal purposes) also serve as instructors.  If these roles were to be filled they would likely be ex-professional players.  They do not have to be ex-big leaguers but somebody who has professional experience to connect with players and teach the art of pitching or hitting.  

The toughest part will be finding a person able to coach and analyze through statistics.  To do one well is tough enough but to do both well is extremely difficult and not something many can do.  The hope is that there are more people like Gabe Kapler in this world.  He would be a perfect Assistant GM and VP of Position Player Consultation because of his playing background, prior coaching experience and his ability to sift through stats and use them to evaluate a player.  

These positions are more of a dream than a reality…for now.

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