Ranking the GM Candidates

The Padres have finished the first round of interviews to replace dismissed GM Josh Byrnes. Eight candidates received interviews, while six prospective candidates declined to be interviewed, including 2 of my top 3 choices, Cardinals AGM Mike Girsch and Cubs VP of Sexy Jason McLeod.

First to interview were former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest and Dodgers scouting VP Logan White. Next were Diamondbacks Scouting Director Ray Montgomery, Yankees AGM Billy Eppler, and Texas AGM A.J. Preller. Last week, the Padres interviewed their final 3 candidates, Boston AGM Mike Hazen, Padres AGM Josh Stein, and former Dodgers AGM and current VP of Baseball Operations for MLB Kim Ng.

Now that the first round of interviews appear to be done, the results of those interviews are beginning to leak out, as the Padres narrow their selections, bring up to 4 back for second interviews, and eventually narrow things down to their ultimate decision, which could still be a few weeks away. Sunday evening, Peter Gammons suggested that both Beinfest and White, two of the older candidates to have interviewed, were no longer being considered, while it appears that Preller of the Rangers has made the first round of cuts and will receive a 2nd interview.

For the purpose of ranking the candidates right now, I’m going to include them all. It seems as though the Padres are right in the midst of narrowing down the list from 8 to 3 or 4 as I write this, and I don’t want to leave anyone out on the chance the information I am getting as I write this is incorrect.

I don’t dislike any of the 8 candidates interviewed. They are all qualified. I do have preferences though, so here’s how I would rank the Padres GM candidates, starting with my least favorite homie and ending with my top bro or chick.

8. Ray Montgomery

Montgomery is the Scouting Director for the Diamondbacks. First and foremost, I don’t want another D-Back GM. Not Montgomery, not Byrnes, not Kevin Towers. I might hate the D-Backs more than any other team in baseball these days, and the last thing the Padres need to continue hiring front office staff from Arizona.

Montgomery turned down a chance to be Jed Hoyer’s scouting director in 2009, wanting to stay in a new home in Connecticut, only to take the same position in Arizona a year later, who didn’t ask him to relocate to take the job. His big claim to fame as a scout: he selected Rickie Weeks in the draft for the Brewers. While I’m sure he’s qualified to move up, he doesn’t seem to have the resume of the other candidates.

7. Josh Stein

Other than the Diamondbacks, there’s only one other team’s front office I’m really biased against right now, and it’s the Padres. Stein has worked in San Diego since 2003, working his way up to Advance Scouting Director in 2005, Director of Baseball Operations in 2009, and was promoted to AGM this year.

Not to say that Stein wouldn’t be a great candidate if he were from another system, but I don’t want anyone who has been surrounded by so much failure for so many years. If he had come from somewhere else, I might love him. He runs the team’s statistical analysis and video scouting departments. I love that, but not when he’s spent so many years working under Kevin Towers and Josh Byrnes. The new GM needs to come from outside the organization.

6. Larry Beinfest

The former GM of the Florida Marlins, who was fired at the end of the 2013 season, is the most experienced candidate interviewed, and is a bit of a small-market wizard, working for 12 years in the Marlins’ crazy situation. He’s had a lot of success drafting and developing talented young players, and has a lot of experience working with small payrolls.

On the other hand, Beinfest is now 50 years old and represents a slightly older generation, plus I don’t really see the appeal of bringing in a small market wizard. I want to see the Padres continue to move up in the payroll rankings, not be near the bottom every year. If the Padres are to rank in the 15-19 range in payroll, they won’t need a small market specialist, just someone who spends money wisely.

5. Logan White

White has been with the Dodgers for the past 12 seasons. He’s overseen the team’s draft and international scouting departments, and he was instrumental in the signing of Yasiel Puig. Of course, the Dodgers offered millions more than anyone else, and that’s what really signed Puig, but they also saw talent that others didn’t and much of the credit for that goes to White.

Other players the Dodgers drafted and developed in White’s tenure include Clayton Kershaw and Matt Kemp, so he definitely has successes on his resume. Overall though, the Dodgers haven’t had a ton of success in his tenure, and while it’s not his fault, I’d really like someone from an organization with more recent postseason success, and the Dodgers haven’t seen a World Series since 1988.

4. Billy Eppler

Eppler, a San Diego native, has been Brian Cashman’s right hand man with the New York Yankees since being promoted to AGM in 2011. Before that, he was the team’s director of pro scouting, in charge of scouting other teams’ major and minor league talent. Eppler seems to take pride in the managerial aspects of his job, speaking more about the successes of others than his own.

What Eppler doesn’t really have on his resume is a lot of drating and development experience, as his background is mostly in scouting and acquiring talent after they’re drafted. He seems like a very strong GM candidate, but I don’t think his strengths really match up with what the Padres need.

3. Kim Ng

A lot has been written already about Ng. She’s been trying to break the glass ceiling and become baseball’s first female GM for years now. She first interviewed for the Padres GM position in 2009, losing out to professional dreamboat Jed Hoyer. She left the Dodgers in 2011 for a new challenge, working in the MLB league office as Vice President of Baseball Operations.

Her resume is great. She’s been in baseball for 23 years. and was an AGM for nearly 15 years. She is immensely qualified. I wouldn’t be upset at all if she were hired. However, she’s worked almost exclusively for the two biggest market teams in baseball, and doesn’t have experience with more limited resources.

2. A.J. Preller

Preller is the first candidate to have it publicly mentioned that he’s been asked to return for a 2nd interview. Also, in the purpose of full disclosure, I just found out tonight in the course of my research that both Preller and Rangers GM Jon Daniels are fraternity brothers of mine. We’re In The Bond, and the Delta Chi bond is very strong, so I may have a difficult time being unbiased about his candidacy now, which means I must really like the guy I ranked ahead of him.

Preller has been instrumental in building the Rangers’ perennially strong farm system, through both the draft and international scouting. The Rangers are currently enduring their first losing season since since 2008, having made the playoffs 3 times since then and making World Series appearances twice. That’s pretty good.

1. Mike Hazen

It’s always been Mike Hazen for me. Well, really it was always Mike Girsch for me, but after that it was Hazen, and Girsch was smart enough to decided not to seek the position. Jed Hoyer attempted to bring Hazen over to San Diego in 2009, but Hazen stayed in Boston, and the Red Sox eventually won the World Series in 2013, partly on the backs of players he helped develop like Will Middlebrooks, Xander Bogaerts, Jackie Bradley, and Felix Doubront.

Player development is Hazen’s specialty, and he’s graduated a bunch of prospects to the big leagues. That’s also one of the biggest areas of need for the Padres, who have not only had trouble with drafting the right players, but perhaps more importantly making sure the players they draft end up making an impact at the major league level.

Hazen also worked with Padres President Mike Dee in Boston before Dee left for the Miami Dolphins. Though I don’t know how closely they worked together, they are familiar with each other, and that could give Hazen the edge. It may be an edge he doesn’t need, however, as I believe he’s the top candidate regardless.

The Vocal Minority posts on Mondays. Follow me on Twitter. Welcome home, Lebron.

 

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  • voxratio

    I don’t believe either Hazen (Red Sox) or Preller (Dodgers/Rangers) has experience with limited resources, so I don’t believe that is a relatively fair knock on Ng. Perhaps her lack of extensive involvement in player development and scouting could differentiate your top two from Ng, but Ng did have pro scouting oversight as well as running the Dodgers’ Dominican Academy.

    Maybe it’s the Dodger/Yankee stench. 😀

  • grassrootsSD

    Count me in on the Ng bandwagon.

    Preller could be said to have “small market” experience prior to 2010, when he was not an AGM. Hazen decidedly has NO such experience.

    The Dodgers during the McCourt years were more of a mid-market team, so Ng never got to be part of the indiscriminate Guggenheim spending in LA. And with that mid-market budget, they advanced to the NLCS twice and the NLDS twice for a total of 4 postseason appearances in 7 years. Not bad for a mid-market budget. And about what the Padres say they are going to spend, so really right in her wheelhouse. In her 18 seasons with 3 baseball clubs, her teams have advanced to the postseason 9 times, including the LCS 3 times, and WS 4 times. Budget aside, that is an impressive record of excellence over a long career. Long time Padres fans may remember that Ng was AGM of the 1998 Yankees, arguably the best baseball team ever to take the field and a roster she had some hand in building. And probably the source of that lingering Yankees stench in SD from that 4 game WS sweep.

    McCourt years LAD Payroll (from BP), Ng as Asst GM:
    2010: $102,090,283
    2009: $100,414,592
    2008: $118,588,536
    2007: $108,454,524
    2006: $ 98,447,187
    2005: $ 83,039,000
    2004: $ 92,902,001

    Red Sox Hazen as AGM payroll:

    2014: $156,350,125
    2013: $154,555,500
    2012: $175,249,119
    2011: $163,822,475
    Rangers Preller as AGM/Dir of Player Personnel payroll:
    2014: $133,525,939
    2013: $125,340,100
    2012: $120,836,000
    2011: $ 92,124,290
    2010: $ 64,810,570
    2009: $ 68,178,798
    2008: $ 67,712,326
    2007: $ 68,318,675

    • voxratio

      2004: 6th; 2005: 11th; 2006: 6th; 2007: 6th; 2008: 7th; 2009: 9th; 2010: 8th/9th; opening day was 11th.

      Dodgers were cheap under McCourt and should always have been top 5, but they were always closer to the big spenders than mid-market dollar wise.

      • grassrootsSD

        Maybe on average 20-25 percent higher than the median club. But making that kind of adjustment shouldn’t be that hard for someone smart and experienced. Padres would rank 13th in payroll this year with (ownership indicated) future payroll of 100 million.

        Having Brian Cashman suddenly run the Marlins would be a tough transition. I think the transition for Ng would be a different order of magnitude, and a lot of baseball people think she’s smart enough to figure it out.

        Not to mention the fact that being GM of a baseball team, as some have recently pointed out, requires selecting and managing a whole bunch of other professionals. Ng’s reputation and record suggest she picks the right ones and directs them well. After all she, with Dan Evans, interviewed and hired Logan White. And, I’m pretty sure, AJ Preller.

      • voxratio

        the problem is that a future payroll of 100 million will not likely be 13th in the Future, nor will it be anywhere close to the top 5, due to growing stratification. This crushes the Padres due to the financial domination of the Dodgers. Even the Giants aren’t within arms’ reach.

        Every team has an additional $20-25 million in new TV money to play with, so keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t move the Padres into mid-market payroll. Future mean payrolls should be around 120 million, if teams invest at least half of the new money into the roster. A 100 million payroll keeps the Padres 20 million behind the future curve, which is about where they are now.

        The rest of your post rings true to me, and I would be fine with Ng, although she should have already been named GM of either the Dodgers or the Phillies or the Mets, teams that match her background better.

  • Billy Lybarger

    Homies? Bros? Chicks? And frat boy allegiance? This is a side unseen before that I’m not entirely sure I am comfortable with, Dogg.