Play Ball! The Best, Brightest and Worst Baseball Executives of All Time
3 Best General Managers of All Time
• Edward Grant Barrow: New York Yankees’ GM/Business Manager, October 19, 1920 – 1939; Won 14 World Championships.
• Wesley Branch Rickey: Brooklyn Dodgers, President / General Manager, 1942 – 1950. Broke the color barrier by bringing up Jackie Robinson.
• Pat Gillick: Turned four teams into big winners: Toronto Blue Jays, Baltimore Orioles, Seattle Mariners and Philadelphia Phillies
Greatest Teams of all time (based on winning percentage)
1902: Pirates G.M. was Branch Rickey
1906: Cubs GM was Jim Hendry
1909: Pirates, still Branch Rickey
2001: Mariners, GM Pat Gillick
1927: Yankees: GM Ed Barrow
There are only FOUR GMs in the baseball hall of fame
• Edward Barrow (NY Yankees)
• Branch Rickey (St. Louis Cardinals-Brooklyn Dodgers)
• George Weiss (NY Yankees)
• Larry McPhail (St. Louis Cardinals)
Ranking Today’s Smartest 5 General Managers (and why)
• Andrew Freedman: Tampa Bay. No money, bad stadium, still wins.
• Billy Beane: Oakland A’s. Revolutionized the game.
• John Mozeliak, St. Louis: Traded Albert Pujols and guess what? Team got better and won the World Series.
• Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers. Trading guru.
• Brian Sabean, S.F. Giants. Proves pitching wins. Won 2 World Series in past 4 years.
The New Breed of baseball GMs
Major League playing experience among GMs has decreased over the past 20 years (27% in 1989 to 23% in 1999 to 10% now).
In 1989, 69% of GMs had undergraduate degrees, while in 1999 and 2009, 80% had a four-year degree.
In both 1989 and 1999, only one GM had his degree from an Ivy League institution, whereas in 2009, four GMs had Ivy League degrees. Average age of GMs has decreased over the past 20 years, except in 2009 (52.2 in 1989, 45.8 in 1999, 47.1).
First-time general managers have been hired at a younger and younger age since 1989 (46.3, 41.1, 39.7), and the number of GMs over 60 and under 40 have gone from six and one in 1989, respectively, to zero and five in 2009. Almost all GMs have held scouting or talent evaluation positions at one point in their careers (81% in 1989, 87% in 1999, 90% in 2007).
50% of 1989 GMs began their careers in the minors, but that number has decreased significantly to 3% in 1999 and 10% in 2009. There were more GMs in 1989 (23%) that had extensive non-baseball business experience than in 1999 (7%) and 2009 (3%).
Why being a G.M. is the toughest job in pro sports
• Have to satisfy crazy millionaire owner whims
• Have to scout, acquire talent all over the world
• With no salary cap, have to budget money at whatever amount owner wants. Some teams have big payrolls: NY, Boston, L.A., others don’t: Houston, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay.
• Contract negotiations. Have to know when to trade high priced players. Have to deal with agents.
• GMs must keep tabs on basically every player in the Major League, as well as a good portion of the Minor Leaguers for call ups, trades
• Build a farm system. GMs must monitor the production and development of their Minor League teams and players if they are to have a successful farm system
• Pressure of yearly draft of high school and college player
But being a GM can pay well: $2 Million: salary of the highest paid G.M. in baseball, Brian Cashman, NY Yankees
They Find Ways to Win
• Doing More with Less Money. Moneyball is born. GM Billy Beane, Oakland As. Has made playoffs with among the lowest payroll in the game.
• Doing More with More Money. NY Yankees, Atlanta Braves, Los Angeles Dodgers.
• Buying the Championship: Florida Marlins, Arizona Diamondbacks
• Winning with Superstars: San Francisco Giants.
• Winning without Superstars: Tampa Bay Rays
Best Turnarounds in Baseball history
• 2013 World Champion Boston Red Sox were the most recent
• GM Ben Cherington engineered the turnaround,
• How he did it: hired new manager, got rid of older players
• Record was 69-93 in 2012. Last place
• Won 94 in 2013 and the championship one year later
1991: Two worst to first teams, The Atlanta Braves and Minnesota Twins, meet in World Series. Minnesota wins.
1992: Philadelphia Phillies last in the East
1993: Phillies win National League East title.
7: number of teams going from worst to first in the last 17 seasons (year they finished first):
• San Francisco in 1997
• San Diego in 1998,
• Arizona in 1999 and 2007,
• the Chicago Cubs in 2007,
• Tampa Bay in 2008
• Arizona again in 2011
• Boston in 2013.
Only twice has the worst-to-first team won a division a second year in a row — the Cubs in 2008 and Atlanta in 1992.
14: Turnaround complete: The Braves went from worst to first, then went on to claim a professional-sports record 14 consecutive division titles.
These teams went from worst to 1st, but lost in the World Series:
• 1991 Braves
• 1998 Padres
• 2008 Rays
Reign of Error: Worst modern-day GM ever?
• M. Donald Grant, New York Mets (1277-1550, .452, 17 seasons)
• Old school: Viewed players as indentured servants
• Refused to accept free agency
• Refused to pay anything close to market value for top talent.
• Traded icon Tom Seaver, an event which still drives many Mets fans nuts.
• Traded Nolan Ryan in 1971.
5 Bonehead GM moves
• The curse: On Jan. 5, 1920, Red Sox sell Babe Ruth, to the Yankees for $125,000, plus a $300,000 loan.
• In 1965, Cincinnati Reds send Frank Robinson to Baltimore Orioles.
• Kansas City Athletics trade Roger Maris to NY Yankees. In 1961, Maris hits 61 homers.
• Oakland Athletics trade first baseman Mark McGwire to the St. Louis Cardinals. McGwire then hits 70 and 65 home runs for Cards.
• NY Mets trade Nolan Ryan to California Angels. Ryan becomes one of the greatest pitchers of all time.