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July 29, 2011

On the Beat

The Next General Managers

by John Perrotto

General managers are never more in the spotlight than they are this week in the days leading up to Sunday's deadline to makes trades without securing waivers on players. How well some of the GMs navigate these next three days could determine their future. Make the right move and get your team to the postseason, and it could result in a contract extension. Fail to improve your club and finish out of the money, and you could be out of a job.

Working under the assumption that at least some GMs will be let go at the end of the season, let's take a look at 10 general manager prospects. Former colleague Will Carroll started this exercise in 2008 and continued it last year. One rule here is that anyone who was on Will's lists cannot be repeated. The list, presented in alphabetical order, was compiled following consultation with front office executives, scouts, and baseball writers.

Rob Antony
Position: Twins assistant general manager
College: Minnesota
Experience: Antony has spent his entire 25-year professional baseball career with the Twins. He began as assistant media relations director in 1988 and was promoted to media relations director in 1991, director of baseball operations in 1995, and his current post in 2007.
Why he'd make a good GM: Antony has done just about everything in his career, from dealing with the media, player evaluation, and administrative work to handling budgets. He is a bright and personable guy who learned how to win on a shoestring budget in the pre-Target Field days, which would make him an ideal small-market GM.

Al Avila
Position: Tigers vice president/assistant general manager
College: St. Thomas
Experience: Avila was an intern with the Dodgers in 1986 and general manager of the Daytona Beach franchise in the High-A Florida State League in 1987 before serving as the head coach at St. Thomas for five seasons from 1988-92. The Marlins hired him as their assistant director of Latin American operations in 1992. He then was promoted to director of Latin America operation in 1994, scouting director in 1998, and assistant GM in 2001. He served a brief stint with the Pirates as a special assistant to the GM in 2002 before joining the Tigers in his current position later that year.
Why he'd make a good GM: Baseball is in his blood, as his father, Al Avila Sr., was a legendary scout with the Dodgers. Avila had a big hand in building two World Series winners with the Marlins and a pennant-winning club in the American League. He has an outstanding reputation in the game for both his scouting and administrative acumen.

Josh Boyd
Position: Rangers professional scouting director
Experience: Boyd was a writer for Baseball America before becoming an area scout with the Padres in 2004. He joined the Rangers in 2008 as their assistant director of pro scouting and was promoted to his current post in 2010.
Why he'd make a good GM: He has an encyclopedic knowledge of the pool of professional players and quickly made his way into management with one of the most progressive-thinking organizations in baseball after just four years in the game. He has outstanding talent evaluation skills and has played an important role in the Rangers' scouting efforts in the Far East.

Tyrone Brooks
Position: Pirates baseball operation director
College: Maryland
Experience: Brooks began his career with an 11-year stint with the Braves from 1996-2006, serving as a baseball operations trainee, baseball operations assistant, area scouting supervisor, player personnel assistant, and director of baseball operations. He was a professional scout with the Indians from 2007-09 before joining the Pirates in his current capacity last year.
Why he'd make a good GM: Nobody has better people skills than Brooks, a likeable guy who has never met a stranger. Brooks believes in the power of networking to the point that he began the Baseball Industry Network on Linkedin.com that now has more than 7,000 members from all levels of the game. Though he does not have the title, Brooks essentially serves as the Pirates' assistant GM.

John Coppolella
Position: Braves baseball administration director
College: Notre Dame
Experience: Coppolella started from the bottom up, interning with the Lake Elsinore franchise in the High-A California League in 1997 and 1998 and the Angels in 1999 before being hired by the Yankees as a baseball operations assistant in 2000. The Yankees promoted him to assistant director of pro scouting in 2003. He joined the Braves in his current role in 2006.
Why he'd make a good GM: Coppolella is a sharp guy, having graduated magna cum laude from the business school at Notre Dame, where he served as the head manager for the football team, shades of Indians GM Chris Antonetti holding the same role with the Georgetown basketball program. Coppolella also has an outstanding pedigree, as he has worked for two of the game's most prestigious franchises.

Bobby Evans
Position: Giants vice president of baseball operations
College: North Carolina
Experience: Evans has spent 18 years with the Giants, starting as an administrative assistant in the minor-league department in 1994 and moving up to assistant player development director in 1995, director of minor-league administration in 1998, and his current post in 2009. Evans interned in the Red Sox' player development and scouting departments in 1989 and joined the Commissioner's office upon graduating from college in1991, spending three years in Major League Baseball's baseball operations and minor-league departments before joining the Giants.
Why he'd make a good GM: He has spent 20 years in baseball learning the game from the bottom up, and he has a great understanding of scouting and player development, major-league rules and contract negotiations. Giants GM Brian Sabean has been willing to delegate much responsibility to Evans, who handles it all with aplomb.

Dan Jennings
Position: Marlins vice president of player personnel and assistant general manager
College: William Carey
Experience: Jennings began his professional career in 1986 as a part-time scout with the Reds while in the midst of a four-year stint as the head coach at Davidson High School in Mobile, Alabama. The Mariners hired him as an area scout in1988 and promoted him to Midwest crosschecker in 1995 before the expansion Devil Rays hired him as their first scouting director later that year. He then joined the Marlins in 2002.
Why he'd make a good GM: Jennings is as astute a talent evaluator as anybody in the game, and he played a major role in assembling the talent that eventually turned the Rays from a laughingstock into a pennant winner. He has also played a major role in keeping the Marlins competitive with low payrolls. The Marlins have Jennings under contract through 2015 and are reluctant to grant permission for other teams to talk to him.

Bryan Minniti
Position: Nationals assistant general manager
College: Pittsburgh
Experience: Minniti interned with the Pirates while in college in 2001, was hired as a part-time assistant in their baseball operations department upon graduation a year later, and was promoted to full-time status in 2004. He became director of baseball operations when Neil Huntington was hired as GM and served as the de facto assistant GM from 2008-09 before being hired by the Nationals.
Why he'd make a good GM: He is extremely diligent and a very hard worker who can often be found in the office late at night and into the wee hours of the morning. He double majored in statistics and mathematics at Pitt, giving him a strong understanding of sabermetric principals. However, he has also developed a deep understanding of the scouting side.

Jamie Moyer
Position: Free agent pitcher recovering from Tommy John surgery
College: Saint Joseph's
Experience: Major-league pitcher for 24 seasons with the Cubs (1986-88), Rangers (1989-90), Cardinals (1991), Orioles (1993-95), Red Sox (1996), Mariners (1996-2006), and Phillies (2006-10).
Why he'd make a good GM: He might be the smartest pitcher of his generation—we still must talk about him in the present tense, as he plans to make a comeback from Tommy John next season at age 49—as he has won 267 games in the big leagues by outthinking hitters in order to compensate for a lack of stuff. Moyer has also always showed a deeper understanding of the issues surrounding the game than most players.

Kim Ng
Position: Major League Baseball Senior Vice President for Baseball Operations.
College: Chicago
Experience: Ng started her career as a special projects analyst with the White Sox from 1991-94 and was promoted to baseball operations director in 1995. She became the American League director of waivers and records in 1997 before moving to the Yankees and serving as vice president and assistant GM from 1998-2001. She jumped to the Dodgers in the same role in 2002, then joined the Commissioner's office this past March.
Why she'd make a good GM: Ng knows the machinations of a front office inside and out, and it is universally agreed that she is more than ready to become a GM. The only thing now is for a club to be willing to have the fortitude to be a groundbreaker and make Ng baseball's first female GM.

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Rumors and Rumblings: Astros GM Ed Wade, who will almost certainly be fired by new owner Jim Crane at the end of the season, has let teams know that all of his team’s veterans are available, including left-hander Wandy Rodriguez, right-hander Brett Myers, shortstop Clint Barmes, center fielder Michael Bourn, and right fielder Hunter Pence. Wade has cut the payroll from $105 million to $72 million over the last two years, and Crane wants it much lower in 2012… The Brewers, having likely lost second baseman Rickie Weeks (ankle) for six weeks, inquired about Barmes but were turned off by the Astros' asking price of top prospect Wily Peralta. The Brewers have interest in a number of other infielders, including the Dodgers' Jamey Carroll, the Marlins' Omar Infante, and the Mariners' Adam Kennedy… The Phillies have stepped up their pursuit of Pence, who now seems likely to be traded by the end of the weekend… The Tigers continue to pursue a starting pitcher, with Dodgers right-hander Hiroki Kuroda and Rodriguez at the top of their list. Kuroda is also the Yankees' fallback option if they are unable to make a deal for Rockies right-hander Ubaldo Jimenez.

The Yankees and Red Sox are expected to be the two hottest suitors for Mariners left-hander Erik Bedard if he gets through his first start tonight since coming off the disabled list without incident. The Mariners would gladly unload infielders Chone Figgins and Jack Wilson and designated hitter Jack Cust and will listen on closer Brandon League and left-hander Jason VargasPhil Hughes could lose his spot in the Yankees' rotation if Ivan Nova pitches well on Saturday, when he will be recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to pitch one of the games of a doubleheader against the Orioles… The Cubs are telling teams that everyone but shortstop Starlin Castro could be had in the right deal, and third baseman Aramis Ramirez might now be convinced to waive the no-trade clause in his contract… The Pirates have interest in Twins left fielder Jason Kubel, Rays first baseman Casey Kotchman, and Orioles first baseman Derrek Lee… The Diamondbacks have decided either to stand pat at the deadline or, at the most, make a minor move.

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Scouts' views

Marlins center fielder Mike Cameron: "He's starting to show some life the last couple of weeks. He's moving better in the outfield, and he is showing a little pop, too. I thought he was cooked with Boston about a month ago, but it looks like he's not done yet.

Orioles right-hander Jeremy Guthrie: "He needs a change of scenery in the worst way. He pitches defensively at times because he knows he has no margin for error pitching for that club. I know he has the reputation for being soft, but if I'm a contender, I'd trade for him. He's got the stuff to be a winner on a good team."

Phillies left-hander Cole Hamels: "He's pitching like he did when he was the star of the postseason in 2008. He has that same mound presence he had in '08, and he's been dominating all year. There hasn't been a No. 3 starter like this since John Smoltz was pitching behind Greg Maddux and Tom Glavine in the Braves' rotation. How'd you like to be down 2-0 in the postseason and have to face Cole Hamels in Game 3? No thanks."

Red Sox second baseman Dustin Pedroia: "I think he's playing even better than during his MVP season (in 2008). He's hitting everything the pitchers throw up there and hitting it hard. The Red Sox have so many great players, but he's their heart and soul. When he's playing well, they're playing well."

Cubs first baseman Carlos Pena: "At this point, he's more valuable to the Cubs as trade bait. He can help a contender. He has his drawbacks, especially with all the strikeouts, but he can still pop the ball out of the park and play pretty good defense, and he's a great clubhouse guy."

John Perrotto is an author of Baseball Prospectus. 
Click here to see John's other articles. You can contact John by clicking here

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