April 23, 2010

MLB’s Top 15 GMs

By: Tim Marchman

MLB’s Top GMs


Here is a great article by a Sports Illustrated writer characterizing the top GMs and why. He goes into some detail about how it’s tough to rate GMs adequately due to the different funds each get, expectations (Yankees have to win the World Series vs. the Orioles just don’t want to finish dead last), and longevity. But I’ll add my 2 cents (because you all care so much) when I agree of disagree.
-I agree with his top 3, however, Brian Cashman doesn’t deserve as much credit. Yes he has all those World Series rings, but come on! Any mistake he makes (not grabbing Johan for a combo of Kennedy, Joba, and/or Hughes) can be quickly wiped clean with all his cash. He misses on a prospect, oh well, lets sign Texeira. And like any other team, when their core players are about to leave via free agency, ie. Tampa Bay Crawford/Pena, he has the cash to keep them together (Rivera, Jeter, Posada). Yes he’s done a good job, but he’s not an innovator like Friedman, or a trend setter like Epstein. He follows suit, steals clubs’ ideas, and has the cash to make it happened quicker or cover any mistake.

1. Andrew Friedman, Tampa Bay Rays

For as much praise as the Rays have received over the last few years, they've probably deserved even more. Over the last three years they've spent just a million dollars per marginal win, the sort of thing that gets baseball wonks to draw hearts around pictures of Friedman. Maybe the best example of their method is the preposterous contract to which they signed Evan Longoria during his first days as a major leaguer -- if the Rays exercise all the options in the contract, they could end up paying him less than $50 million through his age 30 season, which makes him the single most valuable commodity in baseball. Friedman has also won a pennant and maintains one of the game's best farm systems. It may seem absurd to say of a 32-year-old whom few people had heard of a year and a half ago, but he and his braintrust are the best in baseball.

2. Theo Epstein, Boston Red Sox

Among baseball's really big spenders, the Red Sox are the most efficient, or, if you prefer, the least wasteful. It's difficult to avoid roster bloat while playing even-up with the Yankees, but they've managed it. Before signing starter John Lackey this winter, they didn't have a player making more than $14 million per year, and the team is built around cheap, homegrown talent. Like the Rays, the impressive thing about the Red Sox is that they may deserve even more hype than they get.

3. Brian Cashman, New York Yankees

Cashman's weakness isn't a small one -- the Yankees, the only team in baseball to routinely run $200 million payrolls, have recently been spending about four times as much per win as the Rays. Why, then, does he rank so high? His four world championships don't hurt, but the really impressive thing is that since he secured full control over baseball operations after the 2005 season, the Yankees have spent their money wisely, signing studs like CC Sabathia rather than sure bets for decline, and traded smartly, dealing the fruits of a much-improved farm system for players still in their prime, such as Curtis Granderson.

4. Larry Beinfest, Florida Marlins

Duly noted that Michael Hill is nominally the Marlins' general manager. That said, Beinfest, technically the team's president of baseball operations, consistently gets more wins for his dollar than anyone else in baseball. Since he took over following the 2002 season, the Marlins have won a World Series and posted winning records in five of seven seasons, despite consistently ranking at or near the bottom of the majors in payroll. Beinfest has picked up players every way you can -- trading for Hanley Ramirez, acquiring Dan Uggla in the Rule 5 draft, and bringing up players from the farm -- and on the few occasions he's had money to spend, he has spent it shrewdly.
-I would have put Beinfest in front of Cashman. This guy has done an amazing job. Like Billy Beane, can you imagine how dangerous he’d be with some $$?!
5. Jack Zduriencik, Seattle Mariners

This may seem a preposterous ranking for someone who's only been in the job for a bit more than a year, but the key thing to note about Zduriencik is that he was already one of baseball's most highly regarded minds before coming to Seattle. His run of drafts for the Milwaukee Brewers in the 2000s was so good that he became the first scouting director to win Baseball America's Executive of the Year award. Since taking over the reins in Seattle, he has turned the Mariners into a contender, engineering their abrupt transformation from one of baseball's dullest organizations to one of its most progressive, such as by focusing on defensive studs such as Jack Wilson, Franklin Gutierrez and Casey Kotchman.
-Sorry, but not sold on the whole “most progressive” organizations yet. Give him a few years with all this defensive minded stuff and see how it works out. Sorry, but I’d take a SS that gives up a few errors and plunks 15+ HRs over Jack Wilson. Give me the long ball and clutch hitting, you can keep your quick glove and fancy double plays.
6. Doug Melvin, Milwaukee Brewers

There's a lingering air of unfulfilled potential about the Brewers, a sense that they took their shot two years ago when they traded for CC Sabathia and just missed (they lost in the NLDS). But Melvin made what had been perhaps baseball's blandest team relevant for the first time in decades, and he probably isn't done quite yet. Don't be surprised if he turns Prince Fielder into enough young talent to drive another serious run at a pennant.
- I like this guy. He’s ballsy. Any guy that can give up some top prospects for a sure fire starter like CC, knowingly he’s only going to stick around for one year, has some stones. Today’s age is all about developing from within, but isn’t it also about your fans? Putting a team out there that can compete? Excitement? I guarantee Brewer fans are still talking about the run their team made in 2008.
7. Dan O'Dowd, Colorado Rockies

O'Dowd has built some thrilling teams recently, and done so on the cheap. It's been a long time since the Mike Hampton and Denny Neagle debacles, and granting that he's Baseball America's reigning Executive of the Year, O'Dowd still deserves more credit than he sometimes gets. He built his team up the right way and finally solved the problem of Coors Field by overseeing the introduction of the famed humidor.

8. Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers

General managers are always going on about the virtues of building a strong farm system, and what they generally mean is that they want to win major league games so they can keep their jobs. Daniels has actually built a preposterously good system (Justin Smoak, Neftali Feliz, Derek Holland) over the last few years, bringing in talent every way you can, and now has his team positioned to contend for the next several years. That he has kept the major league team perfectly respectable on modest payrolls while overseeing this rebuilding project is really very impressive, and with a good run over the next couple of years he could well move up on this list.

9. Ken Williams, Chicago White Sox

For someone regarded even by many of his own team's fans as somewhere between daft and clueless, Williams certainly has a habit of making killer trades, identifying undervalued players and putting together winning ballclubs. His basic philosophy of running out an 85-win team every year in the expectation that in its better years it will be a serious pennant contender is a bit strange for a big city team in a small-town division, but he has a World Series ring and several division flags that say it works.

10. Billy Beane, Oakland A's

Beane really seems to have been at least matched at his own game by a generation of younger general managers who learned, to some extent, from his example. He's still a fine and creative executive, and you have to wonder what he would do in a town like New York or Chicago, but he'll have to invent some new tricks to reclaim the title of the man who does most with the least. He could justifiably be ranked higher, but considering that his team has lost at least 86 games in each of the last three years, he could also be justifiably ranked lower.

11. Josh Byrnes, Arizona Diamondbacks

I'm not quite sure if the Diamondbacks are a team whose young players haven't developed as well as they should or an extremely young team that just hasn't come all the way together yet, not that these are mutually exclusive possibilities. Either way, Byrnes has done an admirable job collecting young talent and patiently letting it develop. The odd questionable move like trading away Carlos Quentin has been more than balanced out by savvy moves such as trading for Dan Haren. There's a championship team somewhere in this collection of talent.

12. Andy MacPhail, Baltimore Orioles

He's baseball royalty and a possible future commissioner who has built first-rate clubs in Minnesota and Chicago, so the surprise of MacPhail's work in Baltimore is that he's there at all, given the Orioles' notoriously headache-inducing ownership. It's not a surprise that he's doing the job the right way. This is a lousy team, but that's because under MacPhail's stewardship they're actually rebuilding properly rather than burning money in a futile bid for 80 wins. In any other division they'd be a comer.
-I’ve read for awhile about their owner, and this guy Macphail seems to be doing a great job. The team he has now, in another other division (I’m sick of saying that. Stupid Yanks/Red Sox) would be a nice sleeper pick.
13. Dave Dombrowski, Detroit Tigers

Dombrowski hasn't had the best run lately between a string of dubious trades involving players like Jair Jurrjens and Curtis Granderson and the equally dubious contracts given players like Gary Sheffield and Dontrelle Willis. That said, you have to respect his incredible resume. He built the outstanding Montreal Expos clubs of the early 1990s, won a world championship in Miami and a pennant with a Tigers team that just three years before was arguably the worst team of all time, and he probably has still more success ahead of him.
-Again, this is a total “homer” response, and I’m going away from the mold a bit on this one, but I’ve loved most of his moves. The Renteria deal was horrible, so were the contracts handed out to Willis, Bonderman, Robertson, and Guillen, but look at where he was at that time! He just made it to the world series, was heavily favored, and should have won….why wouldn’t you resign those guys?! And the Jair Jurrgens deal? Good for him. Because if you tell him not to do that deal, he doesn’t make the Miguel Cabrera deal either! And bringing in a sure fire 1st ballot hall of famer (if he continues at his current pace) for a couple of kids you have no idea how they are going to pan out is a great deal! Gms are going to make mistakes, and they’re also going ot hit on some moves, but sitting there doing absolutely nothing is the worst thing.
14. Walt Jocketty, Cincinnati Reds

You could certainly make an argument that Jocketty should rate higher given his great success with the St. Louis Cardinals, the best team in the National League last decade. Given how much of that success came down to Albert Pujols' reign of terror, the presence of all-time great manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan's ability to nurse terrific performances out of incredibly sketchy pitching talent, though, there's only so much credit to go around.

15. Tony Reagins, Los Angeles Angels

It's hard to get Reagins much higher than this given that he has a tenure of only two years and that he can be given only so much credit for not immediately ruining one of the most consistently successful teams in baseball. Still, he has done an awful lot right, such as signing Bobby Abreu for a pittance last year and trading for players like Mark Teixeira and Scott Kazmir. Perhaps as impressive is what he hasn't done: This winter, for instance, he declined to overpay for homegrown ace John Lackey and beloved leadoff man Chone Figgins. As fits the Angels, he isn't flashy, but he has impressed so far.


-Guest Blogger J. Manning

April 22, 2010

Manning's Predictions

I know I’m a little late on this, and it’s probably cheating, but I’m going to make my predictions.

AL East: NY, Tampa Bay, Boston, Toronto, Baltimore
AL Central: Detroit (homer pick!), Minnesota, Chicago, KC
AL West: Texas, Seattle, LAA, Oakland

NY beats Detroit in 4
Tampa beats Texas in 3

Tampa Beats NY in 6

NL East: Philly, Atlanta, Florida, NY Mets, Washington
- I want to pick Washington higher because I really like what the front office is doing. They really made some great trades, moves, and draft picks the past 2 years. I think that clubs is really going to be a force to reckon with in 2 years.

NL Central: St. Louis, Cincinnati, Milwaukee, Chicago Cubs, Pittsburgh, Houston
NL West: Arizona, San Francisco, LA Dodgers, Colorado, San Diego
- Another interesting division. Lots of good and bad moves here. As much as San Diego ripped apart their team, if they can hold on to Adrian, they’ll really have a solid core.

Philly over Arizona in 4
Atlanta over St. Louis in 5

Atlanta over Philly in 7

Tampa Bay over Atlanta in 6

AL MVP: Miguel Cabrera
NL MVP: Matt Kemp
AL CY Young: Felix Hernandez
NL CY Young: Roy Halladay ßhonest, he was my preseason pick
-Not that you care, but I don’t pick rookies because there are always dudes that fly outta knowhere and steal this award. I know it’s easier with guys like Heyward, Chapman, and Strasburg, but I’ll go out on the limb and say Only 1 of those guys wins the award. Haha…

Guest blogger – J. Manning

April 20, 2010

Over The Top

Now don’t get me wrong, I really like the way baseball is right now. Honestly, in the 20 years I have watched it, these past 7ish years have been the best. Post steroid and moneyball have really turned the game I love into something special. But I’m starting to see a trend I don’t care for. Defensive metrics. Teams are building their core around defensive metrics. When guys like Adam Everett and Mike Cameron can score starting gigs on solid teams, there’s something wrong. I mean look at the Boston Red Sox! They actively pursued defensive guys foregoing signing a guy, Jason Bay, that thumped 30hrs and 100+ rbis for them! That is ridiculous! I get the preventing runs, math aspect of it, but lets step back for a second and not get to crazy for these Bill James-esque numbers. When a dude can consistently hit bombs, and strike a little fear into a pitcher, isn’t that worth the less then par defense?


- Guest blogger J. Manning

April 16, 2010

Keeper, Sleeper, Bust

This is the first edition of my Keeper, Sleeper, Bust article for 2010. In the article I will try to identify 3 players from each category. Keepers, players that are struggling but will be able to turn it around eventually; Sleepers, players that may be on your waiver wire that you should keep an eye on and; Bust, players that are struggling and don’t have what it takes to turn it around – you should either cut the bait or get out while you can. I know we are only 2 weeks into the season so I will try to concentrate on the 2nd and 3rd tier players.


Keeper

Like I said, everyone knows you should keep Arod, Fielder, Tex, Markakis, Tulowitszki, etc. as they are very likely to put up the type of numbers you are accustomed to from them year in and year out. My first Keeper player is

Aramis Ramirez- I know this isn’t really going out on a limb, but I’ve seen places that are starting to sour on him already. Barring a major injury (I expect a DL stint along the way with him) I see no reason why he can’t go 25+ HRs and 90+ RBIs with a strong AVG at a shallow position.

Jay Bruce- What is going on with this guy? He only has a couple hits through 10 games, with 0 HR! I know he has been disappointing so far, but the same owners who drafted him thinking he would breakout this year have started dropping him. I think that is a big mistake 2 weeks into the year. Although he only has 2 hits, he has hit the ball hard and his peripheral stats are in line with last year. I still see a breakout coming and 30+ HRs is a possibility.

Hunter Pence- I’m not as confident in this pick, but I still wouldn’t drop him or sell low on him just yet. The Astros have looked horrible so far and Pence hasn’t been much help and although his supporting cast isn’t stellar C Lee should bounce back and Berkman will be back at some point right...Give him a couple more weeks to figure it out as there are not many OF that can give you 25 HR and 15 SB with a .290+ avg.


Sleeper

This is a little bit tougher because there are so many places out there that provide ‘sleeper’ information and if your in a competitive league it can be hard to find those hidden gems. That said, my first choice is

Justin Masterson- As much as we’ve heard about him over the years you would think he is 30 years old. In fact he is just 24 with 2 MLB seasons under his belt already. The former Red Sox prospect seemed to figure things out a bit at the end of 2009 and has carried that into 2010. I view him as a poor mans Kevin Slowey as he doesn’t walk many batters and his K rate is going in the right direction. He may not get the Wins pitching for the Indians, but he can give you solid numbers across the board and his still available in the majority of leagues.

Alcedis Escobar- Still batting at the back end of the Brewers lineup, but how long do you think C Gomez and C Hart can keep this up (answer; not much longer). He has hit better of late and doesn’t have any competition for the starting gig. If he can make his way up to the number 2 spot ahead of Braun and Fielder the runs will start piling up, add that to a solid AVG and throw in 30 SB potential and he is definitely someone to keep an eye on.

Kosuke Fukudome- He underperformed in his first 2 years over from Japan. He also doesn’t offer a ton of power or speed. That said, when Rudy Jamarillo became the Cubs hitting coach I put him on my deep sleeper list and he has had a steady, if not spectacular, start to 2010. If he keeps up this strong start he’ll be ownable in deeper mixed leagues (he is already a good option in NL only leagues) and I think he can put up a line of 90/17/70/16/.290, which is nothing to scoff at.


Bust

This week I will offer up guys that I don’t nessesarly think should be dropped, but you should look to get something of value for them before the bottom falls out (if it hasn’t already).

Grady Sizemore- But “we’re only 2 weeks into the season” you say. Exactly, that is why he still has solid value. Benefit from that fact while you can. He has already missed a couple games due to back problems. Those types of injuries don’t go away overnight. Owners that drafted him in the 3rd/4th round will be kicking themselves by June. Don’t get me wrong, Sizemore is one of my favorite players, but the next time he shows signs of life see what you can get for him and take the best offer.

Ichiro- But make sure you are getting good value. I don’t think he is done, I just don’t think he is worth what most people do. R Davis, N Morgan and J Borbon sould all end up with the same stat line as Ichiro in 4 of the 5 categories (They won’t hit above .300 like Ichiro will) yet Ichiro is ranked much, much higher in most peoples opinions. Take advantage of that now. Also, it’s not like he has a great supporting cast in Seattle.

Alex Gonzalez- Wow, he has 4 HRs already and is hitting the ball all over the field! I have seen him added in many leagues with the thought that he is this years Marco Scutaro or Ben Zobrist. What!, you do know he is like 45 years old (slight exaggeration) and has never shown power like this before right. He is either a late bloomer, just discovered PEDs or is having a good week. I’m guessing it’s the latter. If you did pick him up, see if you can trade him to an uneducated owner, otherwise start looking for his replacement.

I hope you enjoyed the first enstalment of the Keeper, Sleeper, Busts of 2010. I’ll update the list throughout the year.

AL Wild Card

Could we see the wild card come out of the central? I know it's early...blah blah blah...but, the Twins and Tigers are really going on all cylinders! If, and that's a big IF, the Tigers pitching can hold up, and we get some solid innings from Bondo and Willis, we stand a solid chance of winning the Central. Plus, we all know how deep the Twinkies are. But here's a huge factor....Toronto. Yes, The Blue Jays. If they can keep up their winnings pace, and give Tampa, NY, and Boston more trouble, that helps immensly! From the beginging I didn't like Boston's direction, yes pitching dominates hitting, but that's for playoffs. In a 162 game season, you need loads of hitting, and Boston doesn't have it. Ortiz, Cameron, Beltre, Scuturo, and Drew? That's 5 out! Also, Paps has been on the decline for 2 years. Tampa and NY still scare me, but everything went right for NY last year. Everything! Burnett was solid, Pettite didn't show his age, along with all those other old farts. Anyway, I'm not saying it's going to happen, and it's way to early to jump into anything, but watching all the games, and players, there's a much better chance now then there was 1 month ago.

Guest - J. Manning

April 14, 2010

What we know

So, a few games are in and what can we take from them? Nelson Cruz is the best player in the league, Halladay will win 30 games, and Borbon blows! But here's a few things I'm thinking:

Polanco will slow down, but he's going to hit 0.300+ with 90+ runs
Renteria will slow down, but he does love the NL, so great sell high guy
Prado is a stud who qualifies at multiple positions. He'll have his slumps but he'll help in every category
Miggy Cabrera will win MVP
Cano will be an MVP candidate
Vlad will be a sell high guy, so will Nelson Cruz
Hardy was a great sleeper pick. I think he has a bounce back year. For some reason the Twins are great for that.
And looks like a lot of catchers are stepping up, should be fun to see where they all land at the end of the year. ex. Molina(s), Doumit, Martin...


guest writer: J. Manning

April 7, 2010

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2010 Pre Season Predictions

AL West - Mariners, Angels, Rangers, As
AL Central - Tigers, White Sox, Twins, Indians, Royals
AL East - Yankees, Rays, Red Sox, Orioles, Blue Jays
Wild Card - Rays

NL West - Giants, Diamondbacks, Rockies, Dodgers, Padres
NL Central - Brewers, Reds, Cardinals, Cubs, Pirates, Astros
NL East- Phillies, Braves, Marlins, Mets, Nationals
Wild Card - Braves

Yankees over Tigers
Mariners over Rays
Mariners over Yankees

Phillies over Brewers
Braves over Giants
Braves over Phillies

World Series - Braves over Mariners


AL MVP - Evan Longoria
NL MVP - Ryan Braun

AL Cy Young - Felix Hernandez
NL Cy Young - Roy Halladay

AL ROY - Austin Jackson
NL ROY - Jason Heyward