Every time Magic Johnson and Guggenheim money-man Mark Walter give an interview about their group taking over the Dodgers, there is a familiar refrain:
Stan Kasten is the baseball guy.
Only is he?
Kasten made his baseball name as a baseball executive. He is the former president of the Atlanta Braves and Washington Nationals.
He has never been a baseball general manager. He has been a basketball GM with the Atlanta Hawks, but once Ted Turner slid him over to the Braves, he was always an executive on the baseball side.
Still, this is what you hear from Magic: “Stan will be the baseball man. I’m not going to be picking pitchers or anything like that.”
And neither is Kasten. His general manager with the Braves was the highly respected John Schuerholz. It was Schuerholz who had the baseball background (he had been GM of the Kansas City Royals), who evaluated players, who made personnel recommendations, who put the team together.
Schuerholz is now the Braves’ president, but his roots were in baseball. Kasten is an Ivy League lawyer given credit for his comprehensive understanding of how to run a franchise. He has been involved in all aspects of running a team, including contract negotiations.
But his strength is in knowing what’s important in running a baseball organization and the best way to get it done. Expect more attention to scouting, both nationally and internationally, to the farm system and plenty of other details Frank McCourt wouldn’t understand.
Kasten is an absolute asset to this new ownership team. He’ll know what kind of team he wants. And he’ll know how to put the appropriate pieces in place, from top to bottom. Including his general manager, the baseball guy.