Old-school GMs like Royals’ Dayton Moore aren’t what teams are looking for today
The Kansas City Royals have won consecutive American League championships. The San Francisco Giants have won three World Series championships in the last six years.
The architects of those teams might not stand a chance to be hired as a general manager today. Dayton Moore, the Royals’ general manager, is 48. Brian Sabean, the Giants’ executive vice president of baseball operations, is 59. Neither attended an Ivy League school.
When the Seattle Mariners went looking for a general manager this year, this is what Mariners President Kevin Mather said he heard when he called the commissioner’s office to solicit suggestions for candidates: “I assumed you’re looking for a young, analytical, computer-nerd type.” When Mather asked why, according to the Seattle Times, he heard this: “Everyone else is.”
Said Sabean: “It’s a copycat industry. We’re all looking for every new edge.”
The Philadelphia Phillies this week hired Matt Klentak, 35 and a Dartmouth graduate, as their new general manager. His boss, Andy MacPhail, the Phillies’ president of baseball operations, is 62.
“I’m old enough to have been around when Andy MacPhail was the boy wonder,” Sabean said, chuckling. His point: trends are cyclical in any industry, not just baseball.
Moore’s background — he coached college ball before joining the Atlanta Braves as a scout — would not fit with the trend of hiring young and analytically minded executives groomed as front-office lieutenants.
“Everybody’s path to success is different,” Moore said. “There are a lot of very good people out there that come from all sorts of baseball backgrounds. I didn’t prepare myself, or plan, to be a GM one day.”
The success of the Royals and Giants is in part a testament to “Moneyball,” whose lesson was not about on-base percentage but about zigging when the rest of the sport is zagging.
Whatever a team’s philosophy, Sabean said, the key is a harmonious and “relatively egoless” dynamic among ownership, the front office, and the manager and coaches.
“It really comes down to two things: crisis management and interpersonal relationships,” he said.
“If you’re too extreme one way or the other, it can be unsettling to the players. That, as we go forward, will be the lesson learned.”
Edinson Volquez, who traveled to the Dominican Republic on Wednesday to bury his father, is expected to rejoin the Royals on Saturday and start Game 5 on Sunday, according to Kansas City Manager Ned Yost. Volquez pitched the first six innings of Game 1, after which his wife met him in the Royals clubhouse and let him know that his father had died earlier in the day. . . . Steven Matz, who is scheduled to start Game 4 for the New York Mets, grew up in nearby Long Island as a Mets fan. Matz, 24, said he has lived with his parents since returning from the disabled list in September. “I just commute,” he said. “We’re on off hours, so there’s not much traffic. It’s been pretty awesome to be able to do that.” . . . Citi Field is the seventh New York ballpark to play host to a World Series game, according to the Elias Sports Bureau, following two Yankee Stadiums, two Polo Grounds (Giants and Yankees), Ebbets Field (Dodgers) and Shea Stadium (Mets).
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