The Orioles have had the entire playoffs to start to figure out who they want to hire to be in charge of baseball operations. They’ve had longer than that when you consider that they probably knew before the end of the season that they would be replacing Dan Duquette in that role. The World Series is over and the Orioles, according to MLB Network’s Jon Morosi, are still not yet close in determining who the new boss will be.
Morosi also reported on a handful of names who his sources say have been considered as possible candidates: former Red Sox general manager Ben Cherington, MLB’s Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations Kim Ng, Astros scouting director Mike Elias, and Athletics assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz.
The Orioles have had the official opening at the head of the baseball operations department since October 3 and this is the first time that a number of names have dribbled out into the public awareness. One Orioles beat writer previously characterized the whole process as taking place “under a cone of silence” - decidedly not the norm for this team.
Even now, there isn’t a lot to go off of as far as knowing what has taken place and what’s still left to be done. Are the Orioles still winnowing down to a short list? Do Morosi’s named candidates consist of people who have already interviewed and are already on the short list? When might this slow process reach its conclusion? These remain unanswered.
It’s difficult for even informed fans of a given baseball team to have an educated opinion about various candidates for a general manager-type role and what might make one preferable to the rest.
Who has a good philosophy for building a baseball team? Who will be able to hire good subordinates to whom they can delegate important tasks? Are they suited to handling intra-organization conflicts as well as dealing with the media?
These are questions that will surely come up in a competent interview process and even then, there has to be a leap of faith taken with the candidate they like the best. Somebody can give a good answer across a table and then prove to be thoroughly mediocre at actually doing a job.
As we learned during the last GM search, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for a qualified candidate to decide that they do not want to get involved under whatever restrictions the ownership group is putting on them. In announcing Duquette’s departure, the Orioles stated that the new head of the baseball operations department “will have the final determination on all baseball matters,” but it could be that after a private interview, not every candidate will believe them.
In brief, the qualifications of each:
Cherington joined the Red Sox in 1999, first hired by none other than Duquette, probably because Cherington, like Duquette, graduated from Amherst College. He worked his way up to an assistant GM role in 2009 and eventually became the GM after Theo Epstein went to Chicago. So he worked for the Red Sox for three of their World Series titles and was the GM for one of these. Presently, Cherington is an assistant GM with the Blue Jays.
Ng had her first full-time role with an MLB team with the White Sox in 1991, working her way up to an assistant GM role with the Yankees in 1998. At the time, she was the youngest assistant GM in MLB. Ng moved to an assistant GM position with the Dodgers in 2001 and stayed there through 2011, when she joined MLB’s offices. She would be the first woman to hold a general manager role.
Elias has been working for the Astros since 2012. The appeal of someone who was partially responsible for building the Astros through the draft from their 107-loss team in 2012 to their 2017 championship team is obvious. Elias has been in his present role, with a full title of assistant general manager, scouting and player development, since 2016.
Kantrovitz has been in his role with the Athletics since November, 2014. A press release announcing his hire at the time described the role as “all aspects of the A’s baseball operations department with a primary focus on overseeing statistical analysis for evaluating and targeting players in the amateur draft, free agent, and trade markets.” If Kantrovitz was whispering the right things that helped build this year’s 97-win Athletics team, the appeal is again obvious.
Players who are free agents will be free to sign with any team starting Friday at 5pm. If the Orioles aren’t close to finding their new boss, it seems unlikely they will have someone in place by then. As they don’t figure to be active on the free agent market, this doesn’t really matter, but the World Series is over and it’s time to get somebody in charge so they can start hiring people and carrying out a plan to rebuild a successful Orioles team.