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savafan
01-30-2006, 01:50 PM
http://news.enquirer.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20060129/SPT04/601290423/1071/SPT

BY KEVIN KELLY | ENQUIRER STAFF WRITER

Kevin Towers pitched seven seasons in the minor leagues, studied the game as a scout and taught it to pitchers starting out at Single-A.

The background that helped during his ascension to Padres general manager in 1995 distinguishes him even more today.

"A lot of the GMs I worked with in the early years are probably scouts now for a lot of these clubs," Towers said. "There's been kind of a new breed of young, bright minds that are innovators that have come up with new and different ways to approach the position."

A fraternity once reserved for sun-splashed baseball lifers has undergone a radical change in its membership base in recent years.

Youthful types armed with degrees from prestigious colleges, and the cost-effective ability to meld statistical analysis with traditional scouting methods as a way to build rosters, have become the GMs of choice.

"The investments going into franchises are bigger now," said Indians GM Mark Shapiro, who Baseball America picked as its 2005 Major League Executive of the Year. "As a result of the bigger investment, I think a lot of owners gain some comfort level in GMs that understand the baseball operation but also have business acumen.

"It's not an elixir, because there are bright people with all sorts of backgrounds. ... But I do think the job has evolved from just a guy that builds a 25-man roster to a guy that builds an organization."

Shapiro was 34 years old in 2001 when the Indians named him the successor to John Hart. Now 38, he still rates below the average age for a GM in Major League Baseball but is older than some of his newest contemporaries.

Including Reds interim GM Brad Kullman, who is one of six the Reds initially have identified as candidates for the job, nine GMs are younger than the 44-year-old league average.

Three of the five GMs hired since the end of last season were 35 years old or younger.

"I think the only thing I really have in common with the new-breed GM is my college education," said Shapiro, who graduated from Princeton with a history degree. "Other than that, I'm a lot older than a lot of these guys.

"I worked for a lot more years in the game, too."

Jon Daniels unseated Theo Epstein of the Red Sox, a Yale graduate, as the youngest-ever GM in baseball when the Rangers promoted him in October. A 1999 graduate of Cornell - he earned a degree in applied economics and management - Daniels was 28 years and 41 days old at the time.

The Diamondbacks named Josh Byrnes, a 35-year-old assistant general manager with the Red Sox, as their GM less than a month later. The Devil Rays followed soon after by installing Andrew Friedman, 29, as their executive vice president of baseball operations.

More young prospects are on the way, too. The Reds were interested in Shapiro's top assistant, Chris Antonetti, but the 30-year-old statistical whiz withdrew his name from consideration.

It also appears only a matter of time before Dodgers vice president and assistant general manager Kim Ng, who interviewed for that team's vacancy in November, becomes the first-ever female GM in Major League Baseball.

The 37-year-old began her career in baseball as an intern with the White Sox in 1990.

Ng owns three World Series rings gained from her time as an assistant GM with the Yankees from 1998-2001, and she could draw some interest from the Reds before their hiring process is completed.

"In America today, if we can strive as a group to bring in the best candidates, I think someone like Kim won't be overlooked down the line," said former Dodgers GM Dan Evans, who hired Ng in Los Angeles and now is a special assistant to Mariners GM Bill Bavasi. "Clearly she has displayed that she has a lot of the attributes that people look for in people running baseball teams."

The employment of younger GMs is not an entirely new development.

In 1992, the Reds promoted Jim Bowden from director of player development. He was 31 years old. In 1993, the Padres hired Randy Smith, then 29. In 1998, the Yankees promoted Brian Cashman from assistant GM. He was 30 years old. In 2004, the Dodgers hired 31-year-old Paul DePodesta, a top assistant under Billy Beane in Oakland, but fired him after two seasons.

"I think general managers of years ago lasted a little bit longer because they would have a plan, stay by that plan and build for the long term," said Brewers GM Doug Melvin, who began his baseball career as a minor-league pitcher in the Pirates' farm system in 1972. "To build for the long term is a little bit tougher nowadays because of arbitration, because of free agency, because of the market sizes."

Melvin, 53, is the sixth-oldest GM in baseball behind Pat Gillick (68) of the Phillies, John Schuerholz (65) of the Braves, Bill Stoneman (61) of the Angels, Walt Jocketty (54) of the Cardinals and Mike Flanagan (54) of the Orioles.

Jocketty and Flanagan are the only members of the sextet that arrived at their present job with no previous major-league GM experience. Each of the six, however, was 41 years old or older when he landed his first GM job.

"Some of the old-school GMs that maybe came from a scouting background, I think they need to be open-minded toward the statistical side of the game," Towers said. "That is an important way to look at players nowadays.

"GMs that are close-minded to that approach and not open to new ideas and new ways of doing things, I think they may find themselves out of the business."

The increased attention on evaluation through statistical analysis and database research reshapes the way teams judge and develop players.

During the news conference announcing the dismissal of Dan O'Brien as Reds GM, new owner Bob Castellini made reference to sabermetrics.

The term relates to an acronym for the Society for American Baseball Research (SABR). It is a philosophy of objective analysis, through statistics, that goes well beyond simple batting and earned run averages.

"I'm a believer in having statistical analysis," Melvin said. "But I also know there are so many variables that can happen in a game that you just can't totally rely on stats."

Executives are quick to cite the importance of not overlooking the human element. Computers and calculators cannot account for team chemistry, people skills and the trained eyes of professional scouts.

"That's the beauty of the game," said Shapiro, whose team utilizes a sophisticated database called DiamondView to help evaluate players. "I think if you slant too far to either side of the equation you're missing an opportunity to evaluate all the data. Part of the data is statistical analysis. Part of the data is medical information. Part of the data is personality information. And part of the data is scouting evaluation."

He continued: "Those are all the variables that exist along with the financial component, and then you've got to weigh those variables and weigh the strength of your information and make a good decision."

Aronchis
01-30-2006, 06:58 PM
If Cast wants moneyball to be a signifigent part of the Reds, he might be forced to accept Kullman as GM for now.

IslandRed
01-31-2006, 11:55 AM
If Cast wants moneyball to be a signifigent part of the Reds, he might be forced to accept Kullman as GM for now.

If Castellini had bought Moneyball hook, line and sinker, he'd at least be talking to DePodesta.

Going back to the other thread where folks were saying they couldn't get a read on the type of GM he wanted, I don't think Castellini has a philosophical position staked out. To steal a line from myself that I stole from someone else way back when, he doesn't seem to care about old school versus new school -- he just wants good school.

Aronchis
01-31-2006, 09:26 PM
If Castellini had bought Moneyball hook, line and sinker, he'd at least be talking to DePodesta.

Going back to the other thread where folks were saying they couldn't get a read on the type of GM he wanted, I don't think Castellini has a philosophical position staked out. To steal a line from myself that I stole from someone else way back when, he doesn't seem to care about old school versus new school -- he just wants good school.

Who knows he hasn't and Depodesta didn't outright refuse him? The fact is, the Reds job isn't attractive right now. Cast is going will have to put his foot down and let his boy run with it, whether it be Kullman or a Bowden type like Jennings.

Ron Madden
02-01-2006, 06:00 AM
Sometimes I think the book Moneyball has done more harm than good to guys like Epstein, and Kullman.

Most folks Fear change. Old school baseball executives, GMs, Managers, Beat writers and even fans shy away from things that are new to us.

I'm old but I'm willing to learn.

REDREAD
02-01-2006, 10:02 AM
I'm not convinced that Kullman is "moneyball" in a good way.

I know we want to believe that, but I'm not convinced.

Bowden used a lot of stats and computer models as well. Keep that in mind.