I interviewed two general managers at the Winter Meetings: Ned Colletti and Ruben Amaro. It was kinda neat. They’re important people and talking to them made me feel sort of important. It was for TV, and I’m sort of liking this TV stuff. And of course talking to guys like that — and the assistants who assist them — is a good way to learn neat things that will eventually benefit you guys. Of course you interview those guys if they are good enough to give you a bit of their time to do it.
But I gotta tell ya: dudes like that aren’t exactly forthcoming. I knew that would be the case before the interviews and, as the interviews were happening, I was amazed at just how smoothly and cheerfully each of them were able to tell me absolutely nothing. Especially Amaro. I know he’s a Ninja and everything, but I had no idea that he had mastered the Jedi mind trick too. I haven’t looked at the tape for a while, but I’m pretty sure he told me that those were not the droids I was looking for. And I nodded happily.
But while the interviews weren’t the most illuminating things ever, Colletti and Amaro were just doing their jobs. Let’s face facts: there is zero upside to them telling me something of real substance. The offseason is about the art of negotiation and the art of negotiation depends on negotiators having superior information to their adversaries. Sure, Amaro could tell me and the TV audience that he wanted nothing more in the world than to sign Dontrelle Willis, but if he had it would have made that negotiation somewhat tougher for him. Why bother?
But I will say this: at least Amaro and Colletti were honest in the information they did provide. Even if they weren’t forthcoming, there was nothing they said that could be construed as misleading. As Ben Lindbergh chronicles over at Baseball Prospectus today, the same can’t be said of many general managers:
Inspired by the first item on the list below, I asked the BP staff for other instances in which a GM was less than forthcoming about his plans. Here are a few examples that show why it’s best to exercise some caution before buying into everything your friendly neighborhood baseball executive says …
What follows are seven pretty hilarious instances of general managers — leading off with Jerry “we’re not gonna spend money on guys like Albert Pujols” Dipoto — saying one thing and then doing something completely different.
It’s a great read, and a great reminder to put almost zero stock in anything a guy running a baseball team says.
Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News reports that the Giants have signed catcher Nick Hundley. It’s a major league deal worth $2 million.
Hundley, who is 33, but who seems like he’s been in the bigs for about 27 years, hit .260/.320/.439 with 10 homers in 83 games for the Rockies last season. Obviously he will be the backup given the presence of Buster Posey.
Major League Baseball has experienced inconsistent progress in its efforts at promoting diversity and social responsibility in recent years despite making it a league priority. Today it has announced several changes in its leadership structure in these areas, with Commissioner Manfred saying, “As the sport of Jackie Robinson and Roberto Clemente, we have a responsibility to uphold and honor their legacies, especially in ensuring that our sport and business practices are as inclusive, diverse and socially-conscious as possible.”
To that end:
- Billy Bean has been promoted to Vice President and Special Assistant to the Commissioner. This is a newly-created and elevated position in which Bean will continue his efforts at promoting human rights issues important to Major League Baseball, with a particular focus on LGBT and anti-bullying efforts. He has done such work since 2014 as its Ambassador for Inclusion, but putting him at the vice presidential level and having him answer directly to Commissioner Manfred increases his profile and that of his mission;
- Renée Tirado, has been promoted to Vice President of Talent Acquisition and Diversity & Inclusion. Tirado had previously served as Senior Director of Recruitment. She will direct the implementation of recruitment plans and procedures to support MLB’s staffing objectives and will oversee MLB’s Diversity Pipeline Program. As you may recall, Major League Baseball has struggled mightily in these effort in recent years, and has admitted as much; and
- Melanie LeGrande has been promoted to Vice President of Social Responsibility. She previously served as MLB’s Director of Community Affairs. Her job will be to develop and enhance the initiatives that support MLB’s position in the community and oversee MLB’s community investments, nonprofit/non-governmental organization partnerships, large-scale disaster relief efforts and employee volunteer engagement.
Manfred said, “the promotions of Billy, Renée and Melanie reflect our commitment to have strong, innovative leadership in place that aligns our industry objectives with a desire to be effective corporate citizens.”
While all of these are current employees who have served in roughly similar roles. A business’ organizational chart says much about how much that business values various functions and initiatives. In keeping with Manfred’s comments, that all three of these people have been promoted to the vice presidential level is a strong signal from MLB about what it wants.
Now all it has to do is follow through and get what it wants.