Mark Armour and Dan Levitt have written a book: In Pursuit of Pennants, which examines how front offices have historically found innovative ways to build winning teams. In support of that, they are counting down the top-25 GMs of all time over at their blog. Since it’s slow season, I’m going to continue linking to the countdown as it’s great stuff we rarely read about in the normal course.
The Yankees were already good — heck, they had already won a World Series — when Brian Cashman took over. They had Jeter and Mo and all of those guys and more money than God. It’d be harder, under those circumstances, to lose than it would be to win, right?
Well, maybe so, maybe not. As we’ve seen constantly throughout baseball history, even teams that win a lot of games and make the playoffs often don’t always win championships. Ask anyone in Atlanta, for example. And teams that were supposed to become dynasties who make the playoffs a lot often peter out more quickly than we expect. Ask anyone in Philly, for example.
But Brian Cashman’s Yankees did not. At least not for a while. And he has four rings to show for it. Go check out Mark and Dan’s article on Cashman to see why that is and whether that, truly, makes him the 21st best general manager of all time.
Oh, and while you’re at it, go check out their bonus article on an owner who behaved like a general manager, Charlie O. Finley.
In the Daily News yesterday, Bill Madden reported that Mets owner Fred Wilpon was taken off of baseball’s executive council along with several other owners, as Rob Manfred seeks to get a new team of owners as his closest advisers. Which, sure, that makes sense. What makes less sense is that Manfred put Wilpon in charge of baseball’s finance committee.
I don’t know enough about the workings of MLB’s hierarchy to know what, exactly, the chairman of the finance council does, but Madden says the committee is “important.”
But here’s what I do know: Fred Wilpon reportedly lost as much as $700 million investing in a Ponzi scheme run by Bernie Madoff. And that wasn’t the first Ponzi scheme in which he invested. Wilpon’s defense to losing his shirt and almost losing his team was that he was wholly ignorant of what was really going on. Really: that’s the best case scenario. That he had no idea where over half a billion dollars of his own money went. The investigation of the Madoff scandal concluded that Wilpon ignored repeated warnings that should have tipped him off that he was giving his money to a fraudster.
The Ponzi schemes aside, Wilpon’s management of the Mets has turned a team in baseball’s largest and most lucrative market into what is, practically speaking, a small market, financially strapped club, buried in debt service and forced to deal with payrolls that do not allow it to meet its baseball needs in an effective manner.
I would dare say that if Major League Baseball had an intern who lost $30 entrusted to him for a lunch run, the intern would either be fired or never allowed to touch money again. Fred Wilpon is put in charge of the finance committee. Hoo boy.
That’s the question David Schoenfield of ESPN seeks to answer today. His list and methodology are here.
My only thoughts: Pedro Guerrero wuz robbed. And Number Six on his list may be accurate by the numbers, but I don’t feel like David is accurately rating the player’s leadership, heart, professionalism and class.
The Cubs have a confident first baseman. Here he is this afternoon at a Cubs Caravan stop:
You can choose to say that he’s creating bulletin board material, but no one has any damn bulletin boards anymore. You seen any of them new clubhouses? It’s all video monitors and stuff.
Also: remember, it would probably be a lot more newsworthy if a team’s biggest star said “Honestly, I’m thinking fourth place maybe? Third if another team has a bunch of injuries. I have plane reservations for October, 6th, dudes.”
Over at Baseball Think Factory Dan Lee — a fellow Columbusite who happens to be an Oregon fan, so have some sympathy for that guy for having to live here this week — posts news stories from stuff that happened 100 years ago in BTF’s daily open thread. Today’s is fantastic:
Whether you’re pro-Indians, anti-Indians, anti-Wahoo or a horrible racist, you have to admit that “The Cleveland Hustlers” would be an AMAZING name for a baseball team.