Longtime baseball executive Bill Lajoie, whose eye for talent helped build the Detroit Tigers team that won the 1984 World Series championship, died Tuesday. He was 76.
The key to that Tigers team’s success was not Lajoie’s general manager moves, however. It was the work he had put in the previous fifteen or sixteen years as a Tigers scout, head of scouting, assistant GM and vice president of baseball operations. During those years he found and signed Alan Trammell, Lou Whitaker, Kirk Gibson, Jack Morris and Lance Parrish. As GM his trade for Willie Hernandez prior to the 1984 season sealed the deal, however.
After leaving Detroit, Lajoie worked for the Red Sox, Dodgers, Reds, Braves and Brewers in various capacities.
As I write this, I have in front of me my 1979 Tigers yearbook. Pages 4-6 features team ownership and front office staff. Lajoie is pictured there along with 30 other random executives. He’s one of maybe three or four who look like they were born in the 20th century. I know very little about the Tigers’ front office of that era, but knowing who Lajoie and his staff were responsible for brining in to Detroit — and knowing how tradition-bound the team was under owner John Fetzer — it’s not hard to imagine that Lajoie was the first one in the office each day, the first one who had a computer desk and all of that.
Maybe that’s just fancy on my part and Lajoie was a fuddy-duddy. But he was responsible for the most comprehensive overhaul the Tigers ever experienced, and for helping put together a team against which all future Tigers teams will be measured.
Earlier today, Craig wrote about a potential shake-up in the Giants’ front office. It didn’t take long for that to come to fruition. Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area reports that the Giants have fired GM Bobby Evans.
Evans had been with the Giants for 25 years, starting in 1994 as a minor league administrative assistant. He was promoted to director of minor league operations in 1998, became the director of player personnel in 2005, then was named vice president of baseball operations in 2009. For the last four years, Evans has been the Giants’ general manager.
In part due to Evans’ influence, the Giants were quite successful, winning the World Series in 2010, 2012, and 2014. However, the last two years have been the Giants’ worst in quite some time. The club went 64-98 (.395) last year and enters Monday’s action 72-84 (.462) despite some splashy additions in the offseason (Andrew McCutchen and Evan Longoria).
There will certainly be conversations as to whether or not it’s fair that Evans is the fall guy for the Giants’ recent lack of success. But that’s part of the deal when you’re a public-facing employee in the front office of a baseball team. Pavlovic says it seems unlikely Evans remains with the organization in a different role.
The Giants have reportedly been considering hiring a “high-profile baseball operations executive” to push the team in a new direction. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Ned Colletti is the favorite to become the new GM. The offseason is still more than a month away, so the Giants have some time to stew on their candidates and not make any rash decisions.