Bob Nightengale of USA Today has a story about how, increasingly, front offices are no longer led by a GM and his employees. There are presidents of baseball operations and vice presidents and two and three-headed monsters like we’re seeing in Chicago and Los Angeles and Miami. And whatever weirdness is going on in Atlanta where there is a president and a vice president of baseball ops, but no GM.
Nightengale talks of the potential confusion this all may cause — Dave Stewart has a good quote about how, if he wanted to make a trade with the Dodgers, he’s not sure who he’d call — but this just seems more like evolution to me.
We didn’t have bench coaches before, now we do. Most teams now have assistant hitting coaches. Entire new departments devoted to analytics exist. It just makes sense that as everything in operations becomes more complicated and granular, management will be require more resources and people as well. A mom and pop store — which some baseball teams still vaguely resembled as late as the 1980s — can be run by one person. A complex corporation really can’t.
In December we’ll hear older guys talking about the days when GMs met in the bar at the Winter Meetings and did deals on the back of napkins. Part of the reason that can’t happen anymore is that GMs, by themselves, don’t make deals nearly as often as they used to. It’s a team effort, and if members of your team become more important, they will become recognized and earn recognition in the form of titles, higher salary and a media profile. That’s all that’s going on here, really.