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Most of us who play fantasy baseball are wannabe general managers, but so are a few thousand well-qualified people with relevant real-world experience. ESPN's Rob Neyer has devoted two recent columns to a couple of the better candidates for that demanding position.

Last Saturday, Neyer published an e-mail interview with Tim Purpura of the Astros, named Organization of the Year by more than one respected publication. Today, Rob talks to Mike Arbuckle, assistant GM of the Phillies. Along with Paul DePodesta, who is in J.P. Ricciardi's old job at the right hand of Billy Beane, they are the next wave. It's interesting to compare their philosophies. Arbuckle is proof that "old school" values are still prominent in baseball front offices, while Purpura seems more open to new ideas. He also provides some practical career-path advice, if you really want to follow in J.P.'s footsteps.
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_Kent - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 11:43 AM EST (#100234) #
I didn't want to start a new thread with this news, but Baltimore has signed Omar Daal, who some thought would be a good fit in Toronto. Here's the view from Maryland -- I think Beat-agan would be better advised to tear everything to the ground and rebuild than to apply $7.5 MM patches to the mess they've inherited.

This does add a lefty to the AL East, one who could make 3 or 4 starts against the Jays, and possibly keep Toronto's 2002 record against the O's (15-4) from getting even more lopsided.
_Jordan - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 12:38 PM EST (#100235) #
A pair of interesting interviews, no question. Purpura comes off better than Arbuckle, to my mind anyway, for breadth of imagination and an understanding of the entire reason to be in this game: to win. I couldn't be more impressed with his player development approach: "Our core philosophy is that we are here to develop winning major-league players for the Houston Astros." And I like the fact that his group takes into account the player's personality and ability to contribute to a positive, winning atmosphere.

It's also interesting to see the rationale behind the Bobby Abreu fiasco. I can certainly understand choosing Hidalgo over Abreu at the time -- I remember reading articles about these two can't-miss Astros prospects at the time, and Hidalgo was the more highly praised -- but it's also revealing that Abreu was left unprotected partly because of his "red-ass" reputation. Today, it's Hidalgo who feuds with his manager and whose attitude is coming into question. It just goes to show that tracking personality development is as important as tracking skills development: the brash or arrogant 20-year-old kid can morph into the team-oriented 25-year-old man, if he receives the same kind of attention and instruction off the field as he receives on it. Baseball prospects are young men, some from different countries and cultures, others with sheltered or pampered upbringings that produce apparent "attitude problems" that have little to do with who they really are or can really become. But full marks to Purpura for talking about the Abreu loss and the reasons behind it. He sounds like a fine GM candidate; I just hope he doesn't end up in the AL East.

Arbuckle strikes me, perhaps unfairly, as a little dour and not very inspiring. He actually sounds like he's the perfect assistant GM, a plodding details guy who could nicely complement a more charismatic GM. At least he's open to sabrmetric analysis, though he seems somewhat suspicious of it. And anyone who uses Pat Burrell and Reggie Taylor in the same sentence needs a reality check. Am I correct in thinking that Arbuckle was one of the interviewees for the Blue Jays GM job before JP came aboard? Dodged a bullet there, if so. I do know he interviewed with the Red Sox job; it has to burn him that Theo Epstein got the job instead, a guy young enough to be his son.

I think it was Felipe Alou who noted that baseball hirings go in cycles. For a while there, new managers were recently retired players; then they were racial minorities; then they were "communicators." We now appear to be entering an "old guard" phase, with Alou himself, Dusty Baker and young veteran Buck Showalter getting work -- though there are still the Bob Melvin and Alan Trammell-type hirings to match them. Among GMs, young bucks with innovative ideas and little or no playing experience may be the newest trend, and that means guys like Arbuckle might have to wait a little longer still for the cycle to turn again.
_Jordan - Friday, January 03 2003 @ 12:42 PM EST (#100236) #
As for the Daal signing, I'm quite glad to see the Orioles continue to pour money into the fight for fourth place in the division, rather than using those millions of dollars to upgrade the farm system or improve their scouting and assessment departments. So long as Peter Angelos thinks signings like this actually move his franchise closer to success, it's one fewer team for Toronto to worry about. I'm not as happy that the Jays will face a pretty decent lefty so often this year, but they need the practice against southpaws anyway, and it might as well come against a team that poses few other threats to them. Rock on, Pete.
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