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Rob Neyer's latest is an excellent interview with the man who succeeded J.P. Ricciardi in Oakland. Asked how someone gets into a job many of us envy, Paul DePodesta brings to mind Branch Rickey's recipe for luck -- opportunity meets design.

"You have to be really lucky. That's a huge component, but there's just not much you can do about it. But you can do everything possible to put yourself into position to take advantage of an opportunity, which is doing your best to increase your luck. I went to work in the Canadian Football League and the American Hockey League, because I wanted to get as much experience in sports as I possibly could. I tried to meet as many people as I possibly could, so that should there be an opening in baseball or football or whatever, I was going to find about it, and I was going to fight for it."

Working in the CFL and AHL? That's determination. Studying at the University of Beane is a just reward for his efforts, and that will benefit a team smart enough to hire him as their next GM. The last graduating class was exceptional.
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Pistol - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 11:54 AM EST (#13138) #
I didn't realize, or more likely had forgotten, that the Jays offered him the GM job.
robertdudek - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 12:16 PM EST (#13139) #
Did they invite him to interview? Or did they actually offer him the job?
_Chuck Van Den C - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 12:26 PM EST (#13140) #
I believe DePodesta declined an offer to be considered for the job, leading Godfrey to go to the next man down in the A's hierarchy.
_Cristian - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 01:17 PM EST (#13141) #
I remember that scary time right after DePodesta had declined. I thought we were going to get stuck with Doug Melvin. Apparently Melvin's chief qualification was that he was from Ontario.
_Jacko - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 01:44 PM EST (#13142) #
Back in the fall of 2001 during the GM search, someone posted Paul Godfrey's email address on a message board, and several people emailed him suggesting Paul DePodesta as a candidate.

Not sure if that influenced the GM search or not, but Godfrey did send back personal replies to people after JP was hired saying "We couldn't get DePodesta, but we got the next best thing..."
_Spicol - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 02:12 PM EST (#13143) #
DePodesta said: A huge part of the game is dealing with people. We're glorified human-resources people.

I love this line.
Pistol - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 02:25 PM EST (#13144) #
From the interview it sounds like he got a job offer and declined........


Neyer: I've been wanting to ask you for a long time, what kind of guy has the courage to turn down a GM job?

DePodesta: (Chuckling ... ) Well, when I got the offer from the Blue Jays, I was pretty happy here.
_Matthew Elmslie - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 02:25 PM EST (#13145) #
"We couldn't get DePodesta, but we got the next best thing..."

I'd rather have Ricciardi than DePodesta. With all due respect to DePodesta; he doesn't have Ricciardi's playing/coaching/scouting background.
_Geoff North - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 02:27 PM EST (#13146) #
Is there any evidence that DePodesta would/will be a better GM than Ricciardi? While the final verdict is still out on Ricciardi, he hasn't, afterall, dealt with signing players to longterm contracts, or dealing with the Jays during the contending portion of the success cycle, he has demonstrated an acute awareness for many of the subtleties that make GMing difficult. Maybe Ricciardi was considered "the next best thing" at the time he was hired - would that assessment still hold water?

On the matter of Doug Melvin, how bad of a GM was he? The Rangers seemed to do pretty well while he was there, though taking a job with the Brewers seriously calls his intelligence into question.
_Spicol - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 03:24 PM EST (#13147) #
More on DePodesta.

At the time Godfrey was going through the interviewing process, DePodesta was being touted due to his experience and success in the financial side of Baseball Operations (he is a Harvard economics grad). That was obviously attractive to Godfrey, as the Jays had a pretty bloated payroll at the time.

Ricciardi's strength was known to be scouting and player development. It was unknown whether or not he could handle the financial and transactional side of the role. So far, with Tim McCleary's help, he's got to be given more than a passing grade on that side and his player evaluation skills seem to be nothing short of excellent. In hindsight, Ricciardi was a much better choice than DePodesta...he's more well rounded.
_Mick - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 03:53 PM EST (#13148) #
Melvin was a terrific GM. John Hart came in here and blew up his rebuilding plan to "win now" with John Rocker, Carl Everett and HOF-bound Chan Ho Park.

Now, suddenly, the stRangers are "building for the future" with Kevin Mench, Hank Blalock, Mark Teixiera, Colby Lewis, Coco Cordero, Mike Young (ouch, Jay fans), Ben Kozlowski, Laynce Nix ... seriously, there is a buttload of young talent in Arlington and ALL of it was either drafted by or traded for by ... Doug Melvin.

It's the new baseball math: build around two potential Hall of Famers you can pay (A-Rod, Raffy), fill in veterans where cheaply applicable and build with kids.

The Rangers are doing it right. Oh, no, wait, WERE doing it right. Now John Hart is waffling between doing exactly what Doug Melvin had laid out as his plan before getting dumped and trading kids to "win now." Carlos Pena for Mario Ramos? Travis Hafner for Einar Diaz?

Hey, I know! Let's sign a bunch of older (and/or injury-prone) pitchers like John Thomson, Ismael Valdes, Todd Van Poppel, Jay Powell and Ugueth Urbina to "complement" Chan Ho, and maybe just not worry about deciding who of Kozlowski, Lewis, Joaquin Benoit, Doug Davis, or heaven help Buck Showalter, even Rob Bell and Ramos ... can ... actually ... help the team.

_Sean - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 04:01 PM EST (#13149) #
Hey, Mick, what do you really think?
_Sean - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 04:02 PM EST (#13150) #
I'm ducking for cover now. ;)
Dave Till - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 06:09 PM EST (#13151) #
I'd rather have Ricciardi than DePodesta. The economics of baseball can be learned by anybody who is bright, has a head for figures, and is willing to work hard. The ability to judge whether to keep a player or get rid of him is much harder to find.
_Shane - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 09:24 PM EST (#13152) #
"He (Ricciardi) was my first choice. He (Ricciardi) was the only one that got an offer of a job."
-- Paul Godfrey, following the press conference introducing
J.P. Ricciardi
_Jonny German - Wednesday, March 12 2003 @ 10:54 PM EST (#13153) #
Mike Young (ouch, Jay fans)

That's going to require some explanation before this Jay fan feels too badly about it... sure we wasted a bunch of money on Loaiza, but that's over now and methinks the appropriate label for MikeY is "defensive specialist utility infielder". Notice no mention of a bat in there. I'll take Woodward or Hudson or Rich or Adams, you take Young.
_Jordan - Thursday, March 13 2003 @ 10:56 AM EST (#13154) #
If the Jays have established one tradition over the years, it's dealing overhyped prospects for underperforming veterans:

Mark Whiten, Glenallen Hill = Tom Candiotti

Jose Pett, Jose Silva, Abraham Nunez et al = Carlos Garcia, Orlando Merced et al

Michael Young = Esteban Loaiza

Brent Abernathy = Steve Trachsel

Are there others?
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