Ranking the general managers (cont.)
16. Jim Hendry, Chicago Cubs
It's tempting to overreact to a lousy 2009 and to heavily count bad contracts doled out to players such as Alfonso Soriano and Milton Bradley against Hendry, but the truth is that he built a consistently successful team that had every chance to win a World Series at its peak and just didn't, through no real fault of his. The Cubs are now likely in for a hangover as the core of that team ages, but given the team's history he was right to go for it all.
17. Frank Wren, Atlanta Braves
Swiping Jair Jurrjens for Edgar Renteria's remnants sure was a nice deal, getting rid of inexplicably adored outfielder Jeff Francoeur took some guts, and Wren has generally done a good job of keeping the Braves respectable in his two years on the job. He has a slight tendency toward making a fetish of veterans like Garret Anderson, but also shows signs of being a man on the make.
18. John Mozeliak, St. Louis Cardinals
As is true of Jocketty, it's a bit hard to know just how much credit to give Mozeliak for the Cardinals' success, given how predicated it is on the unique talents of the coaching staff and the presence of perhaps the best right-handed hitter since Rogers Hornsby. Ultimately his reputation will probably rise or sink on how wise the team's $120 million investment in Matt Holliday proves to be -- it's not at all the sort of decision a general manager makes alone, but it's one he gets the credit or blame for.
19. Ruben Amaro Jr., Philadelphia Phillies
I honestly have no idea how to rate Amaro. One pennant in one year is a nice record, and having landed two of baseball's five best pitchers -- Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee -- in trade within a few months is even better given that these were moves he alone gets credit for. On the other hand the truly strange trade sending Lee to Seattle and the odd, if so far successful, decision to sign 37-year-old designated hitter-masquerading-as-an-outfielder Raul Ibanez to a long-term contract have to count heavily against him.
20. Neal Huntington, Pittsburgh Pirates
There's something to be said for aggressively trying to clean up a disaster. The Pirates have gone longer without winning than any team ever has, and while they won't turn that around any time soon, Huntington's program of getting rid of any veteran of any value in exchange for whatever young talent he can get is absolutely the right one.
21. Bill Smith, Minnesota Twins
A bit more than two years since he took over the Twins, Smith has an ambiguous record. He had an excellent winter, filling the team's major holes on the cheap, and the team has been good. On the other hand he got an unimpressive haul for Johan Santana, and his trade of Matt Garza and Jason Bartlett for Delmon Young looks to have been a colossal botch. That he rates this low shouldn't be taken as a slight, as there's very little difference between No. 17 and No. 21.
22. Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians
Where Shapiro rates is irrelevant, as he'll be promoted up out of the general manager's position after this season, but he has to be the most overrated executive of the last few years. His Indians were widely praised as one of the best-run clubs in baseball for years, but despite immense reservoirs of talent they've had two winning seasons in his eight years at the helm, ultimately playing as less than the sum of their parts. No matter how admirable the team's process and structure are, the results just haven't been there.
23. Mike Rizzo, Washington Nationals
It's far too early to rate Rizzo fairly, as he took over last season amidst an epic meltdown, but he hasn't done anything to hurt the team and made a few nice minor moves this winter, such as snaring pitcher Jason Marquis. He rates above the next two men by a hair on the principle of seniority.
24. Alex Anthopolous, Toronto Blue Jays
Anthopolous hasn't presided over a single game yet, but he adroitly ended the Roy Halladay circus, promised greater investments in scouting and development, and hired quant guru Tom Tango as a consultant, all positive moves. He'll have to be more than brilliant to do anything in a division where 95 wins might not be enough to make the playoffs, but even if he isn't he still might well build an interesting team.
25. Jed Hoyer, San Diego Padres
A former Red Sox capo, Hoyer comes into his new job with all the potential in the world. How he handles a potential trade of star first baseman Adrian Gonzalez will be the first test of how well he'll fulfill it.
26. Omar Minaya, New York Mets
Here we start moving into the territory of those few general managers who might be said to actively harm their team's chances. In the right situation, Minaya could be an extremely successful general manager. He has a great eye for talent and a knack both for picking up unappreciated players in trade and for nailing the big move. He is not in the right situation, and a team that should be dominating the National League is essentially imploding on his watch. At least some of the blame goes to the team's organizational structure, but so far, as a great deal of a general manager's job is, well, managing, Minaya has to take a lot of the blame for that.
26. Ned Colletti, Los Angeles Dodgers
The Dodgers have done well under Colletti, but that seems to have been to some extent despite him, given bizarre moves like his signings of Juan Pierre and Andruw Jones and his trade of catching prospect Carlos Santana for fill-in third baseman Casey Blake. You only get so much credit for not trading the likes of Matt Kemp and Clayton Kershaw for fourth outfielders.
27. Brian Sabean, San Francisco Giants
Sabean's skeptics were driven insane for years as no matter how many terrible, decrepit players he signed to absurd contracts, he always had Barry Bonds to make everything right. Once Bonds retired, the Giants immediately fell apart, and the skeptics gloated. Now they're a decent team again because they've developed a pair of aces in Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain. It doesn't matter; the skeptics are still right.
29. Ed Wade, Houston Astros
Did you realize that six of eight Astros regulars were 33 or older last year? That five of the six pitchers who got the most starts -- two of whom were Brian Moehler and Mike Hampton -- were 30 or older? And that the team has arguably the worst farm system in baseball? Wade isn't to blame for all of this. But he certainly hasn't done anything about it.
30. Dayton Moore, Kansas City Royals
A question to ponder: If Moore were a performance artist, what exactly would he have done differently over the past several years? Another: If Moore were a performance artist, how many prizes would such works as "The Acquisition of Yuniesky Betancourt" and "Here, Jose Guillen, Take This Money" win?
Tim Marchman lives in Chicago and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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