A couple years ago, Baseball America had a great article about up and coming GM candidates. I dug around the web for the article, but couldn't find it. I was hoping to see just how accurate they were and hopefully learn before making my own mistakes. No such luck, so I'll go out on a limb here.
I made calls and emails to a number of front office and media types, asking them which front office personnel do they think would be considered for a GM opening in the next twelve months. I got a broad range of responses and tried to categorize and distill them. It was hardly a scientific survey and the rankings are pretty subjective. I know who was mentioned more than anyone, but some were mentioned by two or three, so I tried to go with who had the more stronger reaction, positively or negatively.
I almost put in "honorable mentions" but that's a crutch. Of course, not all of these will be mentioned when the next opening does occur. Situations are all different and owners will make decisions based on a number of factors that I didn't consider. This is a mythical job opening and there's always things that make the person that is eventually hired the best candidate - or at least percieved to be the best candidate. How many times was Willie Randolph passed over and do we know yet if those passes were right or wrong?
These are just my informed opinions and I hope to start some discussion. If nothing else, let's learn a bit more about these ten people which even if they never get the big chair are making decisions we can only make with our fantasy teams.
1 Kim Ng There's no question that Ng is at the top of the list of many owner's potential GM lists. After stints in the MLB offices as well as in New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles, Ng seems poised to take the step up. She's worked in big media markets, handled herself under pressure and in bad situations, and has worked for three first time GMs. There's a bit of a hole in her resume when it comes to scouting, something she acknowledges and says she'll fill by having a top notch scouting director or Asst GM with that background. It will be something of a Jackie Robinson moment when Ng is introduced as the first female GM, but her qualifications are what will get her the job.
2 David Forst The next Beane protégé might be helped by his predecessor as well. Major league teams love to copy success and if Paul DePodesta and the Dodgers win, some owner will come looking for the next DePodesta. The Harvard-educated Forst has the resume and certainly looks the part. Some anti-Moneyball backlash may hinder him in some markets, but probably isn't the negative many would have you believe.
3 Chris Antonetti Another well-educated, well-prepped assistant GM, Antonetti has been the right hand of Mark Shapiro for a couple years, overseeing a rebuilding program that's beginning to bear fruit. His championing of the Diamond View data system will be a big plus, while his knowledge of baseball will make him a great candidate. He doesn't seem comfortable with the media yet, something that's a minor negative but certainly not deadly.
4 Ruben Amaro Many believe Ed Wade is on the hot seat in Philly and one of the hot candidates there will be Asst. GM Ruben Amaro. Many in baseball saw the advantages that Omar Minaya had in recruiting this offseason with Latin players, something Amaro and other candidates like Al Avila or Onari Fleita bring as well. Amaro has been a big part of locking up young players in Philly. Whether that's a positive or negative remains to be seen.
5 Dan Jennings Jennings has a reputation as an old-school scouting guy and contrary to most statheads, there's nothing wrong with that. In a world where beer and tacos aren't quite on the same plate yet, Jennings ability to find and develop players will still get him to the interview stage. As with statheads like Forst and Antonetti, Jennings has been open to the other side rather than openly resistant. That will get him far. Another World Series for the Fish will push him way up this list.
6 Tony LaCava The undisputed champ of "Isn't that?", the game of identifying front office people at the Winter Meetings, is universally acknowledged as one of the nicest guys in baseball. LaCava's scouting background is a plus, but he's been exposed to stathead principles, working with Keith Law. LaCava may prove that nice guys don't always finish last. He'll need some wins by his Blue Jays to make him a more visible candidate.
7 Jon Daniels Daniels will always have his age start the discussion. At 27, he's the youngest Asst GM in baseball. John Hart has always been a delegator and mentor, something that got Mark Shapiro, Dan O'Dowd, and others into their positions. Daniels may be next, especially if he chooses to stay and replace John Hart in a few years. He may get offers before then if the Rangers continue to succeed on the field and in the stands.
8 Scott Proefrock As I asked around the front offices of baseball about who they thought fit into this piece, Proefrock's name kept coming up. While he's likely the least known of the group and has been a long time Devil Ray, the story is that he's a tireless worker, quick learner, and actually has his CPA. He's another New Englander, though not an Ivy Leaguer U Mass isn't shabby. Besides, his name is a headline writer's dream.
9 Eddie Bane Most only know Bane from his seat at Alan Schwarz's "Scouts vs Stats" roundtable. It certainly was a starmaker for Bane, but he'd been on the radar for quite some time. The former pitcher has been in scouting for years and has quite a record with the Angels. The Angels seem to be something of a talent breeding ground right now, speaking well of Bill Stoneman's leadership. Add in the ring he wears from the 2003 World Series championship and Bane will get interviews.
10 Gord Ash Yes, that Gord Ash. Ash presided over the downturn of the Blue Jays and certainly had some learning experiences. As part of the upturn in Milwaukee, Ash is getting second looks. Hearing him say he reads Baseball Prospectus every day might surprise many, but Ash says his ideal is to be convinced. He'll quietly listen and consider almost any reasonable idea, from tandem starters to trading his closer when he doesn't like the K rate. Ash will likely get a second chance at the big chair, especially if the Brewers continue their ascent over the next few years.