How do you know if your team has the right General Manager* or not? At its heart, that sounds like an easy question. Wins and losses seem like a relatively easy barometer. At the same time, those don't take into account the massive disparity in payrolls between clubs, where they are in the success cycle, or the various attempts by ownership to mandate changes the GM doesn't agree with.
*For this, we'll just use GM as a shorthand for the front office teams built and maintained by each GM. No one man can run a franchise.
Take, for instance, the Angels. Jerry DiPoto was severely hamstrung by owner Arte Moreno, who insisted the Angels shell out massive contracts for Albert Pujols, C.J. Wilson, and Josh Hamilton, and then insisted that Hamilton would never play for the Angels again after he relapsed into substance abuse. Then, in a power struggle between DiPoto and manager Mike Scioscia, Moreno took the side of his manager and DiPoto resigned. So how do you judge DiPoto under those conditions in a way that would be remotely fair? How do you judge Dan Jennings or Mike Berger of the Marlins?
Ok, what about overall philosophy? Statheads like myself like to think that having an analytics background is essential in modern baseball. But you have to have more than that, or you wind up like J.P. Ricciardi in Toronto, alienating and ignoring the scouting departments that are supposed to help you make decisions. Yet, scouting isn't enough either. At this point, every single Major League club has acknowledged the importance of analytics and has built their own departments. The dinosaurs who refused to adapt have died out.
But the trade deadline, which we just passed on Friday, that's a hell of a proving ground for GMs. Buyers have clear needs, and sellers need to maximize value. GMs and their teams need to act fast and decisively, to have detailed knowledge of other teams' systems, and be creative and flexible to find solutions when obstacles present themselves.
So, it's with this that we're introducing the GM Confidence Ratings this week. The confidence ratings are a scale of one to five, with five being the highest. I will offer my own ratings, but we're also going to ask you to rank your favorite team's GM on that same one-to-five scale by taking the short survey embedded below. We'll present the ratings together, along with comments about each GM. Take into account not only how your GM did over the last couple weeks, but how he has done to get your team to where it is right now.
We will be re-running this survey periodically to get an idea of how GMs may be evolving, either for the better or the worse, and how opinion of them changes as well. So take a second, fill out the three question survey below, and tell us what you think of your front office.
Click this link to take the survey. We will publish the results later this week.