While most people who follow baseball for a living have focused on the handful of changes in managers, there’s been an unprecedented change in the people picking those managers.
In less than three months, 10 teams have changed their general managers. That’s right, one-third of major league baseball teams have made a GM switch since Aug. 4.
On Thursday, two more jobs opened. Alex Anthopoulos left the Toronto Blue Jays after six years in the job, and Miami announced Dan Jennings, who moved from general manager to field manager, wouldn’t be returning to his old job.
Some of the departures have been voluntary. Oakland’s Billy Beane and Atlanta’s John Hart moved up in their organization.
Others like Anthopoulos and Boston’s Ben Cherington leaving their jobs came because a new strong decision-maker came in above them, and they didn’t want to stay.
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In Philadelphia, Andy MacPhail replaced Ruben Amaro with Matt Klentak, his onetime assistant with the Orioles, and Amaro decided that he wanted to change his career path.
He’d like to be a manager, and will train by coaching first base for the Boston Red Sox next season.
Unlike Amaro, who’d been a major league player, Dan Jennings had no experience as a professional player before assuming the field manager’s job for the Marlins.
Very few GMs have been major league players. Currently, only Arizona’s Dave Stewart and Seattle’s Jerry Dipoto were major leaguers. Three more, Boston’s Mike Hazen, Minnesota’s Terry Ryan and Washington’s Mike Rizzo played in the minors. Stewart is the only current GM who didn’t attend college.
Sometimes, changes in general manager mean a change in field managers, too.
A year ago, the Dodgers made a GM change, and after a year of working with the new front office, Don Mattingly moved on to Miami.
Dipoto was hired late last month and quickly dispatched Lloyd McLendon and hired Scott Servais.
Billy Eppler, a longtime assistant to Yankees GM Brian Cashman, who’s been on the job since 1998, replaced Dipoto. He and Mike Scioscia had fundamental disagreements.
The turnover is new. There are a number of GMs who have been in their jobs for extended periods. Dan Duquette is nearing his fourth anniversary with the Orioles, and 10 GMs have been on the job longer. He’s under contract for three more years.
Most of those hired are unknowns to even rabid fans, but their influence is so great that those fans, and those of us who get paid to watch, need to be careful attention.
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