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Baseball owners are looking for a “strong CEO” and “visionary leader” for the next commissioner

Rob Manfred

The committee to choose a successor to MLB commissioner Bud Selig has officially been formed. It is being chaired by Cardinals owner Bill DeWitt and will have six owners on it. They will not consult an outside search firm. DeWitt’s comments moments ago about what they intend to do:

Bill Dewitt: Selection of new commissioner will be confidential process. ``Looking for strong CEO, visionary leader.’'

— steven marcus (@newsdaymarcus) May 15, 2014

Bill Dewitt: No specific timeline, but will respect Selig’s desire to leave in January.

— steven marcus (@newsdaymarcus) May 15, 2014

DeWitt: Said most of Selig’s recommendations during his term were voted on 30-0 by club owners.

— steven marcus (@newsdaymarcus) May 15, 2014

That last bit speaks to both Selig’s style -- he was all about consensus -- but also causes me some confusion here.

Selig has clearly set up Rob Manfred to be his successor. He named him COO last year. He headed up the Biogenesis investigation. He made the media rounds with Selig to take credit for blasting A-Rod into the stone age. He has tons of experience with labor negotiations and has long been Selig’s right-hand man.

But no one has ever described him as “visionary” and if Selig always gets his 30-0 vote, why not just rubber stamp Manfred rather than conduct a search like this?

It’s possible that this is all formality and that the purpose of the committee is, in fact, to ratify Selig’s wishes, only in a slightly more formalized manner so as to show the world that the owners still run things. But maybe -- just maybe -- it shows that the owners aren’t all that thrilled with Rob Manfred and want to see if there’s someone a bit sexier out there before settling on old Rob.

That approach has rarely worked in the past -- it’s what stuck MLB with William Eckert and Peter Ueberroth. But it appears that the owners are at least open to that possibility.