Peter Gammons has a new secret lair hidden inside the CITGO sign, from which he recently issued a dispatch listing four general managers who might get fired this winter. Here's the opening:
We have long seen how flighty owners can be. Arte Moreno poured $365M into Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton, ignored pitching and rejected trades, and now general manager Jerry DiPoto’s job hangs in the balance—even though the Angels have won 10 of their last 15 games.
Milwaukee’s Mark Attanasio, trying to do right by the fans of Milwaukee, overruled his baseball people and gave Kyle Lohse $31.95M for three years; the Brewers lost their first round draft pick, and now are 20 games under .500.
There now seem to be four general managers wondering about where they’ll be in 2014 ...
I know that says four, but Gammons actually mentions five: DiPoto, Seattle's Jack Zduriencik, Miami's Larry Beinfest, and Colorado's Dan O'Dowd.
A few quick notes about those guys, in reverse order ...
O'Dowd's been running the Rockies forever. Seems like forever, anyway; he took over almost exactly 14 years ago. In that space, the Rockies have enjoyed four winning seasons and been to the playoffs twice, including a National League flag in 2007. Gammons writes that "no one has ever figured why this team is always so bad on the road" ... but is that really true? Didn't we figure out a long time ago that the altitude makes it easy for Denver's teams to win at home, and difficult for them to win on the road? And I don't mean just baseball; the effects are clear in every sport. The real trick is figuring out a way around the problem ... and to this point, nobody's done that. Baseball-wise, anyway. And you certainly can't argue that O'Dowd hasn't tried just about everything. He has. But you know, after 14 years maybe it's time to get somebody else a shot.
I wrote about Zduriencik a few months ago. While I certainly wasn't wild about a number of his moves, especially last winter, he does seem to have rebuilt the farm system, and the young talent base looks pretty impressive. Maybe that just means it's time for someone else to come in and manage all that talent, but the M's do seem on the verge of putting together some good seasons. Finally.
Larry Beinfest ... Well, for one thing he's technically not the Marlins' general manager; that would be Michael Hill, who's just below Beinfest on the org chart, but then again team president David Samson's the guy who always winds up on television defending Jeffrey Loria. So I can't really tell who in hell's running that misbegotten wreck of a franchise. And according to Gammons, Loria wants to replace Beinfest with assistant GM Dan Jennings. I have no idea how much responsibility Beinfest has, but somebody down there has done a pretty good job over the years.
As for DiPoto, he's a great example of a general manager who might (or might not) be especially difficult to evaluate because of ownership. Did Moreno really cram Albert Pujols and Josh Hamilton down DiPoto's throat? Even if he did, was anyone predicting how disastrous both contracts would be, so soon?
It's a funny thing ... Lately I find myself defending most of the general managers, if only because I've come realize how meddlesome those pesky owners can be. Another funny thing ... With the exception of Dayton Moore, who I believe doesn't have what it takes to win in Kansas City, in the long term, I have a tough time finding any good candidates for a pink slip. I'm not saying there aren't any. I'm saying there aren't many general managers who routinely make obvious mistakes that keep their clubs from winning. Maybe the bar needs to be a little higher.
One more thing: Kyle Lohse looks like he was worth that $31.5 million. If that was Attanasio's idea, kudos. Now, about playing Yuniesky Betancourt and Alex Gonzalez at first base ...