Front Office News

Looking in on recent happenings in MLB's front offices.

It has been a few months since we looked in on action in the front offices around the game. Of course, in doing so, we have to start with the foamiest of all baseball soap operas.

 

Boston Red Sox – Theo Completes Time Out

 

General Manager and folk hero Theo Epstein is now and again employed by the Sox.

 

Epstein was reportedly offered a three-year extension in Boston back in October that would have quadrupled his previous salary from his initial three-year contract as GM. But money was apparently not the issue.

 

Rumors about chain of command problems between Epstein and Sox President and CEO Larry Lucchino were tabloid news, and as a result, Lucchino was vilified by many in the Red Sox Nation when Theo walked.  

 

In-house soldiers Ben Cherington and Jed Hoyer were temporarily given co-GM titles after a boatload of candidates were interviewed, but none considered suitable to fill the considerable shoes of Mr. E.

 

By late January, all was well. Theo was back in the saddle as everyone kissed and made up. While taking other roles in the organization, Ben and Jed were not even mentioned in many news stories upon Theo's return, their 15 minutes of fame seemingly over almost before it began.

 

The two seem destined to become the answer to yet another baseball trivia question. However, there is no truth to the rumor the former GM duo plan to move to Vermont and start a premium ice cream business.

 

I bet every general manager wishes they could take a few months off like Epstein, during which their sins could be cleansed. Funny how that little Edgar Renteria "do over" was seemingly forgotten, despite the Sox having to send a cool $11 million to Atlanta to cover one of Theo's major boo-boos from last winter.

 

Tampa Bay Devil Rays – What's in a Name?

 

Team newbies Stuart Sternberg, Managing General Partner, Matt Silverman, Team President and Andrew Friedman, Vice President of Baseball Operations seem to have come to the conclusion that what ails their woeful franchise is that awful handle.

 

So, they announced they are going to change it, but did not say exactly to what nor when, giving thousands of writers even more ammunition to assault Fort Tampa. As if it was needed.

 

I sort of like "Devil Dogs" myself. You know, all soft and mushy on the inside.

 

Cincinnati Reds – New Owner to Produce Results

 

Produce bigwig and former Cardinals minority owner Robert Castellini took over the Cincinnati Reds last month and promptly rearranged the deck chairs. Previously, chief operating officer John Allen ran both baseball and business operations. Allen will stay but will focus on the business side of the ball club only.

 

Just a few days later, Castellini provided a late Christmas present for many long-suffering Queen City residents when he sacked general manager Dan O'Brien. The new GM will run the baseball side of the house and report directly to Castellini.

 

While director of major league operations Brad Kullman was named as the interim, he is but one of a host of candidates to replace O'Brien. The others include Johnny Almaraz, the Reds' director of international scouting and player development, Jim Beattie, the former Expos and Orioles general manager, who has already been hired as a special adviser to Castellini, Wayne Krivsky, the Twins' assistant general manager, who was also a finalist the last time the Reds' GM job was open, Leland Maddox, a special assistant to the general manager and professional scout for the Reds who along with Kullman served as co-interim GM after Jim Bowden was fired in 2003, and John Mozeliak, the Cardinals' assistant general manager, Walt Jocketty's right-hand man.

 

Philadelphia Phillies – Superscout Named

 

The Phillies hired Don Welke as special assistant to the general manager. He joined the organization in November. Welke worked under new general manager Pat Gillick both in Toronto and Baltimore, but was employed by the Texas Rangers last season. Welke has been in baseball since 1965 and will contribute in the amateur area, in Latin America and at the professional level.

 

Welke may be the only person in Philly not currently linked to a Bobby Abreu trade rumor, but it's not because he isn't probably trying.

 

Texas Rangers – Daniels to Get Lotsa Hart Help

 

Jon Daniels was promoted from assistant general manager to GM of the Texas Rangers in October, becoming the youngest general manager in major league history at 28 years old. However, the training wheels may stay on his bike, as his predecessor signed on to stay around.

 

John Hart, who was forced out as GM, remains as senior adviser of baseball operations. Despite having expressed interest in several open general manager jobs, instead Hart was signed to a new three-year deal by wild-spending owner Tom Hicks. Talk about a golden parachute!

 

Despite all the excitement, there has yet to be any confirmed sightings of a major league pitching staff in Arlington, however.

 

Arizona Diamondbacks – Boston West?

 

The Diamondbacks named Peter Woodfork assistant general manager. Woodfork had carried the dual titles of director of baseball operations and assistant director of player development for the Red Sox over the past three seasons. That is where then Red Sox assistant GM and now Arizona GM Josh Byrnes came to know Woodfork's work.

 

Is it me or is does it seem like the Red Sox have an assembly line of twenty and thirty-something executives seemingly to supply those organizations who can't seem to develop their own candidates?

 

Los Angeles Dodgers – Ned's the Name, Experienced Players the Game

 

Former San Francisco vice president and assistant general manager Ned Colletti was given the Dodgers' GM job back in November. He beat out Dodgers assistant general manager Kim Ng, who was attempting to become the first woman in history to be hired as a major league GM.

 

Colletti has 24 years of experience as a major league executive, having begun his career in public relations with the Chicago Cubs in 1982. That experience may be invaluable to him, especially if many of his somewhat-aged and oft-injured acquisitions (Bill Mueller, Nomar Garciaparra, Sandy Alomar, Kenny Lofton) don't pan out in 2006.

 

I guess it makes sense, since Colletti had been Brian Sabean's right hand man for nine years with the Giants, baseball's established elephant graveyard.

 

Brian Walton can be reached via email at brwalton@earthlink.net.

 

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