Who would want the Orioles' GM job?
A month or so ago, when the conjecture really began that Andy MacPhail may be gone as president of baseball operations, I heard two common questions.
1. Who will take his place?
2. Who would want that job?
We’re going to hear a lot of speculation about No. 1 in the next few weeks. Orioles manager Buck Showalter and owner Peter Angelos are meeting today, and they’ll be narrowing down their respective candidate lists and deciding who will be sitting in on the interviews.
I printed a list of names days ago, and I assume several – such as Toronto’s Tony LaCava and the New York Mets’ J.P. Ricciardi – will get calls and will come interview. The Orioles will have to ask permission to talk to candidates who are currently with other teams, and that hasn’t happened yet. But it will soon.
The Orioles’ committee will probably conduct three to five interviews. The club would love to have somebody in place by around the end of the World Series.
OK, now let’s go to question No. 2. Who would want this job?
Answer: A whole lot of people. In fact, most people who aspire to be a general manager would want this job.
Because there are only 30 big league general manager positions available in this world. And most are spoken for.
Yes, this post has its own set of challenges/issues: The Orioles have lost 14 consecutive seasons, have a thin farm system, little international presence and are buried in the American League East. And throw in the fact that the manager and the owner are strong-willed men and it may not look to be the most desirable landing spot.
But as one potential candidate told me this week, if a GM job is open, that means there are some issues there regardless. Someone just got fired or left.
So don’t think the Orioles couldn’t get a big name here (within reason). Or a hot rising assistant. The truth is anyone who wants to be a GM is either confident enough or crazy enough to think he or she can succeed anywhere. No matter the obstacles.
There may be one or two who are biding their time waiting for that plum job. But most understand the reality of the situation.
I always go back to a conversation I had in 2002 with then-Orioles manager Mike Hargrove, who probably could have sat out for a year after being fired from Cleveland when the 1999 Indians didn’t advance far enough in the playoffs.
He knew the Orioles were on a downward trajectory, but he took the job anyway. So, in the middle of his tenure, I asked him why he took it when surely he would have been a candidate for other jobs in the near future. He looked me in the eye and said: “I want to manage, and there are only 30 chances. And, in my case, now only 29.”
I think we’ll see some of that as this search progresses. There are only 30 GM jobs. Only a handful will be available this offseason. And the Orioles are one of them – and, contrary to popular belief, that makes it a coveted job.