Power structures and the GM hunt
A short comment on this Hickey piece:
It’s clear that club CEO Howard Lincoln and club president Chuck Armstrong will not allow the new GM to have as free a hand as Bill Bavasi, who was fired on June 16 and replaced on an interim basis by Lee Pelekoudas.
There is the perception, particularly in the blogosphere, that this is a horrible thing. Many of the pundits of the internet don’t like past decisions that Lincoln and Armstrong have made. And, frankly, there’s some reason to feel that way.
Dave’s agreed that Bavasi did, indeed, get to run the org the way he wanted, in response to my general concerns about whether candidates would want to work for those two (I would love, btw, to hear what Woodfork’s reasoning was for telling them he wasn’t interested after that first interview — but we’ll never get that).
But the reality is that the new power structure is simply a return to the old ways. Once Lincoln put Bavasi and then-manager Mike Hargrove ”on the hot seat” after the 2006 season, Bavasi and Hargrove went to their bosses and said if they were on the hot seat, they needed to be able to make their own calls, to live and/or die on their own.
So Armstrong and, to a lesser extent, Lincoln relinquished much of their normal input and let their general manager and his manager make the moves they wanted to make. Although the 2007 season produced a winning record, that philosophy proved to be a loser in the long run.
Let’s take it as a given for a moment that this is entirely true: that the Lincoln/Armstrong braintrust went to Bavasi and Hargrove after 2006 and said “succeed or you’re fired” (and they succeeded and then were fired). And that now they’d like to return to pre-2007 decision making.
The question unasked here is “is this a good thing”? Reading Hickey’s post, I got the feeling it was — that unleashing this new and dangerous GM/manager autonomy got them a good 2007 and a disastrous 2008.
But previous to that up-down, there were three just awful seasons, bad decision piled on bad decision, from 2003 on (and the 2003 roster construction had its problems) as the Bavasi-Armstrong-Lincoln trio decided to focus on role players with proven established professional veteran role experience (and so forth), particularly clubhouse guys — and you know the rest.
Now, my feelings on Gillick would take their own post. And it’s true that they’re clearly looking at some new approaches in the front office. But the M’s are interviewing all assistant GMs at this point: there’s no one there like Gillick who could, in the event of an argument with Lincoln, for instance, say “kiss my previous World Series rings and if you don’t like it I’ll quit and take the best GM job that opens next season.”
It would seem that a hidden qualification for the job is going to be the ability to make those two front-office guys feel involved, warm, and fuzzy about decisions, while still being able to steer the whole ship.
If we see Bloomquist given a two-year, $4m deal I promise not to get angry right away but instead wait to see if the M’s sign twenty awesome minor-league deals while Lincoln and Armstrong are at the press conference.