Okay, so I said we wouldn't be giving advice to Jim Crane just yet. I mean, he's not even confirmed as the new owner yet, so he should take some time before he decides what to do with the front office (keeping Bobby Heck should be at the top of that list). Meanwhile, there's almost assuredly going to be a shakeup on the baseball side. I just can't see Crane living with Tal Smith as president or with Ed Wade long-term.
Which leads me to this post, which will detail some of the possible general manager or president of baseball operations guys out there and why they'd work as the new decision makers with the Astros. Instead of a Astro player stock watch this week, we're going to rate the stock of each candidate listed. Fun, huh?
Logan White, Los Angeles Dodgers, high - If I had to pick a favorite in this race, it'd be White. He's smart, he's built a super-solid system in L.A. with a mix of college and high school players. He's moved up in the ranks of the Dodgers organization and has gotten along with stat heads (Paul DiPodesta) and old schoolers (Ned Colletti) alike. White would continue the job of rebuilding from within, which is what Crane said he wanted to do at his introductory press conference. Would White want to come to Houston? Chances are, he'd like the chance to spend money and make trades for players, but it is concerning that he hasn't had that experience yet.
Josh Byrnes, San Diego, high - For all the things I said about White, you could say the opposite is true of Byrnes. He's a new-school guy who came up through the Red Sox organization, learning from Theo Epstein. He was a GM in Arizona before new ownership cleaned house and he's landed a job on the personnel side in San Diego for another former Boston exec Jed Hoyer. Byrnes made some solid trades in Arizona, has the experience of running a franchise and has that stats-driven approach that I'm sure Crane will like. Plus, you could probably sell Bobby Heck to Byrnes easier than you could to White, who's coming off his own philosophy of running and drafting a farm system.
Paul DePodesta, New York Mets, middlingly high - He had me at his first blog post. DePodesta was unfairly railroaded out of L.A. after just a few seasons, despite making some very astute trades in his time there. Since then, he's helped build up San Diego's farm system and is now helping to do the same with the Mets. He's smart, is from the Billy Beane Moneyball school and would be a fantastic guy to put in charge of the whole system. Plus, his title with the Mets is something like "Special Assistant," so he's probably available*. I wonder, though, about his lack of jobs since the Dodgers, if maybe there's something about his personality that has off-put potential employers. It wouldn't stop me from hiring him, but it's one of the few explanations for why he's not working at the top of some organization right now.
*I am an idiot. Two big, high-profile mistakes in here, including Antonetti and then messing up on DePodesta. He has a title, I just didn't do my due diligence. Leaving it in as a mea culpa.
Ben Cherington, Boston, medium well - So you're not happy with any of the candidates listed? You want someone hot, someone new, someone out of one of the most successful organizations in the league? Then, Ben Cherington is probably your candidate. The Boston assistant GM interviewed for positions this past winter and has a lot of cache right now. He's the hot name that a lot of head-hunting firms would probably recommend right away. I'm leary of him simply because of a lack of experience. Much like White, he's the choice that you're going to gamble upon a bit without knowing how he'll be in three years. Unlike White, he doesn't have a set skillset you can point to that he's excelled at. If he's been soaking up everything Theo Epstein knows, he'll be fine, but it is a concern.
Dan Feinstein, Tampa Bay, middling - We know Jim Crane is supposedly enamored with Andrew Friedman, who's the Rays' GM. He's not getting Friedman, much as I'd love to see it. So, you have to go down the list and see who might fit from that organizational philosophy that could be had. That's when you hit on Feinstein, who's Friedman's right-hand guy but isn't in a position to turn down a GM offer. I haven't read The Other 2% to know what Feinstein's impact is on that organization, but he's the safest bet from that organization.
Allard Baird, Boston, not quite as hot - Another name that rings out from a successful organization, Baird has history as a GM, but not a very good one. Baird was the GM of the Kansas City Royals and was never very successful there. He's currently as Special Assistant in Boston, and would bring that experience both with stats and leading an organization. I'm not sure this would be a sure-fire fit, since he'd bring as many questions as Ed Wade currently has, but he's got some good points.
Gerry Hunsicker, Tampa Bay , low - I agree with Richard Justice. The Astros should bring back Hunsicker. But, I don't think it will happen. Hunsicker is probably happy in his position now, where he's not the primary decision maker but has influence on the direction of the team. If the Astros were interested in him, it'd probably be for the role of President of Baseball Operations (Tal Smith's job) with another less-experience candidate taking over as GM, say Logan White or Ben Cherington.
David Forst, Oakland, low - The Oakland organization doesn't have as much buzz as it did earlier in the decade, but Billy Beane has still been making smart decisions with limited resources. Forst has been his right-hand man for a while, and the only reason I've listed his stock so low is because I think he'll succeed Beane sooner rather than later and I'm not sure he wants to leave for another team right now.
John Hart, Texas, low - With the new power structure in Texas, I'm not sure how much of a role Hart has in Texas any more. He's been the head of a lot of successful organizations in the past, so I have hopes that he could bring stability at the top of the team, much like I said Hunsicker could. He's older, though, so his best fit would probably be as President with another guy being the GM. He's not as stats driven as some other candidates on this list, but his experience may appeal to Crane.
Kim Ng, MLB, low - You can't have a list without talking about Ng. She's one of the most experienced candidates who's never held a GM job. She's currently working for MLB, but could definitely be pulled away for the right price. She's also experienced enough to justify the job on its own, but would be able to put to bed some of the discrimination allegations that Crane has faced.
Bobby Evans, San Francisco, wild card - I'm assuming that Crane is a stats guy, but if he's more traditional, he might want to go with Brian Sabean's new guy at the top. He's got the experience building a somewhat productive farm system and learning from a successful GM. I wouldn't be crazy about this hire, but he does have some chance at the job.