GM rankings

18 02 2008

UPDATE 02-18-08 5:41 PM – Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors tends to agree with me. He says that he would include Doug Melvin in his Top 10 GMs.

I would like to point out that I won’t pretend to know as much as Tim Dierkes. Just saying…
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Jon Heyman has shown very little love to Milwaukee in the past few days. Today, Heyman ranks the Top 10 GMs in major league baseball, but Doug Melvin does not make the list. He does not even make the Honorable Mentions.

I would have to file these rankings in the “What have you done for me lately?” category. The top GMs on the list are either teams that made the playoffs unexpectedly last year (like the Rockies), or have tons of money at their disposal. Do not get me wrong, it is tough to be a General Manager no matter what team one is running, but it must be a little easier to be Theo Epstein than it is to be Doug Melvin.

What if Boston has a weakness on their team? They wanted to improve their pitching, so Boston became active in Johan Santana talks. It must be a rough life having the budget to sign Johan Santana to a $100+M, especially after the deal Daisuke got last year. The farm system becomes absolutely paramount in that situation and not wasting money becomes so very important.

I understand that this is how baseball works. It is a business, and if a team is in a large-market, it will have the financial capabilities to sign these elite players. I’m not saying that it is a disgrace that this is how baseball is run. The MLB has done a lot with their revenue-sharing program, and small-market teams are able to compete (our Milwaukee Brewers are an example of that). What I am arguing is that being a GM for those teams is much more about public relations and making the “right” move for the team’s image and chemistry, rather than fostering a good farm system or making multiple player trades that have a lot of upside for both teams.

Theo Epstein is a fantastic GM. He brought a World Series Championship to Boston and broke the curse. No one will dispute that. It is just a shame that Doug Melvin cannot be recognized for his role in making the Milwaukee Brewers a competitive team. Some will say that Milwaukee’s success is all about its farm system, and Jack Zduriencik should be getting the credit for their success.

That would be ignoring many of the moves that Melvin has made, however. He is known for his multi-player deals that have given Milwaukee most of its depth that it has this season. Many of his deals have good long-term consequences for the team, as can be shown by the fact that Milwaukee will have 6 draft picks in the first 62 picks of this year’s draft. That comes from his acquisition of Cordero in the Carlos Lee deal and Linebrink in last year’s trade with San Diego (not one of Doug’s shining moments, I have to admit). Dave Bush and Gabe Gross are contributors (and Zach Jackson may still contribute) to the team after the Lyle Overbay trade to Toronto. Claudio Vargas is still contributing from the Doug Davis and Dana Eveland deal to Arizona. Estrada may not have worked out as planned, but he still gained a power arm for the bullpen through the trade for Guillermo Mota.

Division titles are won with the help of role players like these, and Doug Melvin should not be overshadowed by GMs like Omar Minaya. Omar has made some good moves, like acquiring John Maine and Oliver Perez, but we know that he’s on the list because of the Santana trade. Kenny Williams of the White Sox made the list because he won a World Series in recent years, but look at what his tinkering has left them with last year and coming into this year.

Doug Melvin may not be the best GM that Major League Baseball has ever seen, but he should at least be mentioned in the article. Even this year, he has improved the Brewers without sacrificing the farm system or tying up too much money past this year. He’s big on high-ceiling players and rebuilding through the draft. His work, combined with that of Jack Zduriencik, has given Milwaukee the making of a team that can compete for the next few years. Something Milwaukee has not experienced since the very early 80s. At least mention him in the article before mentioning anyone from the Royals…even if they are slowly improving.

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