posted 8 years ago
When the Red Sox meet the Devil Rays in the American League Championship Series, the teams will be monuments to the brave new world of baseball general managers.
Masterminding the Rays' emergence has been Andrew Friedman, a Tulane graduate who was 27 years old and a Bear Stearns and Co. analyst when he was tapped to become their director of baseball development. Two years later, in 2005, he was running baseball operations.
The Red Sox renaissance has been engineered by GM Theo Epstein, a Yale man (and graduate of the University of San Diego Law School), who was 28 — the youngest GM in history — when he was elevated to the big chair in Boston in 2002. Two World Series titles later, he's the standard to which each new whiz kid aspires when handed the keys to a ballclub.
As the Mariners strive to fill their GM position, they can't avoid paying heed to the dramatic changes the job has undergone.
No longer is the prevailing prototype that of the cigar-chomping baseball lifer who uses his gut instincts to formulate a roster — though Pat Gillick, who has guided the Phillies into the National League Championship Series at age 71 (minus the cigar), is proof that the GM job is not the total province of the fuzzy-cheeked.
"The position has changed dramatically through the years," said Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski, who has 20 years' experience with Montreal, Florida and now the Tigers.
"You have to be efficient in so many different areas. Before, you just had to have a feel for baseball operations. When I first started, most guys had their expertise in player development and scouting, and that was it. Now you have to deal with so much more."