Friday, August 14, 2009

Looking at the Rumored GM Candidates: Jed Hoyer

Gordon Edes of Yahoo! Sports reports that the Nats have interviewed Gerry Hunsicker, Jerry DiPoto, Jed Hoyer, and Chuck LaMar for the GM post. Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reported some sort of mish-mosh about DiPoto being the leading candidate . . . No, Hoyer . . . erm . . . maybe Rizzo after all? Chico Harlan says the GM search has narrowed to Hoyer, Dipoto, and Rizzo and that word might come sometime after the August 17 draft signing deadline.

Over the next few days I'm going to see if I can't come up with something interesting to say about these four guys, hopefully before I'm overtaken by events. Today: Jed Hoyer.

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Here's how I feel about the possibility that Jed Hoyer could be the next GM of the Nationals. When I first started dating the woman who would eventually be my wife, I knew almost from the start that we were so right together that we were going to get married. That's how I feel about the possibility that Jed Hoyer could be the next GM of the Nationals.

Hoyer has a similar background to baseball executives like Theo Epstein, Josh Byrnes, Paul DePodesta, and Chris Antonetti -- played baseball in college, graduated from good schools with degrees in subjects like economics or business administration, and came up through the front office directly rather than through the scouting side. In a word, "Moneyball" guys.

After graduating from Wesleyan University in 1996, Hoyer worked in the Kenyon College admissions office before returning to Wesleyan as assistant dean of admissions and assistant baseball coach. Hoyer worked for a tech startup and as a management consultant before convincing the Red Sox to hire him as a 28-year-old intern in 2002. Hoyer rose from intern to assistant to the general manager to co-GM in 2005, when Epstein briefly left the Red Sox, and was promoted/reassigned to his current position as Assistant General Manager upon Epstein's return.

Like Jerry Dipoto, Jed Hoyer also turns up on a lot of those "Top Future GMs" lists. In addition to serving as the Red Sox co-GM, Hoyer interviewed for the Pittsburgh GM spot in 2007 and declined an interview with Seattle in 2008.

Hoyer, who started off doing quantitative analysis and modeling for Epstein, eventually evolved into someone a 2005 Boston Globe article called "Epstein's prime confidant outside of [then-Red Sox Asst. GM] Byrnes." Hoyer accompanied Epstein to Phoenix in 2003 for Thanksgiving Dinner with the Schillings and was part of the December 2003 face-to-face talks with A-Rod over renegotiating his contract as part of a trade from the Rangers. As co-GM, Hoyer was part of the group that decided to trade Hanley Ramirez and Anibal Sanchez to the Marlins for Josh Beckett, Mike Lowell, and Guillermo Mota. As Assistant General Manager, Hoyer's duties have expanded from major league transactions and contract negotiations to encompass scouting and player development.

What you have in Hoyer is a guy who knows the value of combining observational scouting with quantitative statistical analysis to consistently churn out winning teams. Hoyer in a 2007 interview:
As we see it, we want every piece of information possible before making a decision. We have spent a lot of time and energy in developing our quantitative methods and we certainly use them in making player personnel decisions. But we also have a lot of great scouts and we read their reports and have lengthy conversations with all of them before making decisions. The idea that teams are either "Moneyball" teams or "scouting" teams is an incredible over-simplification. You need to have both of those components - as well as medical and contractual - to make an educated decision on a player.
Hoyer's been there while Boston's player development system keeps producing valuable prospects that either other teams want in trade or the Red Sox to want to keep for themselves. Hoyer's been there as the Red Sox continue to recognize the importance of scouting for players globally, not just at US high schools and colleges. He has firsthand contract negotiation and free agent wooing experience. His organization has usually made the right moves when it comes to trades and acquiring complimentary free agents. And it doesn't hurt that Hoyer comes out of a Red Sox front office that has been an incubator for talented baseball executives (Byrnes, Dipoto, Peter Woodfork).

If you were to draw up a checklist of attributes you want your ideal GM to possess, you'd end up with someone a lot like Hoyer.

Yes, it's true -- I'm in love with Jed Hoyer. But surely there must be something wrong with him?

OK, there is one thing that worries me about Hoyer. Money. The Red Sox have the means to pursue their needs with almost no regard for cost. (See Crisp, Coco; Varitek, Jason; Beckett, Josh; Matsuzaka, Daisuke; Drew, J.D.) Moreover, the Red Sox have a huge margin for error because they don't really have to worry about their mistakes limiting player payroll.

Just look at their shortstop situation since letting Orlando Cabrera leave as a free agent after 2004. Sick of Alex Gonzalez? Sign Edgar Renteria for $40m/4. Sick of Renteria? Trade him away and pay Gonzalez $3m to stick around. Alex not working out? Give Julio Lugo a $36m/4 deal to be inadequate until you DFA him. The Red Sox do a pretty good job of growing their own players, but they don't let a little thing like money stop them from shopping for expensive solutions to any holes in their roster.

Jed Hoyer understands how to conceive and implement the organizational overhaul the Nationals desperately need. Whether it's the front office, player valuation, player development, or international scouting, I believe Hoyer has the ability to come in and fix the ailing Nationals. My only question is this: Can he do it on Ted Lerner's budget instead of John Henry's?

Since he didn't withdraw from the interview process, Hoyer likely feels assured that Kasten and the Lerners will allow him to implement his vision for the Nats. Conversely, Kasten and the Lerners likely feel that Hoyer can improve the team on the thin dime they'll give him. And, of course, the Nats still get the great PR bump (The Lerners finally get it!) of signing a young forward-thinking star with the flowery smell of the Red Sox all over him.

I would be reasonably pleased if the Nats hired Dipoto, but I would be ecstatic if they hired Hoyer. Dipoto is an excellent scout and player development guy, but I don't have the confidence that he would take the Nats front office into the next generation of baseball front offices. I don't know that Dipoto is anything more than the scout that works with the quants and answers to the Diamondbacks' hybrid GM. And hiring Dipoto might be a sign that Kasten and the Lerners don't want that kind of guy running the organization, that they want to stick with someone with a traditional scouting background.

Hoyer may not have the same scouting and player development background as Rizzo and Dipoto, but he appreciates the value of scouting, with the addition of knowing how scouting and quantitative analysis can complement each other. I'm hopeful that Hoyer would hire a staff that can provide him with all the observational and statistical information he needs to make informed decisions. And I'd like to think that Hoyer isn't too ambitious to have taken himself out of the running if he thought Kasten or the Lerners were going to be an obstacle to him putting together his own team.

Hire Jed Hoyer.

1 comment:

Lauren said...

Thanks for featuring me. :)