And Then There Were Two

Arizona Diamondbacks President and CEO Derrick Hall has had a very busy month of September. While his team is trying to salvage a few wins in the last month of the season, Hall has been working to set a team in place that will lead the Diamondbacks back to the playoffs.

No, Hall is not out scouting new players for the Diamondbacks. Instead he is interviewing candidates to fill the General Manager’s position that has been vacant since the team fired Josh Byrnes earlier this season.

What began as a set of five candidates has been whittled down to just two finalists. The Diamondbacks notified Los Angeles Dodgers Assistant GMs Logan White and De Jon Watson, as well as Los Angeles Angels scouting director Eddie Bane that they were no longer being considered as candidates for the job.

There remains two being considered for the job – interim GM Jerry Dipoto and former San Diego Padres GM Kevin Towers. Both of these finalists began the process as front runners for the job so this announcement comes as little surprise.

What is interesting are the similarities as well as the differences between these two gentlemen. Towers is well respected in the baseball industry with his proponents describing his uncanny ability to evaluate talent.

Interestingly enough, these same compliments are being used to describe the skills of Dipoto. During his brief tenure Dipoto has been able to make several trades that have garnered praise throughout baseball for the amount of talent the Diamondbacks have received in return.

Both individuals are show an ability to manage short term needs at the Major League level while setting up a team for long term success.

It should also be noted that both believe in establishing a strong bullpen; something Byrnes definitely did not understand. The strong relief corps of the Padres was assembled under Towers’ tenure. Dipoto a former reliever himself has likewise noted the bullpen would be his primary target in building the 2011 Diamondbacks roster.

Towers comes with instant credibility. His experience in building a front office is well known by teams. He would likely bring with him several individuals with scouting and player evaluation skills.

This would be a change for the Diamondbacks who were strongly focused on statistical evaluation, i.e., the Money Ball mentality. Dipoto seems more inclined to create a hybrid organization that relies on statistical evaluation tempered with old-school scouting.

Teams are beginning to realize that no one theory will work in all situations. The successful GM will be the one who can adapt and take advantage of all types of player evaluation tools and techniques.

Another consideration for the Diamondbacks will be the salary the new GM will require. Given Towers experience and his accomplishments he will command a much higher salary than Dipoto.

With the Diamondbacks still paying Byrnes for the next several years that may be a consideration despite Hall stating salary will not be a primary factor in his hiring decision.

Hall has stated that he hopes to make a final decision before the season is over. While he has suggested there is no front runner for the job; my expectations are that Dipoto has impressed the ownership group enough that they will take a chance on Dipoto and save a little money in the process.

Don’t expect the new GM to get an 8-year contract. Hopefully the team has learned a little from their past mistakes.

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