Just three days since the Diamondbacks lowered the boom on General Manager Dave Stewart and Manager Chip Hale, the Dbacks leadership team are huddling together to begin the search for their next front office.
Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe announced via social media the first list we’ve seen of who the Diamondbacks might be considering. All five names listed should be very familiar to anyone who has followed the Arizona Diamondbacks. Each have been tied to the team in the press at one time or another. The names included: Bryan Minniti, Mike Bell, Ray Montgomery, Peter Woodfork, and Kim Ng. Let’s go through each candidate in the order Cafardo has them listed.
Bryan Minniti is currently an Assistant General Manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks. He came to Arizona after the 2014 season from the Washington Nationals. While his background has been varied much of his work has focused on contracts, budget, and statistical analysis. With the Nationals he was an assistant general manager to Mike Rizzo. Minniti is well liked by the players and their agents for his professionalism and responsiveness. Before the Nationals Minniti worked for the Pittsburgh Pirates in player development. And while he has some analytics training most consider him more traditional focusing on scouting and player development. Since the departure of Stewart it has been Minniti who has been tasked with keeping things running until a new GM is hired.
Mike Bell is currently the Director of Player Development for the Diamondbacks having held that title after Arizona revamped their baseball operations and scouting department after the departure of Ray Montgomery (more on him later). Bell has been successful building a winning mindset in the minor leagues and has a good knowledge of what the Diamondbacks have in the pipeline. Bell, the son of former Major League player Buddy Bell is very focused on scouting and development so you would have to question how comfortable he is with advanced metrics. Another interesting side note, it was widely reported that Bell had a terrible relationship with former Senior Vice President De Jon Watson with some suggesting that there was an ultimatum that either Watson go or Bell would leave. If that is accurate, we can see who the Diamondbacks value more with Bell still with Arizona.
Previously Ray Montgomery worked for the Diamondbacks as the Director of Scouting. He was tasked with overhauling the scouting department after the departure of Tommy Allison. During Montgomery’s tenure with Arizona he oversaw the scouting and drafting of several of Arizona’s core of young players including: Jake Lamb, Evan Marshall, Andrew Chafin, Archie Bradley, Braden Shipley as well as Cleveland Indians pitcher Trevor Bauer and Atlanta Braves pitcher Aaron Blair. Montgomery is a great talent evaluator and is well regarded. He left Arizona after Kevin Towers was fired moving to Milwaukee where he became Assistant GM and Vice President of Scouting for the Brewers. You would have to classify this too as a more traditional view of player evaluation.
Peter Woodfork was former Arizona Diamondbacks General Manager Josh Byrnes’ right hand man acting as an Assistant General Manager. The Harvard educated Woodfork began his career working at Major League Baseball’s head office before moving to the Boston Red Sox where he worked with Byrnes. When Byrnes came to Arizona he brought Woodfork with him. Much of the time he worked on contracts and player evaluation. He may be the most adept at advanced metrics which Byrnes was known to rely upon. That being said, Byrnes required all of his front office personnel to turn in scouting reports on any player they were evaluated hoping to meld old school with new. After his time in Arizona Woodfork returned to New York where he works for Major League Baseball with current job duties including evaluating umpires.
The one name on this this that has not formerly been a Diamondbacks employee is Kim Ng although Ng was seen as a strong candidate for the last two Diamondbacks General Manager searches. In both cases she has been passed over. Ng has tremendous experience having worked for a long time with the Los Angeles Dodgers before moving to New York City to work as Senior Vice President of Baseball Operations. With the Dodgers she was an Assistant General Manager and has a vast knowledge of analytics and is a very good judge of talent. It should come as no surprise that Ng is included on the initial list. What is a surprise is how she has been overlooked for this long. Each organization she works for comes away impressed with her leadership and ability to get the best out of those she works with. Could this finally be the break she is after to get through the glass ceiling?
We have been warned that this is just the initial list of candidates and more names will likely be added. The Diamondbacks have stated that their goal is to have a General Manager named by the end of the World Series and a Manager with coaching staff in place before the Winter Meetings which will be December 4-8 at Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center near Washington DC. With the Wild Card games already being played and the divisional series beginning the clock is ticking for the Diamondbacks to find the next lucky contestant in the game of “Who Wants To Be the Next Diamondbacks General Manager”.
While I would love to say I am indifferent I would be lying. I’ve wanted Ng to be a General Manager the last two times the job opening has come up so she will remain my favorite here as well. It’s not that I don’t believe in the other four candidates. It’s that I think Ng has a wide range of skills that are going to be needed to turn this thing around. And if she can deal with 30 different owners as part of her current job with MLB, maybe she can finally find a way to the Diamondbacks ship.