Third Party Executives On Who The Orioles Should Hire
The Orioles are believed to be looking to hire both a team president and executive vice president of baseball operations, though the organization has done a relatively good job of keeping much information about the search from leaking to the media.
Baltimore Sports and Life has previously profiled Amiel Sawdaye, Josh Byrnes, Mike Elias, Jason McLeod, and Kim Ng as potential EVP options, and Mike Chernoff, Doug Melvin, John Hart, Ned Colletti, and Farhan Zaidi as President options.
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We surveyed three Executives from major league clubs. For President, two picked Zaidi and one chose Chernoff.
The reasons given were similar for both Zaidi, the Los Angeles Dodgers’ General Manager, and Mike Chernoff, the Cleveland Indians’ GM.
“I think the Orioles wouldn’t go wrong with either on of those guys,” said one of the Execs who voted for Zaidi. “They are both really bright guys who have somewhat differing background. Farhan is more of an analytics guy while Cherny is more of a player personnel guy. However, they both understand all facts for the business, have worked in highly successful organizations, and are ready for the next step.”
Meanwhile, Elias was the unanimous pick for EVP. He is the Houston Astros’ Assistant GM.
“He’s done it all at a very young age and done it well,” an Exec said. “He’s worked in scouting and player development. He’s negotiated contracts. He fully understands analytics. He’s as ready as anyone to run his own baseball ops department.”
One person all three executives believe the Orioles should interview for the EVP position is Tampa Bay Rays Senior VP of Baseball Operations Chaim Bloom. He was one of two finalists for the New York Mets’ GM opening, losing out to agent Brodie Van Wagenen.
Bloom, 35, has been in his current role since 2014. The Yale graduate has spent his entire with the Rays, beginning as a baseball operations assistant in 2005 then being promoted to Assistant Player Development Director in 2008 and Assistant Baseball Operations Director in 2011.
“He gets unfairly stereotyped as a guy who is strictly all about stats but that’s not true,” an Executive said. “Chaim has worked in all facets of the front office and he understands what it takes to be a GM. He’s going to be a GM. It’s just a matter of when.”
Two new names have emerged in recent days as possibilities for the openings — Toronto Blue Jays VP of Baseball Operations Ben Cherington for President and Oakland Athletics Assistant GM Dan Kantrovitz for EVP.
According to a source with knowledge of Cherington’s thinking, the former Boston Red Sox General Manager turned down interview opportunities for GM jobs with the Mets and San Francisco Giants earlier this month. Cherington is said to prefer the challenge of building an organization from the ground up.
The Orioles, of course, seemingly have nowhere to go but up. They were 47-115 this year, not only the worst record in the major leagues but the worst record in franchise history.
Cherington, 44, has been with the Blue Jays for two years and is most noted for being the Red Sox’s GM from the end of the 2012 season, when Theo Epstein left for the Chicago Cubs, until being fired on Aug. 18, 2015 and being replaced by Dave Dombrowski.
The Red Sox won the World Series in 2013, sparked in part by Cherington’s moves the previous offseason. Boston signed seven free agents that winter — right-hander Ryan Dempster, righty reliever Koji Uehara, catcher David Ross, first baseman Mike Napoli, shortstop Stephen Drew and outfielders Jonny Gomes and Shane Victorino.
However, the Red Sox fell to last place in the American League East in 2014 and Cherington was axed the following season with Boston on its way to another finish in the division basement.
“Ben made some mistakes like the Kung Fu Panda,” an Executive said, referring to the Red Sox’s ill-fated five-year, $95-million deal with free agent third baseman Pablo Sandoval. “I think Ben would tell you he got away from his roots a little bit, turned away from the idea that you need to get the most value possibly whether you’re a small-market franchise or large-market franchise. He has a great mind and is a quick learned and I’m confident he’s ready for another chance and he’d be a great guy to oversee the rebuilding in Baltimore.”
Cherington spent a year on the faculty of the sport management program at Columbia University in New York before returning to baseball in his role with the Blue Jays in 2016.
Cherington began his professional baseball career as an advance scout with the Indians in 1998 before joining the Red Sox the following year. He eventually worked his way up to player development director following stints as an area scout, Baseball Operations Assistant and Coordinator of International Scouting.
When Epstein abruptly resigned following the 2005 season, Cherington and Assistant GM Jed Hoyer were named co-GMs. Epstein had a change of heart and returned on Jan. 19, 2006 and Cherington received a promotion to Executive VP of Player Personnel. In 2009, he was elevated to Executive VP and Assistant GM when Hoyer left to become the San Diego Padres’ GM.
Cherington has an English degree from Amherst College and a master’s in sport management from the University of Massachusetts.
Cherington’s wife Tyler is a senior vice president with the Goldklang Group, which owns and operates minor league franchises. She is the daughter of longtime Chicago White Sox scout John Tumminia.
The 40-year-old Kantrovitz just finished his fourth season as the top Assistant to Athletics GM David Forst. Kantrovitz also had three-year stint with Oakland as a quantitative analyst and International Scouting Coordinator from 2009-11.
Kantrovitz began his front-office career as the St. Louis Cardinals’ Assistant Scouting Director from 2004-08. He returned to the organization as Scouting Director, a job he held from 2012-14.
At Brown University, Kantrovitz was twice an all-Ivy League shortstop while earning his degree in organizational behavior and management. He also has a master’s in statistics from Harvard.
Kantrovitz was the Cardinals’ 25th-round draft pick in 2001 but his professional career ended because of a shoulder injury after only one game with rookie-level Johnson City. He worked as an analyst in investment banking before returning to baseball and St. Louis’ front office three years later.
“I think he definitely has what it takes to be a GM but the guys who work in the front office in Oakland are extremely loyal,” an executive said. “Though I think he would be a good GM, I wouldn’t bet on him just jumping at the first GM job offered. If he would get offered the job in Baltimore, the only way he’d take it if he was darned sure he could win there.”
John Perrotto has been a professional sports writer since 1982 and has covered a multitude of sports, including MLB, NFL and college football and basketball. He has been a member of the Baseball Writers' Association since 1988, a Hall of Fame voter since 1997 and has covered 21 World Series and two Super Bowls. He is a graduate of Geneva College, the birthplace of college basketball, and lives in Beaver Falls, Pa., the hometown of Joe Willie Namath.
He also writes The Perrotto Report (theperrottoreport.com), newsletters that concentrate on Major League Baseball and the Pittsburgh Pirates.