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Saturday, March 03, 2007

Forbes:  Best General Managers In Sports

Forbes.com’s first-ever proprietary look at GMs in the NFL, NBA, NHL and MLB grades each GM on two yardsticks. First, there’s the performance (regular season winning percentage and postseason wins) during the GM’s tenure versus the performance of his predecessor. Second, there’s the GM’s relative (to the league median) payroll compared with his predecessor’s relative payroll.

And the NBA’s Minnesota Timberwolves GM Kevin McHale tops our list.

Only the 98 current GMs with at least three years of service were reviewed. In terms of enhancing the value of a sports franchise, winning is more important than payroll. So we double-weight winning percentage in our scoring to discount GMs (like Mark Shapiro of the Cleveland Indians) who successfully cut costs but in so doing damaged their franchise.

Our rankings will surely raise some eyebrows.

The complete rankings.

xbhaskarx Posted: March 03, 2007 at 06:58 PM | 30 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business

Reader Comments and Retorts

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   1. TFTIO Posted: March 03, 2007 at 07:32 PM (#2306238)
Doesn't pass the smell test. Joe Smith? Will Avery? Ndudi Ebi? Rickey Davis? His personnel decisions have been abominable. Only the greatness of KG has kept the Twolves out of the basement.
   2. McCoy Posted: March 03, 2007 at 07:35 PM (#2306239)
From the article this link caption;

In Pictures: Sports' Hottest General Managers

Doesn't the mere thought of what might actually be behind that link scare people?
   3. Swedish Chef Posted: March 03, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2306240)
The secret of success in GM'ing is obviously to have a lousy predecessor!
   4. Santanaland Diaries Posted: March 03, 2007 at 07:37 PM (#2306241)
Well, Forbes' system for evaluating winning is based only on the change from the last three years of the GM's predecessor, so McHale benefits from having inherited a truly abysmal situation. But you're right; the system is ridiculous on so many levels that discussing it further is pretty pointless.
   5. Bernal Diaz has an angel on his shoulder Posted: March 03, 2007 at 07:45 PM (#2306242)
That is ####### stupid. Shapiro inherited a team that was great but John Hart gutted and bloated at the same time. Its ok, when we win the World Series for 3 straight years I will be happy.
   6. xbhaskarx Posted: March 03, 2007 at 07:47 PM (#2306243)
In Pictures: Sports' Hottest General Managers

Doesn't the mere thought of what might actually be behind that link scare people?



look at the photo of billy beane.
   7. Best Regards, President of Comfort Posted: March 03, 2007 at 07:55 PM (#2306244)
look at the photo of billy beane.

Hahahaha! Way to go, fact-checkers!
   8. ST in VA Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:10 PM (#2306247)
Jerry Jones? They can't be serious.

The only smart thing he's done in years is hire Parcells, and he ruined that by not letting Parcells choose his players and by undermining him in terms of dealing with players.
   9. Hal Chase Headley Lamarr Hoyt Wilhelm (ACE1242) Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:12 PM (#2306249)
The secret of success in GM'ing is obviously to have a lousy predecessor!

It also doesn't hurt if team winning percentages in your sport range .200 and .800 (NBA, NFL), rather than .400 and .600 (MLB). Thus, we get B. Beane as the best MLB GM, but only #26 overall.

It works the other way, too, of course. Notice which sports are at both the top and bottom of the Forbes list.
   10. Jeff K. Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:12 PM (#2306250)
The highest baseball GM is 26?
   11. BDC Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:14 PM (#2306252)
Forbes' system for evaluating winning is based only on the change from the last three years of the GM's predecessor

Which may explain why baseball, where records cluster more around .500, has almost all its representatives clustered between 26th and 70th on the list. Littlefield and Bavasi make a bold move toward the bottom, however :)

The baseball rankings seem almost like you could have achieved them throwing blind at a dartboard, though. Kenny Williams and Doug Melvin are near the bottom. Brian Sabean and Pat Gillick are relatively high. Why not just the other way around? No reason, really, for or against. This is one of the problems with lists that crunch a couple of arbitrary numbers and then present the results as if they meant anything (mixing four kinds of apples and oranges at the same time).
   12. Hurdle's Heroes (SuperBaes) Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:15 PM (#2306253)
Littlefield is at 84, which makes sense. I can see him being ahead of Danny Ainge and Matt Millen, but how is that ahead of Ozzie Newsome?

And I like any poll that puts Theo no better than 30. He might be the very definition of overrated.
   13. frannyzoo Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:33 PM (#2306260)
This Forbes thing is like asking Ann Coulter to list America's Best Gay Bars. Go find some more Waltons to interview guys, this dog won't hunt.
   14. Tim Wallach was my Hero Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:36 PM (#2306262)
"The secret of success in GM'ing is obviously to have a lousy predecessor!"

Or being the GM of a new franchise. C'mon, Don Waddell is 6 on the list, with a team that never made the playoffs in its 6 years in the NHL.
(the funny thing about him is that last year, he guaranteed a spot in the playoff for the Thrashers. Which didn't happen. So, this year, he actually made three dreadfull moves to try to put his team in the playoffs).
   15. greenback likes millwall Posted: March 03, 2007 at 08:43 PM (#2306267)
The highest baseball GM is 26?

And the two GMs who made the WS last year are behind Elgin Baylor.
   16. Jeff K. Posted: March 03, 2007 at 09:04 PM (#2306275)
And Schuerholz is 42? That's insanity. The exact moment that you put together a list of GMs and you realize Schuerholz is behind Sabean is the moment that you throw that list out and forget trying to make any semblance of rational thought on the subject.

Not on baseball, but how is Pioli only 20?
   17. Flynn Posted: March 03, 2007 at 09:05 PM (#2306276)
This Forbes thing is like asking Ann Coulter to list America's Best Gay Bars.

Primey.
   18. pkb33 Posted: March 03, 2007 at 09:13 PM (#2306278)
Doesn't pass the smell test.

Agreed. There is not an owner in all of professional sports who would suggest Kevin McHale is a better GM than, say, John Schuerholz or Scott Pioli.

Two immediate problems they have...

1. Focusing on winning improvement is a skewed test
2. Effectively ignoring the playoffs is quite far from the real world way that GMs are evaluated.
   19. Random Transaction Generator Posted: March 03, 2007 at 09:49 PM (#2306294)
Funny that Don Waddell gets listed as the #2 GM in the NHL, as it was only a week ago that John Davidson of the St. Louis Blues bent him over the counter in the Tkachuk deal.
   20. Paul D(uda) Posted: March 03, 2007 at 11:27 PM (#2306327)
This list has Brian Colangelo in 93rd. I am quite confident that if you were assembling an NBA team and needed a GM, he would be on the short list. I realize I am preaching to the choir, but this is a ridiculous list.
   21. MSI Posted: March 03, 2007 at 11:45 PM (#2306330)
2. Effectively ignoring the playoffs is quite far from the real world way that GMs are evaluated.


Also to note are that: not all playoffs are created equally. Getting into the baseball playoffs is different than hockey or basketball. You can slip into the playoffs year in and year out in these sports and lose every year and not really be serious. This counts for football too. Did they account for payroll in terms of league average? I hope so, because otherwise it wouldn't make sense. And lumping in all the sports together doesn't help it either.
   22. sardonic Posted: March 03, 2007 at 11:48 PM (#2306332)
Billy King is 3rd.

A structural problem that has been mentioned is that GMs actually inherit talent from their predecessors, which means that GMs who take over bad teams often get a double bonus, since those teams also are likely to have more prospects/higher draft picks going forward.
   23. Dan Szymborski Posted: March 04, 2007 at 01:20 AM (#2306350)
Everybody in the World and Oddball Statistical Measure Agree: Matt Millen is Retard
   24. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: March 04, 2007 at 06:23 AM (#2306429)
This is really terrible. Forbes should hold itself to a higher standard. Once they compiled their list and saw what garbage it was, they should have just scrapped the whole idea. I don't think I will ever take anything from them seriously again.
   25. Rear Admiral Piazza Posted: March 04, 2007 at 08:23 AM (#2306450)
Wasn't McHale the one responsible for the Joe Smith fiasco in Minnesota, where the team was heavily fined and had draft picks taken away? Seems like that would DQ him right away.
   26. rsmith51 Posted: March 04, 2007 at 03:32 PM (#2306488)
Um...

58. Jim Hendry

61. Brian Cashman

And what is that love for Brian Sabean? If he didn't have BB, he would have been fired 5 years ago.
   27. Indiana Bob Posted: March 04, 2007 at 03:46 PM (#2306492)
Jerry Jones? They can't be serious.

The only smart thing he's done in years is hire Parcells, and he ruined that by not letting Parcells choose his players and by undermining him in terms of dealing with players.


Do you really think Parcell is a good GM? I believe both the Jets and the Patriots were old and had little top shelf talent when he left as GM.

His record without Belicek on his staff is also sub-.500 with 1 playoff win.

I think it is much safer to separate the coaching and GM jobs, though Jimmy Johnson seem to handle it well. He seemed to more of a CEO type head coach who let his assistants handle the bulk of the coaching within his framework.
   28. CrosbyBird Posted: March 04, 2007 at 05:07 PM (#2306516)
Pet peeve #453: Using the term "berth" when "appearance" is just as effective, and spelling it "birth."

You'd expect that someone who writes for a living might know better.
   29. Count Posted: March 04, 2007 at 05:53 PM (#2306531)
Kevin McHale number 1 is hilarious, but at least it discredits the list right from the get go.
   30. TFTIO Posted: March 04, 2007 at 06:34 PM (#2306557)
Wasn't McHale the one responsible for the Joe Smith fiasco in Minnesota, where the team was heavily fined and had draft picks taken away? Seems like that would DQ him right away.

Yes. And then, after the sanctions had taken hold, and after Smith's deal with Detroit was over, McHale signed him again.

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