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Tuesday, December 22, 2020

Sources: Phillies name Sam Fuld new GM under Dombrowski

The Phillies will name Sam Fuld their general manager, according to sources.

Fuld, 39, has been a member of the Phillies’ front office since 2017, most recently as director of integrative baseball performance.

The New Hampshire native played at Stanford and spent eight seasons in the major leagues with four different clubs before embarking on a front-office career.

Fuld will report to Dave Dombrowski, who earlier this month was named the Phillies’ first-ever president of baseball operations.

RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 22, 2020 at 02:17 PM | 32 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies, sam fuld

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   1. Rally Posted: December 22, 2020 at 03:32 PM (#5995559)
He's just one of 2 GMs with MLB playing experience now, right? The other being Dipoto, unless I'm missing someone.
   2. A triple short of the cycle Posted: December 22, 2020 at 03:55 PM (#5995568)
Wow. Seems like just yesterday he was playing for the A's. Seemed like a bright guy and what a voice.
   3. SoSH U at work Posted: December 22, 2020 at 03:59 PM (#5995570)
He's just one of 2 GMs with MLB playing experience now, right? The other being Dipoto, unless I'm missing someone.



You are. Chris Young with the Rangers. In your defense, he's only been on the job for two weeks.
   4. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: December 22, 2020 at 03:59 PM (#5995571)
Chris Young is the Rangers' GM now, so there's three.

I looked them up because I know nothing about half of these guys.

There's only a couple of others who even played in the minors. Ross Atkins was drafted by the Indians out of Wake Forest and rose to AA, spending 5 years in the minors. Mike Rizzo and Mike Hazen lasted 2 years.

Most of them are Elite College --> Join MLB team at age 24. Although they did play varsity baseball at Harvard (David Forst) or Yale (Mike Elias) or Princeton (Mike Chernoff) or Wesleyan (Hoyer) or Amherst (Cherington) or Haverford (Thad Levine) or Catholic University (Cashman) or Bowdoin (new Mets GM Jared Porter).

Nick Krall is one of the few young ones not from an elite college. He walked on the LSU baseball team but didn't play. Perry Minasian (new Angels GM, age 40) is also from more of a "baseball lifer" background but wasn't good enough to play himself (at Texas).

Dayton Moore and Al Avila have (college) coaching experience.
   5. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: December 22, 2020 at 04:19 PM (#5995575)
I hope he changes his legal name to Phuld.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: December 22, 2020 at 06:06 PM (#5995589)
Of course these days, the "GM" is not necessarily the GM. Seems unlikely Dombrowski is letting Fuld run things. (Probably the same with Daniels/Young and maybe some of the others mentioned.) Obviously hard to say for sure from outside. Still, it's a step up the FO ladder for Fuld.
   7. puck Posted: December 22, 2020 at 06:45 PM (#5995594)
Seemed like a bright guy and what a voice.


Here's the press confer-zoom. Dombrowski says he's never met him.

RE. the voice: are you referring to when he yells or sings or something?
   8. the Hugh Jorgan returns Posted: December 22, 2020 at 10:03 PM (#5995626)
So Fuld is 39 and made $6.5 million from his playing career. He can become one of the few players who can make more as an executive in MLB then as a player. I'm sure Billy Beane would be near the top of this list...
   9. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 22, 2020 at 10:14 PM (#5995628)
Most of them are Elite College --> Join MLB team at age 24. Although they did play varsity baseball at Harvard (David Forst) or Yale (Mike Elias) or Princeton (Mike Chernoff) or Wesleyan (Hoyer) or Amherst (Cherington) or Haverford (Thad Levine) or Catholic University (Cashman) or Bowdoin (new Mets GM Jared Porter).

Seems like an odd way to find managerial talent.
   10. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 09:19 AM (#5995653)
Seems like an odd way to find managerial talent.

What do you mean? They’re not hiring them into managerial roles right out of college.
   11. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 10:07 AM (#5995666)
What do you mean? They’re not hiring them into managerial roles right out of college.

I mean a MLB front office is a tiny operation with dozens of employees. There are not going to be significant opportunities to learn to manage if you never work outside of that environment. Also, promoting strictly within leads to insularity. Finally, thinking someone is ready to run an entire organization at 32 or 35 is pretty daft.

If I owned a baseball team, I'd hire someone with real managerial chops from another industry, who was also a geeky baseball fan. A baseball team really is a small business; no way are they going to have the same quality of managers are real big businesses.

I am totally against the idea that the willingness to eat #### for 10 years b/c you "loooooooove" the job is a qualification for promotion. To me it's a sign you're not too bright.
   12. Crispix Attacksel Rios Posted: December 23, 2020 at 11:56 AM (#5995690)
I'm sure teams hire a lot of those people from other industries, but they don't get publicly visible jobs like General Manager. I've looked at all 30 Wikipedia pages, and I think 29 out of 30 current GMs haven't had an employer past age 25 other than a baseball team, Major League Baseball, a college (working as a baseball coach/athletic director), or a sports agency representing baseball players.

The other 1 is Mike Girsch (who? the Cardinals GM) who worked for Boston Consulting while spending his free time trying to get hired as a baseball stat guy, which he did at age 30.

Maybe the new market inefficiency will be when the Cardinals replace Mike Girsch with Brian Sikes, Chief Risk Officer at Cargill.
   13. The Gary DiSarcina Fan Club (JAHV) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 12:37 PM (#5995696)
I mean a MLB front office is a tiny operation with dozens of employees. There are not going to be significant opportunities to learn to manage if you never work outside of that environment. Also, promoting strictly within leads to insularity. Finally, thinking someone is ready to run an entire organization at 32 or 35 is pretty daft.

If I owned a baseball team, I'd hire someone with real managerial chops from another industry, who was also a geeky baseball fan. A baseball team really is a small business; no way are they going to have the same quality of managers are real big businesses.

I am totally against the idea that the willingness to eat #### for 10 years b/c you "loooooooove" the job is a qualification for promotion. To me it's a sign you're not too bright.


There is so much begging the question here, I don't know where to start. Why can't you learn to manage in a small business environment? Why would learning to manage in a "tiny operation" lead preclude someone from being a good manager OF a "tiny operation"? Why would we assume the disadvantages of insularity will overcome the advantages of being familiar with the industry? Why would we assume any given managerial candidate would be overcome by insularity in the first place? Why should we assume baseball organizations are hiring people for managerial positions who are only "eating poop for 10 years" rather than promoting qualified employees? Why do we assume someone is unintelligent when they are willing to begin at a low level and work hard in an industry that they love and see a chance to thrive in long-term?

There are skills that people from outside of the baseball environment might have developed that people within might not have. But there are also skills and wisdom developed inside the industry that people outside might not be able to master. It's at least as silly to assume someone outside of a baseball operations department could succeed as a GM as it is to assume an insider is a worse candidate.
   14. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 12:41 PM (#5995697)
I'm officially old
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 01:22 PM (#5995703)
There are skills that people from outside of the baseball environment might have developed that people within might not have. But there are also skills and wisdom developed inside the industry that people outside might not be able to master. It's at least as silly to assume someone outside of a baseball operations department could succeed as a GM as it is to assume an insider is a worse candidate.

The skills that you don't learn outside of baseball aren't needed by the GM. Player evaluation and valuation are (or should be) handled by technical staff. Just like in an insurance company (my industry) the CEO doesn't need to know how to be an underwriter, or an actuary. The head of the operation has those skills provided by technical employees.

My major point is that MLB GMs are big fish in a small pond. The best of them are highly unlikely to be as smart/talented/skilled as the best managers in major industries.

Look at Andrew Friedman. He had worked in I-banking and Private equity and was running the Rays within a year of being hired. He did great.

The idea that there isn't better managerial talent in the ranks Google, or Amazon, or Goldman Sachs, or 100 other companies, than the tiny world of MLB is pretty laughable.

I'm also confident there are a few dozen posters here who would be competent baseball execs. It's just not that hard. Any smart person could do it.
   16. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 02:15 PM (#5995714)
The counterargument is that many teams have historically been owned by people who have been successful in other industries, and they have been abjectly terrible at running their ballclubs. Heck, they are the people hiring these 32 year old GMs so it’s either not such a terrible idea or these owners don’t know how to hire correctly.

There’s no real reason that a 35 y.o. can’t be a good GM. To your point, these aren’t big, complex organizations. 35 y.o.s are managing very successful companies and divisions in tech, financial services, and elsewhere.
   17. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 02:46 PM (#5995717)
Sandy Alderson
   18. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 02:47 PM (#5995718)
The issue with the counterargument is that a) rich people aren't necessarily good business people and or b) they don't run the ballclub like a business.
   19. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 02:50 PM (#5995721)
I had this argument with people many years ago on amother message board. They were adamant that a GM had to be a baseball person who was good at virtually all aspects of front office operations while I was of the view that your GM needed to know how to manage people and systems.
   20. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: December 23, 2020 at 03:04 PM (#5995723)
It's just not that hard. Any smart person could do it.
Tell 'em, Wash.
   21. Never Give an Inge (Dave) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 03:16 PM (#5995726)
They were adamant that a GM had to be a baseball person who was good at virtually all aspects of front office operations while I was of the view that your GM needed to know how to manage people and systems.

I agree with that, but I don't know that baseball teams are necessarily going to find those people any more easily searching outside the organization. Andrew Friedman may be a good baseball executive, but there are a lot of successful investment bankers and private equity professionals who are terrible at managing people. They want to do deals and manage portfolios but if you actually put them in charge of more than 5-10 people it works out pretty poorly. The benefit of promoting from within the industry or organization is that you've gotten to see some of their experience in management at lower levels of the organization.
   22. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 03:25 PM (#5995732)
Certainly. I wouldn't hire some hedge fund wizard simply because he had a good run. Alderson is a good example. He was a lawyer. The owner was impressed with him and made him the GM.

But, here's the thing baseball isn't the big leagues in the business world. The pay and locations are less then desirable.

If you're good enough to run a Forbes 500 company or a genius enough to invest billions of dollars you're not going to want to be some GM in Cincinnati.
   23. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 03:31 PM (#5995733)
No manager on a good track at Boeing is going to leave that industry to become a contract employee for a baseball team.
   24. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 03:32 PM (#5995735)
But then again very few Boeing managers aren't also specialists. Boeing isn't hiring a great chef to run their ops.
   25. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 04:38 PM (#5995742)
If you're good enough to run a Forbes 500 company or a genius enough to invest billions of dollars you're not going to want to be some GM in Cincinnati.

You're not going to get the CEO, but there are lots of top managers that lose out as the funnel narrows towards the top. A lot of them might take a 5 year, $20M contract to run a ball team.
   26. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 05:28 PM (#5995748)
And no owner would throw that kind of money at a mid level exec with no track record.

It took Andrew 10 years of sustained success in baseball to get the Dodgers to throw a ton of money at him.
   27. McCoy Posted: December 23, 2020 at 05:39 PM (#5995749)
Baseball is largely doing it right. They're getting bright young people out of college instead of failed 50 year of old out of pharmaceuticals and tech.
   28. Walt Davis Posted: December 23, 2020 at 07:20 PM (#5995760)
To test the insularity argument, you should look at the non-baseball hires by teams. I assume that those folks are frequently hired from the broader labor market but if the VP of sales and marketing and the head travel person and the facilities person and the press person are also folks who've been with the team for 10 years, the clearly the organization is insular. To what extent do teams hire these sorts of people away from other teams?

If my suspeicion is right and we see a "usual" number of external hires for these non-baseball roles, then any "insularity" is limited to the baseball side. The question then shifts to whether this is a standard example of needing people with specific technical knowledge. To a great extent, data is data so we might expect relatively high levels of external hiring for analytics roles. On the other hand, I can't imagine hiring a batting coach who's been working for an insurance company.

My career is in technical roles but usually only in small settings. But my limited time in larger, highly structured organizations has led me to the following (hardly ironclad) notions:

1. The best manager in a technical setting is a person with strong technical knowledge and experience (possibly better in that organization but maybe not) who also happens to be a good manager type. These are very rare however.

2. The worst manager is the technical expert who is a shitty manager. Eventually the team implodes, in large part because the manager has done such a crappy job of setting a direction, explaining why we're doing what we're doing, setting realistic deadlines, setting the right priorities, etc. This can result in the lower-level staff making their own decisions.

3. The next worst manager is the generic good manager with no technical knowledge. Communication with upper management, having priorites set, etc. is great but they are totally reliant on the technical people below them, can't translate well between management and tech speak and largely end up ignored by staff ... which can result in lower-level staff making their own decisions.

4. The realistic "sweet spots" seem to be about 2/3 tech, 1/3 managerial for leader of a relatively small team (maybe scouting director) and 1/3 tech, 2/3 managerial for somebody managing several teams (the PBO/GM).

Analytics aside, it's hard to see how you develop that technical knowledge when working outside of baseball. Although I'll agree that the technical knowledge required by the PBO may not need to be particularly baseball-heavy -- I suppose "how much should we pay to purchase this asset?" can be sufficiently generic regardless of the asset type. But realistically, with just 30 high-profile, media-targeted businesses, the reputational risk of hiring somebody with no baseball experience to run a team would be very high.

This possibly gets us back to "what exactly is Fuld's role here?" If he's a GM that's not going to make any important decisions so mainly exists to manage people, collate the info they provide and feed it up to Dombrowski -- that sounds like a job that most any good manager could do. If he's seen as some sort of protege to eventually replace Dombrowski or take over some other team, then he does need technical knowledge. I assume a GM like Hoyer was under Theo was somewhere in between -- Jed maybe making decisions on smaller player moves (moving guys up and down the minors, low-level waiver wire pick-ups, NRIs, etc.) and heavy input on the draft. Given Fuld has minimal business managerial experience (in or out of baseball), I assume that he's expected to be a Hoyer type.
   29. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 23, 2020 at 09:27 PM (#5995771)
Baseball is largely doing it right. They're getting bright young people out of college instead of failed 50 year of old out of pharmaceuticals and tech.

Guys who are in the running for CEO/CFO/CIO at a large company and don't quite get there are hardly "failed 50 year olds".
   30. McCoy Posted: December 24, 2020 at 07:50 PM (#5995901)
No one is giving a 50 year old aeronautical engineer 20 million to be their GM.
   31. Infinite Yost (Voxter) Posted: December 26, 2020 at 06:17 PM (#5996062)
Of all the dumb threads in the history of this very old web site, this might be the dumbest.
   32. Where have you gone Brady Anderson? Posted: December 27, 2020 at 08:29 PM (#5996171)
I realized today that Jared Porter graduated from Bowdoin the same year I did. I don’t think I knew him though.

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