A closer look at four candidates for Orioles' top job - BaltimoreBaseball.com
Rich Dubroff

A closer look at four candidates for Orioles’ top job

Photo Credit: Michael Dwyer-AP Sports

During the past week, there have been reports that the Orioles have interviewed several candidates for their head of baseball operations. Let’s take a closer look at four who have been mentioned.

Ben Cherington

Cherington is 44, and has been the Toronto Blue Jays vice president of baseball operations for the past two years. He worked for the Boston Red Sox from 1999-2015, and was Boston’s general manager for the final four years of his run there.

In 2013, after Cherington named John Farrell as manager, the Red Sox won the World Series. They slumped badly in 2014, losing 91 games, and Cherington left the organization after Dave Dombrowski was hired to run baseball ops in August 2015.

Cherington, who is fluent in analytics, reportedly turned down opportunities with the New York Mets and San Francisco Giants.

A major appeal is Cherington’s knowledge of the American League East and his strong analytic background.

Cherington would like to build an organization from the ground up, which he could do with the Orioles.

“If something is presented to me, I’ll evaluate it and see if it’s something I want to do,” Cherington told The Boston Globe in August.

Ned Colletti

Colletti is 64 and his most recent front-office experience was as the Los Angeles Dodgers’ GM from 2005-14. The Dodgers made the playoffs five times in Colletti’s nine years.

Since leaving the Dodgers, he’s been a commentator on pre- and postgame shows and has won an Emmy in that role. He’s also written a book on his experience, “The Big Chair: The Smooth Hops and Big Bounces.”

“His strength is organization,” said someone who worked with Colletti. “You know where you stand with him. There’s no procrastinating. Very honest, genuine, intuitive. He’s not controlled by any one philosophy.”

Colletti is not analytically based, but he is open to using them, his former colleague said.

Colletti’s direct style would work in the Baltimore market, according to the source.

Mike Elias

Elias has been the Houston Astros’ assistant general manager since August 2016. According to the Astros’ media guide, Elias “oversees the Astros amateur scouting department and provides leadership and oversight to the Astros player development department.”

He joined Houston in 2012, and worked with GM Jeff Luhnow in St. Louis and Houston.

Elias, who was a left-handed pitcher at Yale, supervised the drafts that selected Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman and Lance McCullers Jr.

“He’d be a good fit,” said someone who worked with Elias. “He’s a good blend of mixing science and the old school. An interesting guy.”

The Astros, who won the World Series in 2017 and were eliminated in five games by the Red Sox in the American League Championship Series this season, are perhaps the most analytically based organization in the game.”

Sarah Gelles, the head of the Orioles’ analytic team, is joining Houston.

Dan Kantrovitz

While Cherington and Colletti have run baseball operations departments and Elias is a key aid to Luhnow, the 39-year-old Kantrovitz is one of three Oakland Athletics assistant GMs.

Above Kantrovitz are Billy Beane, the Athletics’ executive vice president of baseball operations, and GM David Forst.

Kantrovitz is the most analytically based of the four candidates mentioned here.

He completed his fourth season as assistant GM and, according to Oakland’s media guide, Kantrovitz “is involved in all aspects of the A’s baseball operations department with a primary focus on overseeing the club’s analytic department. He is responsible for the development and implementation of statistical analysis methods used for evaluating players in the amateur draft, free agent and trade markets.”

Kantrovitz was a shortstop at Brown and was a 25th-round draft pick by the St. Louis Cardinals in 2001. He played one game of rookie league ball before a shoulder injury curtailed his career. Kantrovitz, who also served as St. Louis’ director of scouting for three years, told FanGraphs in September that he had strong opinions on shifting.

“It gets a little mischaracterized because we look at it more not as positioning for every play, rather than deciding if we should shift or not. Every situation probably has an optimal defensive positioning configuration. The worn-out spot in the grass can’t be the best starting point all the time, right?”

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Orial

    November 6, 2018 at 8:00 am

    They all seem solid for various reasons. Colletti might need a “right hand man” type for analytics. Your comment–“his direct style would work well in Baltimore” may need a little defining. From the your descriptions I’ll throw my choice to Mark Elias. Question–these I believe are Head of Operations positions,there will still be a search for a GM too correct?

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 8:38 am

      Orial, that comment was from someone who has worked with Colletti in the past. To answer your question, that is my belief.

  2. SpinMaster

    November 6, 2018 at 9:12 am

    Personally, I like Cherington. I like the fact that he is young (not that that is any indication of how he can manage) but the fact that he has been with the Red Sox and knows the AL East. My second choice is Elias based on his experience with the Astros. I like Orial, hope that this hire is for the President of Baseball Operations who would then find a GM.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 9:48 am

      All four seem interesting, Spin, but this doesn’t mean there aren’t others.

  3. VaOsFan

    November 6, 2018 at 9:33 am

    Cherington is the obvious choice which means he won’t be with us. After that Kantrovitz may be the analytics guy to back him up. Only makes sense. Cherington would likely have been hired already if he wanted to come here.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 9:49 am

      We can all speculate, Va.

  4. Ekim

    November 6, 2018 at 10:27 am

    At the rate the “A”boys are moving, maybe Santa will deliver a present… a GM & a manager… just sayin’…

  5. willmiranda

    November 6, 2018 at 10:45 am

    Thanks for the scouting reports, Rich. They all sound capable. My real worry is too many cooks. A head of baseball operations, a GM, the Angelos-Anderson troika, Angelos, Sr., etc. It seems to me that personality conflicts and power struggles are built into the organizational model, and I haven’t even mentioned the manager. Everyone seems to have a skill set, but a limited one; no one person seems capable, by individual talent or organizational design, of presenting a unified vision and a set of coordinated relationships. It’s not enough to get someone who flourished in a thriving environment unless he can re-create that environment here. We should be identifying organizations that we would like to replicate and search within them for a can-do guy.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 11:39 am

      Will, your last point would be satisfied with Houston’s Mike Elias, would it not?

      • willmiranda

        November 6, 2018 at 11:46 am

        I guess the underlying question is: Would they let him transform the org? BTW, wasn’t George Bush a left-hander from Yale?

        • Bancells Moustache

          November 6, 2018 at 12:22 pm

          Bush 41 was a First Baseman with the Bulldogs and played in the College World Series. Bush 43 didn’t play at the collegiate level but threw out first pitches with authority (particularly when compared to his successor). Say what you will about the legacy of George W. Bush, the man had a solid fastball.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 2:12 pm

      Thank you for the quick work, Bancells.

  6. bats in the blefary

    November 6, 2018 at 11:24 am

    Rich, thanks for this great summary. This site blows away other major Oriole blog sites. We all appreciate it. As for these choices, I’d like to see Cherington at Prez with either Kantrovitz or Elias at GM. That could be a young dynamic and bold pairing.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 11:37 am

      Thank you, bats. The choice will be fascinating.

  7. bmorebirds

    November 6, 2018 at 11:30 am

    This is an easy one. Cherington. Has already been a successful GM in the American League East, is only 44, `fluent’ in analytics, wants to build a winning organization from the ground floor. Plus, he’s undoubtedly smart enough to figure out why Boston ran off the rails in 2014 and won’t repeat those mistakes.

    The delicious irony in hiring Cherington is that Duquette was blocked from joining Toronto. Wonder why Cherington vetoed Mets and Giants . . . ? If that’s Cherington’s mug shot atop the story (and given that his profile ran first), I see which way you’re leaning, Rich, lol!

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 11:41 am

      Don’t make any assumptions, bmorebirds. They were done alphabetically, and this was by no
      means a complete list. Cherington’s photo was readily available.

  8. Grand Strand Bird Fan

    November 6, 2018 at 11:42 am

    Nice summary of the potential replacements for DD. My preference is Cherington. He is experienced with the AL East, drafts well, and knows the importance baseball analytics. The Red Sox won several WS titles under his watch. He wants to build a team from the ground up. This team seems to be what he is looking for in that regard. Whoever they wind up signing have their work cut out for them.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 2:13 pm

      Thank you, Grand Strand.

  9. Bancells Moustache

    November 6, 2018 at 12:26 pm

    I’m skeptical about Cherington. Not to toss the cold water, but being successful for a franchise that has unlimited resources doesn’t equate to being able to save the Baltimore Orioles.

  10. Hallbe62

    November 6, 2018 at 2:25 pm

    Cherington.

  11. PA Bird Lover

    November 6, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    It seems too easy to pick Cherington so quickly. Bancells has a great point about Cherington working with a PA budget. Looking at it from a financial standpoint, perhaps the gentleman from the A’s would be best since they are known for pulling their belt really tight. But, I to think Cherington would make a very good GM, especially since he’d prefer building from rock bottom and that’s our team.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 6, 2018 at 6:37 pm

      Thank you for your comments, PA.

  12. GSISDANNO

    November 6, 2018 at 6:46 pm

    Lets get SOMEONE hired.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 7, 2018 at 7:55 am

      Danno, belated congratulations on your accurate World Series predictions.

  13. cedar

    November 6, 2018 at 7:20 pm

    Seems like any of these four would be a good pick. I’ll throw my vote for Krantovitz. I think a key to this rebuild is evaluating the players. It feels like we have had more misses than hits in that department and any sustained turnaround is going to have to rely on knowing you have a steady stream of talent in the minors.

    • Rich Dubroff

      November 7, 2018 at 7:56 am

      We’ll see if you’re right, Cedar.

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