Following in the footsteps of Seattle’s general manager Jack Zduriencik and Washington’s Mike Rizzo teams are beginning to change their ideas of what makes a good GM. Instead of the old baseball lifers, today’s GM’s are younger, are knowledgeable about stats, and have come out of team’s scouting departments.
Tracy Ringolsby of Fox Sports put together a list 10 scouts who could make good general managers in the Zduriencik/Rizzo mold. The Yankees scouting director Damon Oppenheimer made the top of his list.
Here is what Ringolsby had to say:
DAMON OPPENHEIMER, scouting director, New York Yankees. Oppenheimer went from catching Randy Johnson at USC to a year in the Milwaukee farm system to scouting at the age of 24. He worked with San Diego, where his mother was the longtime minor-league administrator, and Texas before joining the Yankees in 1993, becoming the director of player personnel in 2001 and assuming the scouting director role in 2005. He is part of the inner circle of Yankees general manager Brian Cashman. He’s not much in terms of self-promoting, so his name rarely shows up in rumors.
Thoughts: Oppenheimer has done a great job with the Yankees since Cashman took charge of the team and appointed him head of the team’s scouting. He’s responsible for drafting all of the recent Yankee youngsters like Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and was in charge when they signed Jesus Montero. He might not have been directly responsible for each of these players, but Oppenheimer has played a big role of changing the habits of the Yankee scouting department.
The one knock against Oppenheimer was failing to sign right handed pitchers Gerrit Cole and Scott Bittle in the 2008 draft, but the strategy he used in drafting that pair is the same strategy the Yankees used in drafting Joba, Andrew Brackman, and Slade Heathcott.
It’s likely that the Yankees would lose Oppenheimer if he wanted to become a GM, but there is a chance that with George Steinbrenner out of the picture Cashman could be promoted to president of the team and Opp could be made GM. It’s unlikely, but one scenario where he could become GM and stay with the team. Although Jean Afterman, Cashman’s assistant, could be in line for a promotion as well. It’s hard to see, if these two people were promoted, that they could both stay within the organization.