MLB: The century’s worst GMs

Jun 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington (left) introduces the Pirates 2017 first round draft pick Shane Baz (right) before the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Baz was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 MLB first-year player draft. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 16, 2017; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates general manager Neal Huntington (left) introduces the Pirates 2017 first round draft pick Shane Baz (right) before the game against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park. Baz was the 12th overall pick in the 2017 MLB first-year player draft. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports /
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Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Texas Rangers GM Jon Daniels. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

2001-2015 (10 through 6)

10. J.P. Ricciardi, Toronto Blue Jays, 2002-09, -27.6, 657-653. In seven seasons at the Jays’ helm, Ricciardi never figured out how to maneuver them to a plane equal with the AL East dominant Yankees and Red Sox. That’s not an unfair expectation; the Rays accomplished it with fewer resources at the same time.

In 2003, Ricciardi’s various moves – notably the loss to free agency of Jose Cruz, the traded of Shannon Stewart, the acquisition of pitcher Corey Lidle and the promotion of rookie Kevin Cash – cost Toronto 9.7 games in the standings; they missed MLB post-season qualification by nine games.

9. Neal Huntington, Pittsburgh Pirates, 2008-15, -28.7, 617-678. Huntington is the only general manager who appears on both the 2001-15 and 2016-20 lists. As previously noted, his tenure had some highlights, chief among them being post-season berths between 2013 and 2015.

The drag on Huntington’s record is that the seasons leading to that success were bleak ones. In his first three seasons, Huntington’s rebuilding efforts annually cost Pittsburgh 10 games or more on the standings.

8. Jon Daniels, Texas Rangers, 2006-15, -29.1, 846-775. Daniels is one of three MLB GMs consigned to this list despite winning records. To his credit, he has to date produced five post-season teams. Four of them came from 2006 through 2015.

On the other hand, in six of his first 10 seasons Daniels’ moves actually injured Texas’ standing, by margins ranging from trivial (-0.1 games in 2012) to damaging (-18.7 games in 2014).

7. Billy Beane, Oakland Athletics, 2001-15, -30.9, 1,326-1,025. Billy Beane is a certified GM genius; even Hollywood says so. How does he wind up here? Beane may have led the front office revolution, and he may have played a role in 11 Oakland post-season appearances, 8 of them between 2001 and 2015. But he was a gambler who lost as often as he won.

In 2004 Beane decided the A’s couldn’t keep Miguel Tejada, the team’s former all-star and MVP and probably its best player. Statistically, Tejada’s loss cost Oakland a post-season spot.

6. Jim Bowden, Cincinnati Reds, 2001-03, Washington Nationals, 2005-09, -34.5, 556-739. Following a sabbatical from his decade-long management of the Reds, Bowden took over the Nationals following their move from Montreal.

In the 1990s Bowden had been a force with the Reds, but he had lost his mojo. His eight final seasons produced seven negative impacts on the teams under his charge.