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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Dave Dombrowski at a press conference announcing the hiring of Jim Leyland as the team’s new manager in 2005.
Dave Dombrowski at a press conference announcing the hiring of Jim Leyland as the team’s new manager in 2005. /

2001-15 (5 through 1)

5. Ed Wade, Philadelphia Phillies, 2001-05, Houston Astros, 2008-11, -34.7, 713-738. Wade actually operated an MLB front office for a dozen seasons, starting with the Phillies in 1998. But he never figured out how to be successful. In 2001, Wade’s player moves cost the Phillies just two games, but that was the difference between the Phillies and the division-winning Braves.

In 2005, Wade’s personnel moves cost the Phillies 2.9 games; they again finished two behind the Braves. In Houston in 2008, Wade’s decisions hurt his team by 3.9 games. The Astros finished three and one-half games behind the wild card winning Brewers.

4. Dave Dombrowski, Florida Marlins, 2001, Detroit Tigers, 2002-15, -42.0, 1,181-1,248. Dombrowski’s record is one of the most turbulent in GM history. He led the Marlins to the 1997 World Series…then destroyed that same team. In Detroit, he led a painful rebuild that began with a 43-119 2003, culminated with a World Series appearance four seasons later, receded to the division cellar within two seasons, and fought to another World Series appearance in 2012.

Then in 2015, with a potential winning cast, Dombrowski performed radical surgery. He let Max Scherzer go to free agency, replaced him with free agent Tom Gorzelanny, re-signed Victor Martinez, and signed free agent Neftali Feliz. None of those moves worked out, the impact amounting to 17.3 games. Detroit finished 12 games out of a wild card berth, and Dombrowski was off for Boston.

3. Mark Shapiro, Cleveland Indians, 2002-10, -43.3, 704-754, -43.3. Under Shapiro, the Indians were usually just good enough to come up short. The team only scored one playoff appearance – that in 2007 – and missed out in 2005 despite a 93-69 record. The Indians made no trade deadline moves of significance that summer, an antipathy that seemed understandable at the time given their status 14 games behind the White Sox.

The Indians finished 38-18 and came home just two games behind Boston for the wild card. It’s also possible, of course, that Shapiro helped the Indians by inactivity. Nine times in Shapiro’s 10 seasons, the impact of his moves on team fortune was negative, 2005 being the only exception.

2. Jon Hart, Cleveland Indians, 2001, Texas Rangers, 2002-05, Atlanta Braves, 2015, 469-503, -48.7. Hart had been a phenomenon one decade earlier when he built the Cleveland Indians into a pennant contender. But by 2001, coming off a stint running the Orioles, Hart’s game had left him. That was especially evident during his four seasons running the Rangers.

Hart is the guy who traded the Rangers out of the Alex Rodriguez contract he had inherited. The acquisition of Alfonso Soriano in return amounted to partial payback. But the A-Rod for Soriano deal was only one of many instituted by Hart that year, most of which failed spectacularly. His net impact on the Rangers’ fortunes that season alone was -15.8 games.

Next. Rating the AL East front offices. dark

1.  Allard Baird, Kansas City Royals, 2001-06, 396-586, -52.9. The Royals promoted Baird when his boss, the affable but ineffective Herk Robinson, retired. In his first five seasons, Baird’s imprint on Royals’ fortunes never measured better than -7.8 games, cratering at -13.5 games in 2005.

Baird made 38 player personnel moves that season, among them signing free agents Jose Lima (-3.2), Emil Brown (-2.0) and Joe McEwing (-1.7),  trading for Terrence Long (-1.7), Eli Marrero (-1.4) and Justin Huber (-1.3), and calling up 13 rookies who produced a combined -5.3. When the Royals broke poorly in 2006, Baird was replaced by an outsider, Atlanta’s Dayton Moore.