Thursday, October 6, 2011

By Chuck Richter - Executive Editor

If it seems as though every time there is a General Manager opening in one of baseball’s larger markets the names Billy Beane and Theo Epstein are tied to those jobs, it’s because they are.

With the resignation (firing) of Tony Reagins, the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, their 3 million fans and deep-pocketed owner Arte Moreno are on the hunt for a new boss. The tight-lipped Halos would never leak the names of those baseball executives they intend to court. That hasn’t stopped the media from speculating. Jim Bowden of ESPN rumored everyone but himself as a candidate that the Angels are to target, including Beane and Epstein.

A hiring of either of baseball’s two most famous executives would certainly be big news. That actually happening seems less likely than Jeff Mathis leading the league in hitting in 2012. Beane has a 5% ownership stake in the Oakland Athletics and Epstein seems more interested in leveraging the Angels’ and Chicago Cubs’ openings into a long-term extension with the Red Sox.

It is also unlikely that the Angels will find a replacement in-house. If Reagins was forced out, it’d make little sense to promote one of his top advisers. 

Assuming the Angels will look outside of the organization and towards a fresh perspective; let’s look at some of the top front office talent available – the future GMs of Major League Baseball.

Damon Oppenheimer: VP of Amateur Scouting – New York Yankees
Oppenheimer is a local, having attended the University of Southern California. Approaching 50 years old, Oppenheimer is a bit older than some of the other names on this list, but he is an established name within baseball’s most established organization. The Angels may see Oppenheimer’s scouting background as a good fit. Oppenheimer though may be content to stick with his role with the Yankees and to possibly wait out the tenure of Brian Cashman in hopes of one day owning baseball’s most prestigious executive role. If he is to leave, it would make sense that this would be the year with openings in the country’s second and third largest markets.

MLB Trade Rumors Conversation

Rick Hahn: Assistant General Manager – Chicago White Sox
A Harvard Law graduate, Hahn certainly possesses a well respected intellect. Hahn has paid his dues and has long been rumored to take the reins of a Major League club as he’s received a tremendous amount of credit for his work under Kenny Williams. His introduction to the game came in his role as a sports agent – credentials which suggest a strong understanding of the administrative side of being an executive, including contracts and payroll management. The Angels’ recent front office mishaps may suggest that they’re more interested in a talent evaluator at this point in time.

More on Hahn

John Coppolella: Director of Professional Scouting – Atlanta Braves
Coppolella began his baseball career with the New York Yankees as an intern after graduating from Notre Dame. The pedigree is there as Coppolella has worked for arguably the two most successful franchises of the last two decades. He began his career under Brian Cashman and Damon Oppenheimer and has worked under the mentorship of John Schuerholz (Braves President and former GM) and Frank Wren, current GM for the past five seasons in Atlanta. Born and raised in Orange County, Coppolella worked two summers as an intern for the Lake Elsinore Storm (at the time an Angels affiliate) and one summer for the Angels themselves while still at Notre Dame. If the Angels decide to go young, it’s hard to imagine that anyone that fits that description would have been in a position to absorb more raw baseball knowledge than Coppolella, 33. A local product with a scouting background and strong pedigree, as well as ties to the region and organization, he may just be THE fit for the Halos.

Baseball Prospectus Chat

MLB Trade Rumors Interview

Tony LaCava: Assistant General Manager – Toronto Blue Jays
LaCava is another hot name with southern California ties. In fact, he worked for the Angels beginning in 1989 as scout. No stranger to baseball courtship, LaCava has interviewed for general manager positions in the past with both Seattle and Pittsburgh. Not getting either small-market job may be a blessing for the Blue Jays’ Assistant GM as the both the Cubs and Angels offer better opportunities with greater resources. LaCava’s strength may be his extensive experience as he’s bounced around the league a bunch having worked for (in addition to the Halos) the Braves, Expos and Indians.

Interview with Batter’s Box

MLB Trade Rumors Profile
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