|Former O's Front Office Employee Scott Proefrock|
Another option that would likely work well with Buck would be to hire a young up-and-coming GM prospect who can take care of the day-to-day front office tasks while Buck gives broad organizational directives from the dugout. This certainly could be done and some argue it is exactly what is being done in St. Louis for better or worse. St. Louis has won a World Series, but a great deal of luck and Albert Pujols helped that occur. Anyway, here is a list of GM prospects outside of the organization.
Assistant GM, Chicago White Sox
What is there to say about Rick Hahn that has not been said already? He has routinely been mentioned as the top GM candidate over the past three or four years by Sports Illustrated, Baseball America, and Baseball Prospectus. It appears almost every year he is offered an interview by prominent organizations and either winds up backing out of interviews or being given better terms/responsibilities within the White Sox organization. He essentially runs the White Sox with directives handed out by Kenny Williams, so one would have to wonder whether he would find the Orioles a good destination if he had to answer to Buck as well as finding himself having to compete with a stacked AL East. I think he certainly would be someone who Angelos would like as Hahn is very competent with running organizational duties.
Vice President, Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager, Florida Marlins
Jennings has been rumored for GM positions for about ten years now. Last year he was a finalist in the Mets opening before losing out to Sandy Alderson. Jennings is known as being skilled at scouting and would probably complement Buck Showalter quite well. As a long time Florida employee, he is also well aware of Joe Jordan. If the Orioles want more continuity along with revamping the organization to be more efficient, Jennings might be that guy and Jordan might be a great help to him. The weakness here though is that this leaves no one in the front office in control who has experience running the day-to-day operations of the team. Buck would need someone who is well skilled to be able to turn deals that Buck cannot do while sitting in the dugout. I do think Jennings would be an interesting choice.
Senior Director, Player Personnel, Texas Rangers
This is my hope. Preller is a high energy, at-all-costs type of GM and is quickly climbing through the ranks. An often recounted story is that Preller took up Spanish while working for the Rangers in order to more freely communicate with people in Latin America, strengthening the Rangers' ability to acquire talent there. He often is compared to his boss Jon Daniels with the same major concern: he is too inexperienced. However, he has been employed at a high level on the baseball operations side and has been given high marks for the last several years. The Orioles could be a good launching pad for him. If Buck could act more like a Nolan Ryan and give Preller the freedom to fit the system to Buck's ordered shape then it might be a good pairing. With or without Buck, Preller would be my choice.
Director of Baseball Operations, Pittsburgh Pirates
Brooks is an alumni of the University of Maryland, so you have some local roots here. He has spent a lot of time working in the scouting and personnel departments for the Braves, Indians, and the Pirates. He is another young GM prospect (at 34, I think, he is a year older than Preller) who would be willing to cede power to Buck in exchange for the chance to more directly shape an organization. Brooks' is most known for his effort in social networking. In 2009, he founded the Baseball Industry Network which tries to connect those interested in baseball operations to find those opportunities. He also fits the Buck mold well as he is directly involved in high level roster management, such as the Pirates deadline deals for Ludwick and Lee. He could be the combination of new blood, communication, and front office operation skills to be a successful GM.
Assistant General Manager, Philadelphia Phillies
This would be the choice that makes sense to me if Andy MacPhail is involved in the hiring process. Proefrock was a member of MacPhail's front office for several years. It seems he left to go to the Phillies only due to them offering him a position with more responsibilities. Proefrock has cut his teeth some more with the Phillies and would come back to Baltimore with familiarity of the current system in place, but also with new ideas and honed skills to manage the franchise. Additionally, Proefrock's experience has largely been high level operations and contract decisions. He is more business oriented than baseball oriented, which is something that could pair well with Buck.
My Ranking of These Five?
I think Preller is a special talent. I think Hahn could run things smoothly and am willing to blame many of that organizations' mistakes on Kenny Williams' apparent shoot from the hip strategy. I am intrigued by Jennings' experience in scouting and developing players with Florida as well as there being some continuity with Joe Jordan. Trust me, Jordan is not great, but he certainly is not a problem in Baltimore. Brooks is an interesting wild card. I find that intriguing, but am at the point here where I'd begin looking elsewhere. Finally, I am not sure whether Proefrock has the skills to diagnose the Orioles' problems and be able to fix them. Outside of that, I'm not sure to what extent a guy who is great at nuts and bolts is going to do for the organization.
I think that Proefrock, Preller, and Jennings are all options here. I think it would also be accurate to say that those options are in that order.