There it is—we officially have our first rumor listing a potential candidate to take over as Mariners general manager. I didn't think we'd be here, I of course didn't want to be here, but we are now here and it's time to deal. That's made easier by this first candidate, coming even before the Mariners have made a move on current GM Jack Zduriencik, being a pretty decent one.
That's three people who've said that Cubs VP Jason McLeod has a great shot at the Mariners GM job— Peter Gammons (@pgammo) July 21, 2015
Jason McLeod is currently the Senior Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting for the Cubs. In other words, he oversees the farm—one that went from among the game's worst to very best in short time. McLeod, previously an assistant GM under current Cubs General Manager Jed Hoyer in San Diego, was one of Theo Epstein's very first hires in Chicago.
This is just a rumor, and an extremely early one. The three people Gammons mentioned are almost certainly third parties privy to very little as far as actual interest or legitimate conversations, with it being unlikely there have been any of the latter.
But the fit—that makes sense. It's a hiring that would be very similar to the one that preceded it, as McLeod, like Zduriencik did and does, will tout the ability to build through draft and development.
On the one hand, I can understand some level of hesitancy around doubling down on that philosophy, especially as this roster is capable of contending in 2016 and needs someone who can churn the mulch, really getting more out of the bottom half of the roster.
On the other, this is about much more than 2016, or even 2017 and 2018. Drafting and developing—especially developing—is how organizations win in this game. No one will be receptive to a slash-and-burn approach that will garner multiple years of top ten picks, but the ability to build from within is essential.
As odd as it is, Mariners ownership, Howard Lincoln and Chuck Armstrong had the right idea in nabbing a good farm director who'd work in analytics-driven concepts. It hasn't worked to date, but a blend of the two philosophies—if they're even different anymore, which I doubt—is the right approach going forward.
Now, the bad news: we have no idea if McLeod would actually be interested. Even with Gammons' tweet being nothing all that substantial, I'll take the optimistic route and assume if he's hearing it from multiple people there's a chance there's some level of interest on his end.
Here's the reason why there might not be: he previously turned down a chance to interview with the Padres for their GM gig.
"Obviously very humbled and flattered the Padres were interested," McLeod said. "That's my hometown team. That's always been a dream job for me but as I got to sit and reflect and think about it, this is where I want to be right now."
You never know why these things happen. Maybe he's just not ready to leave yet, that he wants to see this Cubs rebuild through a bit longer. Or, maybe he got a sense he didn't have as good a shot as he'd like and preferred to bow out. Or maybe he wanted to start someplace new if he was going to do his own thing. Could be any number of things.
So who is Jason McLeod? What does he believe in? For those looking to find out more about his views, I strongly recommend this interview with him by Fangraphs' David Laurila. For an excerpt, here's part of McLeod's answer when asked about collaboration between scouting and player development:
"Scouts — amateur scouts — have a job to do. The scouting director needs a staff and a process in place to make the best decisions possible on draft day. We all know that. You’re trying to pick the most-talented players, the guys with the most upside who can provide the biggest impact for your organization.
"Once you sign those guys, the crux of it becomes: Are we providing the best possible instruction? Are we creating an environment for those players to maximize their abilities? That’s paramount. With this whole scouting and player development collaboration in mind, I think it’s important for the scouts to be aware of what the plan is for those individual players. That’s one place where my role comes in. It’s important for the scouting director, the cross checkers, and the area scouts to have a very good understanding of: Hey, these are the types of players we’d ultimately like to bring into the organization; go find these guys. And once they get here, these are the things we’re going to put into place to fully develop them on multiple fronts.
"We want the player development staff to understand what the scouting staff is trying to do in the draft — and internationally — and vice versa. When a scout goes into a player’s home, he should be able to tell him exactly what’s going to happen once he becomes a member of this organization. He can tell him how we’re going to help him develop all of his abilities. The scout needs to be aware of what the plan will be for that guy."
Again, I recommend reading the whole thing.
So, there we have it. Again, just a rumor. But I suspect this is far from the last one of these posts we'll write over the coming months.
As the 2015 Mariners slip further into oblivion, this feels very much like the end. But with it being the end, it's probable there is a new beginning to follow, and that's something to be optimistic about. It isn't what I or anyone else wanted to be optimistic about come July but, again, here we are. Might as well make of it what we can.