Polo Grounds

Polo Grounds

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Special Assistant to the GM - Best job in sports

It is extremely common for former players to stay in baseball past their playing carers. The majority of minor and major league coaches are former ballplayers, and almost every talking head you see announcing games or acting as an analyst on Baseball Tonight is a former player.

Outside of coaching and announcing, there is one position that seems to be filled quite frequently by former players: The title of Special Assistant. It seems as if you have a productive career as a member of a certain team, you mysteriously end up gaining this title and continuing to work for the organization. As you can see below, many of the best players of the last twenty years or so continue to work as "Special Assistants". What these players do besides wear their teams color and smile and wave is beyond me, but hey, if a team wants to continue to pay one of their legends to stay with the organization, who am I to complain?

11 Hall of Famers, too many all-star games to count, a lot of ejections (see Braves) and one average baseball player made famous by a Brad Pitt movie (A's), let's take a look at each teams special assistants / Former greats:

Boston Red Sox - Special Assistant to the GM - Jason Varitek and Pedro Martinez*

One of the better battery combinations of the last twenty years, these two will continue to serve the Red Sox in this role. Wouldn't be surprised to see David Ortiz or Kevin Youkilis in this role in the future.

Toronto Blue Jays - Special Assistant to the Organization - Roberto Alomar*, Carlos Delgado, Pat Hentgen, George Bell and Paul Quantrill.

The Blue Jays apparently just pick five of their most famous former players and give them this title. Roy Halladay I assume will be submitting his resume shortly. (I wonder if they have to submit resumes?)

White Sox - Special Assistant to the GM - Jim Thome

Thome played for roughly 25 teams, but the White Sox won the bidding to have him as their Special Assistant. A future landing spot for Mark Buehrle I would imagine.

Tigers - Special Assistant to the President - Al Kaline* and Willie Horton

With Alan Trammell representing the team as an assistant coach, it makes sense to reach to their 1968 WS team to fill the special assistant roles.

Royals - Special Assistant to the GM - Mike Sweeney

Sweeney is about the Royals only good player of the last 20 years, so of course he gets the nod until Alex Gordon retires.

Twins - Special Assistants - Rod Carew*, Kent Hrbek, Jack Morris, Tony Oliva, Bert Blyleven*

Go big or go home, said the Twins. With Molitor as their manager, why not? Joe Mauer has already been groomed as the replacement.

Astros - Special Assistant to the GM - Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio*

Could you imagine these two guys working together? Polar opposite personalities I feel like. It also feels wrong for Biggio and Bagwell to not be together on this one. I am sure Lance Berkman will be in shortly.

Angels - Special Assistant to the GM - Tim Bogar

Bogar's 1.9 WAR and the fact that he never played for the Angels means he may be hired on merit alone, which seems rather surprising.

A's - Special Assistant to Baseball Ops - Scott Hatteberg

A true legend of Moneyball, Hatteberg put up a 5.4 WAR for Oakland in his time there, but is immortalized for a game winning dinger and a high on base percentage. Eric Chavez and Jason Giambi seem prime candidates for future roles in the organization.

Braves - Special Assistant to the GM - Bobby Cox

I hope Bobby sits close enough to the field where he can get tossed by an umpire.

Marlins - Special Assistant to the President - Andre Dawson*, Tony Perez* and Jeff Conine

The Marlins do not have an extensive history of great players, so they had to borrow from the Cubs and Reds with Dawson and Perez. Conine, however, fits the bill of a team legend, which says more about the Marlins than it does about him.

Cubs - Special Assistant to the GM - Kerry Wood and Ted Lilly

After losing out on Dawson to the Marlins and Sandberg to the Phillies, the Cubs went with two pitchers who will be really great at helping the pitching staff rehab from injuries.

Reds - Special Assistant to the GM - Miguel Cairo, Mario Soto and Eric Davis

Eric Davis could have been one of the greatest had he not gotten injured, so his presence makes sense. Soto was a stud, but Miguel Cairo kind of brings the whole talent level down a tad. Expecting Joey Votto to waltz into this role in a few years.

Pirates - Special Assistant to the GM - Doug Strange

The Pirates haven't been good in a while, but Doug Strange certainly does not represent their best, as he hit .173 in 201 at-bats in 1998. Jason Kendall seems a solid fit.

Cardinals - Special Assistant to the GM - Cal Eldred, Ryan Franklin, Mike Jorgensen, Willie McGee, Red Schoendienst*

The Cardinals are represented by one of their most recognized figures, and then four very average players from their history. I bet Chris Carpenter or Adam Wainwright will replace Franklin in the future.

Diamondbacks - Special Assistant to the President - J.J. Putz, Randy Johnson*, Luis Gonzalez

With a former player as a GM, it's not surprising to see the D-Backs have three of their franchise cornerstones in a Special Assistant role. Putz got the job roughly 9 seconds after he retired I think. Also, with Randy on this list only John Smoltz from this years HOF class is not a special assistant somewhere.

Dodgers - Director of Player Development - Gabe Kapler

Special Assistant/Player Personnel - Aaron Sele and Jose Vizcaino

Haha. Aaron Sele. I guess with Mattingly and McGwire in your dugout, and Magic Johnson as an owner, you can afford to go light on the Special Assistants.

Padres - Special Assistant to Baseball Operations - Mark Loretta

Loretta hit .314 with the Padres in three seasons, good enough to earn a spot on the payroll I suppose.

Giants - Special Assistants - J.T. Snow, Willie Mays*, Will Clark

Senior Advisor - Willie McCovey*

Special Assistant to the GM - Felipe Alou

Community Ambassador - Orlando Cepeda* and Dave Dravecky.

If this were a competition, the Giants would win. Mays, McCovey and Cepeda are true legends, and Will Clark and Felipe Alou were great as well. JT Snow forever earned a paycheck from the Giants simply by rescuing Dusty Baker's son 13 years ago, so he was a lock.

I think I will send in an application for the role with the Seattle Mariners, since they are one of the few teams that doesn't have a former player in that role. However, as evidenced by their track record, maybe these teams know something they don't about hiring former players. Griffey/Buhner/Edgar should submit an app, maybe that's what the M's team to get some Wins under their belt.

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