Yanks give Angels okay to talk to Eppler, Oppenheimer about GM gig

Update (Oct. 12th): Via Joel Sherman, and Mark Feinsand, the Angels have asked for and received permission from the Yankees to interview Oppenheimer and pro scouting director Billy Eppler for their GM vacancy. That’s kind of a big deal, they haven’t let them interview for GM jobs before (that we know of).

Original Post (Oct. 11th): Via Jon Heyman, the Angels have Yankees amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer on a list of candidates for their vacant GM position. Tony Reagins stepped down as GM last month, surely shamed by the Vernon Wells trade. Kidding, just kidding. Or am I?

Anyway, this is not the first time Oppenheimer has been a candidate for a GM job. The Diamondbacks wanted to speak to him last offseason, but the Yankees denied them permission to do so, their contractual right. Oppenheimer is a Southern California guy and is widely considered to be one of the top GM prospects in the game, so we’ll have to see how this goes. With Brian Cashman set to ink a new deal soon, it seems more and more likely that Opp’s first GM gig will come away from the Bronx.

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Carroll: Oppenheimer a top GM prospect

Yankees’ scouting director Damon Oppenheimer has been mentioned as a GM candidate for the last few years now, and even moreso these days as we approach the end of Brian Cashman‘s latest contract. Will Carroll recently put together a list of the ten best GM prospects in the game, and Oppenheimer made the cut. Allow me to excerpt…

… several think pushing 50 might work against Oppenheimer. He’s hardly “too old,” but Oppenheimer will have it work against him in what is quickly becoming a young man’s job. The hours required, the time away from home and family, and the pay all conspire against the more established people.

[snip]

Oppenheimer, like [White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn], is often thought to be “in waiting” — not pushing Brian Cashman out the door, but in position to have the biggest chair in all of baseball …  “The thing you wonder,” said one AL exec, “is whether he really wants the job or is willing to keep doing the job he’s doing forever. He’s great and he’d be a great GM, but someone’s going to have to want him specifically.”

The Diamondbacks wanted to speak to Oppenheimer about their GM opening during the winter, but the Yankees denied them permission to do so. That’s a pretty good indication that, at the very least, they’re pleased with his work as scouting director and don’t want to lose him to another club. There’s also a pretty good chance that it means they have some kind of long-term plan for him. Speculate at your own risk.

I’ve already written about the front office and how I hope there is some kind of change this offseason, but it’s not like I want Cashman to go or anything like that. Quite the opposite, actually. I think promoting Oppenheimer to assistant GM would be a fine first step towards restructuring the front office somewhat, hopefully creating some kind of continuity between executives. Think Mark Shapiro and Chris Antonetti with the Indians. When the former was promoted to team president, the latter stepped right in with no growing pains. It was basically a lateral move and a change of job title, that’s it. Anyway, I could ramble about this stuff for hours, but it’s good to see that Oppenheimer is respected around the league and considered one of best future GM candidates.

Mailbag: D-Rob, Jeter, Oppenheimer, RoY, More

I managed to keep the answers short-ish this week, so I squeezed in a few more questions than usual. Remember to use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar to send in your questions.

(AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Tony asks: How much longer do the Yankees have team control over Robertson?

David Robertson rode the Bronx-Scranton bus in 2008 and finally stuck for good in May 2009. He’s in his final pre-arbitration year right now, and is under team control through 2014 as an arbitration-eligible player. So long story short, three more seasons after this one. That was easy enough.

Dan asks: So, this kills me to ask, but seeing as how I don’t think he’s been hit by one pie since the thing started, and I’ve pretty consistently watched him ground out late in games for the last few years, when was the last time Cap’n Clutch was really clutch?

There’s two ways we can quickly look at this. Just looking at Derek Jeter‘s “Clutch” score, he hasn’t been positive since 2006 (+2.33). He’s hovered between -0.11 and -0.85 over the last few seasons. I prefer WPA/LI, which uses win probability and leverage index to tell us how much the player contributed in the context of the game situations. Jeter last had a positive WPA/LI in 2009 (+1.41). Subjectively, I’ll say 2009. That’s the last time I was confident in Jeter getting the job done, so to speak, whenever he came to the plate in a “big” spot.

J.R. asks: Couldn’t Damon Oppenheimer be a great in house option to replace Cashman? I remember that another team wanted to interview him for a GM spot but that the Yankees wouldn’t grant him permission. (I’m not advocating it, just pointing out that the Yankees have an in house option).

This was sent in following yesterday’s post about contract non-news. Oppenheimer’s the best in-house candidate, and the Yankees actually blocked him from talking to the Diamondbacks about their GM opening over the winter. They had the right to do that, but I still thinking blocking a potential upward move is a dick move. Anyway, it’s either Oppenheimer or pro scouting director Billy Eppler, but neither has even assistant GM experience. Yeah, they’re candidates to replace Cashman, but they’re hardly ideal options.

Jonathan asks: What are the chances the Yanks have three guys play for ROY next year? Assuming those three are Montero, Banuelos and Betances.

I’m comfortable giving this one a big fat 0% chance. There’s a far better chance that one of those guys is playing elsewhere at this time next year, but even if they all are in the organization it’s unlikely all three will be up. Frankly if both Manny Banuelos and Dellin Betances are in the rotation all year in 2012 (which they would basically have to be to get Rookie of the Year consideration), then something has gone horribly wrong. There’s also a non-zero chance that Jesus Montero will cross the 130 at-bat rookie threshold this year. It would be pretty cool if all three guys were that good that soon, but I’m not getting my hopes up.

(AP Photo/Paul Battaglia)

Ryan asks: What do you think of Grady Sizemore as a replacement in RF for Swisher after this year. He looks healthy, and as long as he remains healthy and productive, CLE will not be able to sign him long term after next year’s option. That would be a fun defensive outfield with Gardner, Granderson, and Sizemore, if not just a little too left handed.

I’ve written quite a bit about Sizemore already this spring, and my stance remains unchanged: he has to show he can produce and stay healthy. He’s been pretty good since coming off the disabled list (power heavy .413 wOBA), but it’s been 18 games and 84 at-bats. Let’s see him make it the rest of the season before we start thinking about acquiring him. The other question is how do you acquire him? His club option for 2012 turns into a player option if traded, so you can’t trade for him and expect him to stick around next year. If he’s worth trading for, then he’ll be good enough for a nice contract and will presumably opt for the open market. His bad start notwithstanding, right now I’d just pick up Nick Swisher‘s option and and go from there.

Rich asks: I was hoping you could shed some light on something different I’ve noticed about A.J. this year. Not only has his curveball lost some of it’s bite, but his fastball seems almost straight compared to the movement it’s had in years past. I know he’s made some obvious (and less obvious) changes to his mechanics and I’m sure Rothschild has had an influence, but what happened to all that movement?

Really? I think his curveball has regained some bite after it disappeared last season. PitchFX says the pitch had 5.7 inches of drop last year and 6.3 inches of drop this year. Just over half-an-inch, so it’s not a huge change, but a change nonetheless. Burnett got a swing-and-miss on the curve 14.1% of the time last year, and it’s up to 17.7% this year. A little more vertical movement and substantially more whiffs leads me to believe the bite is back, and even if it’s not, the pitch has been more effective this year based on the run values.

Anyway, PitchFX says he’s lost an inch of horizontal movement off his fastball, down from 5.1 to 4.1 inches. Perhaps it’s the result of the revamped mechanics, or maybe it’s a conscience decision to try to help him improve command. There were times over the last two seasons that it seemed like Burnett’s fastball was moving too much for his own good. It could also just be normal decline, pitches tend to flatten out as the guy gets older. Either way, A.J.’s been good so far this year, so I hope he just keeps doing whatever he’s been doing.

Diamondbacks targeting Kevin Towers for GM vacancy

Via Ken Rosenthal, the Diamondbacks are expressing “significant interest” in Yankees special advisor Kevin Towers for their vacant general manager position. Peter Gammons went so far as to say the two sides had a deal “set” this morning, and they just had cross some T’s and dot some I’s before it became official. It’s pretty much a foregone conclusion that KT’s stint with the Yanks is temporary since another GM job will come his way before long. If nothing else, we know he had a role in the Steve Garrison and Chad Huffman acquisitions, though I suspect his impact goes far beyond that.

Perhaps the bigger news to come out of Rosenthal’s piece is that the Yanks denied Arizona permission to speak to scouting director Damon Oppenheimer about the job. He’s long been a candidate as well. To be quite honest, I find blocking a potential upward move for Oppenheimer like that to be pretty messed up, but I guess he is under contract. It’s only a matter of time before he moves on to bigger and better things, but for now the Yanks will enjoy the fruits of his labor, and that includes a much improved farm system with more pitching than they know what to do with.

Oppenheimer a candidate for Diamondbacks GM opening

Via Ken Rosenthal, Yankees director of amateur scouting Damon Oppenheimer is one of at least six candidates that the Diamondbacks plan to speak with about their vacant general manager position. Formal interview requests have not yet been made, however.

Oppenheimer was mentioned as a candidate for the job as soon as ex-GM Josh Byrnes was fired, and he is routinely considered one of the best GM prospects in the game. Along with director of pro scouting Billy Eppler, who was considered for the Padres GM job last year, the Yankees have a pair of future GM’s in their front office, and really it’s only a matter of time before both guys move on to bigger and better things.

Oppenheimer in consideration for D-Backs’ GM job

If you went to bed early last night, you may not have heard that the Diamondbacks fired not only manager A.J. Hinch, but also GM Josh Byrnes as well. This was no small move; Byrnes was under contract until 2015 and he also had a small ownership stake in the team. Scouting and player personnel director Jerry DiPoto will take over GM duties on an interim basis, however Frankie Piliere says that Yankees’ amateur scouting director Damon Oppenheimer “will get serious consideration” for the job.

This shouldn’t be much of a surprise, Oppenheimer was recently named one of the best GM prospects in the game. Pro scouting director Billy Eppler received consideration for the Padres’ vacant GM position over the winter, so it’s good to see the front office talent get recognized for their skills around the league. That means they must be doing something right. I have no idea when Oppenheimer’s contract runs out, but I can’t imagine the Yanks would block him from such a big promotion if he were to get the job. Quite frankly, it would be a dick move if they did.

(As a side note: I’d love to see the Yanks hire Byrnes in a consulting role similar to what they did with Kevin Towers. The more input, the better.)

Oppenheimer among the game’s best GM candidates

When we think of prospects, we usually think about players and minor leaguers. Of course, field personnel and front office executives can be considered prospects as well, for coaching and managerial positions. Will Carroll ran down a list of the ten best GM candidates in the game (sub. req’d), one of whom is Yankees’ scouting director Damon Oppenheimer.

“There’s really nothing left for Oppenheimer to prove with the Yankees,” said Carroll. “His staff has developed players who have come through and have been traded out. There’s the advantage of the big pockets, but with those big pockets comes big scrutiny … Since it doesn’t appear Brian Cashman is going anywhere soon—Cashman is younger than Oppenheimer—it appears that Oppenheimer will have to move on to get his shot, unless the Yankees pay GM-like money to keep him in place.”

I don’t know when Oppenheimer’s contract runs out, but teams will almost never block someone from making an upward move. I also don’t know who would replace him, but I imagine it would be someone from within. It’s never a bad thing when your top level executives are mentioned among the best GM candidates in the game, I do know that much.