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January 28, 2014 at 10:52 AM

MLB team presidents: baseball vs. business

Note: Sorry for the absence: football and moving intervened. Nothing like staring at a box full of 30 bobbleheads and wondering why you have them or where you’ll put them. 

After the Mariners announced that Kevin Mather would take over as president for Chuck Armstrong, there was a fair amount of consternation that the team didn’t hire Tony LaRussa. It wasn’t really too surprising of a hire considering Lincoln lauded his internal candidates from the moment Armstrong announced his retirement. Mather certainly has the qualifications from a business standpoint. He’s been in the baseball business for a long time. But even he admitted, he’s not a “baseball guy” meaning he didn’t play, coach, manage or scout.

As is often the case on Twitter or email, the media become a sounding board for angry fans. Sometimes it can be annoying, other times amusing and other times useful. I received several emails lamenting the choice of Mather and the fact that the Mariners missed out on hiring a baseball man to do the job. One emailer also made the statement that every other team has baseball men serving as president. That piqued my interest because I knew it wasn’t true. I knew  a handful of teams had business-type people serving as team presidents.

So I asked for some help and got a list of all the team presidents for every team.

Team Name Title
Baltimore Orioles John Angelos Executive Vice President
Boston Red Sox Larry Lucchino President/CEO
Chicago White Sox Howard Pizer Sr. Executive Vice President
Cleveland Indians Mark Shapiro President
Detroit Tigers David Dombrowski President/GM/CEO
Houston Astros Reid Ryan President/Business Operations
Kansas City Royals Dan Glass President
Los Angeles Angels John Carpino President
Minnesota Twins Dave St. Peter President
New York Yankees Randy Levine President
Oakland Athletics Mike Crowley President
Seattle Mariners Kevin Mather President/COO
Tampa Bay Rays Matt Silverman President
Texas Rangers Jon Daniels President,  Baseball Ops/GM
Toronto Blue Jays Paul Beeston President/CEO
Arizona Diamondbacks Derrick Hall President/CEO
Atlanta Braves John Schuerholz President
Chicago Cubs Crane Kenney President, Business Ops
Theo Epstein President, Baseball Ops
Cincinnati Reds Robert Castellini President/CEO
Colorado Rockies Dan O’Dowd EVP/Chief Baseball Officer/GM
Greg Feasel EVP/Business and COO
Los Angeles Dodgers Stan Kasten President/CEO
Miami Marlins David Samson President
Milwaukee Brewers Doug Melvin President, Baseball Ops/GM
Rick Schlesinger COO
New York Mets Jeff Wilpon COO
Philadelphia Phillies David Montgomery General Partner/President/CEO
Pittsburgh Pirates Frank Coonelly President
St. Louis Cardinals Bill DeWitt President
San Diego Padres Mike Dee President/CEO
San Francisco Giants Larry Baer President/CEO
Washington Nationals Mike Rizzo President, Baseball Operations
Alan Gottlieb COO/ Lerner Sports

A few quick notes on the list. The Orioles don’t have a team president, but two executive vice presidents, one for baseball operations and one for business operations. The White Sox have executive vice presidents of baseball and business operations, who report to owner Jerry Reinsdorf. Reds team president Bob Castellini is also the team owner. In Houston, Reid Ryan took over halfway through the 2014 season as president of business operations.

There are a few baseball guys likes Dombrowski, Daniels (now that he forced Nolan Ryan out), Shapiro that serve as president alone. There are several teams, who split up the duties (something I’m in favor of) and some that have straight business guys. For example, Matt Silverman of the Rays is not a baseball guy. He worked for Goldman Sachs before coming to the organization.

So the person who stated that “every team has a baseball guy serving as a team president,” well that’s not correct.

Look I don’t know if Kevin Mather will be great as the team president. He’s very smart. He knows the organization and he seems to “get it” from talking to him. But to sit and say the Mariners hired someone from the business side because that’s all they get care about is a weak argument. Plenty of teams have people from the business side running their operations. Baseball teams want to make money on some level. It’s a business. I don’t think Mather is some retread of Armstrong. He seems to have his own ideas and ways of doing things.

Perhaps the real judge of Mather, who still has to report to CEO Howard Lincoln on many aspects, is not where he came from, but what he does in the future. It will be interesting to see how he reacts  if the Mariners struggle again this season and what he does with general manager Jack Zduriencik. If the Mariners don’t have a winning record (a very real possibility) after spending all that money on Robinson Cano, will Mather drop the hammer on Zduriencik. Mather lauded the rebuilding plan and the young players the Mariners are trying to develop in our interview. But ultimately it would be meaningless with yet another losing season under Zduriencik. It would continue to turn fans away. He knows this. But will he act upon it if it does happen?

Until then, I’m willing to give the guy the benefit of the doubt. He hasn’t even officially taken over as team president. It will be interesting to see how he operates this season.

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