Wednesday, November 2, 2011

O's GM search continues as LaCava turns down job offer

After Jerry Dipoto, arguably the leading candidate to fill the O's general manager position, was hired by the Angels to fill their own GM vacancy, Tony LaCava, the assistant GM with the Blue Jays, was seen as the new favorite. And then, after LaCava received a second interview (with Peter Angelos present this time), Ken Rosenthal dropped this hammer: "Sources: LaCava turns down #Orioles' offer of GM job."

It's easy to speculate on what happened. Maybe LaCava had a change of heart. Or maybe Angelos wouldn't offer him the amount of power that the O's GM role required. Or maybe he simply realized that things just wouldn't work out. Oddly enough, Peter Schmuck wrote yesterday morning that the O's still weren't settled on a candidate -- something that's even more interesting to read now. Schmuck provided some speculation of his own:
That could mean that Angelos wasn't that impressed with LaCava or LaCava wanted more authority than Angelos was willing to allow. It could also mean that the meeting was just another meeting and not really a late-stage negotiation.
As it turns out, LaCava is denying any issue with Angelos (or is at least taking the high road), saying that he just wanted to remain with the Blue Jays. Via Dan Connolly:
“This was about the Toronto Blue Jays more than it is anything about the Baltimore Orioles. The Orioles were classy in everything they did and I think they are going to go down the right path. For me, it was how much I love the Toronto Blue Jays and I really, really treasure my relationship with my general manager, Alex Anthopoulos, and I really want to see this through with him. He created a great atmosphere to work up there, along with president Paul Beeston, and it is very hard to leave them. . . . When I decided to interview, it wasn’t that I was looking to leave. But there are only 30 GM positions and I was interested in it. When I weighed both at the end of the day, I just didn’t feel I could leave the Blue Jays."
He's more than entitled to that rationale; at the end of the day, it's obviously LaCava's decision to make. But you have to wonder, since there "are only 30 GM positions," if he would have taken the job if he got a little bit more of what he wanted. It's possible that LaCava is being completely truthful, but we'll never know for sure.

Roch Kubatko dug a little deeper, asking LaCava whether the O's ownership played any role in him turning down the job:
I asked LaCava whether he had any concerns about interference from ownership in the daily operations of the ballclub. All I can do is ask and pass along his response. Here it is:

"I think [Angelos] gets a bad rap on that," LaCava said. "I didn't sense that at all. I sense he's a man who's obviously very busy with his law firm and other things. There are places where the owner is a lot more involved than in Baltimore. I didn't feel that at all and that's the truth."
Kubatko also noted that LaCava would have had to keep "a portion of the current staff" but that "he could have hired seven guys." Apparently that restriction "wasn't a deal-breaker." Still, it's possible that not having full control of hiring and firings made LaCava think twice about accepting the job.

So now the O's are back to square one. It's not the worst thing ever that LaCava turned down the job, but it's not a positive that someone interested in the job went that far in the interview process and then turned down the job. Hopefully the O's renew the process the right way and target other qualified, interesting candidates rather than taking the easy route and hiring someone like, say, John Stockstill (who's already been interviewed once).

For the most part, people don't know the difference between LaCava and someone else like Dodgers executive De Jon Watson (who the O's previously interviewed). LaCava had been discussed as the better candidate, but no one really knows for sure who would make a great GM or not. But when fans already distrust the direction of the O's under Angelos, something embarrassing like the LaCava debacle ends up having more meaning because it's yet another thing the O's failed to do correctly. Even if LaCava's statements are 100 percent true -- meaning that he wasn't completely set on taking the O's job and that he really did want to remain in Toronto because of how much he loved it -- the O's will be blamed for letting him get away. And considering everything that's been going wrong with the team for a long time now, that's blame well deserved.

1 comment:

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