SABR 41: General Managers’ Role Takes ‘Total Dedication’

LONG BEACH — Past and current general managers from the Los Angeles Dodgers and San Diego Padres discussed the pressures they face in that job and the growing responsibility they feel as baseball has become a year-round sport.

SABR member Rob Neyer, the baseball editor of SB Nation, moderated an hour-long panel with former Dodgers GMs Fred Claire and Dan Evans, and current Padres GM Jed Hoyer on Saturday afternoon during the SABR 41 convention at the Long Beach Hilton.

Audio: Listen to the SABR 41 General Managers Panel here

As Hoyer’s Padres were attempting to no-hit the Dodgers about 20 miles away in Los Angeles — eventually losing their bid in the ninth inning and losing the game 1-0 — the 37-year-old spoke of the day-to-day issues that every general manager in the game deals with. 

“Every night you want to win; I mean, I’ve broken my share of phones,” said Hoyer, who was hired by the Padres in October 2009 after working as an assistant GM with the Boston Red Sox for eight seasons. “But you can’t go up and down with your team every day; it’s like watching individual stocks. … It’s not an effective way to manage. You can’t make decisions that way. … I like to look back in 10-game increments or in 30-game increments. That way, you don’t go up and down.”

Evans, who was the Dodgers’ GM from 2001-04 after serving 20 years in various roles in the White Sox organization, said he felt “a distinct responsibility” to live up to the historical success of the franchise.

“I had heard some great things about the Dodgers for years, about how they were a model organization,” Evans said. “I felt I had to come in and kind of go back to the way that people like Fred (Claire), Al Campanis, Branch Rickey (had made that organization what it was).”

Claire, who took over as Dodgers’ GM after Campanis resigned in the wake of his controversial comments on the Nightline television show in 1987, echoed the other panelists’ comments that a general manager’s job is a 24-7 role.

“The blinking red light in your hotel room is never off,” said Claire, who admitted that his greatest regret was trading away three-time Cy Young Award winner Pedro Martinez to the Montreal Expos in 1994. “It does not decease in the offseason. It is all year-round, every day. You have to be consumed by it. … You have to be totally dedicated to it.”

For more stories from SABR 41, click here.

— Jacob Pomrenke

Originally published: July 13, 2011. Last Updated: July 27, 2020.