With Doug Melvin’s announcement that he is moving into an advisory role, the Milwaukee Brewers are facing their first General Manager vacancy since since way back in 2002. The game has changed plenty since then, as Melvin himself has stated in more than one recent interview, and GMs are now tasked with more responsibilities and bigger staffs than ever before. Brewers’ owner Mark Attanasio has enlisted the help of the corporate firm Korn Ferry – the same firm that helped Michigan land Jim Harbaugh and helped Texas hire Charlie Strong – to assist the franchise is finding their next “primary decision maker.”
The Brewers reportedly already have a list of candidates they are interested in, though that list has not been made public. We do know that the Brewers will be prioritizing younger candidates with a knowledge of analytics. Attanasio has acknowledged the Brewers will be rebuilding for the forseeable future (a huge admission in its own right, coming from a historically win-now-at-all-costs owner), so the incoming GM should be willing to continue to build up from the foundation Doug and the Brewers have worked to create in the farm system over the last year. Finally, the new General Manager needs to be on board with manager Craig Counsell, who is under contract for another two seasons following this one and has the full support of the owner – who stated that any prospective Brewers’ GM pushing their own managerial candidate would be doing so “at their own peril.” Counsell has shown he’s a forward thinking manager thus far in his brief tenure, fitting in line well with the team’s desire to further their analytical approach.
Using these guidelines, here are four possible candidates that could potentially fit the bill for the Milwaukee Brewers’ next General Manager:
Servais, 48, was born and raised in Coon Valley, Wisconsin. The local product enjoyed a modestly productive 11 year major league career, slashing .245/.306/.375 and slugging 63 home runs while playing catcher for the Astros, Cubs, Giants, and Rockies from 1991-2001. Following his retirement, Scott a couple years as a scout and roving instructor before being hired by the Rangers as senior director of player development. He spent six years in that position before accepting his current role of Angels Assistant General Manager in 2011. Servais is known for his player development skills – he took the Rangers from near the bottom of the league to the top ranked farm system within two seasons and ESPN the Magazine published an extensive piece detailing how Servais has worked to revamp the Angels’ player development and farm system. Bob Nightengale of USA Today linked the Brewers to Servais in a tweet from yesterday.
The 36 year old Coppolella began his career with the Yankees in 2000, and has been with the Atlanta Braves front office since 2006. He currently serves as the team’s director of pro scouting and assistant General Manager. Coppollela has been considered a rising star within the industry for several years now, and was named at the top of Baseball Prospectus’ 2014 top GM candidates list. In addition to his experience and ability as a traditional scout, the former Notre Dame football team manager incorporates a strong blend of analytics and advanced stats into his work. He also reportedly played a significant role in the long term deals signed the by Braves core Andrelton Simmons, Freddie Freeman, and Julio Teheran. It’s assumed that Coppollela is being groomed to take over as Braves’ GM in the future, though Milwaukee’s solid foundation and a strong offer could sway him to jump ship.
Elias, 32, currently serves as the Director of Amateur Scouting with the Houston Astros. A graduate of Yale, Elias began his career as a scout with the Cardinals before joining Jeff Luhnow’s staff in Houston in 2012. The Astros built their farm system into a powerhouse under Elias, drafting players like Carlos Correa, Lance McCullers, and Preston Tucker that are already making an impact in the majors as well as four of the five other prospects currently ranked in the MLB Pipeline top 100. Elias combines his analytical knowledge with a thorough background in traditional scouting experience and explained to David Laurila of Fangraphs how much he values actual playing experience in building a scouting staff.
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The top in-house candidate, Montgomery served four years as a scout with the Brewers before becoming the Diamondbacks scouting director in 2010. He drafted players like Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley, and Jake Lamb during his successful tenure with Arizona. After the passing of the late Bruce Seid, the Brewers lured Montgomery back to the organization with a lateral move to Vice President of Scouting with Milwaukee in November of last season. Montgomery, 46, is well respected mind throughout the game, and led the Brewers widely praised 2015 amateur draft this past June. My fear is that if Montgomery is passed over for the General Manager job in Milwaukee, he will find one elsewhere quite soon. I would be disappointed to lose an up and comer like Ray, now 46, and think that his familiarity with the players already within the organization would be a valuable asset while the team rebuilds. Montgomery already has a comfort level working under the current ownership and ideally, he would be my top candidate. I’ve been vocal in my support for Montgomery, and I believe that he will ultimately get the job. Adam McCalvy also linked Montgomery to the Brewers General Manager opening yesterday.
There hasn’t been a timetable announced for the Brewers to hire a new General Manager, and though they shouldn’t rush the process, one would think they would want to bring someone in sooner rather than later. If they do bring in someone from outside of the organization, that person should be given as ample an amount of possible to familiarize themselves with the Brewers’ major league team and farm system before this offseason. Several players could hit the trade market as the team continues to build toward the future, and it will be imperative to add high quality talent to the system from trade returns to help ensure success down the road.