As promised, part two of our interview with Dean Taylor.
How do teams find out about players "on the block" or "on waivers"? Is there mass communication sent out? And how does a team "place a claim" on a player, is it via a phone call or email?
Players "on the block" are usually revealed through conversations with other GM's or media reports. In regard to waivers, we receive a daily Waiver Bulletin (except on weekends and holidays) from Major League Baseball that is electronically transmitted to all clubs listing those players on whom waivers have been requested. Players are placed on waivers and also claimed electronically through the MLB computer system. Following a claim, the two clubs involved will exchange phone calls and/or e-mails to arrange transportation and deal with other logistical issues regarding the claimed player.
Every spring there's talk about "non-roster invitees", is it as simple as sending a letter or making a phone call and asking a player to come to camp without a contract, or is there some underlying contract agreement?
Major League Rules prohibit clubs from including a non-roster invitation in the initial contract of a player selected in the June Draft. In the case of a player who has played a year or more in the organization, we will simply call the player and tell him he is being invited to major league camp as a non-roster invitee, and we will follow up with a written invitation and reporting instructions. These players sign their contracts prior to reporting to spring training. In the case of a player who is new to an organization (usually a minor league free agent) the invitation will be part of the negotiation and signing process with the player's agent. A non-roster invitation can be a crucial part of such a negotiation.
Fans hear a lot about arbitration, is a hearing like your basic arbitration trial, and how do you try to maintain good terms with the player while arguing that he should make less than his desired amount?
Although some clubs present their own cases, most clubs hire an arbitration practitioner to present the case. The practitioner will help develop the case and make the presentation, although the GM or assistant GM will usually handle the contract negotiation with the player's agent leading up to the actual hearing. As we know, a large number of cases are settled prior to the scheduled hearing. Of the 121 arbitration-eligible players who were tendered contracts last year, only eight made it to a hearing.
How much interaction did you have on a daily basis with the manager, minor league coordinators, even the upper executives? Were you briefed on the budget beforehand, or did you have the ability to ask for more financial support when needed?
I have a lot a daily contact with the people you mentioned - that's a major part of my job description, and good communication is very important. We make budget recommendations to ownership during the fall for the following season. After the budget is approved, we try to operate with those guidelines, subject to adjustments approved by ownership during the season.
You spent a number of years working alongside John Schuerholtz. Did he ever give you any advice that still sticks with you? Also what was it like working with a legend like himself?
Obviously he was an outstanding mentor for me as well as for a number of other people within the industry. He gave me a lot of meaningful advice, the best of which was to hire good people and let them do their jobs. John always described the GM position as being similar to the conductor of an orchestra - he always said just be a conductor, and don't try to play every piece in the orchestra. I feel very fortunate to have spent 18 years with someone who will be enshrined in Cooperstown one day.
What are one or two things that all of us Monday-morning quarterbacks have to
remember about being a GM?
GM's are just like everyone else - they put their pants on one leg at a time. The perfect GM probably isn't out there, just like the perfect doctor, accountant or plumber isn't out there, either. Most of the successful GM's are the ones that surround themselves with good baseball people and allow them to help make crucial player personnel decisions. You should also remember that the success of any organization depends largely on the success of its scouting and player development departments.
What advice would you give someone looking to get into the baseball business? Perhaps a trip to the winter meetings?
Yes, a trip to the Winter Meetings can be helpful. I would suggest attending the PBEO (Professional Baseball Employment Opportunities) Job Fair, which is held there on an annual basis. Hundreds of jobs (both internships and full-time positions) are posted at the Job Fair, many of them with minor league clubs, and an opportunity to interview for such positions is typically provided. For more information on PBEO and the Job Fair, you may visit www.pbeo.com. This year's Job Fair will be held December 7-10 at the Winter Meetings in Las Vegas.
I also would recommend pursuing a Master's Degree in Sports Administration. There are a number of schools offering this type of degree, and many have internship positions through which you can "get your foot in the door" with a major league or minor league club. As a graduate of the Sports Ad program at Ohio University, I can tell you that it is a highly regarded program with over 1,100 graduates working in various sports-related jobs. For more information on this program, you may visit www.sportsad.ohio.edu.
I would like to thank Mr. Taylor once more on behalf of the staff and wish him and his Royals luck as the 2009 season enroaches.