For new GMs, different strokes for different folks
Some, like Dipoto, dive right in; others take measured approach
After a flurry of shifts in the general managers' ranks at season's end, change has come in varying degrees for the clubs that chose to take their baseball operations in a new direction.
On one hand, you have Angels GM Jerry Dipoto, who acquired the top hitter and the top pitcher on the free-agent market -- with a little financial help, of course. On the other, you have the new star braintrust of Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer in Wrigleyville, taking a more steady approach to improving the Cubs.
Among the seven switches that took place, there has been a wide range of approaches, largely because there has been a wide range of situations.
Here's a look at what each of the GMs new to their posts have done this offseason, listed alphabetically:
JOSH BYRNES, PADRES
Mini-bio: Former GM of the D-backs and assistant GM in Boston after stops in Colorado and Cleveland.
Offseason body of work: With Hoyer leaving San Diego for Chicago, Byrnes reunited with Padres CEO and vice chairman Jeff Moorad, his boss in Arizona. Byrnes wound up spending a lot of his first winter in trade talks, bringing seven trades to fruition.
A couple of those involved star players. First, the Padres dealt young right-hander Mat Latos to Cincinnati, getting four players in return, including first-base prospect Yonder Alonso and starter Edinson Volquez. Then, Byrnes added another Arizona alumnus when he traded for left fielder Carlos Quentin, whom he'd traded from the D-backs to the White Sox in 2007. And he sent first baseman Anthony Rizzo, who soared in Triple-A but struggled in the Majors last year, to the Cubs for fireballer Andrew Cashner.
Just one season removed from being one game away from the postseason, the Padres are eager to make waves in the balanced NL West this year and beyond, thanks to what the team hopes will be a larger infusion of young talent from their Minor League system.
Quotable: "Talking to Jeff Moorad, if we had ways to stretch our payroll, get the right guys to be competitive in 2012, maybe be a surprise team in 2012, and with that foundation that gives us a chance at real sustained success for a number of years, that's the ideal," Byrnes said after the Quentin deal.
BEN CHERINGTON, RED SOX
Mini-bio: Assistant GM in Boston previous three years, has served in many capacities in Boston's baseball operations since 1999.
Offseason body of work: After the late-season collapse and the departures of both GM Epstein and manager Terry Francona, Cherington at least had a good sense for what the Red Sox had and didn't have, since he'd been with the club for so long. Several key pieces of the puzzle the past decade were gone or were free agents, but a deep pool of talent remained.
Closer Jonathan Papelbon went out the door to Philadelphia early, so Cherington traded to get Andrew Bailey from the A's and Mark Melancon from the Astros to fill their late-inning needs. Headed toward a payroll they peg to be No. 2 only behind the Yankees, the Red Sox weren't in on any of the big-money players this winter. Instead they picked up the likes of Cody Ross and Nick Punto while trading away infielders Marco Scutaro (to the Rockies) and Jed Lowrie (Astros).
Meanwhile, the David Ortiz arbitration experience wound up being settled at the midpoint, and the Red Sox haven't moved past making non-roster invitations to icons Jason Varitek and Tim Wakefield. The Red Sox have done some little things, but no big things, to get new manager Bobby Valentine's roster in shape. They still have some decisions to make, foremost among them involving shortstop and two unsettled rotation spots, and perhaps some adjustments forthcoming.
Quotable: "We know that teams evolve. We know that our team has evolved. That doesn't mean you don't want to go into Spring Training with every position perfect and the team filled out, because optimally you would. That's never the case," Cherington said earlier this month.
DAN DUQUETTE, ORIOLES
Mini-bio: Former GM of the Red Sox and Expos, had been out of game for nine years before taking on this role.
Offseason body of work: A couple of newsworthy items on the Major League side, and a lot of change in the front office, including the recent hirings of Rick Peterson and Brady Anderson as special assistants. Duquette's focus has been on improving the entirety of the organization, which currently ranks 27th in turning amateurs into Major Leaguers.
Duquette's biggest move of the offseason is a fresh one -- the trade last week of rotation stalwart Jeremy Guthrie to the Rockies for starter Jason Hammel and reliever Matt Lindstrom. He also added Major League pitching depth by signing Wei-Yin Chen of Taiwan and Tsuyoshi Wada of Japan.
Quotable: "I'm trying to do it right the first time. I think that's really a good trait to have if you are going to build something for the long term, because you have to put together building blocks in place. And if you can't put the foundation in place, you can't build on it," Duquette said in January.
JERRY DIPOTO, ANGELS
Mini-bio: Interim GM of the D-backs for three months in 2010, following six years with Arizona, one with Colorado and two with Boston.
Offseason body of work: This is how you make a good first impression, right? Of course, it doesn't hurt to have an owner like Arte Moreno who will ante up for the top talent the way the Angels did by snagging superstar slugger Albert Pujols and prime free-agent starter C.J. Wilson.
Aside from those Winter Meetings blockbusters to the tune of about $320 million, Dipoto tweaked a few things as well. Before sending catcher Jeff Mathis to Toronto, he acquired Chris Iannetta from Colorado. He also signed veteran reliever LaTroy Hawkins while sticking with young closer Jordan Walden as opposed to pursuing a free agent. And amidst all the incoming talent, he also made a statement by signing homegrown second baseman Howie Kenrdrick to a four-year, $33.5 million deal to cover his first three years of free-agent eligibility.
Quotable: "This is a team, an organization, that's had such a great deal of success over the course of the last decade. Keeping that foundation of players that have essentially created that success together was something that we deemed to be very important," Dipoto said upon the Kendrick signing.
JED HOYER, CUBS
Mini-bio: Hoyer, a former assistant GM in Boston, was the Padres' GM the previous two seasons. Epstein, the Cubs' president of baseball operations who hired Hoyer, became GM of the Red Sox in 2003 and was the architect of two World Series titles by 2007
Offseason body of work: Let's just say the five-year, $18.5 million deal Epstein signed that started this whole transition remains the most lucrative contract the Cubs signed this offseason. It's not that the Epstein/Hoyer braintrust didn't do anything; it's that it didn't do anything earth-shattering.
As both Epstein and Hoyer suggested all along, the Cubs did not get involved in the high-stakes bidding for the likes of Pujols or Prince Fielder. What they did do was pick up veteran David DeJesus as a free agent to take over in right field, and they added veteran lefty starter Paul Maholm. They also acquired Chris Volstad for the talented but problematic Carlos Zambrano and picked up Ian Stewart from the Rockies to take over at third base after the departure of Aramis Ramirez via free agency. Pitcher Travis Wood and first baseman Rizzo also came over in trades.
Quotable: "You never accomplish everything that you want to. We wanted to get younger, we wanted to get a little more athletic, we really wanted to bolster the starting-pitching depth, which was fairly nonexistent. We wanted to get better defensively, we wanted to get a little bit more left-handed, we wanted to convert some short-term assets to long-term assets, we wanted to acquire some prospects along the way. To varying degrees, we were able to accomplish all those things," Epstein said earlier this month.
JEFF LUHNOW, ASTROS
Mini-bio: After spending nine years in the St. Louis front office, the first few on the business side and the last several as vice president of player procurement, this is Luhnow's first GM gig.
Offseason body of work: What is one to do when he's taking over the team with the worst record in baseball a year ago that also happened to be going through an ownership change and is going to change leagues in a year? Well, you do what you can, and for Luhnow that meant adding some veteran depth to a young team that took 106 lumps last season.
The Astros brought in Livan Hernandez, Jack Cust, Zach Duke and Jed Lowrie to provide that depth. Other than that, the Astros in general and Luhnow in particular have been trying to figure out how to get back to where the Astros were only a few years ago -- over .500 and contending for the playoffs.
Quotable: "There's a lot of good people in this organization, a lot of good staff members, coaches, scouts, and there's also a lot of good players. I'm pretty optimistic about the future. This is not a static game, and you've got to keep building, you've got to keep adding," Luhnow said in a recent Q&A.
TERRY RYAN, TWINS
Mini-bio: The team's senior advisor the past four years, he was the Twins' GM from 1994-2007 and has been with the organization since 1986.
Offseason body of work: Ryan insisted on being called the interim GM, but if ever there were a guy who isn't interim, it's Ryan. He has been there since the Twins' first burst to the World Series, through it's perennial AL Central contending and into Target Field.
Free agency was Ryan's focus, starting with the signings of infielder Jamey Carroll and utility man Ryan Doumit. Unable to retain Michael Cuddyer or Jason Kubel, Ryan went with Josh Willingham to play right field on a three-year deal. Along the way, they picked up veteran help with the signings of reliever Joel Zumaya and starter Jason Marquis.
As Ryan said himself, whether it's for one year or 10, he's back at the helm in Minnesota.
Quotable: "There's a need right now. I certainly believe in continuity and stability and what we stand for here in the organization," Ryan said upon taking the job again.
John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. Reporters Rhett Bollinger, Corey Brock, Ian Browne, Evan Drellich, Brittany Ghiroli, Alden Gonzalez, Brian McTaggart and Carrie Muskat contributed to this article. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.