Transitioning to the front office

You never know how it’s going to turn out when great players finish their careers and try to make the transition to the front office. But that’s what Ivan Rodriguez is doing, as he was named special assistant to the general manager by the Texas Rangers earlier last week.

For some, like the Rangers’ own Nolan Ryan, it works out perfectly. For others, the results were not so spectacular.

One of the best all around baseball careers ever has been that of Hank Aaron, both as a player and in the front office. Since 1989, Aaron has served as the Braves’ senior vice president and assistant to the president. While it is hard to know the impact he has had on the front office, the Braves’ success over his time there cannot be overlooked.

The Braves were the premier baseball team in the early to mid-90s, developing players such as Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine, John Smoltz and Chipper Jones, all of whom should make the Hall of Fame in the next few years.

However, sometimes it just doesn’t work out when former great players try their hand at running an organization. Case and point: Michael Jordan, who in is time in any front office has made Isaiah Thomas look like, well, Michael Jordan by comparison. From drafting Kwame Brown first overall in 2001, to trading Richard Hamilton for Jerry Stackhouse, to his job as the owner of the Charlotte Bobcats, it is hard to think of something good Jordan has done in the front office.

How will I-Rod perform in his new job? No one has any idea. But the thing about catchers is that they see the game differently. They are the ones who have to know everything going on at all times while the team is in the field. That’s the argument as to why catchers usually make good managers. Whether or not that translates to the front office is still to be determined.

Unless he is named general manager someday, Rodriguez’s exact impact may never be known. Maybe he’ll work with a young player on his swing and help him turn into a major leaguer. Or maybe he’ll scout and help draft the next Ivan Rodriguez.

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