O'Dowd is TSN's G-Man of the Year

Hey, until the BBWAA decides to expand its awards -- and when was the last time that happened? -- when it comes to general managers The Sporting News is the only game in town (or at least the biggest) ...

    Had he not made the most agonizing move of his 27 years in baseball -- firing his friend and manager, Clint Hurdle, after the Rockies' 18-28 start -- Dan O'Dowd might be collecting unemployment right now. Instead, the 50-year-old G.M. was named by 31 of his peers as Sporting News executive of the year after Colorado rebounded to win the N.L. wild card under Jim Tracy, O'Dowd's pick to replace Hurdle. O'Dowd will be presented with the award at tonight's opening-night banquet at the G.M. meetings in Chicago.

I'm not sure what "31 of his peers" means, as technically O'Dowd has only 29 peers; there are 30 teams and 30 general managers. Also, I suspect that all of his peers didn't vote for him. Rather, D'Alessio means that O'Dowd's peers were polled and O'Dowd wound up atop the list of candidates.

Which is fine. He certainly did have a good year. I wouldn't vote for him purely because he made a managerial change and his team wound up in the playoffs. To me, that's not enough. But O'Dowd also made a trade for two players the A's didn't really want -- Huston Street and Carlos Gonzalez -- and both were instrumental in the Rockies' run.

Would I have voted for him, though? My first reaction was, "What about Jack Zduriencik? In the blink of an eye, he turned the Mariners from a 101-loss team into an 85-win team!"

Well, yes. But most of the Mariners' improvement was due to two players, Russell Branyan and Franklin Gutierrez. Zduriencik deserves a great deal of credit for acquiring both of them, and the fruits of some other moves may pay off in future seasons. This season, though, the improvement wasn't nearly as large as it might have seemed. In 2008, the M's lost 101 games but actually had the run differential of a 67-95 team. In 2009, the M's won 85 games but actually had the run differential of a 75-win team.

In one meaningful way, the M's improved not by 24 wins, but rather by eight.

I know, I know ... Only a pointy-headed nerd would suggest that we should give more weight to the eight than the 24. And Zduriencik certainly did some smart things after taking over as GM last winter. But that fundamental way gives me pause when wondering if I know more than the GMs about which of them had the best year.