Alan Schwarz

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Wednesday, January 29
Updated: March 13, 4:04 PM ET
 
Siegle has seen it all ... and then some

By Alan Schwarz
Special to ESPN.com

You might think that as the assistant general manager of the Montreal Expos, Tony Siegle has seen everything. In the past 12 months as Omar Minaya's right-hand man he has helped splice a front office from scratch, pieced together a budget-parched roster that wound up almost knocking the world off its axis by finishing 83-79, dealt with talk of the club relocating to just about anywhere outside of Ottumwa, Iowa, juggled multiple trade scenarios for every Expo not named Coco Laboy, and survived not just having Bud Selig as his ultimate boss, but all 30 owners at once.

Oh, so many bosses
The 22 general managers Tony Siegle has worked under:

Astros ('65-'69): Paul Richards, Spec Richardson
Phillies ('69-'70): John Quinn
Brewers ('70-'79): Marvin Milks, Frank Lane, Jim Wilson, Jim Baumer, Harry Dalton
Astros ('80-'82): Tal Smith, Al Rosen
Phillies ('82-'89): Paul Owens, Bill Giles, Woody Woodward, Lee Thomas
Padres ('89-'90): Jack McKeon
Angels ('90): Mike Port
Giants ('90-'94): Al Rosen (again), Bob Quinn
Rockies ('95-00): Bob Gebhard, Dan O'Dowd
Giants ('01): Brian Sabean
Phillies ('01): Ed Wade
Expos ('02-'03): Omar Minaya

But Montreal is just another stop on Tony Siegle's undulating, 38-year road through baseball front offices, a career that began before Red Sox GM Theo Epstein and Yankees general manager Brian Cashman were even born. He has lived through the birth of the Players Association and the bombshell of free agency. He has negotiated the waiver jungle as one of the best rules men in the business. Recent years have brought a new revenue-sharing luxury-tax lexicon that he knows as well as English, which it does not resemble. Siegle never has been a general manager, probably never will, but he sure has some stories to tell, having worked in the trenches for 22 of them over the years.

Twenty-two.

He worked for Al Rosen with the Astros and Giants one decade apart. He worked for a father and son not named Tal and Randy Smith -- it was John and Bob Quinn -- though he naturally does have ties with the Smiths, having worked for Tal (Astros) and with Randy (Rockies). Call him the Kevin Bacon of baseball executives: He has been hired by a new, unknown owner named Bud Selig and an old, far too known commissioner named Bud Selig. The guy worked for Paul Richards and Frank "Trader" Lane, for crying out loud.

Siegle is a walking GM encyclopedia, so we opened him up to rate his former (and current) bosses in 10 different categories. Feel free to look over our shoulder.

Best Trader: Paul Owens (Phillies)
"He was constantly churning the waters for trades, like Pete Rose, Von Hayes, John Denny. His modus operandi was to make a trade at 6 a.m. if that's what it took. He sure kept me busy -- I had to put them all together. Frank Lane had that nickname, "Trader," but he was like 80 years old by the time I had him with the Brewers. He was sharp, funny, witty, but he couldn't see or hear. He'd sit behind the plate with a radio next to his ear, and was never afraid to curse out the players. The wives were sitting in the next section, too."

Best Eye for Young Talent: Jim Baumer (Brewers)
"Jim did a great job with the Brewers as GM, but before that he was the scouting director. In 1973, we had the No. 3 pick, and the first two (players taken) were David Clyde and Bill Gullickson. Our GM, Jim Weaver, wanted this lefty named Richard Shubert. Baumer insisted on Robin Yount, who we took. He was a great evaluator. Jim never got the credit he deserved for building up the Brewers."

He was constantly churning the waters for trades, like Pete Rose, Von Hayes, John Denny. His modus operandi was to make a trade at 6 a.m. if that's what it took. He sure kept me busy -- I had to put them all together.
Tony Siegle, Expos assistant GM, on Paul Owens, his former boss with the Phillies

Best Eye for Older Talent: Brian Sabean (Giants)
"He always gets more talent no matter what he has to work with. Money has been tight there, but every year he has kept his club competitive and in the championship mix. He got crucified when he traded Matt Williams, but got Jeff Kent. Kenny Lofton. Benito Santiago. Robb Nen for a couple of young guys. He's masterful at acquiring older players at little cost to stay competitive. He's had to do a lot of it with mirrors."

Most Statistically Oriented: Tal Smith (Astros)
"Tal by far. He started to computerize stuff in the late '70s before a lot of people. Dan O'Dowd is probably second -- he loves the stat stuff."

Least Statistically Oriented: Paul Richards and Spec Richardson (Astros)
"They didn't care what a guy hit. They were scouts at heart. They just wanted to break down with their eyes whether a guy could play."

Hated Agents the Most: Jim Baumer (Brewers)
"Agents had just gotten started, and Jim wasn't college educated. He felt intimidated by agents and lawyers. He hated them and didn't want anything to do with them. It ultimately got him fired because it kept him from doing his job."

Most Unpredictable: Harry Dalton (Brewers)
"He was very bright and very well-organized, but man, he had mood swings. You never knew where he was headed. He wasn't alone. Paul Richards and Spec Richardson, I'd quake within 10 feet of them."

Most Innovative: Omar Minaya (Expos)
"Look at what he's had to do with this team, whether it's building the organization or budgets or the Puerto Rico thing. He's handled it all really well in a very tough position. People have no idea what goes on around here."

Agents had just gotten started, and Jim wasn't college educated. He felt intimidated by agents and lawyers. He hated them and didn't want anything to do with them. It ultimately got him fired because it kept him from doing his job.
Siegle on Jim Baumer, his former boss with the Brewers

Least Waiver Knowledge: Al Rosen (Astros and Giants)
"Al was worse than Omar -- just kidding. (Laughs.) Al Rosen came to me once and said, 'I'm moving Mark Bailey off the roster.' I was like, 'You can't. He doesn't have outright waivers.' He once reactivated a player off the disabled list before the 15 days were up. That kind of thing happened a lot."

Worst Waiver Snafu: Frank Lane (Brewers)
"I just get the paperwork from Frank Lane after he trades someone for Bobby Pfeil. Now Lane's a living legend, I'm just starting out. I go to Shirley, the secretary, and say, 'We can't make this deal. We don't have waivers.' She says, 'You better go tell Mr. Lane.' Yeah -- easy for her to say.

"I tell Lane that this is an interleague trade and we don't have waivers. He says, 'Young man, you have just saved this organization a lot of embarrassment. Shirley, call Philadelphia, tell them we can't make the deal -- and tell them who told us we couldn't.'

"I had just come over from the Phillies. It was one of my proudest moments in the game. Ever since, I've been known as a rules guy."

Alan Schwarz is the Senior Writer of Baseball America magazine and a regular contributor to ESPN.com.





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