MLBTR's list of general manager candidates introduced 20 people who were identified by their peers as potential Major League GMs. We’re bringing you closer to the candidates with a series of pieces. Today the series continues with Rockies senior vice president of scouting and player development/assistant general manager Bill Geivett, who ranked 15th on our list.
Bill Geivett grew up in Sacramento rooting for the Swingin' A's. A speedy third baseman, he played ball at Sacramento City College and later majored in economics at the University of California-Santa Barbara, telling me, "I'm a Gaucho, and will always be a Gaucho." Geivett was drafted four times, but a desire to complete his degree compelled him to wait until after his senior season to sign with the Angels. A knee injury ended Geivett's playing career at the Double-A level, after which he obtained a Masters and coached collegiately at Loyola Marymount and Long Beach State.
Geivett got into scouting after that, telling me, "I still believe I'm the only person that has taken a pay cut to go to the New York Yankees." After about four years with the Yankees he took a step up to become the Expos' farm director. After three years there he joined Chuck LaMar as a special assistant to the GM for the Devil Rays, helping prepare for the expansion draft and taking part in many firsts for the organization. Next came an eventual assistant GM position with the Dodgers under Kevin Malone, after which Geivett began his long tenure with the Rockies in 2000. He now oversees scouting and player development and assists with all baseball decisions. I talked to Geivett on the phone yesterday.
On his mentors:
Bill Livesey is one of the biggest mentors I've had in baseball. He really taught me how to scout and how scouting and player development worked [while with the Yankees]. The biggest thing I've learned from [Rockies GM] Dan O'Dowd is perseverence. There were a lot of lean times here, as we were involved in a rebuilding-type situation. To see our leader show up every day, grinding it out, he kept on going when times looked tough for us. The perspective of a MLB manager I learned from Felipe Alou and Tommy Lasorda. Keli McGregor, our former president, and Dick Monfort, our owner, had a big influence on me also.
On stats and scouting:
If you talk to the scouts they'd probably say I'm too involved in statistics. Talk to some stat guys, they'd probably tell you I like scouting too much. I think there's always times where you lean on one or the other. As you're dealing with Major League players, it's a lot more appropriate to lean on stats. I think statistics are a fabulous indication of what's happened. I think the scout's job is to try to tell you what will happen.
I've never really understood the scouts versus stats argument; I don't see it. For somebody to make a good decision they need a clear understanding of all it. You can get the oldest scout you want and he's going to pull out stats and look at them. There are a lot of scouts who will look at statistical information and already have an opinion before they even watch the player. And they've got big floppy hats and gray hair.
The trade he was involved with of which he's most proud:
The Matt Holliday trade was definitely big for us. If we're going to trade Matt we need to get a young, middle of the order position player back, and we got Carlos Gonzalez. You have a criteria in your mind and to be able to make a deal that actually fit was tremendous. We were at an advantage because Arizona had him originally and we were down in Tucson and played Arizona all the time. I can remember [senior director of international scouting] Rolando Fernandez and I were sitting there watching him in the instructional league one year, and we were talking about how that's the type of position player we need to sign. We really hadn't broken the position player barrier at the time. We always looked at CarGo as the type of guy we wanted to get. We had a long history with him.
The draft pick of which he's most proud:
Troy Tulowitzki. I coached at Long Beach State; Bill Schmidt, our VP of scouting, went to Long Beach State. We felt like we knew him very well. If available, we were going to be able to acquire a corner bat at a premium defensive position. Bill Schmidt said he would be available, but I didn't think he'd be there for us [at the seventh overall pick]. The first day [Tulowitzki] showed up he said, "I just want to tell you guys I want to be here my whole career," and he hadn't even played in A ball yet.