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 Indians assistant GM Mike Chernoff, who ranked seventh on our list.
Mike Chernoff has had at least one game of catch every month with his dad since he was six years old. Chernoff's bond with his father was strong enough to break a childhood allegiance to the Yankees, as Mike switched allegiances when his dad accepted a Mets-related job at WFAN. He went on to attend Princeton, majoring in economics and playing ball there as well. Chernoff went into college expecting to eventually land a job in finance or teaching, but a Mets internship during that time changed his mind. After college former Mets GM Jim Duquette helped Chernoff score an internship with the Indians.
Chernoff moved up the ranks in the Indians' front office, gaining a dual education managing pro scouting and analytics. He became director of baseball operations in 2007 and then assistant GM last year. As an AGM, Chernoff continues to have a hand in all aspects of baseball operations, but with more authority. I spoke with him Monday afternoon.
On his mentors in the Indians' front office:
From very early on in my time here I was put in contact with our pro scouting department, which evolved into managing that department, which was one of the best things for my development. I basically talked every day with Steve Lubratich, who has been influential in mentoring me in that side of the game.
From the time I first got here, Chris [Antonetti] has been unbelievable in the opportunities, feedback, and development he's given me. I've learned a lot from watching Mark [Shapiro] interacting with him but also just watching him and how he leads people. I've been lucky to be around some quality people in this front office – Mike Hazen, Steve Lubratich, Chuck Tanner, Neal Huntington, DeJon Watson – they've made a huge impact.
The trades of which he's most proud:
It's been really fulfilling to see guys like Carlos Santana and Justin Masterson develop into the players they've become. Asdrubal Cabrera, Shin-Soo Choo – guys that were in what seemed like smaller trades at the time that have turned into real impact players in our organization.
Thoughts on Moneyball:
I think the mindset of Moneyball is a really important one in any business. You have to always be looking for that next competitive advantage or inefficiency. I think that mentality has been really important to how we operate here. In other ways I think it's almost created this conflict between scouts and the SABR world. There's no reason not to combine the two. It's a funny conflict that's out there that there's really no need for. I think it's pitted in the media in some ways and from that book as much more confrontational than it really is.