Please Stay Away from Peter Woodfork, Pirates

If you’re trying to keep track of all the talk surrounding candidates to supplant Brian Graham as Pirates’ general manager, you’ve got your work cut out for you. Over the weekend, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette mentioned seven front-office types (Muzzy Jackson, Jim Beattie, Ed Wade, Ruben Amaro Jr., John Mozeliak, Steve Lubratich and Tony LaCava) in even vague relation to the job—and that’s by no means a concrete (or exhaustive) list.
This morning, Paul Meyer tossed another name into the hat:

Peter Woodfork, assistant to Arizona general manager Josh Byrnes, could draw interest from the Pirates [as a GM]—especially if Frank Coonelly becomes the team’s president.
Woodfork, who has a Harvard background, worked with Coonelly in Major League Baseball’s New York offices before going to the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Lucky No. 8?
If I were trying to handicap the race—and I suppose I am, since there are far too many candidates to cover thoroughly—then my short list would (and does) have two names on it: LaCava and Woodfork. That’s admittedly pure speculation; I’m just going with my gut based on what I’ve been reading. But again, with a seemingly endless pool of potential applicants, you’ve got to start (and finish) somewhere.
There’s been a good bit written about LaCava’s qualifications—see the discussion surrounding a Beaver County Times article penned by John Perrotto for a quick background—so let’s take a look at Woodfork.

  • “After the Boston Red Sox were sold in 2002, they tapped Theo Epstein of Yale as the greenest of baseball GMs at 28. Today, his assistant is Haverford (Pa.) grad Josh Byrnes, 32. Peter Woodfork, the team’s director of baseball operations, is 26, with a psychology degree from Harvard.” – USA Today, 3/17/04
  • “Woodfork, a Swampscott, Mass. native, … will focus on contract issues but also help Director of Player Development Ben Cherington and Special Assistant to the General Manager/Player Development Craig Shipley.” – AP, 3/17/03
  • “Woodfork worked for the commissioner’s office for two years in the labor relations department before joining the Red Sox [as director of baseball operations]. He holds a psychology degree from Harvard University, where he was a four-year starter for the Crimson’s baseball team.” – The Boston Globe, 11/23/05
  • “Red Sox director of baseball operations Peter Woodfork was named assistant general manager for the Arizona Diamondbacks, joining Josh Byrnes, who previously had held that title in Boston. Byrnes was named Diamondbacks GM last month and had requested permission to take Woodfork to Arizona.” – Ibid
  • “‘[Woodfork] has built a tremendous reputation in this industry due to his successful track record with the Commissioner’s Office and the Red Sox,’ [Josh] Byrnes said. Indeed, one West Division executive said upon hearing about the hiring, ‘They’ve got themselves a good man. He’s smart, very enthusiastic and has great people skills. That’s a great hire.'” – MLB.com, 11/23/05
  • “Jeff Moorad, [Diamondbacks general partner]: Josh [Byrnes] and Peter [Woodfork], along with Bob Gebhard, A.J. Hinch, Jerry DiPoto, Mike Rizzo, and the like make up something like a ‘Dream Team’ baseball operations staff—I wouldn’t trade a one of them. They’ve worked very effectively under Josh’s leadership.” – MLB.com, 7/14/06

And, perhaps the most complete profile I was able to find (from The Arizona Republic, 4/28/06):

Woodfork has carved out an expertise in all matters financial and technical, including arbitration, contracts and the fine print in roster shuffling. But he says he still has a lot to learn, including honing his player-evaluation skills.”It’s definitely something I’m going to need to improve on in my game,” he said.
As for the future?
“I’ll learn a lot in this job to see if I have those skills to be a good GM,” Woodfork said. “Some day you hope that that’s true. But I’m realistic. I’m not going to step into something that I don’t think I can do well.”

I wrote yesterday that in order to squeeze the maximum return out of their latest front office moves, the Pirates must pair Coonelly with a general manager who excels at evaluating talent. My thinking was that Coonelly seems to have the business side of the game down pat; to complement his skill set, it’d be wise to bring on a GM known for his ability to buy low and sell high on players.
It sounds as if Woodfork himself admits that he’s not that guy—or at least he wasn’t a year ago. He’s another financial wunderkind, one of the new-age baseball men who can crunch numbers and execute a plan. But he’s not the kind of general manager candidate that can take a look at a player and know whether or not he has what it takes to have big-league success.
Josh Byrnes has certainly surrounded himself with a talented staff, and undoubtedly Woodfork could do the same if he were brought to Pittsburgh by Coonelly. But I’m sticking to my guns: To ace the next hiring, Bob Nutting and Frank Coonelly must find someone (not unlike LaCava) who is able to evaluate what’s happening on the diamond, not in a board room or a spreadsheet.

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6 Responses to “Please Stay Away from Peter Woodfork, Pirates”

  1. slamdog Says:

    I thought the article said, they needed a Gm who is or was a talent evaluator, its certainly not Woodfork or Depodesta, they’re stat rats which are needed, but an overall evaluator is needed and its not these guys, maybe Logan White or Tim Wilken who have legit track records!!!

  2. Travis Says:

    Evaluating players alone on stats is a dangerous situation. Projecting upside necessitates in person evaluations.

  3. Bnoles Says:

    Woodfork would be foolish to take this job…it’s clearly a dead-end situation (Pirates have yet to commmit to winning) and not a good spot for a first-time GM (Lose/Lose sitch)…they should hire a big name b-ball guy who has something to fall back on when they fire him in three years ’cause the team still sucks.

  4. Marty Nastayyshz Says:

    I think Woodfork can do it, but I think first and foremost he should draft one of his ex-Harvard buddies who was a stud left-hander. I think his name was Hogan and his dad, Lee Hogan, used to be the Harvard coach…

  5. Lisa Says:

    Mr Humes – you outline Peter Woodfork’s professional
    baseball work history, which includes 8 positive
    articles written about him over the course of the past
    4 years. He has also been extremely successful in his
    endeavors, including a World Series ring with the Red
    Sox and he is now well on his way to the NL West Title in his 2nd year with the D-Backs. With all of his
    talent and success he has had in MLB thus far, I am left confused by your poorly written article.

  6. Cory Humes Says:

    None of those positive reviews, Lisa, have anything to do with Woodfork’s abilities in a role as a talent evaluator. The Pirates sewed up the business side of the game when they hired Frank Coonelly. Now they need someone who has experience with procuring and developing players. Woodfork doesn’t fit that mold.
    If you’re still confused, perhaps you can read some of the half dozen or so other posts I’ve written on the subject so you can get some context.


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