The Diamondbacks’ major transition on the field has become apparent, and now the trend moves to management.
The team announced Friday that former sports agent Jeff Moorad will replace team founder Jerry Colangelo as CEO on Jan. 1, the result of a personality and philosophical clash between Colangelo and Ken Kendrick, one of four investors who bought Colangelo's general partnership earlier this year.
“It's a turning point,” general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. said. “To pretend it's not, I think, lessens everything that has gone before. I think it would be disingenuous for Jerry to pretend that this doesn't mean things will change. Sure it does. It means precisely that. But that's OK.”
According to ownership sources, Moorad's appointment does not necessarily mean major changes in the structure of the front office.
“He reports to partnership,” Kendrick said. “Beyond that, all of the personnel decisions are really his to make.
“As far as people in place, I know he has a personal history with (team president) Rich Dozer and Joe Garagiola. As far as changes contemplated immediately, no.”
Moorad — whose list of high-profile clients included D-Backs left fielder Luis Gonzalez — begins as CEO-elect on Sept. 1. Colangelo will remain chairman of the board for 2005; on Jan. 1, 2006, Moorad will become chairman and
Colangelo will be chairman emeritus.
“I'm here to make the transition seamless for Jeff,” Colangelo said.
“To have an opportunity to be mentored by Jerry over the next few years, or as long as I can keep him mentoring, is an opportunity that I deemed too good to pass up,” Moorad said. “And the reason I sit at this table today in large part has to do with the respect I have for Jerry. And I'm excited about the opportunity.”
Kendrick said Moorad has made a commitment to purchase a “not insignificant” stake in the team in the future. Major League Baseball would have to approve such a transaction.
Colangelo assembled the original ownership group that won an expansion franchise from Major League Baseball and got Bank One Ballpark built.
Earlier this year, four investors bought controlling interest in the team, and while Colangelo remained CEO, he went from ultimate authority on team matters to one man on a five-person board.
“I think once that transpired,” Colangelo said, “the handwriting was somewhat on the wall that things might be different going forward. I was certainly prepared for that. I had committed myself to staying on as CEO for eight years. . . .
“The general partnership had some other thoughts and ideas and came to me, asked whether or not I'd be willing to step down because they had another plan.”
Colangelo and other partners knew Moorad from his involvement with a group that attempted to purchase the Suns. When it was agreed that Colangelo could not continue as CEO, Moorad was an acceptable replacement for all parties.
Immediately after the news conference announcing the changes, Garagiola said he had not yet spoken to Moorad about his role.
“We'll evaluate over time,” Moorad said of the front office. “I'll look forward to the opportunity to learn about the strengths and weaknesses of everyone in the organization, but I don't come with a predisposed plan at this point.”
There are some people with connections to Moorad who could be potential hires in Arizona's baseball operations department: Scott Parker, an associate at Moorad's firm, and Chicago White Sox assistant GM Rick Hahn, who spent two years working with Moorad.
“I'm certainly a fan of ‘Moneyball’ (the book that detailed Oakland's analytical approach to management), as are many in the business, but I also recognize the value of traditional talent evaluators,'' Moorad said. "I think we have one of the best here in (senior assistant GM) Sandy Johnson.”
Moorad deferred to Garagiola on the future of manager Al Pedrique, who is 6-26 since taking over for the fired Bob Brenly on July 2.
“That decision will largely be made by Joe Garagiola,” Moorad said.
Garagiola said he would not make that call unilaterally.
“The way we've always operated is by consensus,” he said, “and I don't see it changing. It's worked pretty well for us.”
Moorad said next year's payroll budget “is still evolving.”
“I expect the team to have a healthy budget for players, as it has in the past,” he said. “In the end I think it comes back to making the right decisions as opposed to spending the most money.”
Earlier this week, Richie Sexson cited Colangelo's presence as a major reason he would consider signing an extension with the D-Backs. Sexson admitted Colangelo's departure could affect his decision.
“You don't know how the team is going to be run,” Sexson said. “We'll have to wait and see. Jerry was a winner, and I'll never take that back. You just never know how the phase of the organization is going to go, so I can't really comment.”
Sexson, for whom Arizona traded six players last December, is eligible for free agency after the season.
“That likely will be one subject Joe and I will focus on in the near future,” Moorad said. “I don't expect that decision to wait until I officially start in September.”
The hiring of Moorad adds a subplot to Arizona's attempt to sign its top draft pick from this year, Florida State shortstop Stephen Drew. Agent Scott Boras is Drew's adviser, and — in the words of a third agent — Boras and Moorad are “mortal enemies.” (Both are based in Orange County, Calif.)
Boras said he expects to have further talks with scouting director Mike Rizzo next week.