Thursday, October 13, 2005

Woodfork '99 Shortlisted for Rangers' Asst. GM Job

From the Globe's Gordon Edes:

Woodfork up next
Peter Woodfork, part of Theo Epstein's coterie of bright young assistants dubbed the ''Gammons Youth" by Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy, is scheduled to interview with the Texas Rangers tomorrow, two days before his 29th birthday, to become the team's assistant general manager.

Woodfork would join 28-year-old Jon Daniels, who last week succeeded John Hart, and displaced Epstein as the youngest GM in baseball history.

Woodfork, who grew up in Swampscott and played baseball and was a psychology major at Harvard, held the title of Director of Baseball Operations/Assistant Director of Player Development with the Red Sox. Boston hired him in March 2003 away from Major League Baseball, where he served in the labor relations department and worked on the 2002 collective bargaining agreement.

Despite his limited experience in baseball operations, Woodfork was on the fast track to developing the background necessary to become a GM, especially with teams leaning toward backgrounds like that of Epstein -- young, tireless Ivy League grads with legal ties and a strong grasp of the game's business side who learn the baseball side on the fly.

David Forst, the former captain of the Harvard baseball team and current assistant GM with the Oakland A's, is said to be in line to become Sandy Alderson's first choice in San Diego if Kevin Towers leaves and goes to Arizona, a widely reported rumor. And Josh Byrnes, the Red Sox' assistant GM and former star player at Haverford (Pa.) College, is a possibility to interview for the Washington Nationals' GM job.

One American League executive gave Woodfork a rave review yesterday. ''He's smart and has a great personality," the executive said. ''Because he worked in the MLB office, he's well known throughout the league, because teams always called him when they needed advice on technical contract issues.

''The Red Sox had him going to games and assisting Ben [Cherington] in player development, and he would work with Theo on contract issues because he was such an expert on the language. He's a great communicator, one of these guys who always seems happy."

Here's a Crimson story about when Woodfork landed his present job.

Woodfork got to know Epstein—who became the youngest GM in baseball history when he was hired at age 28—during his time at the league office, when Epstein was director of Baseball Operations for the San Diego Padres. Woodfork took his post around the time baseball reworked its collective bargaining agreement, which he now remembers as a “great opportunity” to get acquainted with the financial side of the game.

Woodfork started 148 of his 157 career games for the Crimson, playing three seasons at third base before sliding over to second for his senior campaign. A native of Swampscott, Mass., he hit .301 for Harvard, scoring 87 runs and knocking in 62 more as the Crimson won the 1997, 1998 and 1999 Ivy League championships.

Daniel Habib ’00, a former Crimson baseball writer and current staff writer for Sports Illustrated, has written two articles about the new Red Sox administration this spring. Yesterday, he remembered Woodfork as a fundamentally sound player who fit in well with the Ivy championship teams of the late 90s.

“He was somebody who understood Joe Walsh-style baseball and played it well,” Habib said. “He was a solid contact hitter, very versatile defensively and also had a sharp, biting kind of wit to him.”

Habib suggested that the move fits Epstein’s approach to personnel

“Someone like Epstein will hire someone and err on the side of education and intelligence rather than having a traditional baseball background,” Habib said. “There’s isn’t necessarily a high emphasis on having a rolodex full of baseball contacts.”

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