Red Sox GM candidate Quinton McCracken
When new Red Sox President of Baseball Operations Dave Dombrowski arrived, the general manager at the time Ben Cherington decided not to stay with an obvious reduced role. When Dombrowski was introduced at his first press conference, with Cherington gone, a major topic of discussion was the new GM-to-be. Dombrowski put the brakes on speculation about that position by saying he was in no rush to fill the position as he got acclimated to his new surroundings. Now, five weeks later, according to multiple reports, the first interview for the GM position is going to Astros Director of Player Development Quinton McCracken.
The 45 year old McCracken was a three sport star (baseball, football and track) in high school in North Carolina where he led his high school to the state championship in 1988. McCracken matriculated at Duke University earning his degree in political science and history. A 25th round pick in the 1992 draft by the Colorado Rockies, McCracken broke into the big leagues for good in 1995, batting .290 and stealing 17 bases. The speedy outfielder continued his success in Colorado in 1996, stealing 28 bases, batting .292. He was picked by the then Tampa Bay Devil Rays as their fourth pick in the 1997 expansion draft and was the Devil Rays first starting center fielder in their history in 1998, playing in 155 games that year. After suffering a torn ACL, limiting his 1999 playing time, he spent most of the 2000 season in the minor leagues.
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After stints with the Twins and Cardinals, McCracken signed with the Arizona Diamondbacks before the 2002 season. After coming off their championship in 2001, the D-Backs made the playoffs again in 2002 with McCracken posting a healthy.309/.367/.458 batting line, playing all three outfield spots. Though the D-Backs were swept out of the playoffs, McCracken posted an .871 OPS in 12 plate appearances. McCracken bounced around between three other organizations, even playing in an Independent league and the Dominican Winter League before hanging up his spikes after the 2007 seasons.
In 2010, McCracken started his front office baseball career with the Arizona Diamondbacks as Assistant Director of Player Development. For two seasons he was a liaison between the Major League club and the minor league teams. In 2012, he took a position, that he currently holds, as the Director of Player Development for the Houston Astros. In 2014, two of the Astros minor league teams made their respective playoffs on McCracken’s watch.
McCracken checks many of the boxes you should want as a major league general manager. He had success at every level of his athletic career. He was part of playoff teams from high school to the major leagues. His career had highs and lows and he worked his way back from injury to repeat his earlier success. He played with three organizations multiple times suggesting that he was a good person to work with, that they would want him back with their club. McCracken’s college degree with such a prestigious school as Duke University is another feather in his cap. Their basketball team notwithstanding, Duke is one of the premier universities in the country.
My concern here is with his lack of experience. Six seasons doesn’t seem like a huge amount to me for such a job as general manager. McCracken is going to be a prime candidate for advancement for his involvement with the Astros who are likely to make the playoffs this season after several down seasons. Another member of the Astros front office ex-assistant GM, 30 year old David Stearns was just named the Milwaukee Brewers general manager. So, perhaps if you look at a whiz kid like Stearns, six years might be considered plenty of experience for the GM job. While McCracken was a rung or two below Stearns, the Astros success reflects well on him in terms of the success of all its young players. Perhaps he could continue to assist in that process with the Red Sox.
The position of General Manager for the Red Sox will hold less power than most other organizations who don’t have a President of Baseball Operations making the final decisions. This could be one reason that McCracken could get this job, however, as he would likely be accepting of such a role since he has never advanced so far in an organization. This is an involved process, of course, and many other candidates will be brought in.
Expect that the GM interview process will start to ramp up in the coming weeks as the season concludes. The team would likely want someone in the position by the time the Winter Meetings roll around in December.
Stay tuned to BoSoxInjection.com for all your Red Sox news and analysis as we head into an eventful offseason for the team.