Bucco Blog Endorses Tony LaCava for Pittsburgh Pirates GM

UPDATE: 9/7/07 12:00 PM Eastern

David Littlefield was fired today and Robert Nutting finally revealed that he will, in fact, hire both a President and General Manager, and not a President/GM combination like the Devil Rays model.

Therefore, Bucco Blog’s receommendation that Robert Nutting hire Tony LaCava as the new General Manager because there is no question LaCava is the best qualified person for the job.

End Update

I’m not typically a John Perrotto fan but I was surprised by his article today where he said:

"If Nutting really wants to make the Pirates competitive again, though, one man he should consider calling is Toronto Blue Jays player personnel director Tony LaCava."

Over the last sixteen days I have polled scouts, executives and others around the game, and baseball writers asking them two questions — name the top three CEO and GM candidates for Pittsburgh.

Tony LaCava’s name was in 57% of the 38 responses, more than any other person. That surprised me so I started asking more questions.

One highly respected upper echelon executive in the game today who was a member of the Pirates front office in 1979 recently told me:

"I would hope that the new Nutting ownership will be a step in the right direction. From my background, especially at the club level, leadership is the single most important element in the longer-term success of any business..

[LaCava] is a quality person and hard working. I have to suspect that he has grown considerably in his overall management capabilities in the roles that he’s worked in player development..  My further impression is that he’s a loyal guy in his business relationships and very trustworthy, which can have a salubrious impact in an organization."

I knew LaCava to be a Pirates man at heart but I didn’t have a clue about LaCava the baseball man other than what I have read, so I asked a few around the game. One response I received echoed most of the others which went like this:

"If anyone is built to be the "prototype" of what Pittsburgh requires to return the Pirates to winning baseball, it’s Tony LaCava. He not only is one of the most respected "baseball minds" in today’s game, but also, he understands and respects the Pittsburgh market and its fans."

I think this is important because Robert Nutting has already stressed that his financial side of the house is in order and he’s looking for an operations man.

Enter stage right, Tony LaCava with his obvious micro-marketing capability for Nutting: he has the ability to go one-on-one with the fans and business community as a local product with personal business interests in the area, the media since he’s a take-charge leader, those in the industry since he’s one of the game’s most respected baseball minds, the players in the dugout because they can relate to him, and still be able to evaluate talent as good as anyone in the game at the end of the day while sipping coffee with Bud Selig if he had to.

Oh – and he wants the position so bad he can taste it for a reason all the other candidates don’t – he’s a loyal Pittsburgh Pirates fan at heart.

Now that’s impressive.

And I suppose LaCava could also be a blue-collar marketing boon for Nutting to boot.

Pirate fans may not remember when another die-hard Pirates man by the name of Hardy Peterson, 47 at the time, was given the Pirates General Manager/President reigns after spending eight years in scouting only to see his club win the "We Are Family" World Series in 1979. Like LaCava, he was a hard working man with extensive credibility in, and out, of the game.

The way I see it, Nutting has two choices – to bring in someone outside of Pittsburgh circles who may carry a name but not the complete package (the type we have seen fail for many moons in Pittsburgh) or has had the wind knocked out of them a bit over the years, or an honest-to-God, pure-bred Pirates Stallion who wants nothing more than to lead the way proving to the world that the Pittsburgh Pirates franchise is not only proud, but a winner.

For once I agree with Perrotto – Tony LaCava is a superior candidate for the Pittsburgh Pirates GM position. It’s time we get back to our roots.

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9 comments

  1. bucsfan@comcast.com

    Your article reminded me of Chuck Finder’s 2001 article where he gave Kevin McClatchy his two choices to fill the GM slot, Paul DePodesta, and local product Mike Berger.

    Instead, McClatchy took an outsider by the name of David Littlefield and the results are in.

    DePodesta wanted more at the time than to consider McClatchy’s offer some said then, but Berger didn’t and might have been a good general manager considering his dad’s connections and his own abilities.

    Today we are watching Robert Nutting’s search bring out names in the newspaper that will shock the average fan. But what the Pirates really need, as Finder mentioned more than six years ago, is home grown talent that wants the franchise to win. No, demands they win. Finder was right then and it still holds true today.

    There may be more qualified local products than LaCava, I don’t honestly know. But I do know I have read a few articles where LaCava has turned down large-market GM positions like in Boston waiting for the right opportunity in Pittsburgh. How could you not like that mix as a Pirates fan or business entity in the area?

    As a Pittsburgh business owner, I have to agree that Tony LaCava is more interesting to me than Joe Garagiola because I am aware of LaCava’s interests in the community. To be sure, the District could use a little more help from the Pirates.

    I’m in agreement Jake. LaCava it should be.

    Thank you for taking the time to do the research.

  2. loneranger1869@yahoo.com

    Everything I have heard and read about Tony LaCava these last few years is consistent with what Jake and Perrotto have written.

    Recently, a Tampa Bay scout told me that the Devil Rays desperately wanted to hire LaCava last year, but he declined the interview. He also spurned the Red Sox’s overtures when Theo Epstein initially left. Likewise, Baltimore made an unsuccessful run at him.

    Apparently, the Pittsburgh Pirates is LaCava’s dream job. If so, the Nuttings owe it to themselves and to the fan support base to bring this highly regarded and qualified local commodity in for an interview.

    Rather than consider old retreads and school-ties-chums, the Nutting family should allow a strong flow of sweet air into PNC Park.

    I submit that fresh wind is in fact Tony LaCava. Hopefully, the Nutting family will open the window.

  3. rick.meyer@gmail.com

    That is really bizarre that the link I just posted wants you to buy the article. I just googled Tony LaCava and it was the 2nd or 3rd link to appear. Clicking it from there, brought up the entire article. So if you want to read the thing, I guess thats how you need to access it. Wierd.

  4. 79family@gmail.com

    I better input my 2cents here or Danny might ring my neck. There is no question Cav’s the right man for the job and he would have a lot of support from his old family.

  5. ballgarr@msu.edu

    While this may be sacrilege seeing as how you have all but anointed LaCava as the man for the job, but I believe I have an even better candidate in mind that no one seems to be mentioning. Where is the love for Brewers Scouting Director Jack Zduriencik.
    First of all, he is a Pittsburgh native. This seems to be big and at least equals the playing field a little between him and LaCava.

    Second, he’s run a successful scouting department for two clubs while also assisting in the development of two other organizations.

    Third, and maybe most of all, he is as respected, if not more so, than LaCava around baseball.

    Fourth, as an added bonus, he knows the National League and the Division better than the Jays LaCava.

    Jack Z. worked for the Pirates in the early 90s, so he obviously knows the steel city’s terrain. While his drafts have improved since leaving Pittsburgh, he has to be given credit for inking Jason Kendall. Besides, name one scout who doesn’t become more efficient as an evaluator with increased experience. Jack also spent time with the Mets and Dodgers before joining the Brewers. While with the Dodgers he signed Chin-Feng Chen and Hong-Chih Kuo during a bried tenure as their international liason.

    Currently, the first place Brewers are littered with Jack Z.’s draftees. J.J. Hardy, Cory Hart, Prince Fielder (MVP), Ryan Braun (ROY), Rickie Weeks, Tony Gwynn, Yovani Gallardo, and Manny Parra were all his guys. On top of that, five of the Brewers six minor league teams qualified for the postseason.

    I think I’ve elicited more than enough info. for Jack’s cause. While LaCava may be the first guy you think of, Jack Z. is the best choice.

  6. bluemooninn@aol.com

    Zduriencik has big time score board and should be a top choice. Logan White would be one to talk with also he has scoreboard and very good history with the Dodgers. Not sure of where Lacava even fits in here, nothing about him seems to fit and cant find much of what he’s done, except that he seems to get around with alot of clubs and doesnt seem to stay anywhere for any length of time.

  7. jrisach@hotmail.com

    This time around, it’s a no-brainer! Tony LaCava is clearly the best candidate for the Pirates GM position. Best of luck my friend. You know that I’m pulling for you!!!

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