In my mind, there are four kinds of GM’s:
(Editors note: GM’s can change categories. They have to, or they don’t last.)
Active: Ones who make a good team better at a big cost, or see an opportunity at the deadline, and act upon it, pushing their chips to the middle of the table, like Dayton Moore did with Ben Zobrist and Johnny Cueto. Fans generally love this kind of GM, but the cost is usually long term in the form of prospects that can come back to haunt the team later the most. Good example of that is Noah “Thor” Syndergaard and Travis d’Arnaud. The Blue Jays traded them for to the Mets for R.A. Dickey. There were others involved in the trade, but these are the players having the most impact. Dickey is a solid starter, but Thor has emerged as an electric starter and a potential ace, and d’Arnaud is the Mets starting catcher with a lot of upside.
The second kind of GM is the Reactive GM. They react to situations. Jason Heyward‘s acquisition was a reaction to Oscar Taveras‘ death, and any starting pitcher the Cards sign this off-season will be considered a reaction to Lance Lynn‘s injury. The Heyward trade cost us Shelby Miller, but Heyward himself is young, so the trade made sense at the time, as everyone expected them to lock him up long term. if the Cards don’t re-sign Heyward since he’s now a free agent that changes.
The third kind of GM is the Passive GM. These are the farm builders. They generally sign players to short term contracts, trade away stars, and focus on building.These guys also react to a team being in conention by signing complementary players without giving up good prospects. Their eye is still on the future when they do that. For a while, Moore was one of these, building up the farm steadily. Then when he considered the team to be ready, he switched roles, became active, and you see the results.
The last category is Desperate. They are guys desperate to make an impact, often tossing caution to the wind and masking trades with often no regard for the future. AJ Preller is a good example of this, and the Padres are in a bad situation as a result.
There are of course, hybrids. The Epstein/Hoyer combo is an example. They’re still developing the team, starting several rookies last year with more to come, and they also acquired a pitcher on the cheap mainly to fill out the rotation who ended up outperforming all of their (and everyone else’s) expectations. but they signed veteran starter Jon Lester last season to a long term contract to be their ace. Lester helped, the kids surprised, Jake Arrieta became the aforementioned unexpected ace, and you ended up with a team that made the NLCS.
So which one is John Mozeliak? He’s a Hybrid Passive/Reactive GM at the moment in my opinion. Built a deep farm and is using it, and is pondering his reaction to the Lynn injury. If he signs Chris Davis it’s a reaction to Matt Adams struggles. He acquired complementary players in the pennant race, partly due to success, but also wanted to keep our young talent. That’s my take anyways. Feel free to disagree.
As always, thanks for reading.