Barr, Malone, Klein emerge as Orioles' GM front-runners Team likely to announce its choice this week

November 06, 1995|By Buster Olney | Buster Olney,SUN STAFF

Sometime this week, the Orioles are expected to announce who will be the club's next general manager, the one to pursue Roberto Alomar or Craig Biggio or Ron Gant.

Three candidates -- former New York Mets scouting director John Barr, ex-Montreal Expos GM Kevin Malone and former Detroit Tigers GM Joe Klein -- have emerged from a month's worth of interviews as the apparent front-runners.

A quick look at what each has to offer, and overcome:

* Barr, who interviewed for more than two hours Saturday with Orioles owner Peter Angelos and club counsel Russell Smouse, has a deep background in scouting. He worked as a regional scouting supervisor for the Minnesota Twins before becoming the Orioles' scouting director in 1989. He served as assistant general manager with the San Diego Padres from the fall of 1990 to the summer of 1993, before becoming the Mets' scouting director.

What he would bring to the Orioles, then, would be a trained eye for talent. What Barr, 37, lacks, compared to the other candidates, is the experience of working as a general manager. He has been involved in trade talks, although he hasn't had the responsibility of running an organization.

* Malone, 38, has a long background in scouting, and since Dan Duquette left Montreal in January 1994, Malone has run the Expos' organization. Montreal was one of the best teams in baseball in 1994, but owner Claude Brochu ordered Malone to dismantle the club last spring because of financial trouble. After dumping All-Stars Ken Hill, John Wettleland and Marquis Grissom -- the conventional wisdom around baseball is that Malone did well in those deals -- Montreal had an average season.

Faced with the prospect of running the club in '96 with a small payroll, Malone chose to resign. By the time he had left the Expos, he had developed a reputation for being outspoken; too outspoken, many of his colleagues believed. The Orioles likely will want him to change that if he's hired here.

* Klein, 53, has a stronger history in player development than Barr or Malone, having worked within and operated farm systems longer than Barr or Malone has been in the game. Although fired by the Tigers, others in baseball believe he has left the organization in a solid position for new GM Randy Smith, with a good collection of players in the lower minor leagues. Klein made several good deals last summer, including the trade of left-hander David Wells to the Cincinnati Reds for prospects.

On the flip side, Klein has been a general manager of three clubs -- the Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians and Tigers -- none of which enjoyed major success when he was at the helm. (Klein was in charge when the Indians drafted pitcher Charles Nagy and outfielder Albert Belle.)

The Orioles also have interviewed Boston Red Sox assistant GM Mike Port and former New York Yankees GM Gene Michael.

Angelos has said he'd prefer to have a GM in place by Sunday, when the general manager meetings begin in Arizona. Also, the Orioles could finalize their coaching staff sometime this week.

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