Manno computes as O's assistant GM Like Wren, data whiz likes using all 'tools'

November 24, 1998|By Roch Kubatko | Roch Kubatko,SUN STAFF

Though the Orioles failed again yesterday to plug a hole in their lineup, they were able to fill an opening in the front office by hiring Bruce Manno as assistant general manager.

Manno, 45, spent 15 seasons in the Milwaukee Brewers organization, but had been out of baseball the last three years while working as a data consultant with Advanced Value Matrix Systems, a computer information company in Wheaton, Ill. that has developed a complex program for evaluating players.

For the Orioles, who were seeking a replacement for Kevin Malone, that portion of Manno's resume brought obvious appeal.

Owner Peter Angelos and chief operating officer Joe Foss favored Frank Wren during their GM search in part because of his willingness to make greater use of a computerized scouting system. Malone and former GM Pat Gillick relied on more conventional methods, with heavy emphasis on first-hand reports. Wren was seen as someone who could better utilize the tools of the computer age.

In Manno, the Orioles have found a craftsman.

"Basically, this is an information industry. It always has been and always will be," he said. "And I've always been a believer that the more good information you have prior to making decisions, the better chance you have of making the right decisions. How do you gather that good information? There certainly are a number of ways.

"The tools the industry has had in the past have been good, but I do think we're getting into a situation now where it's time to take advantage of additional tools that could be available to us, to get more accurate information, to start to quantify our information, and to really start to look at it almost in terms of a systematic approach."

Like Malone before him, Manno also will be involved in salary negotiations and trade discussions, and will help evaluate scouting and the farm system. "I'm sure Frank will draw on the experience that I have and I'll try to help him as much as possible," he said.

Manno and Wren have never worked together, but their relationship dates back to Manno's days in Milwaukee. Wren spoke to him over the phone about the vacancy, then called him in for an interview last week. There was no need for a second meeting.

"My biggest interest was someone who had a lot of experience in the job as an administrator, both in the minor leagues and the majors," Wren said. "When you're trying to put together a staff and you can get someone who has experience and you don't have to teach as you go, it makes it much more appealing. That's why it was important to get a guy like him."

Manno joined the Brewers in 1979 as the administrative assistant for scouting and player development. He was promoted to farm director three years later before becoming assistant GM in 1987. His last three years in Milwaukee were spent as assistant vice-president of baseball operations.

"I was so committed to AVM and was so involved with it that I was very satisfied doing it the last three years. I enjoyed it very much," he said. "But when Frank called and asked if I would be interested in returning to a club, I started thinking about it and thought maybe the timing was real good for me. There are certain parts of not being involved with one club that you miss. Obviously the relationships with people and the challenges of putting a club together. I really felt it was time to do that.

"As far as being here, the opportunity is very good. Expectations are high. And it's unique that this is a club that certainly has a chance every year of being successful. That's always appealing."

Pub Date: 11/24/98

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