I'm reminded of a joke from the late, great Mitch Hedberg today: "My friend said to me, 'Guess what I like? Mashed potatoes.' It's like, dude, you gotta give me time to guess." Yesterday, the Brewers announced that assistant GM Gord Ash and farm director Reid Nichols would not be retained in those roles. Less than 24 hours later, before we even had time to speculate on who GM David Stearns might bring in as his new No. 2, the Brewers have a new assistant GM and vice president: Tampa Bay Rays director of player personnel Matt Arnold.
So we know now that new Brewers GM David Stearns wasn't messing around when he told Tom Haudricourt that he was "confident [he would] have a conclusion on that fairly shortly" yesterday. At first glance, you have to hate the hire, because you can never trust a man with two first names. However, I'm optimistic by nature, so I wasn't ready to write him off without doing a little digging.
Arnold has been with the Rays organization since 2006, when he joined them as a professional scout. He was promoted to director of professional scouting in 2009, and assumed his most recent position with the club in June. He has also previously worked with the Reds, Rangers and Dodgers.
At 36 years old, Arnold fits with the Brewers' youth movement taking place both on the field and in the front office, joining Stearns, 30, who is the youngest GM in the league. He brings nearly a decade of experience from a small-market team that has demonstrated sustained success through in-house player development, something the Brewers have lacked since the Fielder-Weeks-Hardy-Braun wave of the early 2000s.
According to Haudricourt, Arnold's role with the Rays involved introducing "the integration of science, biomechanics and human movement analysis within baseball operations at all levels". He was also involved in contract negotiations and player evaluation.
We know at least one person likes the move:
Ash, who was offered another role with the club, is in discussions with Stearns as to what that role might be, and his future remains cloudy at this time, though he has said that he is interested in remaining with the Brewers. Scott Martens, who was removed as director of minor-league business operations, was also offered another unidentified role with the Brewers. Nichols will not be retained by the Brewers.