The Buffalo Head Society

Organizational Shakeup in Boston

by David Nevard
with H. Ralph Taylor & Joe Kuras

On July 25 (1998), the Boston Herald reported that Steve August, Red Sox director of major league operations, had resigned. "I felt for a while I was being phased out. Dan stopped asking my advice and wasn't paying attention to my suggestions. Since 1995, I felt that things weren't the same as they were under Lou Gorman, and the more time that passed, the less I was asked anything by Duquette," said August, who had been promoted from travelling secretary in 1996.

On July 26 the Globe's Peter Gammons commented on the rumored firing of Red Sox director of player development Bobby Schaefer: "He is a pure baseball guy... who took a roll-out-the-balls organization and brought in outstanding managers and coaches such as Ken Macha, John Cumberland, Dave Gallagher, and most of all Sammy Ellis. Let's see how many of them remain with a non-baseball group above them." Gammons hinted strongly that Macha will quit or be fired.

Former Red Sox Director of Player Development, Bob Schaefer On July 27 the Globe officially announced that Schaefer had been relieved of his duties. “According to sources, Schaefer chafed at the degree of control Duquette exercised in the minor leagues, while Duquette reportedly felt that Schaefer was taking a disproportionate amount of credit for the turn-around of the system."

On July 29 the Globe reported that Schaefer's duties would be taken over by 31-year-old Kent Qualls and former PawSox manager Buddy Bailey. Qualls had worked in the Montreal front office under Duquette, and has been with the Red Sox since 1995. Qualls did not play professional ball and is characterized by "club sources" as "a paper-pusher and a Duquette yes man." Bailey will report to Qualls.

On July 29 it was reported that Ed Kenney Jr. (whose father ran the farm system) was relieved of his duties as director of minor league operations. Like Schaefer, Kenney has been offered a lesser job within the organization but doesn't know if he'll accept. Schaefer said, "It's almost like they don't need you anymore." The demotions came in the wake of organizational meetings last week at the Providence Hilton.

On July 30 the Globe reported that Dave Gallagher, hitting instructor at Trenton, says he is quitting at the end of the season in protest of the ouster of farm director Bob Schaefer. Gallagher said he thought about quitting immediately, but his loyalty to the players caused him to wait until the end of the season.

Puzzled and Troubled

Ralph Taylor, the Buffalo Head Society's minor league analyst, commented, "I'm as puzzled as you." He pointed out that the Red Sox press release of July 30 contradicted several published items. "For example, Kenney was promoted to Assistant General Manager. This seems like a broadening of his responsibilities. He has not been in charge of minor league player movement. Also, Qualls has had comparable experience to his new assignment. He was with Expos for 4 years. Those changes do not bother me. I am bothered by the shift of Schaefer, who I think has really turned the minor league instructional operation around from the zilch it was under Kenney's father. But he was replaced by a baseball man in Bailey. The press reported that DeMarlo Hale was disturbed by the Shaeffer move. I think Hale does a good job. Let's see what happens to him."

Some of the confusion seems to stem from the modern corporate way of reorganizing. They eliminate some job titles create new ones, and shuffle responsibilities, so that the successor is never doing exactly the same job as the person who got fired. From the Red Sox press release it appears that Ed Kenney got Steve August's position (a "promotion", much to the surprise of the Globe), but not his title.

August was called Director of Major League Administration. Kenney will be called Assistant General Manager. Elaine Steward is already VP Assistant General Manager and Legal Counsel, and Lee Thomas is Special Assistant to the General Manager. Mike Port, meanwhile, is VP Baseball Operations.

Kent Qualls got Ed Kenney's title -- Director of Minor League Operations, but when Kenney had the job I thought it was strictly operational as opposed to developmental, meaning Kenney arranged player development contracts with the minor league clubs, took care of scheduling, etc.

In other words I never got the impression that Schaefer was reporting to Kenney. (They were both Directors.) But no one has been given Schaefer's title (yet) so maybe Qualls will have broader duties.

Buddy Bailey becomes Minor League Field Coordinator, a position which didn't exist before. It seems to have some of the qualities of Schaefer's old job, without the authority. Buddy will not be a Director, a title which seems to come right below Vice Presidents-- he will be a Coordinator, reporting to Director Qualls.

I was still confused, as was the vacationing BHS minor league correspondent, Joe Kuras: "Thanks for the updates on Schaefer et al. I caught a brief 'transactions' blurb in this A. M.'s Portland (Maine) newspaper. I couldn't figure out what da hell was going on, other than that it appeared Schaefer was out."

Qualls' Qualifications

Red Sox Director of Minor League Operations, Kent Qualls Ralph Taylor wrote: "I don't understand the Schaefer move ... he has clearly been doing a good job. Gammons does not like Duquette. I do not know whether his analysis can be relied upon. Gammons talked of putting the farm system into the control of 'paper pushers' without baseball experience. This does not ring true to me. Qualls may not have played pro ball, but he has certainly had good developmental experience with the Expos, and I suspect he has been involved at Boston.

"The old structure had Kenney as the farm guy, working with Schaefer. Kenney is no more a field man than Qualls. Kenney inherited the job from his father. In effect I see Qualls as replacing Kenney with about the same functions, and Bailey replacing Schaefer, reporting to Qualls."

According to the Red Sox press release of July 30. Qualls joined the Red Sox in 1995 from the Montreal Expos, where he held the title of Director of Minor League Operations from the Fall of 1991 through 1994. As Montreal's Director of Minor League Operations, Qualls was responsible for similar duties as those of his new Red Sox assignment overseeing the operation of the minor league system. While in Montreal, Qualls also served as Coordinator of Minor League Operations and during his tenure in Montreal, the Expos were twice named recipients of Baseball America's "Organization of the Year" Award.

Korean Connection

Joe Kuras found this tidbit, written by John Nalbone, a staff writer for New Jersey Online/ New Jersey Times and dated August 5: "No one is saying so on the record in either Boston or Trenton, but it is widely believed the expeditiousness of Cho's major league debut was one of the final straws in the rift between Red Sox general manager Dan Duquette and deposed former director of player development, Bob Schaefer."

Jin Ho Cho is a 22-year old Korean pitcher who was signed by the Red Sox in March of 1998. In the Red Sox' effort to fill the #5 spot in their pitching rotation, Cho was called up to for a July 4 start against the White Sox. He pitched well but took a 3-0 loss. Cho, who speaks no English, was hammered in his next three starts, and sent back to the minors on July 23 with a record of 0-3, 8.20.

Citizen Schaefer

On August 26 John Nalbone published an interview with now-private citizen Bob Schaefer, who was watching the Trenton team play at Norwich, Connecticut (where Schaefer makes his home). Schaefer sat behind the backstop and was greeted by several of his former players. "I miss all these guys and that's the hard part about this business," Schaefer said. "You get emotionally involved sometimes. But I follow them every day." Nalbone reported that after his dismissal Schaefer had turned down what amounted to an absurd job offer from Duquette -- running the Red Sox minor league campus in Fort Myers, Fla., duties which include selling tickets and being in charge of the facilities' grounds crew. It has been rumored that Schaefer was given two hours to make up his mind.

"I wanted to stay with the Red Sox," Schaefer said "The only bitterness I have is I just wish (Duquette) would have offered me a job I could take. I would have taken it if I had to, but with 29 other teams in baseball I'll take my chances. I have too much pride I guess."

According to Nalbone, Schaefer was cut loose when the Boston Globe ran a column by Peter Gammons lauding Schaefer for the job he had done with all of Boston's prospects. The column ate at Duquette, who took umbrage with Gammons bestowing on Schaefer the title of Red Sox's savior.

"I don't know about all that," Schaefer said with a wry smile. 'All I know is I did the best job I could. I devoted my life to it and I had no life away from it. But I guess that wasn't good enough."

Schaefer's primary goal was to get back to the major leagues as a coach. In fact, before the firing he had told Duquette that he didn't want to retain his Director of Player Development title and all of the responsibility of the club's minor league system much longer ~ that he would prefer a coaching job in Boston. This undoubtedly had some impact on Duquette's decision, wrote Nalbone.

Epilogue

As the minor league season drew to a close, Billy Gardner Jr. of Trenton was named Midwest League manager of the year, and Ken Macha of Pawtucket was named International League Manager of the Year.

On September 8, the Red Sox announced the resignation of Minor League Pitching Coordinator Sammy Ellis, who had held the job since 1995. Ellis's resignation was reportedly connected to the firing of Bobby Schaefer. The Pitching Coordinator job will be taken over by Ralph Treuel, who was the pitching coach at Trenton.

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