ARLINGTON, Texas -- Peter Woodfork, senior vice-president for baseball operations, working under Joe Torre, is in Arlington for the ALCS. If not for a historic September collapse by the Red Sox, he might have been overseeing an ALCS with one of his former employers.
Before beginning his job with MLB at the start of 2011, Woodfork served for five years as assistant general manager of the Arizona Diamondbacks under Josh Byrnes. Both Byrnes and Woodfork worked together with the Red Sox from 2003-05, with the duo helping bring Boston its first World Series since 1918, working under boy wonder Theo Epstein when the team won the title in 2004.
"I don't think anyone saw it coming early in September," Woodfork said about the Red Sox's collapse prior to ALCS Game 2. "As the month went on and the losses mounted, I am sure it became very real for everyone involved."
While Woodfork hasn't been with the Red Sox for years, he was part of the front-office team that oversaw the hiring of Terry Francona to steer the club. Eight years later, Francona is out as manager.
"Terry is a professional and someone I admire for the way he handled the situations that can arise in a market like Boston," Woodfork said. When asked about Francona's replacement, Woodfork said, "Hiring a manager is an extremely difficult task. You need to consider a number of factors and make the decision that you believe will be best for the entire organization. The Red Sox have strong leadership and decision makers throughout baseball operations and ownership group. They will do what is best for the club."
But overturn may not be done in Boston. Woodfork's then-boss, Theo Epstein might depart the team and head for greener pastures, possibly taking over the Cubs. If he does indeed leave to Chicago, the Cubs would be getting an "outstanding" GM, Woodfork said, but Epstein's lieutenant in Ben Cherington -- who also worked with Woodfork -- would be a great fit as a potential replacement.
"Ben has all the experience and characteristics to be successful in any baseball operations role," Woodfork said.Woodfork has had his hands in many different aspects of baseball. Prior to working in the Red Sox and Diamondbacks organization, he worked in the commissioner's office in the labor relations department, working with all clubs in making sure the labor agreement was appropriately followed, as well as steering clubs through the salary-arbitration process. He was involved with the labor agreement process from 2003-06 that is expiring at the end of the month. Despite the wide range of skills that could translate to being a strong GM, Woodfork refused to consider a possible future as GM.
"At this time, my focus is on my job at Major League Baseball," he said. "My energy is geared toward having a smooth playoffs and preparing for the off sesaon."
If Jim Leyland is any indication of the job Woodfork has been doing thus far, he's doing just fine. After Game 1, Leyland told reporters how impressed he was by Woodfork's work with the two rain delays complicating the game.
"I thought Peter Woodfork from the Commissioner's Office he did a tremendous job keeping this thing going staying on top of it," Leyland said." He really did."
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