The value of a good general manager is as obvious as it is subjective.
The best, of course, build winners. The worst, as we know, do not.
Here in Arizona, we’ve been privy to the entire spectrum when it comes to GMs.
The best has been Phoenix Coyotes boss Don Maloney, who has managed to build a quality hockey team despite some very serious limitations. Hopefully the ownership situation gets settled and he’s brought back to continue building a contender in the desert.
The worst has been Lance Blanks, who was canned by the Phoenix Suns after just three seasons, in which his team reached the postseason a grand total of zero times.
Arizona Diamondbacks general manager Kevin Towers is somewhere in between, having helped build a team that won the NL West in 2011 but then proceeded to, in part, turn it into the mediocre bunch we see today.
And though he’s been on the job for less than five months, it may be safe to say Arizona Cardinals GM Steve Keim may be ready to ascend to the top of the list.
In a short time on the job, Keim has taken a roster that (somehow) won five games last season and has completely remade it.
New starters along the offensive line as well as at running back and quarterback. Improved depth in the secondary as well as the defensive line. A draft that has been universally praised by many of the so-called “experts.”
And not to be discounted, the perception of the job Keim has done among the national media is noteworthy, because it’s just another step toward the death of the “Same Old Cardinals.’
After all, the SOC don’t have something like this written about them by CBSSports.com’s Clark Judge:
“Keim and the Cardinals just completed a draft with so many bull’s-eyes they were applauded by a national media that usually reserves its attention for what Arizona can’t do instead of what it just did.”
Even if we won’t truly now how Keim and the Cardinals did in the draft for at least a few years, it’s still nice to see a positive vibe surrounding the team and the moves it has made. It’s a far cry from the offseason the Diamondbacks had, in which questions were raised about many of the moves they made.
No, everything the Cardinals have done up to this point has made perfect sense, be it adding a quarterback like Carson Palmer or even reaching for an offensive guard with the seventh pick in the draft. That move, by the way, looks much better when the rest of the draft haul is taken into account.
Then again, this is not to say every move will work out.
There figures to be roughly a dozen new starters when the team takes the field Week 1 against the St. Louis Rams, and you never quite know how all the pieces will fit together once the games start to count.
But as AZCardinals.com’s Darren Urban pointed out, the Arizona Cardinals are a younger team now than they were last season. And to be honest, few would argue that the team is not better than it was last season, too.
That right there is the sign of a general manager who knows what he’s doing.
Even with all the changes, the Cards are still trailing both the San Francisco 49ers and Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West’s arms race. And who knows, they may still be a bit behind the Rams.
The way you should judge Keim’s work to this point is by how things look for the team going forward. And, to be honest, things look pretty good.