Tampa Bay Rays
The Backbone Of A Front Office
ST. PETERSBURG - Sandy Dengler knows it's coming, any time she tells someone her title with the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. What, exactly, does the director of major-league administration do? "That's the hardest question I get," she said. One way to answer might be to point at the bulletin board situated on the wall to the left of her desk at Tropicana Field. It's covered, top to bottom, left to right, with printouts.The range of information available to Dengler at a glance is staggering: player names, phone numbers, addresses, agent names, contract status, memos and notices from MLB, calendars - information no baseball front office can operate without. She has her pushpins on the pulse of just about everything that happens within the Rays organization and beyond, into the mysterious, legalese-littered realm of MLB's basic agreement. "Sandy is an integral part of our day-to-day operations," said Rays executive vice president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, who depended on Dengler's organizational skills to help prepare for the GM meetings this week in Orlando. "She literally is the backbone. I couldn't survive without her." Dengler, who has been with the club since December 1997, used to perform important clerical work for original Rays general manager Chuck LaMar. Her duties were expanded in 2001, when she was promoted from assistant to the GM. When Friedman replaced LaMar in October 2005, Dengler's role and responsibilities grew almost exponentially. For example, it is Dengler who receives the daily transaction alerts from MLB and lets Friedman know what players are available that day. When the team makes a waiver claim, it is Dengler who calls up the computer program and pushes the button to make the claim. It is to Dengler who Friedman turns when there is a question about the dos and don'ts of the basic agreement. And it is Dengler whose 30 years in the game - including 13 with the MLB office of player relations - make her such a valuable asset when it comes to getting things done. She describes her No. 1 function as "coordination" between departments. "You talk to public relations, marketing, stadium ops, coaches, major-league scouts, amateur scouts," Dengler said. "Every part of the year is a little different. I deal with employee contracts, coordinate with director of baseball operations Dan Feinstein with budget preparation. It's coordinating with accounting on salary changes, terminations, additions. It's coordinating with human resources. Really, it's all about communication and coordination." Is there anything about the organization that Dengler hasn't coordinated or communicated about? "I probably didn't know much about the new uniforms," she said. "They kept that one under wraps pretty well."
Reporter Carter Gaddis can be reached at (813) 259-8291 or [email protected]