by Scott Kindberg
October 7, 1991
Lunetta Returns To Majors, Joins Marlins' Front Office
Lunetta, a Jamestown native who has served in various front office capacities - at both the minor and major league levels - in Jamestown, Buffalo, Montreal, Cincinnati and Rochester, will begin his new duties December 1. He will continue in his present position as general manager of the Triple A Rochester Red Wings until then.
"This is the crown jewel to move into player development," Lunetta told The Post-Journal in an exclusive interview Sunday night from his Rochester home. "I've spent all 13 years of my working career aspiring to be in player development."
His dream has finally come true.
"The last five days have been somewhat overwhelming within the context of the way everything shaped up," he said.
The 36-year-old Lunetta said he was offered the job last Thursday by general manager David Dombrowski, who was named the Marlins' GM last month. Lunetta and Dombrowski, the former Montreal Expos GM, have known each other since they worked together on Montreal in the late 1980s.
"When David was named general manager of the Marlins (September 19), my first thought was it might create an opportunity," Lunetta said. "I didn't think in any definitive terms. The irony was, at the time of David's appointment, I was to meet him in St. Louis while the Expos were there."
That meeting was scratched, but Dombrowski called Lunetta with some better news.
"He said he was disappointed that we couldn't get together in St. Louis, but would I be interested in a position with the Marlins?" Lunetta recalled. "I think I said yes before he finished the sentence."
In his new position, Lunetta will "in the broadest sense, oversee the administrative function of our player development system." More specifically, he will work with Gary Hughes, the director of scouting, to set up a scouting staff and then a farm system.
"What makes it all the more enjoyable was not only was I rejoining David, but I was also rejoining others who I worked with in Montreal."
The other former Montreal employees who are now with the Marlins' front office staff are Hughes and Frank Wren, the assistant GM, who was a former GM and player with the Jamestown Expos.
"As an expansion club (the Marlins' first game will be in the spring of 1993), we're going to put an imprint on the formation of a franchise, build this from the ground floor," Lunetta said. "That, in itself, is a pretty overwhelming challenge."
But Lunetta is used to challenges.
He began his baseball career in 1980 as the assistant general manager of the Jamestown Expos. After a seven-month leave from baseball, Lunetta returned to the Jamestown Expos as general manager, a position he held from 1982-1984. During that time, he was also the assistant spring training coordinator for the parent club in its winter home in West Palm Beach, Fla. After one year as the director of baseball operations for the Buffalo Bisons, Lunetta joined the Montreal Expos as their director of team travel, a position he held for 2 ½ years, before taking a similar post with the Cincinnati Reds for a season. He has been in Rochester since just before the 1990 season.
"It was time to grow and mature," Lunetta said of his 18 months with the Red Wings. "I inherited a club that was going through discord and conflict and it had very serious financial problems. The ship was taking on a lot of water."
Since then, Lunetta said he has streamlined the operation to make it more efficient, assembled the strongest front-office that he could and continued to work at reducing the deficit, which was as high as $248,000 when he took over.
"We won't get to the break-even point, but the owners of the ball club were very pleased with the forecasting report for fiscal 1991," Lunetta said.
He also likes his personal forecast for the years to come.
"If you could write a script, this would be it," he said.
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