Opening Day. The All-Star Game. The playoffs and the World Series. These are Major League Baseball's crown-jewel events.
Major League general managers, though, have their private crown-jewel events, even if they are delineated. It's the Hot Stove season and the weeks and days leading up to the annual non-waiver Trade Deadline, which this year is Monday at 4 p.m. ET.
To succeed requires research. Knowing what other teams need and what they can be convinced to part with. An unblinking assessment of your own situation. And the poker player's insight into the psyche of each executive to be dealt with, figuring out what makes him tick.
There can be many different roads that lead to hoisting the World Series trophy. And the reality is that it's impossible to divide all these men into neat little boxes. With that in mind, after talking to a wide range of keen baseball people, here's an attempt to categorize each GM as the clock ticks down to Monday.
TRIED AND TRUE
Dayton Moore, Royals
Moore trusts his scouts, but he isn't afraid to make a deal in an attempt to win now -- even if it means trading prospects. Last year, he gave up five touted young pitchers to obtain Johnny Cueto and Ben Zobrist, and Kansas City went on to win the World Series.
"The whole point of having a Minor League system is to use it to get better at the big league level. And that may include trading prospects," Moore has said.
Sandy Alderson, Mets
Alderson has earned a reputation for being cautious and conservative, but some of that is dictated by the fact that the team's payroll has been relatively modest. He did demonstrate that he'd pull off a blockbuster under the right circumstances when he acquired Yoenis Céspedes for Michael Fulmer last July.
Dan Duquette, Orioles
Duquette has a knack for waiting patiently for the market to settle and then getting players like Mark Trumbo, Nelson Cruz and Pedro Álvarez at advantageous prices.
"He's old school," said a longtime executive who knows Duquette well. "But he uses a little bit of everything. He leans more to the baseball side, but he uses analytics to his advantage and uses them very well."
Walt Jocketty, Reds
Jocketty, Cincinnati's president of baseball operations, is approaching his final Deadline, with general manager Dick Williams scheduled to take over in 2017. Jocketty, who won seven National League Central titles and a World Series as GM of the Cardinals, has a reputation for being one of the shrewdest traders in the game. He made his mark in Cincy at last year's Trade Deadline when he got back John Lamb, Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan and Adam Duvall in trades of Cueto and Mike Leake.
Mike Rizzo, Nationals
Rizzo's traditional baseball roots run deep. He played in the Minors and has been a coach, scout and player-development director. Rizzo's father, Phil, was a scout. That's probably why he is considered one of the best talent evaluators among his peers.
Neal Huntington, Pirates
Huntington is known for analyzing every aspect of the game down to the tiniest detail. Example: Spring Training stats for hitters are broken down by where the ball was hit, how hard it was hit and even what level of pitcher the hitter was facing at the time. With a relatively small budget to work with, Huntington tends to focus on smaller deals in the margins while balancing winning now with building for the future.
Jeff Luhnow, Astros
As data-driven of an executive as you will find, and Luhnow has also been unafraid to make bold moves since arriving in December 2011. Last year, he acquired Mike Fiers and Carlos Gómez from the Brewers at the Deadline for a haul that included Josh Hader, Houston's 2014 Minor League Pitcher and Player of the Year. Luhnow also traded for Scott Kazmir in July, Oliver Pérez in August and then Ken Giles during the offseason.
John Mozeliak, Cardinals
Mozeliak has a reputation for thoroughness, and that's included a gradual evolution over the years. While he still believes in the eye test, he's also become increasingly committed to statistical analysis. Mozeliak is almost always active at the Deadline, almost always looking for pitching and rarely gives up top prospects.
Jerry Dipoto, Mariners
In his first season with the Mariners after four years with the Angels, Dipoto is known as one of baseball's most creative executives. He's a free thinker with a clear plan of what he wants to do, which is why there was so much turnover last offseason as Dipoto tried to make the roster more OBP- and defensive-oriented.
Matt Silverman, Rays
Promoted after Andrew Friedman left for the Dodgers, Silverman has carried on the relentless data-driven approach that has allowed Tampa Bay to often stay competitive with the larger-market teams.
David Stearns, Brewers
Stearns is approaching his first Deadline as a GM, but he has already established his modus operandi. He has dramatically grown Milwaukee's research department since taking over last offseason, and that input is expected to inform any decisions that are made.
Rick Hahn, White Sox
This one is tough to pinpoint as Hahn has made moves that could also put him in both the "gunslinger" and "old school" categories. But given that he's a graduate of the University of Michigan, Harvard Law School and Northwestern's Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and spent two years as an associate at a sports agency, he certainly fits the new-school profile.
David Forst, Athletics
Forst holds the title of GM, but as with many clubs, there is another executive -- in this case, executive vice president of baseball operations Billy Beane -- who is actively involved. No organization is more known for its use of analytics than the A's.
A.J. Preller, Padres
Preller sat tight at last year's Deadline, his first as the GM. But that was only because he made so many moves going into the season, trading for the likes of Matt Kemp, Wil Myers and Melvin Upton Jr. This year, Preller has already moved quickly by trading Upton, Fernando Rodney, James Shields and Drew Pomeranz for prospects.
Jeff Bridich, Rockies
Bridich has one of the lowest public profiles in baseball, and he likes it that way. He works hard to stay out of the media and distributes information, even to potential trading partners, on a need-to-know basis. Still, the fact that Bridich was willing to trade fan favorite Troy Tulowitzki in his first Deadline as a GM last season indicates that this is a guy who's willing to absorb short-term backlash if he believes a move will be best for the franchise.
Dave Dombrowski and Mike Hazen, Red Sox
Hazen holds the GM title, but Dombrowski, the president of baseball operations, has the last word. He isn't afraid to wheel and deal and, like Preller, didn't hesitate to move quickly this season by getting Aaron Hill, Brad Ziegler and Pomeranz. Dombrowski is also willing to trade top prospects to get what he wants, as he did in separate deals with San Diego, to acquire Pomeranz and Craig Kimbrel.
Dave Stewart, D-backs
Stewart recently summed up his philosophy as follows: "I don't mess around. If it makes sense, I'm going to do the deal." He also believes in accountability. When the trade that sent Ziegler to the Red Sox was criticized (even though he got two prospects for a reliever who will be a free agent at the end of the season), Stewart quickly shot down speculation that chief baseball officer Tony La Russa had actually orchestrated the move. "I take full responsibility," Stewart said.
John Coppolella, Braves
Coppolella was given the title of GM last offseason, but he had been the de facto GM for a while before that working alongside John Hart. Known for his intellect and work ethic, he got his start in baseball as a numbers cruncher, but he developed a better feel for the baseball side of the game by sitting in the scouts section behind home plate during games. Both experiences should serve Coppolella well as the Braves continue rebuilding.
Brian Cashman, Yankees
The Yankees' GM for almost 20 years, Cashman has shown the ability to adapt to changing circumstances. The Yanks have one of the largest analytics teams in baseball, but they also invest heavily in scouting and player development. Cashman headed the baseball operations at a time when the Yankees annually had the highest payroll in baseball, and he has transitioned neatly to a period in which upper management is trying to get under the luxury-tax threshold and is thus reluctant to trade top prospects for established stars.
Bobby Evans and Brian Sabean, Giants
Another team where the top duo works very closely, with Evans serving as GM and Sabean the executive VP of baseball operations. Sabean has a reputation for being old school because he hides in the background while personally scouting games. At the same time, there are many who believe that San Francisco relies heavily on advanced metrics but prefers not to advertise the fact. Sabean is willing to deal prospects, and, above all, he's a pragmatist. When asked years ago why he'd made a preemptive offer to free agent Aaron Rowand, he shrugged. "Cost of doing business," he said.
Jon Daniels, Rangers
If the club is in contention, Daniels believes it's his duty to do whatever he can to help. That's resulted in some big Deadline trades that brought in the likes of Cole Hamels, Matt Garza and Cliff Lee. The Hamels deal last July is instructive. Daniels gave up touted prospects like Jerad Eickhoff, Jorge Alfaro and Nick Williams. But he also refused to include Joey Gallo, and he got salary relief by convincing the Phillies to take injured veteran Matt Harrison. And Daniels also got Philadelphia to throw in reliever Jake Diekman, who was a big part of the team's surge to the playoffs.
Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, Cubs
Epstein, the president of baseball operations, and Hoyer, the GM, play the hand they've been dealt. In the beginning, it was trading veterans for prospects to try to kick-start the rebuilding process. Now that the Cubs are contenders with a legitimate shot at winning the franchise's first World Series in over a century, they're doing whatever it takes to get over the top, with the Aroldis Chapman trade being a perfect example of that approach.
Michael Hill, Marlins
Hill is a rarity among those running baseball-operations departments these days. Like many GMs, he has an Ivy League degree; in his case, from Harvard. But Hill also played Minor League baseball and worked his way up on the development side of the game. That gives him both a playing background and an understanding of the ever-increasing influx of data.
Rob Antony, Twins
Former Minnesota GM Terry Ryan was generally considered conservative when it came to midseason wheeling and dealing, but when he was unexpectedly relieved of his duties a week and a half ago, the circumstances changed. There were reports that offers "poured in" after the move. But the reality is that nobody knows what the philosophy of interim GM Antony will be.
Matt Klentak, Phillies
This will be the first Trade Deadline for Klentak, who was hired last October. Under Ruben Amaro Jr., the Phillies were aggressive -- both when they were buyers (Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence) and sellers (Pence, Jonathan Papelbon, Hamels). The jury is still out on Klentak, who reports to team president Andy MacPhail, but one of his first moves after taking over was to trade popular closer Giles to the Astros, so he's already shown a willingness to be bold.
Ross Atkins, Blue Jays
Atkins is also in his first year as a GM, and he's considered a man of mystery. He's considered new school, but he also emphasizes old-fashioned scouting. Atkins came from Cleveland along with new club president Mark Shapiro, who remains active on the baseball side, which makes it even more difficult for outsiders to divine exactly who does what. Atkins' first big move in advance of this year's Deadline was acquiring Upton from the Padres.
Billy Eppler, Angels
Another GM hired since last year's Deadline, it could be a while before Eppler's profile is established. That's largely because starting pitching was supposed to be the one area of depth that could give him the flexibility to make trades, but three of those pitchers (Garrett Richards, Andrew Heaney and Nick Tropeano) have since undergone season-ending elbow surgery. Another factor: Manager Mike Scioscia has a lot of clout with owner Arte Moreno.
Mike Chernoff, Indians
Chernoff was named GM after Shapiro left for Toronto and Chris Antonetti was promoted to replace Shapiro. Chernoff does the leg work, but Antonetti still has to sign off on any deals. This is Chernoff's first Deadline, but it seems likely the Tribe -- which has painstakingly built a flourishing farm system -- will continue to stay away from rental players. With a lower payroll, the Indians can't really afford to give up top prospects for short-term help.
Al Avila, Tigers
Avila was promoted to GM days after last year's Deadline when Dombrowski was let out of his contract. Avila signaled that it's unlikely he'll make any moves because that's "probably what's best for the team this year and moving forward in the future." Which isn't necessarily a bad thing (or maybe he was just being coy). A young Blue Jays GM was once given the nickname "Stand Pat" Gillick for his inaction. Gillick is now in the Hall of Fame.
Farhan Zaidi, Dodgers
Zaidi holds the title of GM, but this front office also features Alex Anthopoulos, Josh Byrnes, Gerry Hunsicker and Ned Colletti, all of whom are former GMs with varying degrees of influence. Stan Kasten is the club president, but it appears that all baseball decisions run through president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman, a former small-market guru who now runs the team with baseball's highest payroll. All insist their deals are collaborative, but there are a lot of moving pieces here.
"I defy you to find a tougher front office to explain," said one longtime observer of the franchise.
Paul Hagen is a national columnist for MLB.com.