Baseball - General / Reds - General

An Organization That Gets It

Rob Neyer described it thusly: “It’s early, but you have to admire the willingness of the Mariners’ new management to communicate with their smartest fans (and it helps that they’re saying most of the right things, too).”

He’s talking about this, an event organized by USS Mariner, the best Mariner blog out there, at the Seattle Central Library and attended by some special guests:

The guests for the afternoon are Mariners Asst. GM Tony Blengino and Mariners scouting director Tom McNamara. These are the two guys that Zduriencik brought over from Milwaukee – Blengino is the guy behind the Department of Baseball Research that is being established and the one pushing the organization into the 21st century of baseball analysis. McNamara is the top scout in the organization, and will be running the amateur draft this summer.

Two of the bigwigs in the M’s new administration got together for four hours with 250 Mariner fans and bloggers (there was limited space, so they charged a small entrance fee to cover the costs of renting the room, and admitted only people who had pre-registered), answering all questions. Read the recap of the gathering; lots of interesting information in there.

Now, the $100,000 question: Can anyone imagine the Reds doing anything like this in a million years?

I can’t imagine the Reds hiring anyone steeped in statistical analysis and giving them an influential role, much less putting them forward to speak to the most dedicated fans of the team. I’m really impressed with the new guys running the Mariners; we’ll see if it translates into on-field success.

And if anyone from the Reds wants to do something like this, email me. I’ll organize it myself.

24 thoughts on “An Organization That Gets It

  1. I look around the league sometimes and see many teams embracing a lot of new ideas and updating their front office to not just obviously have a scouting department but also include some more statistical analysis people. Then I see the Reds, continually sign players who “play hard” but might not be that good (see: all of our off season signings the past two years).

    I had hopes with Jocketty, but so far, he’s been unimpressive. (Though obviously, he has not had enough time yet)

  2. I have confidence in Jocketty, who has a successful track record and what appears to be a long-term plan for the Reds, but we knew this going in:

    “He was let go with a year remaining on his contract not long after (2007)’s 78-win season amid an organizational rift over Jocketty’s old-school method vs. statistical analysis favored by vice president of player development Jeffrey Luhnow.”

  3. Yep Chad…it’ll happen, the same time Mike Brown goes on TV and admits that the Bengals problems for the last 20 years were all the result of his bad decisions and that he has finally learned that he is not his dad.

  4. I like Jocketty’s old style, non fantasy stat approach. Maybe we will sign more winners rather than WHIPs, and OPSes. I think you see Billy Beane even starting to come back the other way in his recent A’s moves. Just like politics there has to be a balance and Jocketty is moving that way with his signings.

    Another thought, MLB TV reported last night that they thought Garrett Anderson might be an outfield fit for the Reds. I like him but he sure isn’t a right handed thumper we have been hearing about

  5. Something like that would be great, but I have seen no signs that the organization would be willing to have an open discussion like that. Jocketty would get angry and defensive the minute someone brought up Patterson.

  6. “I can’t imagine the Reds hiring anyone steeped in statistical analysis and giving them an influential role, much less putting them forward to speak to the most dedicated fans of the team.”

    I don’t really know what you have to base this on, but I disagree. If you look at the latest signings (Rhodes, Hairston, Taveras, Hernandez) each fits almost identically with the players value wins. Check them out at fangraphs.

    Either there is someone crunching numbers in order to get these valuations, or Jocketty is a genius who skips the statistical valuation and nails a players value win just by observation.

    As I advocated in the other thread, you can’t have one without the other. The question really should be which has the most influence in player personnel decisions in small v. large market teams?

    To me, scouts need to be more favored in small market teams because the small market teams depend more on the farm system. Larger market teams which depend heavily on FA are buying players who have the stats out there.

    The complication is in effectuating trades and combining the tools of the trade. I don’t think anyone can really say Jocketty is poor at effectuating trades.

  7. I’m a part-time optimist. I could see the Reds doing something like this, but I also see them treating it like some lame “Meet the GM” event sponsored by JTM (or Montgomery Inn) and moderated by Marty Brenneman or even someone like Andy Furman. So essentially it would be like a Hot Stove League or Sportstalk live, and you’d get spin, spin, spin and no real substance.

    Don’t get me wrong: I love Jocketty’s candor, especially coming off Krivsky, who treated everything like the CIA. But Jocketty really isn’t revealing a lot, nor is he convincing me that he has a real plan. Filling needs does not always indicate a plan, and he still hasn’t filled the Reds biggest offseason need (maybe not for lack of trying).

  8. Mark in CC said “I think you see Billy Beane even starting to come back the other way in his recent A’s moves. ”

    Billy Beane doesn’t exactly favor any particular set of stats. He favors whatever is undervalued in the marketplace while he tries to “sell” whatever is overvalued. If the majority of the GMs value OPS, he’ll trade OPS guys, If they value HRs, he’ll trade those, etc. At the same time, he does a (fairly) good job picking up good players that are completely undervalued by either the market or their respective teams.

  9. Who says young players don’t have stats?

    That’s precisely what Beane evaluates…in the Moneyball book they discuss trying to make heads or tails of college stats, that high school stats are questionable (mainly due to inconsistencies) and that they don’t draft younger players (especially pitchers) since there’s no record of their actual workload (not as much accountability when it comes to pitch counts and workloads).

    I also believe Beane feels he knows something that most published stats guys are just getting to…and that has to do with defense and pitching. Moneyball was all OBP and drafting college pitchers (may be the Reds should start with these two ingenius concepts) where performance could actually be measured.

    It sure seems to have worked in Oakland…and those guys seem to have lots of asst gm types being promoted…however, as a caution, the margin of error is thin as the last couple of years have shown (pitchers failed and designated “franchise” player Chavez was hurt). How many of you wouldn’t mind having Chris Denorfia back right now…

    And, St. Louis seemed to have kept winning after Jocketty left…and replaced him with a stats guy

    And, Cincinnati did hire some stats guys a few years ago…and let them all go…

    Small market teams need both sets of scouts (analytical and physical) more than large market teams due to margin of error of mistaken reports or physical limitations

  10. Steve,
    Agree with most of what you said, but I will defend the HS Pitchers. Moneyball was written nearly 10 years ago and that idea is outdated in my mind. All of the data used to come up with the theory that HS Pitchers fail more often than College Pitchers is based on data from the 80s and 90’s. What we have seen in the 00’s is teams being extra cautious with recently drafted arms, turning more and more into successes than failures. While there isn’t enough Data available yet simply because HS pitchers drafted in 2004 are just 22/23 years old still, you can see the results big time from the changes if you look at the overall data from what is there.

  11. I was thinking about the Jocketty trades comment…

    Reds trades since he’s taken over…

    Well, there’s Griffey for Masset and Richar (as of now, we could use Griffey to play and his fan marketability…that’s a loss in my opinion, salary or no salary at this point…)

    There’s Dunn for a sore-armed Micah Owings, career utility guy Castillo, and sore-armed minor league prospect Dallas Buck…

    Received catcher Hernandez for Freel, minor leaguers Ware and Turner (not a Hernandez fan, but for a year may homer a lot in GAB)

    That’s the Reds’ trade record for Jocketty…free agents…well, there’s not much to discuss either…other big deal may be signing Alonso to major league contract…a plan that we haven’t seen work well…

    For St. Louis… in reverse…
    Traded Rolen for Glaus…good trade for Cards

    Dumped Jim Edmonds on Padres for minor leaguer…too early to tell, Edmonds played well late

    Received Russell Branyan from Phillies in a “conditional deal”, apparently not fulfilled yet. Branyan went 6-32.

    Traded future considerations (apparently none considered) to Astros for Danny Ardoin, who did not play for the Cardinals.

    Traded minor leaguer Sean Danielsen to Red Sox for back of rotation filler Joel Piniero (good for Cards?…5.5 mil per year)

    Traded minor league pitcher Chris Lambert to Tigers for starter Matt Maroth (0-5, 10.66 for Cards)

    Purchased backup catcher Kelly Stinnett from Dodgers…batted .152; been there, done that…

    That was 2007…

    now 2006…

    Well, I’m not going to waste your time or space…there wasn’t anything that helped…well, Jeff Weaver did go 5-4 before leaving for free agency

    now 2005…
    Traded lefty reliever Ray King to Rockies for utility guy Aaron Miles (that’s a small plus for Cards)

    Received utility outfielder John Rodriguez for a minor leaguer, then Rodriguez disappeared.

    Traded away lefty reliever Mike Myers for two minor leaguers

    Well, that’s 2005.

    So, now, 2004…We start with a major catastophe…

    He traded Dan Haren, Daric Barton, and Kiko Calero to A’s for Mark Mulder (huge advantage A’s)

    Received 1.5 years of 38 year old Larry Walker for three minor leaguers (helped Cards, well,except for the 12.67 million it cost him for his final year…)

    Well..here’s some history…he traded utilty guy Wilson Degado for a Willy Taveras of 2004, Roger Cedeno, who was gone a year later and cost the Cards about $10 million over two years…

    He traded speedy outfielder Kerry Robinson to the Padres for speedy outfielder Brian Hunter, who didn’t play for the Cards

    He traded a minor league pitcher for speedy Tony Womack

    Finally…here’s a real trade…December 13, 2003…traded JD Drew and Eli Marrero to the Braves for Jason Marquis, Ray King, and Adam Wainwright…major deal here…

    I’ll just say this…Jocketty did deal for McGwire back in 1997, but for the last five years there’s not a real quality trade record…in fact, it’s been rather sparse. He likes to trade for speedy outfielders…and the A’s nailed him on the Mulder trade.

    The trade with the Braves in 2003 is intriguing; I wouldn’t have traded Drew for Marquis, but it’s defensible…

    I don’t have much confidence at all in his trade/contact record at this time, or his player valuation….

    I didn’t list free agent acquisitions, but, as we’re all guessing, doesn’t that seem to depend on how much ownership wants to spend?

  12. There’s a two-headed monster dealing with drafting high school pitchers…and I don’t think it’s outdated at all..

    1) If a team needs immediate pitching help (as the A’s said they did), college pitchers are obviously more prepared than high school pitchers…so, if the Reds want to get off re-treads, instead of drafting catchers draft college pitchers.

    2) Records on high school pitchers and their use is really, really sketchy…my kids are just now entering elementary/middle schools, and the leagues are trying to protect their arms…however, I’m already seeing where if they play in more than one league, coaches can circumvent the rules to try to win…especially if they are using more than one coach in different leagues.

    Things may be improving, and that’s the hope, but “unscrupulous competitors” haven’t left the playing fields, and injuries to immature arms may take a while to be fully recognized.

    After all…the Reds 1st round high school pitching draft record hasnt’ been golden (Homer BAiley, Chris Gruler, Jeremy Sowers, Ty Howington). They’re drafting more college pitchers now, too.

    As Baseball Prospectus usually calls minor league pitchers, they’re typically one inj

  13. Drafting for need in baseball is terribly misguided though, given that no position, college or HS, is going to even give you a 50% success rate. The best I have found in my research is college 3B who succeed as draft picks about 45% of the time, and they were far and away the most successful type of pick. My research also shows that both college and high school pitchers are showing success rates in the 6-7.5% rate. College is still winning, but barely and both are actually terrible bets. My data only counts the first 5 rounds though, because thats around when guys stop getting 6 figure deals.

    As for Bailey being put into that grouping, same with Sowers really, its just unfair. Bailey is 22 years old and is being tossed in with a guy who didn’t sign and two guys who are out of baseball and never made it to AAA, much less the majors. Homer has had his struggles, but lets note that he is still younger than every pitcher who pitched in the major leagues last year with the exception of I think 3 guys.

  14. I’ve come to believe that the Reds really are trying in the community, and while it may not be the one-on-one with fans, they’re doing a lot of things tha help with youth programs, facilities and other charitable causes.

    However, Castellini has proven to be a god-awful and uncomfortable public speaker on any level of every media type, so it’s probably not realistic to expect him to stand front and center with something like the Mariners did.

    But, certainly, that was a great idea and really not that hard for teams to do. Why more of them don’t is deep-rooted: you usually don’t have to put forth this effort. People buy tickets anyhow.

  15. There were 10 younger pitchers than Bailey who started a game last year in the Majors. So we should trade him. He’s getting old.:)

  16. baseball drafts are, to some degree, a crapshoot.

    that’s why i didn’t mind the reds picking a 1b last year… if they think he’s the best guy available, take him. i mean, if a team repeatedly has guys that don’t pan out at the top of the draft, year after year, start questioning their scouting.

    The baseball draft is approximately 1,214,642 rounds long. pitchers get hurt. batters look good with aluminum and can’t get it done with wood. that kid who can hit 600-ft home runs never learns where the strikezone is. so, just draft the players who seem to have the best chance, if you wind up with too many of them in one spot, well, that’s why you’re allowed to make trades. unless the reds find a new position for votto or alonso, well, hopefully alonso will force a trade. and that’s a *good* thing. once you’ve developed the guy into a known commodity (so much as it’s possible for a minor-leaguer), you can trade him for another known commodity at a position of need.

    as far as drating high school pitchers is concerned… doug’s point is right on. at the time beane thought it was high risk to draft high school pitchers, it was. part of what has changed the game is the amount of money these kids are signing for now, teams are more careful and i think the kids (and their parents) might pressure coaches to be a bit more responsible in the amateur ranks as well.

    still, i hate the misconception that moneyball was about acquiring certain types of players… the only type of players beane wanted to acquire were the ones he felt were undervalued and might allow him to be competitve on the a’s budget. i have a feeling if teams were overpaying for high obp guys and college pitchers, the book would have had him trying to steal good defensive players and taking risks on high school pitchers (“hey, these guys linger around until rounds 10, 20 because teams think they are too risky and aren’t worth it… well, some of them pan out!”, etc.) the book was about market inefficency, not obp and college pitching.

    or at least that’s how i read it.

  17. the book was about market inefficency, not obp and college pitching.

    or at least that’s how i read it.

    Moneyball is a business book, not a sports book. Its author, Michael Lewis, has a masters in economics and worked as a bond trader before committing full-time to journalism.

  18. Regrading Steve’s run-down of Jocketty’s trades in his last few years with St. Louis —

    When the Reds announced him as GM last year, I went back and looked at much the same thing you presented here. WJ had a reputation as a shrewd dealer who could find the underappreciated and those needing a change of venue and turn them into a winning club. However, some of his moves the first 3-4 years in St. Louis didn’t look like much.

    Despite the ’96 1st-place season when several guys had career years they’d never repeat, the Cards never finished about 3rd place or managed more than 83 wins in Walt’s first five years as GM. The winning that started in 2000 came as much from the talent the Cards had drafted in his first five years — Matt Morris, J.D. Drew, Albert Pujols — as much from the guys he traded for — McGwire, Edmonds, Renteria, Rolen.

    And very few of the players that made a signficant impact on these winning teams came from Free Agency.

    If Walt returns to his prior form, it’ll be at least 3-4 more years before the Reds are serious contenders in the Central. And it won’t be done through Free Agency.

  19. “If Walt returns to his prior form, it’ll be at least 3-4 more years before the Reds are serious contenders in the Central. And it won’t be done through Free Agency.”

    Except that with the Reds he has inherited better talent in the upper levels of the minor leagues, so he won’t have to wait for his Reds draftees to develop.

  20. honestly, i haven’t agreed with everything jocketty has done so far… and i don’t care. i just want the reds to keep a gm for more than two or three years. all this changing-direction crap the reds keep doing will, for sure, get them nowhere. at least with jocketty you’ve got a guy who has proven, in the past, he can execute some kind of plan to put together a winning ballclub. i’m just not sure i see exactly what that plan is for now… but let’s give him another year or two to show progress before dumping him in the river.

  21. I’m not crazy about any of the individual players Jocketty’s added this offseason, but I didn’t see anyone on the market who could have turned this club into a contender next season (except maybe Furcal). The important thing to me is, he hasn’t overpaid for any of them in cash or prospects, and he hasn’t added any contracts that will be a burden in 2010.

    The prospects who are closest to ML level need another season at a higher level to sort out their future value and roles, and they’ll be plugged in the following year or traded for pieces that that should help.

    I almost prefer the Reds don’t spend all their budgeted payroll this season and spend it instead on a signing bonus for Stephen Strasburg, if he somehow drops as a Boras client. The Yankees won’t be drafting in the first few rounds, so the Reds might be able to snag some bonus babies in the early rounds if they save enough cash.

  22. It would be wonderful to see the Reds front office reach out to the blogs. If they are going to do it though it needs to be through independently operated blogs such as this one, not one run by a company such as the Cincinnati Inquirer.

  23. “Who says young players don’t have stats?

    That’s precisely what Beane evaluates…in the Moneyball book they discuss trying to make heads or tails of college stats, that high school stats are questionable (mainly due to inconsistencies) and that they don’t draft younger players (especially pitchers) since there’s no record of their actual workload (not as much accountability when it comes to pitch counts and workloads).”

    Maybe I should clarify since I think we are saying the same thing. Meaningful statistical analysis cannot be achieved because of the problems raised above. Thus, in evaluating amateur players or minor league talent, more reliance should be placed in the hands of scouts.

    FA are typically players who have a sample size of statistical data sufficient to make meaningful analysis. Thus, when evaluating FA, more emphasis should be placed on statistical analysis. If you doubt this is happening, look at the WARP or value wins multiplied by the FA dollar figure (last year’s money paid to FA pool/1000 wins).

    The really interesting and extremely difficult part becomes valuing prospects (primarily scouting) to major leaguers (primarily statistical) when making trades.

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