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Monday, June 09, 2014

Dirk Hayhurst’s Minor League Survival Manual

The GM Game is the prediction of the moves that will be made around the organization if YOU were the man in charge. It can look different depending on where you stand and how much information you have, but the above is how it looks if you’re a player.

Don’t play it.

The reason is, if you start trying to figure out why someone else got promoted and you didn’t, you’ll start to get bitter. Professional baseball, for all the joy associated with playing it, can be a very bitter place. That’s thanks in large part to just how crappy minor league life is, and how badly players want to make it to the top. But when you play GM, you start to assign value to your teammates, to yourself, and to your career that might not be accurate. You’ll expect to get promoted based on what little you know, and when it doesn’t happen, you’ll get angry at the situation, your employer, or even your teammates.

djordan Posted: June 09, 2014 at 10:23 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: hayhurst, minors, mlb

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   1. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: June 09, 2014 at 04:14 PM (#4722070)
No surprises, but every draftee should read this.
   2. djordan Posted: June 09, 2014 at 04:16 PM (#4722073)
I know it's a slideshow, but I thought there were one or two good nuggets here.
   3. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: June 09, 2014 at 04:34 PM (#4722086)
   4. Man o' Schwar Posted: June 09, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4722101)
Kudos to the President of Comfort for that link. I can't stand those stupid slideshows.
   5. PASTE, Now with Extra Pitch and Extra Stamina Posted: June 09, 2014 at 05:54 PM (#4722136)
You can also elect to not tell anyone that you speak Spanish. Save it for an opportune time, and then whip it out like a superpower. Watch the jaws drop when people realize you understood everything they said about you!

This is exactly what I do and I love it. I don't actually speak Spanish with anything mistakable for fluency, but I've picked up enough here and there to catch the gist of what people are saying. It's worth learning some Spanish just for one time when you catch someone saying something about you they don't think you understand, and you can offer a rejoinder. In Spanish.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: June 09, 2014 at 06:03 PM (#4722142)
This holds true for any job/employer really. Of course it results in "bitterness" only in some. In others it can be a blow to their self-esteem or simply cause them to lose faith in the organization. In still others it can motivate them to get better.

It's one of the reasons why I think teams should not mess around too much with delaying minor-league call-ups to play service time games. We all know the positives, but the negatives include the player not understanding why not and the emotional impacts of that ... or understanding why not and getting bitter/pissed.

I'm not a big one on the emotional side of the game but this is the one place where I think it matters. If the young player performs, you have to reward them -- they've done what you asked, what more do you want? He likely never would have been much of a player but I've been using the example of Roosevelt Brown here for a decade plus now.

At 23, he hit 358/401/713 in a half-season of AAA. He got his Sept cup of coffee but was back in AAA for age 24. He slumped a bit to 309/381/496. Another cup of coffee, this time hitting 352/378/538 in the majors. He started age 25 on the ML roster but got 2 starts in the first 18 games, hit like crap and was sent back down. In AAA that year, he hit 346/381/626. That did get him another stint in late June in which he got 10 starts in 16 games. He struggled for a week, got red hot for a week, had two O-fers and it was back to the bench then the minors. He was back in Sept but was still given just 5 starts in the Cubs last 21 games. But he tore it up at 370/400/778.

So you've got a guy who's hit about 320/380/600 in AAA (Iowa, not a crazy mountain park), 310/353/523/124 OPS+ in the 190 ML PA 2000-2001. The next spring, with about a week left in spring training, you practically announce that the CF job is his. The Corey Patterson gets hot for the last week of the spring and you give him the starting job and Brown is given a bench/platoon role, starts just 11 of the first 23 games, hits for decent power but no BA and that's pretty much it.

I'm not saying the Cubs necessarily made the wrong decisions for the ML roster, I'm saying they made lousy decisions for Brown. In 2001, at the AS break, the Cubs had the best record in the NL and Rondell White, when healthy, was producing in LF. GMjr was not producing in CF but Brown was always a stretch in CF. It would be understandable if the 2001 Cubs didn't feel they could wait for Brown to work through his struggles and didn't want him sitting the ML bench once White was healthy again.

The 2001-2 offseason was a slightly different story. The Cubs could have relied on Brown for LF but instead signed Moises Alou who generally played quite well for the Cubs (although he struggled in 2002). That's more a question of the best use of that money. But once they had signed Alou, they should have done Brown the favor of trading him somewhere he might play. (Not that an Alou injury/flop was out of the question.)

Like I said, I don't think Brown ever would have amounted to anything special. I think there's a good chance he'd have been an average or better LF during his prime, then fading away. It's more a question of what must this have done to Brown's confidence and/or his attitude. He clearly had nothing else to learn at AAA, destroying the ball. He'd repeatedly been denied opportunities based on short slumps in favor of creaky veterans. When you've earned a chance and don't get it, things rarely turn out well in my experience.

He did go off to Japan for 2003 and hit 307/392/539 but struggled in 2004 (injured?), came back to AAA in 2005 and hit 301/370/481 in the White Sox system. That was it.

His final career AAA line: 326/382/568 in 1500 PA.
   7. Zach Posted: June 09, 2014 at 07:39 PM (#4722184)
The reason is, if you start trying to figure out why someone else got promoted and you didn’t, you’ll start to get bitter.

I'd say this is a good skill for life, not just baseball. If you expect constant positive feedback for every wonderful thing you do, you will become a very bitter and disappointed person.

This comes up in Hall of Merit threads all the time. You shouldn't cry injustice too loudly because a guy was stuck in the minors for a year while hitting like a major leaguer, because everybody has a year like that. As in internet discussion threads, so also in life.
   8. cardsfanboy Posted: June 09, 2014 at 08:46 PM (#4722206)
It's one of the reasons why I think teams should not mess around too much with delaying minor-league call-ups to play service time games. We all know the positives, but the negatives include the player not understanding why not and the emotional impacts of that ... or understanding why not and getting bitter/pissed.

This is why I like what the Cardinals are doing and saying about their prospects. They flat out say if we can't find room for you to play everyday, then we are going to send you back down so that you can 1.continue develop 2. not atrophy. Both Taveras and Grichuk know that after this round of interleague play is over one of them is going back down, and when Adams comes off the DL, there is a good chance the other goes down also, because there is no reason for a 20-25 year old prospect to be riding the bench. (same with Wong, when he was struggling they said you are the future at second base, but we are the major league team and can't afford for you to get your confidence here while we are struggling to win games. go to the minors, remind yourself of how good you are, and at the first opportunity, we'll call you back up) There is the possibility they are playing the "super two game" but they are very communicative with what their approach/plan is for these players...something completely contradictory to the Jocketty regime.

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