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Saturday, March 03, 2012

Goold: Replacing the Duncan trunks

Screw those newly discovered tracks by Wes Montgomery…here is the DUNCAN trunk!

This vast traveling library lived in a red, wheeled trunk that was modeled after an equipment box that was once re-engineered to have a secret compartment for stashing booze during prohibition.

Hiding goodies goes with the job.

But instead of housing something for after the game, this red trunk carried binders and binders and binders loaded with info to help during the game. One morning in Arizona, former Cardinals bench coach Joe Pettini was digging through this crate – which was labeled “DUNCAN” – and pulling out three hold-punched sheets with intricate notes and drawings on them. He was updating the binders from a vast filing system of players. There were sheets for players who had long since retired, and yet they were there just in case, say, Bobby Bonilla popped up at third base for the Houston Astros one day.

The binders and notes were pitching coach Dave Duncan’s scouting reports – the data he and his colleagues meticulously kept. For each hitter, they’d know what pitch got him out and where to put the fielders to aid in that outcome. These sheets molded the Cardinals pitching game plans and their defensive alignment for more than the past decade. This old-school database, stacked neatly in the trunk, was had elements of Moneyball before Moneyball had a name. And when Duncan took a leave of absence this winter, that stockpile of info went with him.

The Cardinals believe they have ways to replace the Duncan database.

It could be part of a subtle sea change in the clubhouse when it comes to how baseball’s new metrics are used and embraced.

Repoz Posted: March 03, 2012 at 08:31 AM | 8 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cardinals, history, sabermetrics

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   1. Bob Evans Posted: March 03, 2012 at 12:08 PM (#4073263)
That stuff should be in a museum or a college collection or something. The George H.W. Bush library...he played baseball, right? Put it there.
   2. base ball chick Posted: March 03, 2012 at 01:07 PM (#4073289)
oh my gawd

it's SPREASDSHEEEEEETZ!!!!!!!!

   3. salvomania Posted: March 03, 2012 at 01:25 PM (#4073297)
The Cardinals believe they have ways to replace the Duncan database.


I hope it has something to do with computers.
   4. Walt Davis Posted: March 03, 2012 at 03:29 PM (#4073363)
I hope it has something to do with computers.

Nope. Don Zimmer, bench coach!!
   5. Sleepy supports unauthorized rambling Posted: March 03, 2012 at 04:27 PM (#4073380)
I hope it has something to do with computers.


Duncan's ridiculous books always kind of puzzled me. Seemed like the pitching coach should have something better to do than be a stringer, and I always wondered about the quality of the data from that angle. And it wouldn't be sortable, or filterable, so the utility is severely limited, unless he took it back to the clubhouse and put it into a computer, which it doesn't sound like he did.

Anyway, FTA:
The jump drive is the new red trunk.


Matheny goes on to talk about Bill James, making advanced stats available to the coaches, including sortable video analysis, etc. Definitely an interesting article, especially the intellectual property parts of it. I guess I always assumed that stuff, or at least the data products and tools that the front office guys like Luhnow produced, would be the property of the team when they left to go to a competitor. Guess not.

   6. Justin T., Director of Somethin Posted: March 03, 2012 at 04:36 PM (#4073382)
That stuff should be in a museum or a college collection or something. The George H.W. Bush library...he played baseball, right? Put it there.

I just found out today that the Clinton Library here in Arkansas opened a Cardinals exhibit today that runs through September. The news link for it was not very good with details on what the highlights of the collection are, and the Clinton Library site is even worse, but apparently it is all stuff owned by the Cardinals which they have amassed over their history even though they don't have a place to display it (can't afford to squeeze out a concession stand or two at the yard, I suppose). So I would think there is some good stuff.
   7. Something Other Posted: March 04, 2012 at 03:16 AM (#4073521)
Matheny goes on to talk about Bill James, making advanced stats available to the coaches, including sortable video analysis, etc. Definitely an interesting article, especially the intellectual property parts of it. I guess I always assumed that stuff, or at least the data products and tools that the front office guys like Luhnow produced, would be the property of the team when they left to go to a competitor. Guess not.
Hard to see how you'd keep a guy from spending a day with a copier or some blank discs and taking that knowledge with him. I only play a lawyer on the internet, but if a guy made copies as he went and had those stored at home, would he in theory be breaking a standard agreement against taking information developed on the job with him if he took those to his next job? What if he had an excellent memory and simply rebuilt his files after he went to his new pitching coach position?

File folders and notebooks make sense for this kind of thing, if you're not into computers. It's not that involved, though I guess interleague might make it a pain in the ass. You have one binder for each team and you need to know how to get, what, at most fifteen guys out during the course of a series? I imagine a guy like Duncan doing this for a living probably has most of what gets hitters out memorized. The part where he's doing the PBP notations is probably a way of staying in the game while he's watching opposing pitchers, or to glance at and refresh his memory with if he hasn't seen a hitter in a while.
   8. esseff Posted: March 04, 2012 at 03:42 AM (#4073527)
apparently it is all stuff owned by the Cardinals which they have amassed over their history even though they don't have a place to display it (can't afford to squeeze out a concession stand or two at the yard, I suppose).


Cardinals used to have a great museum display that shared a building with the Bowling Hall of Fame Museum across the street from Busch II. Sometime after Busch III went up, that placed closed, and the bowling museum moved to Texas. The Cardinal Hall of Fame was supposed to move into a new building that would be part of a high-falutin development on the old Busch II site, but none of it has ever happened.

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