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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Jonah Keri: Beane Counters

Don’t have time to go through this now as “à la croisée des Stooges et des Cramps” material has crossed my faux desk.

While Moneyball the book and especially Moneyball the movie pumped up certain aspects of the A’s success while downplaying certain others (Messieurs Zito, Mulder, Hudson, Tejada, and Chavez would surely like a word), they perfectly pegged Beane’s distrust of industry insiders. While acknowledging that Melvin’s playing experience helped his candidacy for the manager job, Beane admitted to still harping on the value of outsiders’ perspectives when hiring people for other positions.

“I don’t want a lot of guys like me who played the game,” Beane said. “Quite frankly, I want blank canvases, I want people to come in with new ideas. I don’t want the biases of their own experiences to be a part of their decision-making process. Listen, our whole staff — [assistant GM] David [Forst] played at Harvard, but that doesn’t count because it’s Harvard — didn’t really play. The bottom line is that any business should be a meritocracy. The best and brightest. Period. This game is now evolving into that.”

Beane credited Michael Lewis for helping to spark that shift.

“That’s the best thing about the book and what it became,” Beane said. “I just talked to a young lady, a freshman at Santa Barbara. She’s taking a course, and Moneyball’s one of the required readings. This young lady could dream of one day becoming a general manager. That would have been much harder to imagine 15 years ago.”

One of those outsiders could be in the dugout before long, Beane said. Given the challenge of watching for subtle physical cues such as pitcher fatigue while also cycling through the many possible strategies and outcomes during the course of a game, managers and bench coaches would seemingly benefit greatly from employing a new aide.

“There will be an IT coach at some point” in the dugout, crunching numbers in real time and sitting right next to the manager, Beane said. The A’s have yet to actually create such a position for very practical reasons. “It would be an extra coach, and [MLB] is pretty strict — we aren’t even allowed walkie-talkies,” Beane said about league restrictions on how many coaches a team can have, and what kind of contact they can have with the outside world during games. “But I believe at some point this will happen. There’s too much data that’s available not to want to use it.”

Repoz Posted: March 19, 2014 at 09:19 AM | 4 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: oakland, sabermetrics

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   1. andrewberg Posted: March 19, 2014 at 11:40 AM (#4673932)
I love Jonah, but I did not find this piece particularly informative. The only thing I did not know that I found interesting was the bond between Melvin and the AGM.
   2. JE (Jason Epstein) Posted: March 19, 2014 at 11:56 AM (#4673948)
“There will be an IT coach at some point” in the dugout, crunching numbers in real time and sitting right next to the manager, Beane said. The A’s have yet to actually create such a position for very practical reasons. “It would be an extra coach, and [MLB] is pretty strict — we aren’t even allowed walkie-talkies,” Beane said about league restrictions on how many coaches a team can have, and what kind of contact they can have with the outside world during games. “But I believe at some point this will happen. There’s too much data that’s available not to want to use it.”

Are umpires trained to spot the Samsung Galaxy Gear watch?
   3. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: March 19, 2014 at 12:12 PM (#4673961)
I love Jonah, but I did not find this piece particularly informative.

Agree--I read this yesterday & was going to submit it, but it was too.... meh. A lot of a=a narrative
   4. Bitter Mouse Posted: March 20, 2014 at 10:30 AM (#4674403)
There will be an IT coach at some point


I doubt it. But hey, maybe.

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