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Saturday, January 14, 2012

L.A. Times: Helping baseball’s scouts in a post-‘Moneyball’ world

In the front offices of major league clubs, the statistics-vs.-scouts debate ended long ago. No club today could imagine winning without tapping the resources of the increasingly sophisticated statistical tools available as well as the experience of scouts trained to look at a kid today and project his tomorrows.

Yet that debate was very much alive in 2003, sparked by the book “Moneyball,” and by author Michael Lewis’ portrayal of how Oakland Athletics General Manager Billy Beane and assistant Paul DePodesta challenged the hegemony of the scouting community.

“Billy had his own idea about where to find future major league baseball players: inside Paul’s computer,” Lewis wrote. “He’d flirted with the idea of firing all the scouts and just drafting the kids straight from Paul’s laptop.”

The response from some owners was all too predictable. The A’s won, at less cost, with fewer scouts. In the winter following the publication of “Moneyball,” 103 scouts lost their jobs, according to veteran baseball executive Roland Hemond.

There was some small consolation in the timing. Hemond was among several baseball lifers concerned about how the sport treated scouts — the talent seekers living in chain hotels and eating fast food all summer, for wages so low that a savings account might be an extravagance.

Tripon Posted: January 14, 2012 at 05:20 AM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, dodgers, special topics

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   1. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: January 14, 2012 at 03:03 PM (#4037093)
Anyone have an idea what scouts make? The impression that I get is that they make very little, which seems crazy to me but I guess it's just supply and demand...
   2. Tripon Posted: January 14, 2012 at 03:14 PM (#4037102)
They make very little but keep getting employed for the rest of their years.
   3. my2cents Posted: January 14, 2012 at 03:19 PM (#4037104)
I get the feeling that most of the people that write about Moneyball have never read the book. And when they attribute straw man like ideas like firing all the scouts to Billy Beane, or Paul DePodesta, shouldn't they ask them for their opinions? This kind of writing is just another display of anti-intellectualism in the mainstream media.
   4. Steve Treder Posted: January 14, 2012 at 04:21 PM (#4037128)
They make very little but keep getting employed for the rest of their years.

I'm not sure if that's still how it is today, but it certainly is how it's been historically. All but a handful of "star" scouts were paid a very small salary, but unless you really pissed somebody off or did something stupid, it amounted to a lifetime pension.
   5. Swedish Chef Posted: January 14, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4037142)
And when they attribute straw man like ideas like firing all the scouts to Billy Beane, or Paul DePodesta, shouldn't they ask them for their opinions?

You know what, if Lewis had bothered to talk to, for example, Kenny Williams about how the White Sox perceived trading with the A's from the other side or with the Mets about why they drafted Kazmir when they did instead of implying reasons for their actions; or if he simply had hung out with the scouts more to learn how they thought, Moneyball might have been a far more insightful book.
   6. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 14, 2012 at 10:21 PM (#4037248)
Where are stats on scout firings kept? Seems like 103 is mighty precise.
   7. Tripon Posted: January 14, 2012 at 10:31 PM (#4037254)

The response from some owners was all too predictable. The A's won, at less cost, with fewer scouts. In the winter following the publication of "Moneyball," 103 scouts lost their jobs, according to veteran baseball executive Roland Hemond.
   8. LionoftheSenate Posted: January 14, 2012 at 10:38 PM (#4037260)
Anyone have an idea what scouts make? The impression that I get is that they make very little, which seems crazy to me but I guess it's just supply and demand...


$25-40k for an area scout. Car and gas included. Not sure about meals. If anyone knows the exact # of scouts fired it would be Hemond.
   9. Steve Sparks Flying Everywhere Posted: January 14, 2012 at 10:47 PM (#4037263)
The scout I know was just let go after 20 years working for the same team. Decided to go with a younger guy. The question then becomes what do you do for a living if you don't have baseball.
   10. SoSHially Unacceptable Posted: January 14, 2012 at 11:27 PM (#4037269)
I get the feeling that most of the people that write about Moneyball have never read the book. And when they attribute straw man like ideas like firing all the scouts to Billy Beane, or Paul DePodesta, shouldn't they ask them for their opinions?


Huh? The part above about firing all the scouts is, in the excerpt, a direct quote of what the author of Moneyball wrote (presumably in the book). Now it's possible that Lewis didn't write that, though if so that wouldn't be a display of anti-intellectualism but an example of a rather brazen and complete breach of professional ethics.
   11. valuearbitrageur Posted: January 15, 2012 at 12:18 PM (#4037356)
The response from some owners was all too predictable. The A's won, at less cost, with fewer scouts. In the winter following the publication of "Moneyball," 103 scouts lost their jobs, according to veteran baseball executive Roland Hemond.


Obviously quoting the passage I was questioning doesn't answer my question. Let me phrase it more clearly. Roland Hemond seems full of ####, to know the number that precisely, and maybe he didn't intend to blame Moneyball for all the firings, but if he did, he's full of #### there too. I'm pretty sure many scouts get fired every year.

Roland was working for the White Sox as an advisor during that time. Were fired scouts sending their pink slips to the White Sox to be collated that winter?

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