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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Phillies have decisions to make heading into ‘15

And John Mayberry Jr. isn’t even mentioned! This team’s problem is too many great options to try out!!

Phils manager Ryne Sandberg said last month he wants to see other players at first base, but Ryan Howard continues to play there almost every day. Sandberg repeatedly said the organization needs to learn more about Darin Ruf, but he has only played him sporadically… The Phillies talk about change, yet there has been little change on the field.

But sources over the past couple of weeks have helped piece together the Phils’ thinking in regards to some of these situations.

Amaro said a few weeks ago he expects Howard to be his Opening Day first baseman in 2015, which might be the case. But if the Phillies have any chance of trading him to an American League team in the offseason, they also know he must play… But what about Ruf, [Grady] Sizemore and Domonic Brown? The Phillies find themselves in a logjam with Howard playing daily at first base. Marlon Byrd could be traded in the offseason, so he will continue to play every day to keep up his value. Ben Revere is hitting well, and the Phils would like to know if the hitter they have seen since late June is the hitter they can expect to see in the future.

That leaves three players for one position.

Despite the fact Sandberg said they don’t know much about Ruf, the organization feels it does. It thinks he could be a platoon player in the future—other teams feel the same—but it also is juggling to see if it can get anything at all from Brown, who is on pace to have the lowest OPS of any qualifying left fielder since 2002, while continuing to evaluate Sizemore.

The Phillies could bring back Sizemore, but that’s far from a sure thing. There could be a situation where the Phils trade Brown and enter next season with Sizemore and Ruf in a platoon in left field. But they stand no chance of bringing back Sizemore if they bench him the rest of the season.

(h/t MLBTR)

The District Attorney Posted: August 21, 2014 at 05:58 PM | 59 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: darin ruf, grady sizemore, phillies, ryan howard

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   1. boteman is not here 'til October Posted: August 21, 2014 at 06:32 PM (#4776666)
Good thing no other teams have decisions to make heading into 2015.
   2. Batman Posted: August 21, 2014 at 06:48 PM (#4776671)
It thinks he could be a platoon player in the future—other teams feel the same—but it also is juggling to see if it can get anything at all from Brown, who is on pace to have the lowest OPS of any qualifying left fielder since 2002, while continuing to evaluate Sizemore.
Guest writer Peter Gammons.
   3. BDC Posted: August 21, 2014 at 07:01 PM (#4776678)
Pat Moran needs to find out if Dode Paskert can still bring it.
   4. Cargo Cultist Posted: August 21, 2014 at 07:13 PM (#4776688)
Decision #1 should be what exactly kind of severance package to give to Amaro.
   5. Spahn Insane Posted: August 21, 2014 at 08:56 PM (#4776764)
That excerpt quoted in post 2 is something else. I know it's the internet, but jesus.
   6. Walt Davis Posted: August 21, 2014 at 09:18 PM (#4776781)
Sizemore? That they feel any need to evaluate Sizemore suggests this organization still doesn't have a clue how to move forward.

(Yes, I know, Sizemore is doing fine for them but he's not a part of their future.)

On Ruf ... if folks think he's just a platoon guy then he has nearly no role either. RHB, at best an average defensive 1B/LF ... that's 200-250 PA that would likely be better spent on a guy with more defensive flexibility. But it is silly not to put him in as near full-time right now to see if he can convince you he's more than that.

Depending on what you get back, letting somebody else roll the dice that Byrd will beat the odds again is a good idea. But I don't imagine you'll get much back so not a pressing decision.

Revere ... 10 BB in 473 PA. Even Dunston walked more often than that. And Rfield hates his defense at -15.

Really they need an entirely new OF which I know is unrealistic and they've got no choice but to make the best of a bad bunch ... and spin it as positively as they can in the press.

It's such a sorry team. They have 4 batters with 100 PA and a OPS+ over 100 -- their 35-year-old C, 35-year-old 2B, 36-year-old RF and 31-year-old Sizemore who last achieved this in 2009 (and hasn't achieved this overall for 2014). The minors are so empty that they are talking about Sizemore, Byrd, Revere, Ruf and Brown for next year. The non-pitchers are at 93 OPS+ this year (thanks b-r!) and you have to project them as worse for next year. Terrible, terrible offense.

On the pitching side there's Hamels, hopefully a healthy Lee (who will be 36) and Papelbon (who will be 34) ... and nothing.

They've got virtually nothing of trade value. That Papelbon is still here despite Detroit in desperate need and the Angels collecting Grilli and Street suggests this team just doesn't understand where they are on the success curve.
   7. 6 - 4 - 3 Posted: August 22, 2014 at 02:17 AM (#4776866)
The Phillies problem isn't finding PA's for Ruf--it's that he's considered to be an intriguing "young" player who needs to be evaluated at the majors.
   8. Fred Lynn Nolan Ryan Sweeney Agonistes Posted: August 22, 2014 at 02:31 AM (#4776867)
Good thing no other teams have decisions to make heading into 2015.

Hey, I was just thinking: I, too, have decisions to make heading into 2015.
   9. steagles Posted: August 22, 2014 at 07:41 AM (#4776885)
On the pitching side there's Hamels, hopefully a healthy Lee (who will be 36) and Papelbon (who will be 34) ... and nothing.
surprisingly, that's not actually true. giles and diekman are both K'ing 13 per 9 innings and while diekman's ERA is over 4, his FIP and peripherals are actually quite good. de fratus might have some upside, too.
   10. Joey B. "disrespects the A" Posted: August 22, 2014 at 10:19 AM (#4776960)
That Papelbon is still here despite Detroit in desperate need and the Angels collecting Grilli and Street suggests this team just doesn't understand where they are on the success curve.

Oh, Amaro understands where they are on the success curve now. What he doesn't understand is how to negotiate with other teams like a reasonable person. He's that annoying jerk in everyone's fantasy league who expects you to give him Mike Trout for a relief pitcher.
   11. JE (Jason) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 10:36 AM (#4776981)
surprisingly, that's not actually true. giles and diekman are both K'ing 13 per 9 innings and while diekman's ERA is over 4, his FIP and peripherals are actually quite good. de fratus might have some upside, too.

Amaro spent the better part of a month earlier this season trying to understand the difference between PAs and ABs. Do you really think he's ready for the token analytics employee to explain FIP to him?
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: August 22, 2014 at 10:39 AM (#4776990)
On the pitching side there's Hamels, hopefully a healthy Lee (who will be 36) and Papelbon (who will be 34) ... and nothing.


I think the 5th best starter in the organization now is Aaron Nola, who is about to be shut down for surpassing 170 innings this year when you include his 110 at LSU.
   13. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 10:44 AM (#4777002)
Amaro's firing has been overdue since the day the Howard extension was signed.

Any organization that continues to employ him as GM, after 2 horrific seasons with an ancient roster he has done zero to improve, is deeply dysfunctional.
   14. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: August 22, 2014 at 11:03 AM (#4777027)
Amaro's firing has been overdue since the day the Howard extension was signed.


Probably since the day before that day, no?
   15. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 22, 2014 at 11:08 AM (#4777035)
Probably since the day before that day, no?

Well, yes. If you are the owner and Amaro comes to you and says "I wan't to give our 30 y.o. 1B a 5/125 extension 2 years before we have to.", the correct response is "You're fired."
   16. AROM Posted: August 22, 2014 at 11:17 AM (#4777048)
For all we know it was the owner who said "Ruben, our 30 year old 1B will be a free agent in 2 years. Do whatever it takes to lock him up NOW!"
   17. TerpNats Posted: August 22, 2014 at 11:19 AM (#4777049)
The "gang of six" redux.
   18. Ziggy Posted: August 22, 2014 at 11:47 AM (#4777084)
Diekman is a weird guy. He's the unusual 30th round draft pick who was given a bunch of second chances as a minor leaguer. (Seriously, a 30th round pick who posts an ERA of 5 in the Sally League doesn't get cut?) Once he made it to the majors he struck out everybody and their brother, but he's also surprisingly hittable. Career .342 BABIP in 123 innings over three years. Of course you expect that to regress and for his performance to close in on his FIP, but it's surprising for a guy with such good ability to strike batters out to give up so many hits over a period of three years.
   19. Buck Coats Posted: August 22, 2014 at 12:23 PM (#4777121)
But they stand no chance of bringing back Sizemore if they bench him the rest of the season.


I'm with Walt, it's unfathomable that this team is worried that Grady Sizemore won't want to play for them next season..
   20. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: August 22, 2014 at 01:18 PM (#4777197)
Since we're talking about unfathomable stuff, not only is Revere's 10 BB brutal, but the RBI total is beyond belief: 14, in 473 PA. This and Ruiz's 18 RBI (and Brown...) can sort of explain how the heck a team with two guys in the top 6 in the NL in RBI can be so gawd-awful on offense.
   21. steagles Posted: August 22, 2014 at 01:50 PM (#4777234)
Diekman is a weird guy. He's the unusual 30th round draft pick who was given a bunch of second chances as a minor leaguer. (Seriously, a 30th round pick who posts an ERA of 5 in the Sally League doesn't get cut?) Once he made it to the majors he struck out everybody and their brother, but he's also surprisingly hittable. Career .342 BABIP in 123 innings over three years. Of course you expect that to regress and for his performance to close in on his FIP, but it's surprising for a guy with such good ability to strike batters out to give up so many hits over a period of three years.
being a LHP or 6'5 or throwing 95 MPH will get you a couple extra looks. diekman is/does all 3.
   22. Win Big Stein's Money Posted: August 22, 2014 at 03:39 PM (#4777342)
On March 31st 2008, Rob Neyer set the ESPN record for longest chat with a 12 hour marathon session, full of humour and analysis.

On August 21st 2014, Ryan Howard joined the ESPN chat.

He lasted 8 minutes.
   23. Walt Davis Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:26 PM (#4777477)
But that's exactly it. ESPN had the chance to lock up Neyer 2 years before his contract was up but failed to do so. Now they're stuck piecing together 12 hours of online chat with guys like Howard.
   24. Batman Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:36 PM (#4777482)
Kevin Hart was late and hung around for seven minutes. It wasn't during the Little League World Series, so he didn't have as much material to work with as Ryan Howard.
   25. Walt Davis Posted: August 22, 2014 at 06:47 PM (#4777487)
It would be interesting to run the experiment in the multiverse as to how many other GMs would have locked Howard up then. I don't recall the deal being heavily panned in the mainstream press which generally would mean it wasn't being panned heavily by "sources familiar with the situation" or "an MLB executive." But my memory could be off.

Again, all you really had to do was believe that his MVP finishes were deserved. It was crazy to sign it when they did ... but it was a contract that started in 2012 and took him through age 36. In 2012, Prince signed a 9/$214 contract that took him through age 36. That's more defensible than the Howard extension but not by a lot. In 2013, Josh Hamilton got 5/$133 for his age 32-36 seasons, a number that seemed based more on his awesome 2010 season than 2011-12 (which were good). Again, more defensible but not by a lot ... and I suspect the Rangers would have jumped at the chance to extend Hamilton 2 years early for 5/$125 after his 2010 season (which was way better than anything Howard ever did). The Tigers just jumped 2 years early to extend Cabrera at 8/$240 through age 40. And even Amaro wasn't dumb enough to trade actual talent for Vernon Wells -- OK, I suppose it's possible he was, he just didn't offer as much talent. :-)

I suspect there are/were a lot of GMs that would have made the Howard deal and several more who would have had a good think about it ... and also a good number who would have been working to trade him instead of giving any thought to extending him. Certainly Amaro is not alone in jumping too early and/or too high for a player's mid-30s.
   26. Ziggy Posted: August 22, 2014 at 11:26 PM (#4777587)
If Walt's right, that doesn't say anything good about major league GMs. I like to think that he's wrong.

Why do team owners continue to hire (/not fire) people like Amaro? Don't they know that these guys are costing them money? You would think that if they sunk hundreds of millions (or, in some cases, billions) of dollars into a business, they'd figure out how the business works.
   27. Walt Davis Posted: August 23, 2014 at 03:55 AM (#4777623)
If Walt's right, that doesn't say anything good about major league GMs. I like to think that he's wrong.

Like ain't got nothing to do with it. :-)

Howard is probably the worst but there are far too many deals that looked highly questionable on signing for me to have much confidence that Amaro is the only one that would have done it. I personally consider the Fielder contract to have been terrible ... and then somehow Dombrowski was able to trade it away. Then he took the money he miraculously saved and spent it on Cabrera for 8/$240 2 years ahead of time to take him through his age 40 season. That makes 1 guy dumb enough to offer Fielder the contract then not learn his lesson and offer Cabrera that contract and 1 guy even dumber to trade for the Fielder contract.

And those guys had the example of the Howard contract as a warning.

GMs do funny things when they're winning and sometimes even funnier things when they're trying to get back to winning. The most troubling thing about the Howard extension is that it does strongly suggest that Amaro thought the MVP finishes were deserved and that Howard was a top 3-5 player. Dombrowski at least has the excuse that Cabrera probably was the best hitter and a top 5 player at the time he offered the extension ... but it still looks like a terrible deal.
   28. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2014 at 04:23 AM (#4777627)
I don't recall the deal being heavily panned in the mainstream press which generally would mean it wasn't being panned heavily by "sources familiar with the situation" or "an MLB executive." But my memory could be off.


I wouldn't read too much into that. Any criticism of it was bound to be tepid. Howard was super popular, his team was good, he was playing good baseball.
   29. PreservedFish Posted: August 23, 2014 at 04:27 AM (#4777628)
Ha! I just checked the NY Times archive to see what the paper was saying about Howard's extension. I found two critical articles ... but they were written by Primates.

I also found this, by Tyler Kepner:

Howard, 30, is an elite power hitter for the Philadelphia Phillies, with at least 45 home runs in each of the last four seasons. But he has transformed himself from a one-dimensional slugger into an asset in the field and on the bases, too. It helped earn him a five-year, $125 million extension on Monday from a team that had once been uncertain about how long to keep him.

''What Ryan has done on the conditioning side, in addition to the opportunity to showcase his skills in other areas, made the Phillies that much more comfortable committing to him long term,'' Howard's agent, Casey Close, said on a conference call.
   30. bobm Posted: August 23, 2014 at 03:31 PM (#4777766)
I just checked the NY Times archive to see what the paper was saying about Howard's extension. I found two critical articles ... but they were written by Primates.

Great stuff.

Shortly after the deal was announced, Philadelphia’s general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr., said Howard “kind of set the market for himself.” When a general manager admits he has let players set their own market, it may be time to get into the market for a new general manager.
   31. Ziggy Posted: August 23, 2014 at 05:47 PM (#4777818)
To repeat my question from above: why doesn't ownership go ballistic when deals like the Howard contract are signed? I admit that I'm not a billionare investor, but if I was I think I'd do some research to figure out how to make (the most possible amount of) money on a baseball team before sinking nine or ten figures into it. Of course Amaro has cache in the baseball world that internet nerds don't, but it would't be much trouble to check our math for yourself (or hell, since baseball investors are extremely rich, it doesn't take much trouble to hire the local university's stats department to check it for you, they'd love a nice little endowment).
   32. stevegamer Posted: August 24, 2014 at 12:00 AM (#4777975)
The reason ownership wouldn't go ballistic about the Howard deal is:

1. Howard was really popular, and playing well.
2. The Phillies were in a period that was, at worst their second most successful era.
3. The team had plenty of cash coming in to make things work.

The issue was the signing before it needed to be done, but they seemed to be worried he'd cost even more going forward.
   33. Walt Davis Posted: August 24, 2014 at 02:10 AM (#4778015)
At what point do you want ownership to go ballistic?

Nothing gets owners criticized faster than interfering with "baseball decisions." The owners presumably are not baseball experts. At the time of the offer, the Phils were coming off consecutive WS appearances (one win, one loss) and were on their way to their 4th consecutive NLE title (and would win it again in 2011). They're supposed to go ballistic over the decisions of that GM?

Now that they are in a tail spin and very old, Amaro is in trouble. Some owners would have fired him by now. But we also don't know what Amaro said to the owners, only what he shares with the media. If he correctly assessed the state of the team and especially if he'd told them this day was coming, laid out the options and has followed the one they chose ...

I'd have fired him already ... but then I'm pretty full of myself when it comes to my deep baseball insight. But I'd have also fired Moore, O'Dowd, Towers/Gibson, certainly had a long chat with Daniels about that Fielder trade, beginning to wonder if Dombrowski is losing his mojo, have fired Colletti when I took over the Dodgers, fired Sabean about a decade ago and missed out on a couple of WS and I'm not even sure who's in charge in Minnesota these days but I'd be considering a level of impoliteness that Minnesotans aren't too familiar with.
   34. bfan Posted: August 24, 2014 at 08:52 AM (#4778025)
I have been thinking about reporting lines of communication. If the only line to the non-baseball savvy owners is the GM, then the GM can filter the analytics of any proposal to a manner that matches what he wants to do. If the smart, analytics guy tells the GM that the multi-year contract to the aging fat guy is a bad investment, the GM can just tinker with the assumptions to get to a more defensible position (ie, use the most advantageous WAR number; change the value of a single WAR because of inflationary trends on that number; tinker with the comparables for the player in question). I think if I was a prudent owner, I would have an independent numbers guy report directly to me (kind of like CBO does, only non-politicized). If the GM complained that his authority was under-cut, then so be it.

You could certainly do it for GM's that have proven weaknesses in particular areas (I wouldn't let Frank Wren sign a free-agent without at least 3 other sign-offs).
   35. Ziggy Posted: August 24, 2014 at 11:26 AM (#4778063)
I'd expect ownership to go ballistic when they realize that the GM signed Howard to a deal that is going to lose them a huge amount of money, two years before they needed to worry about first base. That the team is successful and has lots of money doesn't make Howard's expected value any higher. (That he's popular might, if people are willing to buy tickets (etc) because of a popular-though-not-good player, then that's extra value that he's got.)

On the other hand, sometimes I wonder if we don't put too much emphasis on baseball decisions that GMs make. They're the obvious ones, but GMs do lots of other stuff too. Maybe Amaro is, for example, really good at negotiating contracts with Aramark to do concessions at the stadium. Maybe ownership looked at the deal that they've got on concessions, and the deals the other teams got, and said "hey, we're making out like bandits here". (That's obviously just one example, and I have no idea if Amaro is good at it. But there's probably lots of other things he has to do, wrangle tax breaks out of city council, negotiate deals for local TV/radio rights, and so on. Or does the president do this stuff?) Maybe this stuff doesn't make up for extensions given to Ryan Howard (and they could certainly hire one person to negotiate with Aramark and another with Howard), but he could be better at his job then we usually give him credit for.
   36. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 24, 2014 at 11:41 AM (#4778070)
GMs do funny things when they're winning and sometimes even funnier things when they're trying to get back to winning.

The core issue here is a huge principal agent problem. The likelihood is very high that any GM who signs a 7-10 year deal is not actually going to be around for the bad years. If you don't win now, you get fired before the bad years come. If you win now, you get a contract extension, that at least pays you beyond the bad years after you're fired.

Nothing gets owners criticized faster than interfering with "baseball decisions." The owners presumably are not baseball experts.

This may be true, but you basically need a GM who is part of the ownership group, a la Bean.
   37. Howie Menckel Posted: August 24, 2014 at 11:50 AM (#4778074)

"Maybe Amaro is, for example, really good at negotiating contracts with Aramark to do concessions at the stadium. Maybe ownership looked at the deal that they've got on concessions, and the deals the other teams got, and said "hey, we're making out like bandits here". (That's obviously just one example, and I have no idea if Amaro is good at it. But there's probably lots of other things he has to do, wrangle tax breaks out of city council, negotiate deals for local TV/radio rights, and so on. Or does the president do this stuff?)"

I would be surprised if any MLB GM was involved with any of that stuff, but it's a reasonable thing to speculate about. I just don't think it turns out to be in play.
   38. McCoy Posted: August 24, 2014 at 11:57 AM (#4778076)
I was going to make a snarky comment about "can you imagine GM X negotiating a concession contract" with X being some "dumb" former jock turned GM but baseball doesn't really have that nowadays. So I guess the closest would be somebody like Rizzo who appears to have absolutely no background in anything besides playing baseball and developing baseball players. In attempting to make the snarky comment I was thinking about someone like Hawk Harrelson negotiating a food stand contract and chuckling at the mental picture that creates.
   39. greenback calls it soccer Posted: August 24, 2014 at 12:10 PM (#4778081)
The core issue here is a huge principal agent problem.

No, the core issue is that owners care about more than maximizing their profits. Yes, owners care about their profits, but they have visions beyond their income statements. You can't win World Series by sitting on your asses and playing for arbitrage (is that still a popular term) or waiting for somebody to hand you Jeff Bagwell for a mediocre middle reliever. You have to take chances that will not look good on baseball message boards.
   40. #6bid is partially elite Posted: August 24, 2014 at 12:31 PM (#4778089)
I think if I was a prudent owner, I would have an independent numbers guy report directly to me (kind of like CBO does, only non-politicized). If the GM complained that his authority was under-cut, then so be it.


And then your GM patiently explains to you that the independent numbers guy did not account for inflationary trends, did not use the right WAR numbers, and did not compare to the appropriate players. What have you gained?

You use independent accounting to ensure that you are not being stolen from. I don't think the same technique can be used to double-check your organizational strategy.
   41. bfan Posted: August 24, 2014 at 01:55 PM (#4778121)
well, you have another data point, and my sense is, 2 data points are always better than one. When 2 data points are close together, you claim "trend" or "consensus". When 2 are far apart, you claim further study is needed.
   42. bobm Posted: August 24, 2014 at 02:02 PM (#4778125)
When 2 data points are close together, you claim "trend" or "consensus". When 2 are far apart, you claim further study is needed.

A junior analyst needs 3 points to claim a trend, and a senior manager only 1 point. :)
   43. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 24, 2014 at 02:20 PM (#4778131)
No, the core issue is that owners care about more than maximizing their profits. Yes, owners care about their profits, but they have visions beyond their income statements. You can't win World Series by sitting on your asses and playing for arbitrage (is that still a popular term) or waiting for somebody to hand you Jeff Bagwell for a mediocre middle reliever. You have to take chances that will not look good on baseball message boards.

Please explain to me how signing Howard (to a contract that was obviously horrible the moment it was signed) has helped the Phillies win games? Howard has been awful, and the contract is preventing them from replacing him.

Your argument is correct in that sometimes you have to sign sub-optimal deals, that give high vale now, in exchange for dead years at the end, or to fill a hole so you can win. But, you never have to sign a player you already control to a bad contract. If you can't make alternate plans to replace a 3-4 WAR player 2 years from now, with $125M to spend, you don't deserve a job in MLB.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 24, 2014 at 02:25 PM (#4778135)
And then your GM patiently explains to you that the independent numbers guy did not account for inflationary trends, did not use the right WAR numbers, and did not compare to the appropriate players. What have you gained?

I frankly wouldn't have a "GM". I'd have a managing partner, who was part of ownership, with a team of senior managers reporting to him, i.e. Head of Scouting, Head of Baseball Ops, Head of Player Development, Head of Analytics, Head of Marketing, CFO, etc.

Any truly major decisions should be made by consensus of the management team, if there is no consensus, the MP beings the relevant parties and arguments to ownership for a decision.

Every large organization today needs well thought out rules around decision rights. The GM as baseball "dictator" is an anachronism.
   45. Ziggy Posted: August 24, 2014 at 02:46 PM (#4778143)
I think that one of the problems driving disagreement about analysis (though maybe not in this case) is disagreement about team objectives. And I suspect that, with the occasional exception, the team objective is simply securing value for ownership. Baseball teams have become so expensive that, for the most part, they can't be toys for rich people anymore. In fact, the people we think of as the "owner" of a team is usually just a large stakeholder who acts as the public face for an investment group. (This is the Steinbrenner's function, for example.) And of course there are some teams that are simply owned by a corporation (the Mariners come to mind).
   46. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2014 at 03:07 PM (#4778155)
Snapper, I think that idea is awful.
   47. BDC Posted: August 24, 2014 at 03:16 PM (#4778163)
You can't win World Series by … waiting for somebody to hand you Jeff Bagwell for a mediocre middle reliever

If I remember correctly, that's categorically true :)
   48. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 24, 2014 at 04:46 PM (#4778207)
Snapper, I think that idea is awful.

That's the way actual corporations run. The idea of a CEO as autocrat making all key decisions doesn't exist anywhere outside of fiction.

Whoever the baseball "CEO" is, he shouldn't be making most key decisions. His most important jobs are managing the senior staff around him (who are the experts in their respective disciplines) and maintaining an overall consensus on organization approach with the ownership and senior staff.

The head of amateur scouting should be better at drafting than the CEO (he spends his whole day evaluating amateur talent); he should primarily make those decisions. The head of player development should have a better handle on what instruction players need, what level they play at, and when they are ready for the next level; he should primarily make those decisions. The head of analytics should be better at projecting the future performance of MLB players (with input from pro scouting); his projections should form the baseline for signing and trading decisions.

I also think this would give you a competitive advantage in assembling the best front office in toto, since all the non-GM individuals will have far more responsibility and authority than in other orgs.
   49. Swedish Chef Posted: August 24, 2014 at 05:10 PM (#4778219)
That's the way actual corporations run. The idea of a CEO as autocrat making all key decisions doesn't exist anywhere outside of fiction.

You said consensus, you are describing delegating responsibility, which is something else. You can be a perfect autocrat while delegating.
   50. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2014 at 06:59 PM (#4778262)
You said consensus, you are describing delegating responsibility, which is something else. You can be a perfect autocrat while delegating.


Right. The "rule by consensus" structure is the terrible idea - just imagine the votes in the boardroom on whether we should trade Prospect X for Veteran Y.
   51. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 24, 2014 at 07:03 PM (#4778263)
Right. The "rule by consensus" structure is the terrible idea - just imagine the votes in the boardroom on whether we should trade Prospect X for Veteran Y.

But that's how major corporations function. Do you think CEOs approve mergers that are opposed by half his senior staff, or half the board of directors?

Do you really think a GM should be making a major trade if half his senior staff oppose it?
   52. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2014 at 07:56 PM (#4778273)
Do you really think a GM should be making a major trade if half his senior staff oppose it?


Sometimes, sure. It might be a good trade.

And are you really giving the President of marketing an equal vote in this round table?

I don't think that the baseball operations team is really like a "major corporation." One human mind cannot really contain the magnitude of what General Electric is up to. But the Padres' scouting and player development arms? Yes. One man can.

Keep in mind you're arguing with a chef, so I have great belief in and respect for autocratic leadership systems. I guarantee that when Daniel Boulud or Danny Meyer visits one of his restaurants he pays attention to every single detail, and his opinions are absolutely final. That doesn't mean every decision point needs the sign-off of the head guy - the managers in those groups may enjoy great freedom - but it does mean that there's one guy at the top, not a committee. And we're talking about hundreds of employees, not thousands upon thousands.
   53. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 24, 2014 at 08:01 PM (#4778275)
And are you really giving the President of marketing an equal vote in this round table?

No. Nowhere did I say ever vote was equal. Just like the Head of Marketing at GE doesn't have the same weight as the CFO.

I don't think that the baseball operations team is really like a "major corporation." One human mind cannot really contain the magnitude of what General Electric is up to. But the Padres' scouting and player development arms? Yes. One man can.

I still think you can benefit from greater specialization. Even on my small anayltics team, I expect my data guy to know a lot more about our data sources than I do.

Keep in mind you're arguing with a chef, so I have great belief in and respect for autocratic leadership systems. I guarantee that when Daniel Boulud or Danny Meyer visits one of his restaurants he pays attention to every single detail, and his opinions are absolutely final. That doesn't mean every decision point needs the sign-off of the head guy - the managers in those groups may enjoy great freedom - but it does mean that there's one guy at the top, not a committee. And we're talking about hundreds of employees, not thousands upon thousands.

Well, I'm no fan of celebrity chefs either, so there you go :-) I find I generally get better meal in place where the owner/chef has only one restaurant to worry about.
   54. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2014 at 08:03 PM (#4778277)
The Mets are not a perfect example of anything because they are so inept, but for years they did reportedly have a collegial, consensus-driven front office structure. In practice this resulted in an anarchic environment where Fred Wilpon had to play Managing Partner, a job for which he was not at all suited. When they traded Kazmir for Zambrano, there were reports that something like two out of ten voices in the room opposed the deal. One of those voices was Jim Duquette. The ####### GM. So yeah, he should have opposed the deal that his staff was vastly in favor of.

When I hear you describe your structure I only imagine it working if the MP actually turns out to be an autocratic leader. Delegating tasks and soliciting consensus is wonderful. But maybe you need one "buck stops here" guy.
   55. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2014 at 08:04 PM (#4778281)
I find I generally get better meal in place where the owner/chef has only one restaurant to worry about.


I don't disagree with you at all. Those places are definitely run by autocrats!
   56. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 24, 2014 at 09:42 PM (#4778320)
When I hear you describe your structure I only imagine it working if the MP actually turns out to be an autocratic leader. Delegating tasks and soliciting consensus is wonderful. But maybe you need one "buck stops here" guy.

Well, you need an MP who knows baseball, or a GM that has an ownership stake.

When they traded Kazmir for Zambrano, there were reports that something like two out of ten voices in the room opposed the deal. One of those voices was Jim Duquette. The ####### GM. So yeah, he should have opposed the deal that his staff was vastly in favor of.

The GM/CEO should have enough weight in the process that things that he strongly objects to don't happen. In a corporate example company's don't make acquisitions the CEO opposes b/c the rest of the mgmt. approves. The GM needs to have something close to a veto. If the MP/ownership is going to over-ride the veto, they should be pretty close to replacing the GM.
   57. McCoy Posted: August 24, 2014 at 09:55 PM (#4778333)
Well, I'm no fan of celebrity chefs either, so there you go :-) I find I generally get better meal in place where the owner/chef has only one restaurant to worry about.

You should head over to one of Boulud's or Meyer's restaurants in NYC because both of them run a great company and if you've got a few hundred dollars in your pocket you have the best time you'll have all year. But overall you're basically right. Especially outside of NYC where you don't have that culture of service that NYC has. On the surface DC appears to have a great food scene but every chef is so busy branching out 2, 3, 5, or whatever amount of restaurants that DC restaurants have no soul to them.
   58. PreservedFish Posted: August 24, 2014 at 10:11 PM (#4778338)
The GM needs to have something close to a veto.

As you amend your plan it becomes less radical.
   59. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: August 25, 2014 at 09:19 AM (#4778409)
As you amend your plan it becomes less radical.

I think we've been talking past each other a little; I never meant to propose one-man-one-vote democracy. :-)

You should head over to one of Boulud's or Meyer's restaurants in NYC because both of them run a great company and if you've got a few hundred dollars in your pocket you have the best time you'll have all year.

I've eaten at several of Meyer's places over the years. Fine, but nothing extraordinary. No sure about Boulud's.

I'd say the same thing about some of the other celebrity chef's (Batali, Bouley, etc.). Really, none of the "name" restaurants in NYC have blown me away.

Probably the best meals I've had in NYC are at Il Giglio, on Warren St. The old Oceana was excellent also. Haven't eaten at the new location, but the new menu doesn't appeal.

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