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Thursday, December 29, 2011

Rosenthal: ESPN’s Keith Law: On the move again?

Oh, Lisa…

Keith Law, a senior baseball writer for ESPN.com, interviewed last week for a number of front-office roles with the Houston Astros, including the job of scouting director, according to major-league sources.

Law met with both new club president George Postolos and general manager Jeff Luhnow, but the team has yet to offer him a position, sources say.

In his current job, Law oversees ESPN’s scouting-related content. Prior to joining ESPN in 2006, he spent 4½ years as a special assistant with the Toronto Blue Jays. Prior to that, he was a free-lance writer for Baseball Prospectus and ESPN.

Repoz Posted: December 29, 2011 at 05:25 PM | 88 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: astros

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   1. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 05:43 PM (#4025171)
Kinda surprising. I thought he burned a lot of bridges before. Would be interesting to see him involved once again. I think it bodes well for Astros fans that Luhnow is willing to bring a guy like Law for an interview.
   2. villageidiom Posted: December 29, 2011 at 05:47 PM (#4025178)
Good luck, Keith.
   3. ray james Posted: December 29, 2011 at 05:50 PM (#4025184)
Luhnow used to work for the Cardinals, right?
   4. Matt Clement of Alexandria Posted: December 29, 2011 at 05:53 PM (#4025187)
Luhnow oversaw the Cardinals' analytics office that hired Ron Shandler and contracted MGL. It makes sense he'd be looking at new-school analytics guys for the Houston front office.

A move to director of scouting for a guy with very little managerial experience is a bit unexpected, I'd think. Law was a writer, then an advisor, then a writer again. Has he managed a multi-million dollar department or a couple dozen employees before?
   5. aberg Posted: December 29, 2011 at 05:55 PM (#4025188)
It says in the article that he "oversees" ESPN's scouting content. Does that mean he manages people in that role? Even if it's not identical to managing a scouting department, the experience of having employees answer to you translate to some extent.
   6. Erix Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:11 PM (#4025198)
I very selfishly hope this falls through. I'm a very big fan of Keith's work on ESPN, and put him on the short list of writers who really helped flesh out my interest in Baseball.
   7. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:15 PM (#4025202)
Law is a bright guy but if his online persona is anything like the real thing I'd be skeptical of him in any sort of managerial capacity. His disdain for those he thinks are not as smart as him comes through pretty clearly and that can be a real problem when trying to encourage staffers to be creative and provide contradictory opinions.
   8. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:24 PM (#4025213)
Law is a bright guy but if his online persona is anything like the real thing I'd be skeptical of him in any sort of managerial capacity. His disdain for those he thinks are not as smart as him comes through pretty clearly and that can be a real problem when trying to encourage staffers to be creative and provide contradictory opinions.

Concur. He certainly sounds like someone who is better suited to being an individual contributor than a manager.
   9. The Pequod Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:26 PM (#4025216)
I've always assumed that he manages at least Jason Grey and Jason Churchill for ESPN's baseball scouting.

I'd be bummed to lose his chats, Twitter, and ESPN content, but it would be nice to see him back up all the talk. (I say that as a fan -- I'd be rooting for him.)

People rip on him for the results in Toronto, but as an outsider it's hard to say how much of that you can pin on him specifically. He was still pretty green and I don't think he had any power to dictate strategy. On the other hand, if I were considering bringing him on to work under me, I'd want some questions answered about his public feud with JP. Although if MGL is anything like his online personality in the workplace, it's hard to imagine Luhnow's skin isn't thick enough to work with Keith.
   10. ?Donde esta Dagoberto Campaneris? Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:30 PM (#4025221)
Sources say the interview did not go well, with Law providing only single-sentence answers and then demanding that the Astros become "Insiders" to hear the rest.

I thought that was pretty good and I'd love to take credit for it, but it's stolen from the comment thread at MLBTradeRumors.
   11. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:32 PM (#4025225)

A move to director of scouting for a guy with very little managerial experience is a bit unexpected, I'd think. Law was a writer, then an advisor, then a writer again. Has he managed a multi-million dollar department or a couple dozen employees before?


Has anyone before they get their first chance?
   12. Tripon Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:36 PM (#4025229)
ESPN is pissed to lose this exclusive! Also, I think Jason Grey left ESPN as well.
   13. Darren Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:39 PM (#4025231)
#11 is pretty funny.

How has Law distinguished himself as an analyst at ESPN? Sure, he's obviously a skilled writer who doesn't back away from controversy.

But has his scouting track record been good? Has anyone analyzed his prospect lists and compared them to real-world results?
   14. SteveF Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:39 PM (#4025232)
Having disdain for the opinions chuckleheads (like me) that post stuff on the internet and having disdain for the opinions of guys that have been scouting for 5-10-20-30 years isn't quite the same thing.
   15. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:46 PM (#4025235)
Law is a bright guy but if his online persona is anything like the real thing I'd be skeptical of him in any sort of managerial capacity. His disdain for those he thinks are not as smart as him comes through pretty clearly and that can be a real problem when trying to encourage staffers to be creative and provide contradictory opinions.

I very much doubt his online persona is like the real thing. I'm more inclined to think that it's a mix of (A) dealing with oodles of Internet knuckleheads, and (B) schtick.

Hard to judge the man's fitness to be a baseball exec from where I'm sitting. He's a thoughtful writer, and he comes across as skeptical and very smart; IMO those are two valuable things. And if I were running a team, I'd sure talk to him, but I'd want to know more about his real experience than I do right now.

Judging his fitness to manage people based on snarky Internet chats is not something I'd do.
   16. Rear Admiral Piazza Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:49 PM (#4025239)
If he goes in-house, he is less likely to publicly Uncle Tom sabermetrics with his comments to the media. So there's that plus.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:51 PM (#4025243)
He may not suffer fools gladly, which I also don't

I don't either, and let me tell you Dan, that trait is not good for you in an organizational bureaucracy. There are lot's of fools in management, and not being able to hide the fact that you know they're fools is bad for your career.
   18. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:53 PM (#4025246)
I don't either, and let me tell you Dan, that trait is not good for you in an organizational bureaucracy. There are lot's of fools in management, and not being able to hide the fact that you know they're fools is bad for your career.

I dunno...if you're smart enough to be aware of this, you usually know when to let people see that and when not to. At least, that's been my experience.
   19. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 06:54 PM (#4025247)
If he goes in-house, he is less likely to publicly Uncle Tom sabermetrics with his comments to the media. So there's that plus.

I can't quite figure out what you mean by this.
   20. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:01 PM (#4025258)
Having disdain for the opinions chuckleheads (like me) that post stuff on the internet and having disdain for the opinions of guys that have been scouting for 5-10-20-30 years isn't quite the same thing.


If anything, having disdain of amateur opinions is a prerequisite for going into scouting it seems.
   21. Jose is an Absurd Force of Nature Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:08 PM (#4025265)
I dunno...if you're smart enough to be aware of this, you usually know when to let people see that and when not to. At least, that's been my experience.


I've had the opposite experience. People who are smarter than those around them often seem to fall somewhere closer to "condescending" than "confident." If you're smart enough/talented enough at what you do you can get away with it but that's rare.

Also, if Law is going to be managing people that sort of attitude can be a negative. Even the stupidest employee needs to be given room to make mistakes in judgment without feeling as though he is going to be ridiculed because otherwise you wind up with either a series of yes men or people arguing with each other.

All this assumes Law the ESPN Character and Law the Human Being are similar. My only insight on that is Dan's comment above which suggests that he is not that acerbic in person.
   22. geonose Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:12 PM (#4025269)
A move to director of scouting for a guy with very little managerial experience is a bit unexpected, I'd think.

Also unusual in that he says he does not consider himself a scout.
   23. Squash Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:25 PM (#4025287)
All his bad-mouthing of sabermetrics over the last few years finally paid off!

Also unusual in that he says he does not consider himself a scout.

I wouldn't reach much into that. He's clearly been positioning himself for the last few to move into this area.
   24. Endless Trash Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:28 PM (#4025290)
DAN WHY DO YOU HATE MY FVORITE PLAYER HE HIT 23 HOMERS LAST YEAR YOU SAY HES ONLY GONNA HIT 19 N EXT YEAR? LOL THATS REIDCULOUUS YOU HAVE A HATER.

On-Topic: Law's smug "I'm smarter than the stathead group I used to be a part of" schtick and his unabashed grudge against the Jays are both annoying to me, but he's obviously bright and talented. All the best to him.
   25. The Interdimensional Council of Rickey!'s Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:31 PM (#4025292)
I'm not talking people like co-workers, but to the fools that no doubt write him constant emails telling how horrible and terrible he is. I know I get them.


I have, like, 20 sock puppets for you alone, buddy.
   26. Randy Jones Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:33 PM (#4025294)
I'm not talking people like co-workers, but to the fools that no doubt write him constant emails telling how horrible and terrible he is. I know I get them.


Yeah, but you are horrible and terrible. No idea how you have a job.
   27. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:36 PM (#4025299)
I know Law can be a bit tart sometimes -- but I always found him to be the most responsive back when I used to correspond with the old school BP guys.... sure - sometimes the responses were "Well, that's just stupid" - but more often than not they were well thought out.

In fact, one response I remember in particular was regarding evaluation of half season performances to predict the second half based on career averages. It wasn't particularly complex math/statistics, but he did take the time to spell out why it's one cannot just arbitrarily use parts of a whole to predict sums of future parts. He could have well just told me to go back to elementary statistics.
   28. ray james Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:36 PM (#4025300)
I dunno...if you're smart enough to be aware of this, you usually know when to let people see that and when not to. At least, that's been my experience.


Well, that requires the ability to suffer fools gladly, which apparently Law is bad at.

So I think snapper's point stands.
   29. The Pequod Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:37 PM (#4025301)
On-Topic: Law's Smug "I'm smarter than the stathead group I used to be a part of" and his unabashed grudge against the Jays are both annoying to me


Interesting -- I follow his work pretty closely and I don't see this at all.
   30. ray james Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:38 PM (#4025302)
I'm not talking people like co-workers, but to the fools that no doubt write him constant emails telling how horrible and terrible he is. I know I get them.


You get emails telling you how horrible and terrible Keith Law is? What do they do, cc you?
   31. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:39 PM (#4025303)
I very much doubt his online persona is like the real thing. I'm more inclined to think that it's a mix of (A) dealing with oodles of Internet knuckleheads, and (B) schtick.

I concur. I think he's partially trying to brand himself as the snarky one and he enjoys ripping stupid questions or criticisms. He's said a number of times that he doesn't like people using the anonymity of the Internet as cover to be an #######. As long as you're friendly and intelligent, he's receptive to criticisms and disagreements.

I highly doubt he takes a job with the Astros. He enjoys the freedom and hours of his ESPN job too much to go back to a life of tons of travel and long hours.
   32. Steve Sparks Flying Everywhere Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:48 PM (#4025309)
Keith Law defriended me on Facebook. That pretty much sums it up.
   33. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:49 PM (#4025311)
On-Topic: Law's smug "I'm smarter than the stathead group I used to be a part of" schtick

I have to say, I have never gotten that vibe from him at all. But that could just be me.
   34. birdlives is one crazy ninja Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:50 PM (#4025314)
Interesting -- I follow his work pretty closely and I don't see this at all.

He's quite fond of Tony LaCava and AA. I don't see it at all either.
   35. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#4025315)
I don't either, and let me tell you Dan, that trait is not good for you in an organizational bureaucracy. There are lot's of fools in management, and not being able to hide the fact that you know they're fools is bad for your career.


Being able to discern who the fools are and act on it is critical for your ability to have a superb career.

Whether you need to hide it or not is situational.

I mean, email telling me how horrible and terrible *I* am. And I would assume Keith gets a lot more, unless a disproportionate number of people think I'm horrible and terrible, which is a possibility.


Keith has to get at least 1,000 emails telling him how horrible he is for each one you get, based on personality alone.

It's not that I think Keith is an ass, I think he's fine actually and does a great job at bringing the comeuppance when it comes to uppance time. It's actually that you really need to be more of a prick.

Come one Dan, you aren't even trying hard.
   36. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#4025317)
I mean, email telling me how horrible and terrible *I* am. And I would assume Keith gets a lot more, unless a disproportionate number of people think I'm horrible and terrible, which is a possibility.

I'm sure he does, if the comments under his articles and chats are anything to go by.

Honestly, I don't know how you guys put up with the nasty vitriol, especially from nitwits I wouldn't trust to operate a carny ride.
   37. Tricky Dick Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:53 PM (#4025319)
But has his scouting track record been good? Has anyone analyzed his prospect lists and compared them to real-world results?


That's an interesting question, but I don't think I have seen that kind of study. It would probably be necessary to compare the results of Law's prospect rankings with the rankings by other sources, like Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. And, even then, it would probably be a difficult analysis, since there is a lot of overlap between each source's top 50s, top 100s, etc. You would have to figure out a reasonable way to distinguish the lists more precisely. My impression, though, is that Law's prospect evaluations are less conventional than Baseball America's.

I don't have any specific examples off the top of my head, but my additional impression is that Law's evaluations reflect more skepticism of the Astros' recent drafting choices than a source like Baseball America. It's too early to make conclusions, but the drafts from the Wade era haven't exactly produced any stars, to this point. I wouldn't be surprised if Luhnow and Postolos use the interview process in order to gather Law's opinions of the Astros' scouting flaws. I have no idea if Law is qualified to be director of scouting or not, but I would think that he at least would be valuable as an assistant GM who provides advice and helps guide scouting decisions. The article suggests that he interviewed for several positions.
   38. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 07:57 PM (#4025322)
The one that stands out to me is Law said Daniel Hudson's upside was fifth starter at best. But we tend to remember the outrageous misses, I'm sure he was right about a lot more.
   39. Addison Russell T. Davies (chris h.) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:02 PM (#4025331)
The one that stands out to me is Law said Daniel Hudson's upside was fifth starter at best. But we tend to remember the outrageous misses, I'm sure he was right about a lot more.

And I think we'd need to figure out what an acceptable hit/miss ratio is, anyway.

He definitely comes across as less "traditional" than, say, BA. I haven't made a point of paying close attention to all of his assessments, so there's selection bias ahoy, but most of what he's said about Cubs prospects has more or less tallied with what I've seen (though I think he raved about Starlin Castro's defense early on).
   40. Darren Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:16 PM (#4025341)
The phrase "doesn't suffer fools gladly" has its uses. But it often seems to be way for people to say, "I'm so smart that I don't have to be courteous to anyone." Not among us smart guys on this site, of course.
   41. Wins Above Paul Westerberg Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:17 PM (#4025342)
The one that stands out to me is Law said Daniel Hudson's upside was fifth starter at best. But we tend to remember the outrageous misses, I'm sure he was right about a lot more.

My understanding of Law as an evaluator is that he tends to rate upside pretty aggressively. He's managed to remain high on Aaron Hicks for a while now, even though his numbers aren't really that of a Top 20 prospect. The "dream big" philosophy is a classic one, and can lead him to underrate the occasional Hudson, a solid, but not flashy prospect.

And while he can be little...well, mean in his chats sometimes, I still really like him. I wish he'd come work for my favorite team.
   42. Paul D(uda) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:26 PM (#4025348)
Keith Law doesn't think Arrested Development was funny, and hated Watchmen. Those are hard things for me to get over.
   43. David Nieporent (now, with children) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#4025354)
   44. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:37 PM (#4025355)
I haven't found Keith Law to be anti-stathead. Does anyone have additional insight on that?

In my experience, he seems to take the standard sabermetric stances: RBI, W, BA overrated; OBP underrated; four/three true outcomes; park factors; WAR/wOBA/FIP, etc.

There may be more nuanced/complicated arguments against stat geeks that I haven't heard/don't understand....
   45. RoyalsRetro (AG#1F) Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#4025358)
I never thought of him as anti-stathead. He is probably one of the most pro-stat scouting guys I can think of.
   46. Juan Uribe Marching and Chowder Society Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:44 PM (#4025363)
There was a post above that insinuated Klaw was anti-stathead. Or maybe I read it wrong....
   47. Walt Davis Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:46 PM (#4025365)
On-Topic: Law's smug "I'm smarter than the stathead group I used to be a part of" schtick

I do get what you're saying but I don't think that's quite it. My impression of Law's (public) persona is more that of the religious convert. Law "saw the light" on scouting in his Toronto days and turned away from the evil Ricciardi. Converts are often the most devout and zealous and most dismissive of their former life. They have a tendency to be most sensitive to "insults". His rants on the Moneyball movie (and tiff with Lewis) practically portray it as scurrilous anti-scout propaganda as opposed to, y'know, a film that's trying to entertain and simplifying the real world to create good guys and bad guys like 99% of the other films of the last 100 years. It's one thing to point out the inaccuracies of a movie like Moneyball but it's something else entirely to get angry about them.

Has he managed a multi-million dollar department or a couple dozen employees before?

Has anyone before they get their first chance?


Kinda, sure. You start by being made responsible for a few small, short-term projects leading a small team. If you're successful at that you're given a full-time role leading a small team under the direction of a manager. If you're successful at that, you're maybe given some acting manager roles or some short of short-term managerial role. Then you're given full-time responsibility for a couple dozen employees and a multi-million dollar budget.

Or at least that's your sort of ideal managerial career track. In baseball scouting, I'm not sure how many lower-level "team leader" roles there are under the director of scouting. Still, Law is following a quite unusual career path.
   48. JJ1986 Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:47 PM (#4025366)
I don't think he's anti-stathead, but he is very very pro-scout, which seems odd given his background.
   49. Flynn Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:49 PM (#4025367)
Law makes ESPN Baseball Today worth listening to, which is darn important when you live overseas and need something digestible in a half-hour/45 minutes to keep you up to date on baseball. It was NOT listenable in past formats, so to only get one year of Klaw and to a lesser extent Mark Simon (not as good but a clear improvement over Peter Pascarelli's miserable carcass or Seth Everett) would suck.
   50. geonose Posted: December 29, 2011 at 08:59 PM (#4025379)
You get emails telling you how horrible and terrible Keith Law is? What do they do, cc you?

I mean, email telling me how horrible and terrible *I* am.

I think that question was meant to be a joke. If not, I laughed inappropriately.
   51. Endless Trash Posted: December 29, 2011 at 09:12 PM (#4025387)

Kinda, sure. You start by being made responsible for a few small, short-term projects leading a small team. If you're successful at that you're given a full-time role leading a small team under the direction of a manager.


Nah...if you're successful then you get more similar projects. IF you're not successful, then you get promoted.
   52. Los Angeles El Hombre of Anaheim Posted: December 29, 2011 at 09:34 PM (#4025396)
I don't think he's anti-stathead, but he is very very pro-scout, which seems odd given his background.
I'm not sure about that. Law's anti-scout history when he first got to Toronto is no secret — he was one of those guys who believed watching players would hinder in evaluating them. It appears that his experiences in Toronto,doing things in as stathead a way as they could manage, revealed to him what he felt were blind spots in his approach to player evaluation, blind spots that traditional scouting could help with.

He's been pretty open about the evolution of his approach to baseball, especially since the Lewis flap.
   53. LionoftheSenate Posted: December 29, 2011 at 09:39 PM (#4025401)
Reducto ad absurdum is an entertaining and thoughtful read. He is clearly intelligent and I particularly enjoy his inability to entertain nonsense. I'm sure he could do fine in a Dir of Scouting role, these jobs aren't that hard.
   54. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq., LLC Posted: December 29, 2011 at 09:39 PM (#4025404)
"Enrique Wilson?"
   55. Robert in Manhattan Beach Posted: December 29, 2011 at 09:52 PM (#4025414)
Just my two cents...I will hire/promote/fire around two dozen manager types this year at my day job, suffering fools at all, much less gladly, is a big negative. It points to weakness and inefficiency. Being a dick sometimes is part of being a leader, although folks never want to hear that.
   56. Darren Posted: December 29, 2011 at 11:23 PM (#4025460)
But Keith isn't a leader in his chats and columns, he's a writer. So the benefits of "not suffering fools" do not apply. Also, it's not always an asset as a manager either.

Edit: I'd also say, hiring/firing dozens of managers a year makes you a bit of an outlier, doesn't it?
   57. shoewizard Posted: December 29, 2011 at 11:35 PM (#4025470)
The one that stands out to me is Law said Daniel Hudson's upside was fifth starter at best. But we tend to remember the outrageous misses, I'm sure he was right about a lot more.


He was really down on Scherzer too. Made a huge deal out of his head duck at the end of his delivery when he saw it in the AZFL. Claimed Scherzer could never be a stater.....destined to be a middle reliever at best....etc etc

Scherzer has made 94 starts and thrown 561 IP the last 3 seasons (195 each of the last two) and has a 106 ERA+. Poor command has kept his IP total down a bit, (too many pitches per AB even though he doesn't have a high walk rate) But the guy is a viable starter. So thats another pretty big miss.

I don't care one wit about the guy personally. I think the criticisms of his personality are overblown. I mean....how many people making those criticisms really know him. I just think he's not that great a scout. It's one thing to get all the lingo right from hanging around scouts. It's another to REALLY have the EYE. I don't think he has it. But thats just an anecdotal opinion of his opinions.
   58. Rear Admiral Piazza Posted: December 30, 2011 at 12:05 AM (#4025491)
Forget any stathead influence. Law's made the Massah's house. Yessir, bow and scrape sir. You statheads, stay on the plantation.
   59. rickey steals third person Posted: December 30, 2011 at 12:14 AM (#4025494)
Damn. I just paid for insider too.
   60. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 30, 2011 at 12:51 AM (#4025502)
I know Law doesn't cover the White House or anything, but this seems like the sort of thing that should have been disclosed rather than allowed to leak.

Over the last three weeks, Law has praised Luhnow, the Astros' hiring of Luhnow, and then Luhnow's first trade (Melancon to BOS) — and now Fox Sports breaks the news that Law has interviewed with Luhnow for a job. The former may not have anything at all to do with the latter, but it doesn't look good.

"If it's going to come out eventually, better have it come out immediately." — Henry Kissinger
   61. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: December 30, 2011 at 01:26 AM (#4025519)
http://projectprospect.com/article/2011/11/07/battle-of-the-2008-top-100s

That's a pretty decent analysis of the picks. It doesn't make Law look good at all. I agree with shoewizard that he doesn't have a great eye.
   62. ray james Posted: December 30, 2011 at 01:35 AM (#4025522)
If not, I laughed inappropriately.


It was a joke.
   63. LionoftheSenate Posted: December 30, 2011 at 01:55 AM (#4025528)
That's a pretty decent analysis of the picks. It doesn't make Law look good at all. I agree with shoewizard that he doesn't have a great eye.


I don't think it is accurate to say "it doesn't make Law good at all". In fact that would be a poor analysis of the data you linked. ESPN/Law shows up #1 on the top performers list and Law/ESPN has the most players on the sleeper's list and the #1 overall sleeper performance.

All four of these services have good overall performances, they largely have interchangeable lists.....to me nailing sleepers and getting the top player right is about as good as you can do.

*If you are able to nail sleepers consistently, you will do very well in scouting. Sleepers are the kinds of players you can stockpile, since by definition they are way way down the list for most teams.
   64. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: December 30, 2011 at 01:59 AM (#4025529)
He has the least WAR/biggest omissions. Nailing Tommy Hanson doesn't make up for that.
   65. Don Malcolm Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:10 AM (#4025536)
Keith really needs to go back into the front office. The multiple-win nature of the situation is screamingly obvious. Fingers crossed that he gets the job, despite any and all issues/complications that may be extant.
   66. LionoftheSenate Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:13 AM (#4025538)
It's just hype to say this little study "doesn't make Law look good at all."

That's pure hype and poor analysis you are dishing. The "omissions" were pitchers, big surprise there. KLAW will probably end up with the top 2 sleepers in Zimmerman and Hanson, yes that does make up for missing on what are probably lesser pitchers.

My takeaway from this link is just how similar the lists of those four sources must be....there is very little to differentiate the four. Baseball America is at least good at this, it doesn't reflect poorly on anyone to be in league with BA on scouting.
   67. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:30 AM (#4025546)
64: Agreed.

I've had good, though limited, experiences with Keith (none in person), but do think he goes from zero to seemingly annoyed more quickly than I like as a reader.

As a talent evaluator - I've thought he's too focused on ceiling (as opposed to the likelihood of reaching that place) - but since I have the opposite bias, I've been uneasy about forming too strong of an opinion as to whether or not he's "good" or not. [To be clear, I'd hire him before I'd hire me - and so would you.] While I don't think the PP comparison puts him in the best light (and think Lion's analysis is mistaken - particularly when you expand beyond that one year*) - there's something to be said for the idea that a team (slash one of their reps) doesn't need to peg everybody correctly - they need to be good at whatever they do in the draft (be it a regional focus, or if they specialize in preps because they think they're strong in development, or ...). So, it's okay to below average wrt all prospects/draftees, so long as you're above average with the tiny subset that you actually acquire.

* having said that - Law's relative #s will probably look better for these classes 5 years from now than they do today.
   68. LionoftheSenate Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:40 AM (#4025550)
(and think Lion's analysis is mistaken - particularly when you expand beyond that one year*)


What other year are you considering? Surely you aren't evaluating a draft just two years old are we? That's just dumb....are you kidding me? I would give that zero weight at this time.
   69. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:41 AM (#4025552)
I would give it low but >0 weight. I'm as focused on the names as the numbers anyway.
   70. LionoftheSenate Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:43 AM (#4025554)
Is that the "greater than" symbol? Am I supposed to be impressed?
   71. LionoftheSenate Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:45 AM (#4025555)
The metric they are using is MLB WAR. You can look at a draft that is 2 years old, but you can't possibly use MLB WAR to do that and walk away with any knowledge.
   72. Der-K: downgraded to lurker Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:47 AM (#4025560)
74: Impressed? Um, no? I could say non-zero if you prefer.
75: Re-read 73.

****

To be clear, Law hasn't done badly in any absolute sense - and I think enough of what he believes to read his stuff. But I don't think you can interpret the PP summation as in his favor.
   73. Pleasant Nate (Upgraded from 'Nate') Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:57 AM (#4025568)
The "omissions" were pitchers, big surprise there. KLAW will probably end up with the top 2 sleepers in Zimmerman and Hanson, yes that does make up for missing on what are probably lesser pitchers.


So you don't care that he missed on pitchers but give him credit for hitting on pitchers? Cute.

The analysis also takes into account ranking in adjusting for WAR. And Law ranks last. And that's giving him credit for Hanson/Zim. It's only one year, but he doesn't look good here.
   74. Dan from NM Posted: December 30, 2011 at 04:06 AM (#4025587)
FWIW, Keith Law was exceptionally nice the one time I talked with him over email. I think his snarky Internet presence is A) An effort to be entertaining and B) A product of the absolute idiots he has to deal with.

Also, I wasn't impressed with the methodology Project Prospect used in its study.
   75. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 30, 2011 at 07:23 AM (#4025666)
I think his snarky Internet presence is A) An effort to be entertaining and B) A product of the absolute idiots he has to deal with.

A lot of people say this, but I'm not sure I buy it. There are only four or five people who do what Law does on a full-time basis, and none of the others have a bigger platform. Does he really need to be "entertaining" to maintain a following? In other words, do people really enjoy the non-stop snark, or is it just the price of admission since there aren't many alternatives?

I read Law and enjoy his work, but I'd gladly trade the (allegedly) "entertaining" snark for 20 or 30 percent more baseball content. For the life of me, I don't understand why people feel compelled to reply to or RT the dumbest things people send their way. (And Law doesn't have a monopoly on this; Goldstein, Olney, et al., seem to be doing it more and more.) A spontaneous, witty rejoinder on talk radio or during a live chat might be one thing, but actively selecting questions and tweets for the purpose of issuing snarky replies seems like it only encourages such people. Maybe I'm getting old and/or I'm not their target demographic, but I don't get it.
   76. valuearbitrageur Posted: December 30, 2011 at 07:33 AM (#4025669)
http://projectprospect.com/article/2011/11/07/battle-of-the-2008-top-100s

That's a pretty decent analysis of the picks. It doesn't make Law look good at all. I agree with shoewizard that he doesn't have a great eye.


That's a kind of silly way to measure a potential scout. Besides the problems with sample sizes, you probably have a bias in job goals. What may drive Keith to pick a prospect (or not) for the needs of ESPN may be a little different than just how well they succeed long term. He might have been more inclined to talk up big market prospects because that's what generates page views.
   77. philly Posted: December 30, 2011 at 12:31 PM (#4025681)
Besides the problems with sample sizes, you probably have a bias in job goals. What may drive Keith to pick a prospect (or not) for the needs of ESPN may be a little different than just how well they succeed long term. He might have been more inclined to talk up big market prospects because that's what generates page views.


Maybe, but Law (and every other prospecter) will vehemently deny any kind of ulterior motive for how they rank prospects. I'm not sure you can cut him slack or a reason that he loudly denied.

I always thought the two most notable things about Law is that he tried to rely as much as he could on his own observations of players and he would stick with players he liked longer than other people. Those things tended to make his lists a bit more personalized which was interesting. The downside of relying on his own observations is that his basis for an opinion sometimes seemed out of date and based on a crazy small sample. It wouldn't be uncommon for Law to slag a prospect at the end of his first full pro season largely based on an opinion formed from scouting the player 18 months earlier prior to the June draft.
   78. dlf Posted: December 30, 2011 at 01:29 PM (#4025686)
I used to read Law's personal blog occasionally, but since his site redesign, every time I go to the page, it locks up my computer. It has happened with my home desktop as well as my work computer. Anyone else have that problem or suggestions for what I'm doing wrong?
   79. Zonk is a Doorknob Whisperer Posted: December 30, 2011 at 02:19 PM (#4025697)
Kinda, sure. You start by being made responsible for a few small, short-term projects leading a small team. If you're successful at that you're given a full-time role leading a small team under the direction of a manager.




Nah...if you're successful then you get more similar projects. IF you're not successful, then you get promoted.


I think this is more true than not -- at least, if you tend to be a bit on the prickly side... especially if the bulk of that prickliness is reserved for superiors.
   80. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 30, 2011 at 03:06 PM (#4025712)
I always thought the two most notable things about Law is that he tried to rely as much as he could on his own observations of players and he would stick with players he liked longer than other people.


.. which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but you have to be able to assimilate new information when it come in. Especially on pitchers - learning a new pitch, changing an arm slot, tweaking the mechanics in other ways can make a big difference. Hitters, probably not so much.

-- MWE
   81. billyshears Posted: December 30, 2011 at 03:35 PM (#4025734)
I grew up a few blocks away from Keith and kind of, sort of, knew him (though he was two years ahead of me in school). Now, this lends me absolutely no insight into who he is, but I have always thought that he was the voice on the internet that best balanced the scouting and sabermetric perspectives to player evaluation. Getting to Walt's point in #51, I have always thought that he generally reserved his scorn for those who were not open-minded and inquisitive enough to recognize the merits of both perspectives.
   82. base ball chick Posted: December 30, 2011 at 04:40 PM (#4025793)
Tricky Dick Posted: December 29, 2011 at 02:53 PM (#4025319)

But has his scouting track record been good? Has anyone analyzed his prospect lists and compared them to real-world results?


I don't have any specific examples off the top of my head, but my additional impression is that Law's evaluations reflect more skepticism of the Astros' recent drafting choices than a source like Baseball America.


- well that would be a good thing because best i can tell, BA and others are obsessed with "potential" and not "actual" and pimp all these young guys in the low minors who turn out to be crap. at least with the astros. see jiovanni mier, for example. no matter WHAT he does, the first rounder gets kept in the top 10 for a couple years


It's too early to make conclusions, but the drafts from the Wade era haven't exactly produced any stars, to this point.


- it's too early? cmon tricky. jason castro and His Intangibulls? he got promoted to shw astros fans that his draftees were grrrrrrrrrrreat!!! jordan lyles? well, he's 21 and he might could get better but he sure doesn't look like any sort of star to me. JD martinez, the 20th rounder, the afterthought? well, harvey says he can hit and i trust harvey a LOT more than i trust astros scouts. and

and boy, that is IT for wade's drafts - 4 years worth. uck

I wouldn't be surprised if Luhnow and Postolos use the interview process in order to gather Law's opinions of the Astros' scouting flaws.


- well, that would be useful if they would LISTEN and maybe do something about it. not that mr basketball knows his butt from a hole in the ground about baseball. i would think that "stupid cheapness" would have to be the number 1 flaw. of course, now that won't matter seeing as how buddy boy got his slotting system in place.
- and i would also bet that the player development people suck, too.

I have no idea if Law is qualified to be director of scouting or not, but I would think that he at least would be valuable as an assistant GM who provides advice and helps guide scouting decisions. The article suggests that he interviewed for several positions.


- i can't see how he'd be worse then the idiots we've had over the past 10 years

and, bes i know, he'd be the first REAL statistician the astros Organization has actually employed
   83. Tricky Dick Posted: December 30, 2011 at 05:23 PM (#4025826)
it's too early? cmon tricky. jason castro and His Intangibulls? he got promoted to shw astros fans that his draftees were grrrrrrrrrrreat!!! jordan lyles? well, he's 21 and he might could get better but he sure doesn't look like any sort of star to me. JD martinez, the 20th rounder, the afterthought? well, harvey says he can hit and i trust harvey a LOT more than i trust astros scouts. and

and boy, that is IT for wade's drafts - 4 years worth. uck


I guess I give the benefit of the doubt to a draftee like Springer, who has yet to play more than a few at bats of professional ball, and gets lots of love from sources like BA. Until we get more experience, I'll hold on to the hope that he can become a star. Having said that, my recollection is that Law was less excited about Springer than BA.

I don't think it is accurate to say "it doesn't make Law good at all". In fact that would be a poor analysis of the data you linked. ESPN/Law shows up #1 on the top performers list and Law/ESPN has the most players on the sleeper's list and the #1 overall sleeper performance.

All four of these services have good overall performances, they largely have interchangeable lists.....to me nailing sleepers and getting the top player right is about as good as you can do.

*If you are able to nail sleepers consistently, you will do very well in scouting. Sleepers are the kinds of players you can stockpile, since by definition they are way way down the list for most teams.


That was largely my reaction to the Project Prospect article when it came out. I thought that it confirmed Law as providing something (finding sleepers) that is kind of his niche among these services. I can't criticize the authors for trying to do something that is difficult to do, but I really don't think it provides a good basis for making conclusions about scouting ability. Because the vast majority of scouting data points relate to players who are common to all three sources, I think you need a reliable and defensible means of differentiating the rankings of those players and valuing those differences, and the method in the article seems too simplistic to be useful. When Law correctly ranks Longoria as the best player, but the other two sources have him at No. 2 and 3, how much credit do you give Law? That's very subjective.
   84. base ball chick Posted: December 30, 2011 at 06:05 PM (#4025851)
tricky

honestly, i am not counting the 2011 draft because there is no - jr griffey/arod/zimmerman or ANYONE who could go straight into the majors anywhere on the board. so people HAVE to develop.

although i admit straight out that i was NOT happy with the pick of jiovanni mier or delino deshields right from the beginning.

The Hated Tim Purpura had better drafts which is almost unbelieveable, given HIS restrictions.

in my opinion, for non-major leaguers, you need 2 separate kinds of "scouting"

1 - who do you draft in the first place?

2 - who is in other Organizations who might could be undervalued that you could get your hands on in a trade (the sleeper thingy)

as for me, i have never understood why Organizations don't develop more - or at least appear to TRY to develop more players - seems they focus on like 4 or 5 and if anyone else just happens to do anything, well, ok

seems to me they are very obsessed with the personality, not necessarily the ABILITY of the player

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