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Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Art Of Winning An (even More) Unfair Game - 09.26.11 - SI Vault

This may have been posted when it first came out but I couldn’t find it in our archives. This is especially relevant with Theo heading out the door. The next GM may very well continue the transformation the Red Sox front office has undergone since John Henry purchased the Sox. Then again, maybe he won’t.

In any event, if you haven’t read the article already, you should read it.

One floor below street level on Yawkey Way, in his windowless corner office which looks out upon a bank of cubicles that could pass for a telemarketing firm, Red Sox general manager Theo Epstein is deep in consultation with a trusted adviser he identifies only as Carmine. Adrian Gonzalez may be the team’s most valuable player and the object of an 11-year Ahab-like pursuit by Epstein, but the G.M. never makes a move without consulting Carmine, a five-year-old proprietary computer program that is the virtual brains of the Boston operation.

Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2011 at 01:43 PM | 11 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
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   1. Jose Can Still Seabiscuit Posted: October 13, 2011 at 05:54 PM (#3962238)
Jim's right, this is a great piece. This is the end of the article and to me highlights what I like about what has happened under Theo;

Back in 2002, as Lewis and Beane were collaborating, Epstein worked with Cherington, Craig Shipley, now the senior vice president of player personnel and international scouting, and their fellow whiz kids in the basement of Fenway on a project of their own. There was no established Red Sox Way, so they set out to define it: They began writing a player-development manual. "Everything from bunt plays to how we want our hitters to be selectively aggressive at the plate," Epstein says, "to what requirements we have to be a starting pitcher to how you throw your bullpens—every fundamental and every philosophical idea." They also wrote a companion manual, on scouting, because "what the scouts look for has to match up with your development philosophy."

Those manuals became the foundation for the Red Sox Way. No book or movie is in the works.


Whether or not their approach has been right they have gone after it. In baseball or any other business I want to see an organization that has everyone moving in the same direction. If you are going to run off a cliff, run off it full speed and with your colleagues along side you. If Cherington (assuming) is able to keep the organization functioning on the same game plan I think they'll be fine.
   2. andrewberg Posted: October 13, 2011 at 06:03 PM (#3962245)
There's a big difference between winging it and seeing what happens. Now let's see what happens.
   3. Jim Furtado Posted: October 13, 2011 at 07:46 PM (#3962325)
FYI, I know the 70's Orioles had such a book. I believe the Phillies in the 80's did as well. The Braves of the 90's had one too. There were probably some other teams as well.

Ultimately, the book and organizational philosophy is all about a full commitment to excellence. The Red Sox, despite their September meltdown and their petty backstabbing as people go out the door, have built a model front office and franchise. Anyone who believes the Red Sox are fanatically committed to sabermetrics to the exclusion of all other methods/information is wrong. Anyone who thinks the Red Sox approach is not evolving has an opinion mired in their own dogma, not in reality.
   4. Der-K and the statistical werewolves. Posted: October 13, 2011 at 07:52 PM (#3962335)
Very good article. Overly positive (particularly given the last few days), but still...
   5. The District Attorney Posted: October 13, 2011 at 08:23 PM (#3962370)
This is all great until "Carmine" starts filling the building with a deadly neurotoxin.
   6. Darren Posted: October 13, 2011 at 08:40 PM (#3962397)
Does Carmine produce the CFBPS projections?
   7. RB in NYC (Now Semi-Retired from BBTF) Posted: October 14, 2011 at 12:36 AM (#3962804)
FYI, I know the 70's Orioles had such a book. I believe the Phillies in the 80's did as well. The Braves of the 90's had one too. There were probably some other teams as well.
Buck had one in his Yankee days, I believe he also did one for the D-Backs as well.

I'm curious to see what kind of moves the Red Sox make in the post-Theo era, and how they compare to what Theo does in Chicago.
   8. dave h Posted: October 14, 2011 at 12:38 AM (#3962805)
Just out of curiosity, did Ellsbury beat the CFBPS?
   9. villageidiom Posted: October 14, 2011 at 04:40 AM (#3963086)
Funny how on the first page is this passage:
Then one day in 2002, a best-selling writer by the name of Michael Lewis walked into the Red Sox offices and knocked the smile right off Epstein's face. Lewis was working on a book about baseball's nascent information age, but Epstein wanted nothing to do with him.

"I can't believe Billy is letting him write this book," he told his colleagues.

Billy Beane, Oakland's general manager, had granted Lewis access to his front-office operations, which meant revealing how the A's were mining information from statistical analysis, a tool used extensively at the time by only the Athletics, Indians, Blue Jays and Red Sox. "He's handing out the blueprint," Epstein told Hoyer.
And then the next six pages are devoted to handing out the blueprint.
   10. villageidiom Posted: October 14, 2011 at 04:43 AM (#3963087)
Just out of curiosity, did Ellsbury beat the CFBPS?
He compiled an MVP-caliber season faster than the CFBPS could generate a projection.
   11. Sunday silence Posted: October 19, 2011 at 01:30 AM (#3967754)
first time I read it as "Canine."

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