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Friday, October 18, 2019

Cubs shake up player-development operation

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Cubs shook up their player-development operation, with Matt Dorey taking over as senior vice president of player development and directors of pitching and hitting being appointed.

Dorey, Chicago’s director of amateur scouting the past six years, was previously a scout for the Boston Red Sox and a college coach.

Any thoughts, either from the Cubs perspective or that of considering the field of player development generally?

 

QLE Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:41 AM | 21 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: cubs, player development

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   1. Walt Davis Posted: October 18, 2019 at 01:16 AM (#5891510)
Zonk is much better placed to discuss but out amateur scouting of the past 6 years has not been a particular strong point. We've done quite well with first round picks in that time but have come up close to empty in later rounds. I also find it a bit odd that you would go from amateur scouting to head of player development in one go -- the two aren't that related. And to the extent the Cubs' amateur scouting has been good, it's been in identifying players that didn't need much development before contributing (Bryant, Schwarber, Happ, Hoerner -- all college guys too). But assuming this SVP position is more about managing, communicating and making some decisions on "this guy is ready" and "this guy is going nowhere, time to move on" he might well have those skills.
   2. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 09:03 AM (#5891533)
So you want a Zonk rant?

This is not a "shakeup" - this is rewarding the guy that has overseen a series of piss poor drafts with a promotion.

I know it's not like Dorey does all the scouting, all by himself... but his team has performed terribly. Other than Bote, the Cubs have gotten nothing beyond their 1st rounders. Maybe if you squint hard enough, you can say Schwarbs and Hoerner were generally considered to be reaches when they were drafted - but they were still top 100 picks on everyone's board... After that? Nada. Sure, sure... far too early to shut the door on at least half of his drafts, but there's nobody outside of Hoerner and maybe, if you're charitable a few fungible bullpen arms that looks like a future contributor at this point.

The scouting and development programs have been going backwards for a while now... and Theo's answer seems to be a mix of promotions and deck chair shuffling.

This angers me greatly.

Ugh... I'm too angry to even rant effectively.

   3. Pops Freshenmeyer Posted: October 18, 2019 at 10:14 AM (#5891556)
It sounds like the Cubs are blaming their unproductive amateur system on scouting and development not being on the same page. I guess they sided with the scouts over the development guys.

I suppose it makes sense given their former success at plucking guys out of other systems as measured against their inability to mold guys who spend their whole amateur careers within the organization.
   4. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 11:27 AM (#5891583)
I suppose it makes sense given their former success at plucking guys out of other systems as measured against their inability to mold guys who spend their whole amateur careers within the organization.


Have they though?

Aside from his other problems, Russell has actually disappointed... Edwards had some flashes, but really didn't pan out... Caratini is a solid part timer, I guess. Hendricks was obviously a hit - but all things considered, even the trade successes for prospects seem to have been overstated (note I said prospects - fairly excluding Jake).

In any case, I wish I could see a Cubs org chart - but I assume that Director of Amateur Scouting means Dorey's purview was purely the amateur draft (and maybe international scouting? I presume the person in charge of Latin/Asian scouting would report up to him?)
   5. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 11:33 AM (#5891587)
In any case (now I'm starting to build up a head of steam!) --

I think that, oddly for someone whose claim to fame is cold analytics and bottom line MBA-style management, Theo clearly has "people". From Jed on down, so many of these guys are basically people who have worked for/with him going back to Boston.... and he's basically shuffling around "his people".

Cold analytics and bottom line MBA thinking would mean you have metrics to measure the performance of your management team, too. I struggle to see how Theo could claim that is the case. Obviously, he's benefiting from an organization that hasn't seen the current run of success in most fan's lifetimes. And that's great.... but compared to the Dodgers? The Astros? The Yankees? Taking into account the various things you'd normally use to measure front office success in various roles?

I'm not saying that they've been terrible... but I don't think you can call them industry-leading performers, either. And I certainly don't think "promotions for everyone!" is justified.
   6. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 11:38 AM (#5891590)
Indeed - as much as I'm over him leaving and as much as the last couple week collapse made me quite prepared for it....

If you were to do a role-neutral, forced stack ranking of non-player personnel during the Theo era... Can anyone *really* make a case for anyone other than Joe Maddon - not one of "Theo's people" - as the top performer?

   7. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 11:42 AM (#5891594)
The amateur scouting folks had some successes... in the 1st round.

The advanced/minor league scouting folks had some successes... that didn't turn out as successful as once thought.

The major league movers (Jed, etc) had some successes with FA signings and trades.... and some noticeable, awful flops.

Joe.... took the team to the brink of the WS in his first season. Won it in his second. Almost made it back in his 3rd. Ran into some hard luck in his 4th. And then collapsed in the W-L column (using the closer he was given to negative effect!) in the 5th.

Oh yeah - and the only "guy" Joe brought along (Davey Martinez) left for a managerial job and is now managing a WS team himself.
   8. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:21 PM (#5891621)
I think that's an overly pessimistic take on these moves in general. The Athletic write-up is pretty good here, and the important part, to me, seems to be
The Cubs aren’t done hiring, either. With Dorey no longer in charge of amateur scouting, the Cubs will likely look outside the organization to fill that role, likely in the coming weeks. They prioritized player development, knowing desirable candidates are scooped up quickly, and they also feel like they’re not as far behind in amateur scouting as they were in player development.


I'm not saying that they've been terrible... but I don't think you can call them industry-leading performers, either. And I certainly don't think "promotions for everyone!" is justified.

I don't read all of these as promotions, especially the title change ones.
   9. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:24 PM (#5891625)
Jason McLeod — who oversaw the scouting and player development departments and inspired a lot of respect and loyalty among the staffers on the ground — is now a senior vice president of player personnel. McLeod and Epstein became close friends at the beginning of their careers with the Padres in the 1990s, worked together in Boston and reunited at the beginning of the Cubs rebuild. McLeod will now be closer to the major-league team while the Cubs enact all these behind-the-scenes changes.

Jaron Madison, the Cubs’ farm director for the last six seasons, has been reassigned as a special assistant and will focus on scouting amateur talent, professional players and the international market.


To me, these are the 2 biggest, and I really don't think either of them really got a promotion (McLeod was already an SVP for instance).
   10. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:25 PM (#5891626)
Oh yeah - and the only "guy" Joe brought along (Davey Martinez) left for a managerial job and is now managing a WS team himself.
The previous pitching coach was Joe's "guy," wasn't he?
   11. Moses Taylor hashes out the rumpus Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:26 PM (#5891628)
If you were to do a role-neutral, forced stack ranking of non-player personnel during the Theo era... Can anyone *really* make a case for anyone other than Joe Maddon - not one of "Theo's people" - as the top performer?

Why would you do it that way and not prioritize the most recent stuff?
   12. Red Voodooin Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:48 PM (#5891640)
Other than Bote, the Cubs have gotten nothing beyond their 1st rounders. Maybe if you squint hard enough, you can say Schwarbs and Hoerner were generally considered to be reaches when they were drafted - but they were still top 100 picks on everyone's board... After that? Nada. Sure, sure... far too early to shut the door on at least half of his drafts, but there's nobody outside of Hoerner and maybe, if you're charitable a few fungible bullpen arms that looks like a future contributor at this point.


I suppose you've managed to convince me that the Cubs haven't gotten much out of their drafts beyond the first round, but I'm still not sure how remarkable that is. What does the average team get out of the non-first round picks in terms of WAR, in the immediate three or four years after a draft? Sure that average will be boosted by the small handful of teams that hit on a stud performer outside the first round, but for most teams I would imagine the baseline is 'getting a few fungible bullpen arms that look like a future contributor'. You acknowledge that it's too early to judge the most recent drafts, so we're really only talking about two or three drafts of supposed failure here (2014-16?). Is that a sign of some fundamental flaw in their system, or is it more just a 'dems the breaks' type of thing?
   13. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 12:52 PM (#5891642)
Why would you do it that way and not prioritize the most recent stuff?


I'm not sure that helps the case for Theo's people, though... Other than Hoerner, what does the FO have to hang their hat on? I mean - that most recent stuff for Joe includes the closer they look like they seriously overpaid failing spectacularly in the role he was signed for Joe to use him.

In any case, though - I agree that Madison and McLeod were lateral moves.... but why were they lateral instead of cut loose? And it appears that the guys who replaced them were promotions from within their verticals.

I think Dorey, though, got a clear promotion - and he's really the guy I might be most suspect about.

I'm not trying to be a Fire Them All! guy here... but ultimately, I just see this 'shakeup' as less of a shakeup and more of rearranging (no, not of deck chairs on the titanic... the cubs still have some talent and still figure to be a contender next year, albeit probably an NL tier 2 team behind the Dodgers/Nats/maybe Braves).
   14. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 01:19 PM (#5891649)
Why would you do it that way and not prioritize the most recent stuff?


I'm not sure that helps the case for Theo's people, though... Other than Hoerner, what does the FO have to hang their hat on? I mean - that most recent stuff for Joe includes the closer they look like they seriously overpaid failing spectacularly in the role he was signed for Joe to use him.

In any case, though - I agree that Madison and McLeod were lateral moves.... but why were they lateral instead of cut loose? And it appears that the guys who replaced them were promotions from within their verticals.

I think Dorey, though, got a clear promotion - and he's really the guy I might be most suspect about.

I'm not trying to be a Fire Them All! guy here... but ultimately, I just see this 'shakeup' as less of a shakeup and more of rearranging (no, not of deck chairs on the titanic... the cubs still have some talent and still figure to be a contender next year, albeit probably an NL tier 2 team behind the Dodgers/Nats/maybe Braves).
   15. Zonk Saw Massive Dumps Posted: October 18, 2019 at 01:29 PM (#5891653)

I suppose you've managed to convince me that the Cubs haven't gotten much out of their drafts beyond the first round, but I'm still not sure how remarkable that is. What does the average team get out of the non-first round picks in terms of WAR, in the immediate three or four years after a draft? Sure that average will be boosted by the small handful of teams that hit on a stud performer outside the first round, but for most teams I would imagine the baseline is 'getting a few fungible bullpen arms that look like a future contributor'. You acknowledge that it's too early to judge the most recent drafts, so we're really only talking about two or three drafts of supposed failure here (2014-16?). Is that a sign of some fundamental flaw in their system, or is it more just a 'dems the breaks' type of thing?


I'd have to hunt through an old Gonfalon thread -- but yeah, it is remarkable(y bad).

I.e., I can't remember how it started, but it got me browsing through Cubs draft lists - and it just really struck me that beyond Bote, you didn't find ANY WAR even accounted for beyond the first... Then - I started looking at other teams that were thought of as perennially bad drafters for an extended period (the Phillies was one team I remember browsing. I think I looked at the Angels too).

And yeah, it's bad. Outside the first round - probably going at least 10 deep, you're still talking about guys who are fairly well known and scouted.... and the Cubs were whiffing on them.... You could have chosen names out of a hat and come up with nothing.

But the thing is - even with most recent drafts where it's too early to tell, you just don't find any of those picks showing up sleeper lists or pleasant surprises lists or guys to watch lists. Sure - guys drafted in 2017/18/last year can definitely still suddenly click.... but so far, none of them have.
   16. The Yankee Clapper Posted: October 18, 2019 at 06:06 PM (#5891750)
If Epstein’s pals aren’t getting the job done, perhaps the Cubs can follow the Orioles lead and use their job applicant pool to crowd source ideas:
Suggest one upcoming free agent that you would recommend that the Orioles sign this off-season. Why would you target this player, and how much do you imagine it would cost to sign him? Please answer in 30 words or less, and please don’t spend more than a minute or two writing your response.

If we asked you to evaluate a position player strictly based off of three stats / performance metrics, which three would you choose? Please don’t give an explanation; just list them in order of your preference. (There’s no perfect answer; we just want to see how you think.)
More jobs at that link if anyone is looking to leave the ranks of the uncompensated commentariat.
   17. Walt Davis Posted: October 18, 2019 at 11:19 PM (#5891826)
If we asked you to evaluate a position player strictly based off of three stats / performance metrics,

I'd resign cuz you guys are nincompoops. Evaluate for what purpose? Anyway ... WAR, oWAR and age I guess (if we consider age a stat).

On the first question, I have never answered anything in 30 words or less. :-) This is what happens when you involve HR in this process. As a GM, when exactly are you gonna justify your decision in 30 words or less? Did Trump buy the O's when I wasn't looking? And can't one of your asst GMs (or senior vice presidents or whatever we call them these days) handle that bit.

And of course "what FA would you recommend?" is not a relevant question for a team that just lost 108 games.
   18. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: October 18, 2019 at 11:26 PM (#5891827)
I have never answered anything in 30 words or less. :-)
Raise your glasses...let's all congratulate Walt on his first-ever understatement! Cheers!! ;)

And of course he's entirely right as to the substance.
   19. Andere Richtingen Posted: October 19, 2019 at 01:30 AM (#5891841)
My gut feeling reading about the personnel changes in the Cubs organization:

When you make these kinds of wholesale changes at the mid-tier levels, you are generally better off hitting the reset button and bringing in a new GM, and letting them choose where to go. I didn’t think the Cubs were at that point, but seeing this happen, now I’m not so sure.
   20. Walt Davis Posted: October 19, 2019 at 02:12 AM (#5891845)
I think it is fair to say that in the long history of baseball, changes in pitching/hitting coaches followed by a change in manager along with changes at the mid-tier level often precede the end of a GM's tenure by a year or two.
   21. McCoy Posted: October 19, 2019 at 06:15 AM (#5891848)
In my experience corporate guys value loyalty and buying into the culture before pretty much anything else. If you support the boss and are a cheerleader of them and what they're trying to do you'll last far longer than an outspoken highly competent worker.

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