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Friday, December 16, 2011

Orioles make sweeping changes to scouting department

Duquette’s taking an unconventional approach in his scouting department:

Instead of having a professional scouting department, as most organizations do, Orioles executive vice president Dan Duquette has decided to severely minimize that faction as he emphasizes video evaluation on the pro level and a need for more scouting in the amateur ranks.

The club’s two big league scouts, Bruce Kison and Dave Engle, will continue in their roles. However, the six remaining pro scouts, most of whom who had specific organizations assigned to them, have been offered jobs as amateur scouts, preparing reports on draft-eligible players. That list includes Jim Thrift, who was the Orioles’ advance scout – he would watch and then issue reports on teams the Orioles were about to play – and Lee MacPhail IV, who had been the pro scouting director. He was demoted to pro scout last month. ...

Although it is not unprecedented that an organization would sever much of it pro scouting operation – the Washington Nationals scaled back dramatically a few years ago – it is unusual. But Duquette has shown more of a desire for statistical analysis and will be using more video for scouting purposes.

Can scouting from video replace scouting in person? I’m inclined to think that, like scouts and stats, the tools should be used to complement each other.

There’s also this: Orioles have added economic adviser to help evaluate players.

Stephen Walters, a Loyola University economics professor, is now also working for the Orioles, providing financial and statistical valuations of players to help Duquette make personnel decisions. Walters believes he is the only such adviser employed by a big league team, though, “if [other clubs] have them, they are not talking about them.”

Mike Emeigh Posted: December 16, 2011 at 09:51 PM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business, minor leagues, orioles

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   1. kcshankd Posted: December 17, 2011 at 01:31 AM (#4018206)
How much can six pro scouts possibly cost? Or I guess six 'regular' scouts as the pros are being 'demoted'. Weird.
   2. Justin T's pasta pass was not revoked Posted: December 17, 2011 at 01:44 AM (#4018210)
When it comes to pro scouting, yes I do think video can replace guys in the stadium. There is a much bigger book already established on guys in the pros, so the value add of guys there a series or two in advance is diminished. A lot of things that a scout may add, like that a hitter is really pulling off the ball at the moment or something, is probably even more easily deduced from video.

We can say the scouts are cheap and Angelos should just pony up a few hundred grand for more of them to cover both worlds, but if that isn't going to happen, then the resources that are available are more wisely spent in the amateur ranks.
   3. rlc Posted: December 17, 2011 at 02:08 AM (#4018217)
I wonder what video they will be using. If it's the broadcast feeds, then the Orioles will be flying completely blind when it comes to evaluating outfield range.

I also wonder how much more reliable Pitch f/x is than the uncalibrated subjective impressions of six different scouts.
   4. DJ Endless Grudge Is Nobody's Disciple Posted: December 17, 2011 at 02:48 AM (#4018226)
When it comes to pro scouting, yes I do think video can replace guys in the stadium. There is a much bigger book already established on guys in the pros, so the value add of guys there a series or two in advance is diminished. A lot of things that a scout may add, like that a hitter is really pulling off the ball at the moment or something, is probably even more easily deduced from video.


This is pro scouting, not big league scouting - in other words, the scouts assigned to the minor leagues.
   5. Steve Sparks Flying Everywhere Posted: December 17, 2011 at 03:16 AM (#4018241)
This is pro scouting, not big league scouting - in other words, the scouts assigned to the minor leagues.


I know a few scouts who scout amateur players in their assigned area until the draft in June. Afterwards, they switch over to the minors until August or so. I'm assuming the O's are going to have their scouts pull double duty as well? Seems like they're just getting rid of the guys who focused on the minors. I can't imagine they'll give up scouting the minors entirely.
   6. PreservedFish Posted: December 17, 2011 at 03:21 AM (#4018242)
If it's the broadcast feeds, then the Orioles will be flying completely blind when it comes to evaluating outfield range.


Honest question: how much extra information about outfield range does a single scout give you that a subscription to Baseball America doesn't?
   7. MM1f Posted: December 17, 2011 at 03:25 AM (#4018244)
Honest question: how much extra information about outfield range does a single scout give you that a subscription to Baseball America doesn't?


You're kidding me right?

I love Baseball America, but wouldn't you want your own scouts to be telling you things rather than hoping to read what some other team's scout told a magazine?


I know a few scouts who scout amateur players in their assigned area until the draft in June. Afterwards, they switch over to the minors until August or so. I'm assuming the O's are going to have their scouts pull double duty as well? Seems like they're just getting rid of the guys who focused on the minors. I can't imagine they'll give up scouting the minors entirely.


Still, it is hardly a good sign. Scouting costs nothing. Nothing. Getting rid of these guys won't even save you a MLB minimum salary's worth of money.

If you're a struggling team you should be pouring money into scouting. Like the amateur draft, it is a chance to dramatically improve your organization's talent at a tiny, tiny cost.
   8. Mike Emeigh Posted: December 17, 2011 at 03:35 AM (#4018247)
You'd be surprised how much video is shot at minor league ballparks.

That said, I agree with MM1f on the ROI of good scouting, and I don't think video will replace that.

-- MWE
   9. PreservedFish Posted: December 17, 2011 at 03:40 AM (#4018249)
You're kidding me right?

I love Baseball America, but wouldn't you want your own scouts to be telling you things rather than hoping to read what some other team's scout told a magazine?


I'm not kidding. I mean, of course I would want my own scouts telling me things directly. I'm just honestly curious about how much extra value it provides.

I agree with MM1f on the ROI of good scouting,


The word "good" here kind of loads the dice, doesn't it?
   10. Tuque Posted: December 17, 2011 at 03:52 AM (#4018252)
edit: goddammit wrong thread
   11. ...and Toronto selects: Troy Tulowitzki Posted: December 17, 2011 at 05:22 AM (#4018294)
This is a very 2002`ish kind of GM reinventing the wheel move. Reads like Ricciardi upon being hired. I believe by `05 he was having to reverse this to a more traditional number level of org scouts.
   12. The Piehole of David Wells Posted: December 17, 2011 at 02:10 PM (#4018354)
This is a very 2002`ish kind of GM reinventing the wheel move. Reads like Ricciardi upon being hired. I believe by `05 he was having to reverse this to a more traditional number level of org scouts.


Sorry, but Duquette was already an MLB GM twice before he took this job and has proven that he knows about scouting. What he's not very good at, IMHO, is cutting the cord with the scrap-heap and reclamation projects once he's breathed a little life into them (see Troy O'Leary). And he's not gutting scouting, just MLB advance scouting and scouts who are assigned to scout other MLB teams. That seems like a waste of money to me. He's reinvested the money in minor league scouting and offered all of those guys jobs in the minors. I bet scouting is not exactly cheap. In addition to the salary, you've got to pay for tickets, meals, hotels, plane flights, just to follow teams around that you play 18 times a year at most. Why send someone to watch all 162 games of a division rival? There actually is a limit to what you can learn via scouting, and I'm willing to bet money that the O's will be a better team if they spend more resources on scouting and player development than on advance scouting. To put it in other words, this is nothing like what Ricciardi did.
   13. Downtown Bookie Posted: December 17, 2011 at 02:46 PM (#4018363)
Still, it is hardly a good sign. Scouting costs nothing. Nothing. Getting rid of these guys won't even save you a MLB minimum salary's worth of money.

If you're a struggling team you should be pouring money into scouting. Like the amateur draft, it is a chance to dramatically improve your organization's talent at a tiny, tiny cost.


I think Alvin Dark said it best: "Pay your scouts chicken feed, and you'll end up with turkeys in your infield."

But while I agree with the POV expressed in Post #7, I don't think that's what's going on here. I think Piehole has it right with his Post #12:

[H]e's not gutting scouting, just MLB advance scouting and scouts who are assigned to scout other MLB teams. That seems like a waste of money to me. He's reinvested the money in minor league scouting and offered all of those guys jobs in the minors.


Agree; the scouting isn't being gutted; rather, the resources are being re-directed into an area where they can produce the most benefit. At least, that's the impression I'm getting from the excerpt.

Oh, and because I want to make sure I get in my daily recommended output of snark:

That list includes...Lee MacPhail IV, who had been the pro scouting director.


Nepotism is a beautiful thing.

DB
   14. ...and Toronto selects: Troy Tulowitzki Posted: December 17, 2011 at 03:54 PM (#4018406)
Sorry, but Duquette was already an MLB GM twice before he took this job and has proven that he knows about scouting...

Sure. Whatever you say. Matters zero to me. I am aware of his entire career eh. Wasn't born yesterday. Law and Goldstein in particular panned yesterdays moves. Of course all of his moves to this brief point seem to be drawing negative review. Hopefully he's embarking on a successful GM term again. Either way, will be interesting and intstructive to watch.
   15. Golfing Great Mitch Cumstein Posted: December 18, 2011 at 12:45 PM (#4018836)
And he's not gutting scouting, just MLB advance scouting and scouts who are assigned to scout other MLB teams. That seems like a waste of money to me. He's reinvested the money in minor league scouting and offered all of those guys jobs in the minors.


The blog post distinguishes between pro and amateur and mentions that pro scouts are now assigned to cover "organizations" not teams. If that isn't clear enough that minor league scouting is being cut, the newspaper article has this:

Six pro scouts — including former pro scouting director Lee MacPhail IV and advance scout Jim Thrift — have been reassigned and offered jobs as regional amateur scouts, meaning that instead of attending minor league and major league games, they will be observing high school and college players in preparation for the annual draft.
   16. Joe Kehoskie Posted: December 19, 2011 at 05:35 PM (#4019357)
Law and Goldstein in particular panned yesterdays moves.

Of course they did. Scouts are like unpaid interns for prospects writers.
   17. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: December 19, 2011 at 05:44 PM (#4019370)
If that isn't clear enough that minor league scouting is being cut, the newspaper article has this:

But, it's being cut in favor of amateur scouting, not as cost cutting, correct?

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