Brief clarification on the M’s statheads, our wrongness

DMZ · June 18, 2008 at 4:00 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Okay, so, the wrongness first then the rest. We thought and have been telling people that Mat Olkin now worked for the Royals and not the M’s, which is not true, and we apologize for the error.

So I reached out, and here’s the scoop: Olkin’s an outside consultant for the M’s. As discussed earlier, they call him up, give him a problem, he offers an opinion. His contract has a limited exclusivity clause, and when he went to the pitching conference for the Royals, he hadn’t changed jobs or stopped doing work for the M’s.

I was under the impression that he was working only for the M’s, for a variety of wrong reasons including but not limited to assumptions about his role on the team (which as you can tell from my BP essay back in the day I really wanted to believe was influential). So when Olkin was at the pitching conference (and appeared in the Wall Street Journal as a Royals consultant) I thought he’d hopped jobs.

Now, to the other issue that’s caused some confusion, the difference between staff/consultants, and this is going to get even more boring. If you look at the Indians front office page you’ll see Keith Woolner, stathead extraordinaire, listed as “Manager, Baseball Research & Analytics”. On the Rays roster, a couple spots below Don Zimmer is James Click, “Coordinator, Baseball Operations”.

In my mind, that’s “staff”. I’d even consider formalized arrangements like the Cardinals’ committee. I wouldn’t count people who get sent research questions. And in the M’s directory, there isn’t anyone on staff doing this stuff. So when Lincoln says he has two people on staff, skilled in all aspects of sabermetrics, I don’t know if they’re counting Olkin’s consulting as a staff member and there’s also another, unknown person, or what. But you can go through the directory and there’s no one there, and so far as I know, they’re certainly not present at research meetings like the one the Royals hired Olkin to attend. So my questions about their assertion that they’ve got a staff of statheads remain unanswered.

Is this at all helpful? Too boring? Minutiae-fixated?


22 Responses to “Brief clarification on the M’s statheads, our wrongness”

  1. stonyhill on June 18th, 2008 4:08 pm

    love this kind of stuff. keep it coming.

  2. Teej on June 18th, 2008 4:16 pm

    I’m a fan of fixating on minutiae. In the age of blogging and other fast-moving media, I don’t think enough writers go to great lengths to ensure that that their mistakes are corrected, or at least that their statements are clarified when issues arise.

    So I say keep it up!

  3. Steve T on June 18th, 2008 4:20 pm

    If I call up the guy from Edward Jones and ask him “should I transfer all of my $100,000 in credit card debt to a new card, or should I just put all my new charges there; I use my credit cards to supplement my income from working at Wendy’s” that doesn’t mean I have two financial advisors on staff.

    The question of whether the M’s have sabermetricians can be easily answered on empirical evidence. We can tell by looking at the player decisions that one or more of the following MUST BE TRUE: no sabermetricians, and/or really bad sabermetricians, and/or totally ignored sabermetricians.

    There is nothing even remotely acceptable from a sabermetric point of view about the player acquisition and deployment of the M’s. NOTHING. Sabermetrically, they get an F grade. Lincoln can blow all the smoke he wants about who is and isn’t on his staff, but when you clear it out of the way, the only possible conclusion is: HE IS LYING.

  4. RoninX on June 18th, 2008 4:30 pm

    Minutiae-fixated and helpful. Thanks.

  5. Mike Snow on June 18th, 2008 4:43 pm

    I would think that in order to evaluate the front office, how it works, what went wrong, and the approach being taken to its reorganization, examining more details like this is useful.

  6. hoser on June 18th, 2008 4:47 pm

    I love it! Accountability demonstrated and then demanded. Way to go DMZ.

  7. edgar for mayor on June 18th, 2008 4:50 pm

    Well whether they have them or not…they aren’t using sabermetrics in their organizational decisions.

  8. Evan on June 18th, 2008 5:02 pm

    Too minutiae-fixated?

    There’s no such thing. Good job, Derek.

  9. coasty141 on June 18th, 2008 5:02 pm

    If there is this much confusion about the role of Mat Olkin on the staff/consult issue, I think it is safe to assume he’s not playing an integral part in the decision making of the organization.

  10. jbarr08 on June 18th, 2008 5:03 pm

    As someone who works as a consultant, I would find it somewhat disingenuous if one of my clients referred to me as being “on staff”. I’d start looking for health benefits and a 401(k), at the very least. Seems to be more spin from the spin doctors…

  11. Evan on June 18th, 2008 5:04 pm

    I’m surprised to see that Dan Fox isn’t listed among the front office staff of the Pittsburgh Pirates. I really thought he’d be there.

  12. jlc on June 18th, 2008 5:50 pm

    Is this at all helpful? Yes

    Too boring? Definitely not

    Minutiae-fixated? Wish the Mariners would spend more time on details.

  13. skipj on June 18th, 2008 6:12 pm

    Is MLB now treating statheads like major Corporations once treated minorities? An African-American Executive? Of course we have some! (Where the hell is he?!)

    Sabermetricians? Hell we have two “on staff”!

    Really…can you put them on the phone…right now?

  14. jro on June 18th, 2008 6:24 pm

    I don’t think it is splitting hairs, it’s simply part of get to the bottom of the issue of “two statheads on staff.” I think everyone knows this isn’t an authentic statement, but rather an out-of-touch executive trying to save face.

  15. zDawgg on June 18th, 2008 6:35 pm

    Accuracy is a good thing.

    Do not apoligize for it, embrace it.

  16. fetish on June 18th, 2008 7:27 pm

    Without a transcription of the original letter, we can’t say that Lincoln claimed to have “two people” “skilled in all aspects of sabermetrics” “on staff” – that’s the interpretation of the original poster from a few days ago. I suspect the spirit of the statement is true – Lincoln claims the Mariners take into account advanced baseball research, with people working for the organization who do such things – but there are lots of ways to make that statement true without hiring known individuals in the SABR community or putting those individuals “on staff”.

  17. DMZ on June 18th, 2008 7:32 pm


    I’ll do you one better.

  18. sodomojojojo on June 18th, 2008 7:34 pm

    DMZ- you rock my world. thanks, I was just about to tell fetish that I had forwarded a copy, you beat me to it.

  19. fetish on June 18th, 2008 8:59 pm

    well, there it is; asked, and answered.

  20. DMZ on June 18th, 2008 9:06 pm

    [actually, do what you want]

  21. jlc on June 18th, 2008 10:10 pm

    I know it’s picky, but if you or your secretary don’t know that “saber metric” is actually one word, it suggests to me that said field and its practioners are not high on the organizational food chain.

  22. The Ancient Mariner on June 19th, 2008 10:55 am

    I second jlc. And thanks for this, and for all that y’all have been doing lately.

    Antonetti in ’09!

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