Thoughts From Milwaukee
One thing there is no shortage of when it comes to the hiring of Zduriencik is opinions. Everyone has them, and no one is shy in sharing them with the world. However, opinions aren’t particularly useful in and of themselves. If we want to hold an opinion that has some substance to it and could be considered useful, what we really need is information. So, in search of more good information about Jack Zduriencik, I went to the smartest guy I know who follows the Brewers with the same kind of passion that we follow the Mariners – Patrick Ebert, one of the guys in charge of BrewerFan.net and a writer for Perfect Game USA, the top independent amateur scouting agency around.
Patrick’s been a friend for a while, and he knows baseball, and specifically, he knows the Brewers. He isn’t random fan-on-the-street. So, after the Zduriencik hire was announced, I talked with Patrick, and he’s agreed to let me publish his last bit of our conversation, because it’s worth reading.
It’s always funny reading the comments from one fan-site/blog to another. Brewers fans are crushed that he’s gone, knowing that he is largely responsible for supplying most of the talent to the Brewers, a team that hadn’t made the postseason in 26 years, and the fans of USS Mariner seem to think the Ms chose the worst candidate of the four they were considering.
Your post was dead-on. Zduriencik isn’t going to bring any revolutionary statistical analysis with him, at least not on his own merit, and it will be interesting to see what kind of stat-crunching team, if any, he puts in place (Doug Melvin has one, at least one person, if not one team).
You mentioned the teams that have a strong scouting backbone, and that is definitely the approach you should expect. He will trust his scouts, not only the amateur guys in regards to the drafts, but the pro guys looking to nab the next Scott Podsednik off of waivers, the next Doug Davis as a minor league free agent, the next Carlos Villanueva in a dump trade (thank you Wayne Franklin) or the next Gabe Kapler as a reclamation project of sorts. These were the deals he witnessed while watching Doug Melvin do his thing, and reportedly Jack Zduriencik was very involved with all baseball decisions, not just those that pertained to the draft, as the team even flew him to Latin America when trying to make crucial decisions on what young Latin players they should sign.
And that in itself is another point to Jack’s credit. The Brewers have never been strong signing international talent, and yet they have succeeded by accumulating almost all of their homegrown talent through the draft. This is something that Jim Callis of Baseball America has brought several times in the past when love for Jack Z. is being shared (and of course Zduriencik has international scouting experience during his time spent with the Dodgers).
One other thing I noticed was that a few people questioned several of his first-round picks, including Dave Krynzel, Mike Jones and Mark Rogers. It should be noted that no scouting director is perfect, and fortunately when Zduriencik didn’t hit a home run with his first round pick, he did so with a later round pick the same year. in 2000 it was Corey Hart (11th round). In 2001 it was J.J. Hardy (2nd) and Manny Parra (26th, DFE signing in ’02*). In 2004 it was Yovani Gallardo (2nd) among others the team is still counting on to be a part of the future.
*The DFE process is something else that needs to be mentioned, as few scouting departments used this opportunity as much as the Brewers did under Zduriencik’s watch, a sign of the true essence of the team’s scouting background.
And again, he transformed an organization that had no talent to one that has so much that GM Doug Melvin didn’t hesitate trading some prominent prospects to acquire C.C. Sabathia, something few teams would be able to do without sacrificing the future stability of the team (I know this hits a little closer to home given what the Ms gave up to acquire Bedard), much less be able to make such a trade at all.
I know you know most to all of this having followed the Brewers in your work with BP to our previous conversations, not to mention your initial love for Brad Nelson back in 2002 when he tore up the Midwest League. But as you know I’m very passionate about this kind of stuff, and I had to share some of my thoughts with you on the subject since you’re equally passionate about the Mariners. I hate to see him go, but no one in baseball deserves this appointment more than Jack Zduriencik, a true baseball man and one, if given the proper support, should do wonders in turning your organization around.
And don’t expect him to draft a college reliever in the first round.
Patrick also shared this link about a story written for SABR about Tony Blengino, one of Zduriencik’s main scouts in Milwaukee, and his take on statistical analysis. For those of you afraid that Z and his scouts are going to be anti-intellect, anti-knowledge, your fear is not based in reality. Read Patrick’s comments again, read the linked article, and realize that very smart people can run a very successful organization with a scouting mentality.