The Jan 10 Recap of sorts
First off, at a high level: four M’s front office guys turned up to talk baseball with ~240 M’s fans on a rainy Saturday afternoon and stuck around for almost three and a half hours.
Three and a half hours. And they refused breaks. What do you say to that?
Besides thank you.
It’s interesting Tony Blengino’s as stat-savvy as anyone you’re likely to see in a major league front office, but he’s also as much about player makeup and work ethic as the other player development folks. Carmen Fusco, the director of pro scouting, goes way back, and he talked about how he came to accept and use statistics. One of the things Dave and I mentioned over and over in the GM search was the need to not get a stathead GM or a scouting GM but a hybrid (and holding up Antonetti or others as examples) that’ll take all the information they can get. Dave’s right — we got one.
I would have paid a lot to see Zduriencik’s presentation to Lincoln/Armstrong before, and now I have a lot better idea of what must have been in it, and would pay more to see him pull it off.
But I think, and forgive me if this is a little touchy-feely, the really interesting dynamic was that they weren’t really always in sync, or on message together. One of the things (again) Blengino discusses is the desire to have different opinions, and you could see that dissent wasn’t couched in “you’re wrong” but “well, also here’s this other side to that…”
I found that telling. One of the disturbing things about the previous regime was the too-frequent refrain that “everyone agreed that was a good move — who could have seen the disaster that ensued coming?” Everyone agreed it’d be great to sign this guy, and he sucked, so wow, that must have been unforseeable. Everyone agreed we’d win the division, and we sucked, so wow, misfortune befell us.
Without giving examples, they talked about that a little, about different opinions and perspectives in the Winter Meetings. If nothing else, that there’s now more voices in the organization should be encouraging.
Generally: as youâ€™d expect, they were a lot cagier about topics than Bavasi was. But then you have to figure the audiences are getting much larger, the Mâ€™s brass is aware of them, and the Mâ€™s had a dude there taking notes (Zach Taylor, Baseball Systems Coordinator, which they joked about). So no â€œIâ€™m not going to tell you Carl Everett is misunderstood. Carl Everett is understood.â€
So Iâ€™m going to try and paraphrase and sum up as best I can. This is made more difficult because my notes on the questions got gleaned (or cleaned) off the podium.
No comments: free agents either way (so no Griffey), or possible transactions, generally no current roster composition/discussing players (so pretty much passing on Lopez-at-first). But kind of. The budget.
Fields: lines of communication are open, we’ll see (no comment, really)
Wakamatsu — they think Wakamatsuâ€™s going to be tremendous. Raaaaaaaaaaved about Wakamatsu.
Changes in the way the team consults with their statheads, so the baseball research guys have an active part in discussions. The cultivation of reasonable dissent (which came up in the BP interview, if you read that) â€” they donâ€™t want people to agree. Tangoâ€™s encouraged to push ideas and information up. There will be input into Wakamatsuâ€™s strategies.
And on valuation: yeah, Tonyâ€™s up on this stuff. Like uh… yeah.
Defense is awesome. The potential to have a stellar defensive outfield again excites them. Probably be undervalued right now relative to offense, but you can see in the market for the no-field outfielders that more teams are catching on (obviously they didnâ€™t say no-field, thatâ€™s me). They recognize Beltreâ€™s value.
Whenâ€™s the team going to be good? Didnâ€™t say. Theyâ€™re going to make all the good moves they can and push ahead.
Draft: draft the best guys. College/high school, pitcher/hitter, doesnâ€™t matter. I asked about Bavasiâ€™s â€œtwo sets of eyes on every prospectâ€ and the massive investment in infrastructure the teamâ€™s made during his time. Theyâ€™re pro-that.
On this draft: they didnâ€™t say much. No hand-tipping.
Bullpen: less role-centric usage. No, really.
Player dev: sounds like itâ€™s going to slow a little, and the push-until-dramatic-failure philosophy’s been at least relaxed. On position switches: as much as possible, they don’t want to move someone until it’s clear that they’ll be switching to the position they’ll be at long-term
On player dev and Felix and establishing the fastball: Iiiiiiiiiiiâ€¦ Iâ€™m not sure what to say about this. Thereâ€™s both â€œestablish the fastballâ€ and â€œget the outsâ€. And Iâ€™m also not sure what to say about the view of Felixâ€™s last year. Huh.
Anyway â€” yeah, they want pitchers to have a change and be able to throw a good mix of pitches. Talked about Morrowâ€™s mix a little.
Player makeup: looooot of discussion about this. I think I would say â€œhighly valued but they have to be able to play first and foremostâ€. Kind of. Yeah. Trying to find players that’ll reach their potential, all that good stuff.
Clement: love the makeup, heâ€™ll be a catcher until he canâ€™t.
Orgs they respect: Twins came up w/r/t scouting and the continuity of philosophy. Atlanta and the continual reloading during contention.
I’ll have a much longer post soon about flying the “under new management” flag, but… yeah, at one point, I essentially said I’d sign up to build software, and I’m as deep a cynic as you’re likely to find without wandering the planet holding a lantern up to people one by one.
Yeah. Huge thanks to them, the Seattle Public Library for letting us rent their fine facility (and for being awesome), Cara and Chris for helping out, and Bill and Jeff for helping work the door.