A few notes on the FO, scouting changes & Orioles offseason
*With the additions of two pitchers (Dana Eveland, Tsuyoshi Wada), a backup catcher (Taylor Teagarden) and a veteran outfielder (Endy Chavez), it’s understandable that fans aren’t thrilled. Yes, none of these moves are big splashes. But, as of Monday, the Orioles do have several trade talks still alive and executive VP of baseball operations Dan Duquette mentioned several times in Dallas at the Winter Meetings what most baseball people would agree on: the free agency process is a slow one. Given what the Orioles have done, it’s fair to speculate that the remaining moves will be almost exclusively about adding pitching.
Do I think the team makes a big splash before spring training? Probably not. But I think they do make a few more upgrades for the Major League roster and continue to funnel resources toward enhancing their Minor League and player development system.
*Speaking of funneling resources, Duquette’s decision to reassign five of the team’s professional scouts –including scouting director Lee MacPhail IV — caused quite a stir among some of the fan base. I got a bunch of emails and questions on Twitter about how –and why — Duquette would move nearly every pro scout out of the department. (For a quick refresher, Todd Frohwirth, Jim Howard, James Keller, Ted Lekas and Jim Thrift were all informed, along with MacPhail, that they would be taking on new roles.)
“I really appreciate all the interest in our scouting department,” Duquette said Monday in detailing the reasoning behind the changes.
“The reason that we are doing it is we are redirecting resources from the pro scouting side of the house into video and baseball analytics. Because of the wide reach of video and the proliferation of the analytics, we can see players on video and we can measure their performance very precisely from the analytics, which means that we need scouting personnel in the areas of the recruiting market where we don’t have access to that as much on the amateur level.
It makes total sense. It’s resource allocation.”
Duquette, who announced MacPhail’s reassignment several weeks ago, said at the time he has never had a pro scouting director in any of his previous stops and he didn’t really see the purpose in one. On Monday, he reiterated that sentiment and said the way technology –specifically video — has advanced since he was last in the game, he decided to further in his approach to Baltimore’s pro scouting.
“There is a definite thought behind the plan and redeployment of the resources,” said Duquette, who admitted he had more of a pro scouting department in Boston and Montreal because at the time technology simply wasn’t enough.
“The longer you are in professional baseball now, your complete body of work, your history, speaks for itself,” he said. “So there’s video resources and there’s other measures which are recorded and measured to handle the analytics.”
The Orioles are 27th out of 30 clubs in producing big-league players signed at the amateur level, which is the bottom 10 percent. They are also, not surprisingly, the worst team in the American League East at producing big league players from the amateur level.
“So, in an effort to make an impact on the franchise, I can argue that the scouts are most valuable to a team at the amateur level,” Duquette said. “They can have a bigger impact on this organization, they can have a bigger say in exactly how the organization does from a competitive standpoint if they are making good decisions at the amateur level.”
*The Orioles are also beefing up their international efforts under Duquette, with plans to add a crop of new international scouts in January. Legendary scout Fred Ferreira was hired earlier in the month and Duquette described his role as basically the same as director of international operations David Stockstill, although they are working “different parts of the world.”
Ferreira’s track record is beyond impressive: he’s signed 57 players who have gone on to the Major Leagues. The opportunity to make an impact on an organization is what originally lured Ferreira from the New York Yankees to the Montreal Expos to work for Duquette in building up the farm system. Given the Orioles’ lack of international efforts, there’s a similar chance for Ferreira –who has been out of the game the last few years — in Baltimore.
As for Duquette’s other recent front office hire, special assistant Lee Thomas, he will consult mostly on trades. Thomas, a very well-respected baseball executive, figures to be Duquette’s right-hand man, particularly since there are no plans for any other front office additions, such as an assistant GM type.
*MLB.com’s Rick Peterson and Jim Duquette discuss the Chavez signing here. That agreement is still pending a physical to become official.
*Nick and Christina Markakis made the holidays a little brighter for Nicole Sewell and her three children with a shopping trip at Target on Monday. The Sewell family were picked up from their home in a limousine and meet the Markakis family and the Oriole Bird at Target in Cockeysville. The family was selected with help from the Baltimore City Public Schools’ “School Everyday” program that assists families in need.
The shopping outing was coordinated through OriolesREACH and the Right Side Foundation, the non-profit organization established by the Markakis family in 2009 to help improve the lives of distressed children in Maryland.
Nick and Christina also have plans to donate winter coats to the Boys and Girls club of Callaway Elementary School in Baltimore for 21 deserving students. Markakis wears uniform #21 for the Orioles.
*That’s all I’ve got for now. Happy Holidays! To watch the Orioles’ holiday card click here.