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Inside the Giants' Baseball Operations

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#1 Parker Hageman

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 10:47 AM

Fangraphs.com's Eno Sarris has put up a very interesting read on the inner workings of the San Francisco Giants.

In speaking with Bobby Evans, the Giants' Vice President of Baseball Operations, we find that the organization is very savvy and has taken advantage of the local computer nerds:

[FONT=Microsoft Sans Serif]In any case, on-base ability is something that is attractive to the team. “It’s one of the things that attracted us to [/FONT]Brandon Belt[FONT=Microsoft Sans Serif],” Evans said. The Giants’ scouts are well incorporated, but it’s all part of their proprietary information system that helps the team make their decisions.

[FONT=Microsoft Sans Serif]Proprietary information system?
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Apparently, the Giants have taken advantage of Silicon Valley — their IT department is celebrating it’s 20th birthday. They’ve been building an internal scouting system since the early 90′s, at the behest of current General Manager Brian Sabean. Crucial to the system is video — Vice President, Player Personnel Dick Tidrow has been pushing the envelope on video usage since he came to the Giants 16 years ago — as well as a collection of “publicly available data resources and articles,” PITCHf/x and HITf/x data, and eventually FIELDf/x data.[/FONT]

[FONT=Microsoft Sans Serif]
I was told that the Twins have their own proprietary databases and - as recently as this past spring - were exploring measures to implement systems like the Giants or the Indians' DiamondView (which was in operation back in 2003). Still, while no one in the organization was absolutely forthright on their current capabilities, you get the sense the team lags behind many others in this technological arms race.[/FONT]

"You spend a good piece of your life gripping a baseball and in the end it turns out that it was the other way around all the time." -- Jim Bouton, "Ball Four"

#2 Jim Crikket

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 11:54 AM

You'd like to think that just because the Twins won't talk openly about their "proprietary database" doesn't mean it is inferior, but there's certainly no evidence that the organization is ahead of the curve on this stuff. There are two things about that which have always really bothered me:

1. Even if you don't "believe in" the fancy-shmancy analytical stuff that other teams are using, shouldn't knowing they are using it be enough to at least have someone analyze things the same way your competitors are if for no other reason than to give yourselves insight in to how your opponent in potential trade negotiations are valuing players? As a competitive strategy alone, it only makes sense.

2. For the sake of argument, let's just say Terry Ryan is a friggin baseball player evaluation genius so he doesn't need any electronic contraption or Ivy League stat nerd to tell him which players are good and which aren't. What happens when he decides not to be around to allow the Twins to benefit from his geniusness? (It's a rhetorical question... we already found out.) A team that has some kind of system in place that doesn't rely so heavily on the talents of specific people can more easily survive staff turnover than a team that has one or two scouting savants running the show. It's all part of smart succession planning and forward thinking companies in almost every industry are doing it.
I opine about the Twins and Kernels regularly at Knuckleballsblog.com while my alter ego, SD Buhr covers the Kernels for MetroSportsReport.com.

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#3 Shane Wahl

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Posted 27 September 2012 - 12:03 PM

Using platoons and managing the bullpen like that are fairly obvious tactics for a manager. Not sure why the Twins' manager doesn't understand that.