Given that I like to hang out in my mom’s basement pounding away on a keyboard and given the fact that I sometimes use said keyboard to pound out statistics instead of words like “grit,” it may come as a surprise that I’m just now reading Billy Beane’s book about just how great computers really are. Yes, I’m reading Moneyball. No, I can’t believe how long it’s taken me, either.
I don’t want to play the part of the guy who walks into a 4-hour meeting 3.5 hours late and wants to rehash everything he’s missed, so I’ll spare you from a review of the book. If that’s what you want, Google’s your friend, not me. All I’m going to say is that the book did two things for me: It solidified a bunch of foggy thoughts floating around in my head and it gave me an even better appreciation of the importance of stats.
Now, as someone who’s newly enamoured with the idea of moneyball, you might think that I would disapprove of Anthopoulos’s scouting-heavy plan to rebuild the Jays. It would be easy to say, “scouts can’t be trusted. Just look at the numbers, AA! Oh and by the way, Wells IS an awful centrefielder, no matter what your eyes tell you.” Yes, that would be easy. And even though I may have said those things in the past, I’m not going to right now. What I’m going to say is this: As a new moneyball convert, I’m excited about the plan to rebuild the Jays through superior scouting.
I know scouting may not count as a market inefficiency, but can a team like the Jays really get ahead by exploiting market inefficiencies right now? With Billy Beane still running the A’s, and the New Yorks and Bostons of the world using moneyball ideals backed up with, you know, a lot of money, I’d say that no, the Jays can’t compete in that arena.
That isn’t to say that there aren’t inefficiencies left to be found, and maybe the Jays will find some, but the easier approach is to do what you know and to do it well.
Now, I’m not going to go digging up links to back this up (and please correct me if I’m wrong) but AA seems to be using his history in the Expos organization to the extreme and bringing in as many staffers and scouts as he can from that defunct team.
What were the Expos good at? Drafting and developing some pretty awesome baseball players.
What were the Expos bad at? Being able to keep those players around because the team was being run into the ground financially.
If AA can create and nurture the scouting and development in Toronto that the Expos had in Montreal, the Jays will be in a position to be a dominant (or least competitive) team for a long, long time. Because, despite what many seem to think, Toronto is a big-market team and the money’s there to keep the talent around.
It’s not Billy Beane’s moneyball, but it’ll have to do.