A couple days ago, Steve Melewski posted the second part of his interview with Andy MacPhail and then reported his interview with Baseball America's Ben Badler. What Melewski does well is interview often the right people. He typically does a good job of this outside of last Winter's Keith Law interview. What is painful to me though is that what is good about sharp, incisive interviewing is that you can ask thoughtful questions and mild criticisms while immediately recieving an answer. In this collection of interviews, Badler provides a rebuttal of several of MacPhail's key statements. To me, this is poor form in that MacPhail is no longer capable of responding. If Melewski feels inadequate in questioning MacPhail's approach then he should call Badler, get his viewpoint, hone up his own research, and then ask more insightful questions and allow MacPhail to be more thoughtful in his answers.
I recognize what I am asking from Melewski is to be more of an investigative reporter. To be more aware of what is actually out there and asking pertinent questions. That Melewski was unaware of MacPhail's own brass speaking of studies comparing IFAs and rule 4 draft cost efficiency shows poor research. Information is out there and it should be utilized. Although, this may not be Melewski's game. His game may be to be a straight interviewer who provides as little insight as possible. It is very much a sort of Prime Directive perspective...that you remove any element of yourself in an interview in order to prevent any bias. It certainly is something found favorable to the interviewee as their words are reported verbatim and are not scrutinized immediately by the interviewer. Melewski does this seperation of self quite well and it certainly is a defendable manner of writing. From my own perspective though...I think it wastes opportunity. I mean, are we interested in MacPhail's speech on international talent or are we interested in his thoughts. The two appear different to me.
The second part of the interview falls apart for me. MacPhail answers questions about Miguel Sano, which were reported quite a long while back. The Orioles were a finalist on him, but thought 3 MM was not workable as a bonus for the now top 100 prospect. It is fair to say the jury is out on him. He will likely be a left fielder and he will have home run power as well as a propensity to swing and miss. MacPhail also talks about American scouts cross checking what the local scouts think, which is something almost every organization I am aware of does. So, nothing new or different. MacPhail also mentions the Orioles are in the Dominican, Curacao, and reentering Venezuela...which is something we already know. There is just no new information here. It may be that MacPhail stonewalled Melewski here or the intent was just to rehash background information and produce direct quotes from MacPhail. These really are answers that require a paraphrase and more structure provided when writing.
Melewski then reports Ben Badler's perspective on the MacPhail interview. His use of Badler to provide commentary results in some interesting statements that largely reflect my own opinions that were shared in the previous post. Badler's view boils down to this:
- There is a great deal of uncertainty in the Latin American market and it is understandable for a team to be conservative in that market. Most teams are.
- The Orioles appear to be not only conservative in that market, but tend to avoid it.
- Talent is a rare thing, so avoiding any market is probably not advisable.
- No one in this year's crop was worth more than 3MM from Badler's perspective, but you have to trust your own scouts.
- It is not difficult to see these talents play in actual games. Very few prospects are prevented by their trainers from appearing at academies and playing.
- The Orioles are not middle of the road spenders on IFAs.
What do I take away from these posts?
- Someone should be writing a blog where they take Melewski's zen interviewing style and write actual articles.
- Andy MacPhail is not open-minded about IFAs and this is based on information he pretends he does not have (which may be inaccurate information) or is based on a potentially antiquated management approach.
- The team is not maximizing its ability to cheaply accumulate talent, preferring to spend money on items like relievers and "proven veterans."
- The team is probably the least progressive team in the AL East.
We are certainly better off as an organization than we were before MacPhail came here, but we are further away from competing.