13 July 2011

Cup of jOs: The Second Part of MacPhail's Words on IFAs

Last night, Matt Wieters grounded out to the second baseman in the eigth inning of the American League's 5-1 loss to the National League.  Peculiar rules really need to shift this back to being a pure exhibition and not something that determines post season play.  What to make the All Star Game more important?  Get rid of interleague play.


Of interest...

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.
I think those are all viable perspectives.  What I put in italics are what I am reading into his words.  I should also note that Melewski also viewed MacPhail's 17th overall as a statement on IFAs, which does not make sense to Badler as well.

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.
I think MacPhail is a competent and well respected GM, but the problem I have here is that in the AL East you need to be a trail blazing, intelligent front office (i.e., Tampa Bay Rays), have oodles of money (i.e., Yankees), have some of each (i.e., Toronto Blue Jays), or lots of each (i.e. Boston Red Sox).  In this divisional environment, how can we look at the makeup of these different teams and think that the Orioles will be a competitive team sometime in the near or slightly near future?  I am at a loss.  The Rays and Jays have top 5 talent in their minor leagues.  The Orioles appear to have Machado and Dylan Bundy, which puts them likely in the 15-20 range.  After that, the team has a lot of C+ talent. 

We are certainly better off as an organization than we were before MacPhail came here, but we are further away from competing.

1 comment:

Bret said...

The thing that drives me nuts about MacPhail is that he is generally very good at making trades. He has made 6 major trades during his O's tenure and all of them it could be argued ranged anywhere from huge wins (Hardy, Bedard) to clear wins (Luke Scott, Pie) to certainly justifiable if not yet (or ever) an outright win (Reynolds, Josh Bell).

However, other than Koji he has been downright awful in FA plugging in holes. Vlad, Lee, G Atkins, Mike Gonzalez just to name a few, all of these got more money from the O's than anyone else was going to give them and all had red flags with either age or previous injuries or previous ineffectiveness etc. To me he has proven beyond all reasonable doubt that he is awful at identifying FA. If he commits to a full rebuild and is very active with deadline trades I have no problem with him staying on because while he is around an average GM, he is the best the O's have had by far since Pat Gillick which is a pathetic statement to make honestly. But the band aids and plug ins need to stop and he needs to start concentrating on his strengths and get out of the FA business.