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Trusting the scouts

Posted at 2:09 PM on April 20, 2005 by David Zingler

While there are younger, flashier, and more photogenic general managers in the major leagues, nobody does the job better than Minnesota’s Terry Ryan. The two-time Executive of the Year believes in a simple, old school approach built on the trust of his scouts.

“The good thing about this organization is that we allow people to go out and do their scouting and take their recommendations” the straightforward GM said. “We make trades on scouts instead of worrying about statistics and worrying about tape or any of the things you might think happen in a baseball department.”

It is that philosophy that has produced such low-level minor league finds as Johan Santana, Lew Ford, Joe Mays, Kyle Lohse and now, Jason Bartlett – although, nobody ever expected Bartlett would blossom so quickly.

“It wasn’t anything more than us getting very lucky on an evaluation,” Ryan explained when asked about Bartlett. “Our guy that scouted him, John Leavitt, liked him, but I don’t think any of us dreamt he’d be an everyday shortstop when we acquired him.”

The number-crunching, statistics based “Moneyball” approach may be the wave of the future, but Ryan and the Twins have shown that the traditional way still works if you have the right people in place.

....

When a player is in a slump, not having a good season or just isn’t very good, we often dismiss him by saying “that guy can’t hit.” Well in Corky Miller’s case, it’s true – he really can’t. After going 1 for 39 (.026) with Cincinnati in 2004, the Twins 4th string catcher has started this season 0 for 8, making him 1 for his last 47 (.021). By the way, Corky is his given name.

....

After last week’s ugly incident at Fenway Park, many in the media – particularly the former players – commended Yankee outfielder Gary Sheffield for showing remarkable “restraint”. To me, restraint means completely ignoring the idiot fan, not shoving him and staring him down. It’s nice to see that the bar has been set so low that we praise someone for not reacting to a shove with a punch to the face. Sheffield proved he was no thug, but let’s not make him into a hero either.

April 2005
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