Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Astros' front office is officially smarter than all of us combined

This broke last night, but Jeff Luhnow made two hires:

-Sig Mejdal, who had been with the Cardinals for the past six years, to be the Astros' Director of Decision Sciences.

Luhnow described Mejdal's new role as a systematic method of combining all the information you can collect on players, whether it's using previous performance information, health and medical information and opinions of scouts who have laid eyes on players.

How about Mejdal's background:
Mejdal earned two engineering degrees at the University of California at Davis and later completed advanced degrees in operations research and cognitive psychology/human factors. He has also worked at Lockheed Martin in California and for NASA.

-Stephanie Wilka, coordinator of amateur scouting. Wilka was previously with the Red Sox in PR (More Sweet Caroline, Pam!), and the executive director of the philanthropic arm of the Dodgers. She has an undergrad degree from Harvard, and a law degree from Pepperdine.

(By the by, the Sporting News' Stan McNeal firmly established himself as a douche, labeling Mejdal's title "pretentious," and calling Wilka "a former cheerleader," making specific mention of her womanness. As if that matters.)

All of this is horrifically alarming. How are we supposed to criticize moves if it's obvious that they have been vetted? What if Luhnow makes a trade with the Phillies? How are we expected to be Bloggy Bloggerson if there is this much data-driven analysis behind the team? Being a fan blogger is way different than being a fanboy blogger, but that's what I'm in serious danger of becoming.


Anonymous said...

I'm pretty much a douche also, as I think the title is pretentious. That is not the first word that came to me, but it fits. I realize the title is not a big deal, but I note little details like that, and it doesn't warm me to Luhnow.

As to Ms. Wilka, it is not that she is female, or an ex-cheerleader, it is that she has been named coordinator of scouting without any experience in scouting. Maybe it's just a misleading title, but that just brings me back to the first point where I wonder about any individual who creates misleading and grandiose titles for their employees. Not a good sign.

Mike Castleman Jr. said...

The haters arise...pretentious? Who frickin cares what anyone's title is?

For all you who languish in your glass half empty view of life and constant drive to be bitchy and moany...the Astros will finally become a baseball force to reckon with...then you'll have to be a Pirates fan.

I hate anonymous postings...they are little, lazy and easy.

Anonymous said...

Your second paragraph is sheer stupidity, on so many levels.

Do you also hate little and lazy posts from non-anonymous posters? I don't. I enjoy your posts.

Blazemule said...

I think the more out of the box thinkers we can get the better when analyzing talent. Drafting on a scout(s) feelings toward a player is a thing of the past, we need to really analyze each player on a multitude of different levels to see if they will succeed in the bigs.

I also think that their titles are irrelevant. They are brought in to get different angles on things that maybe others have missed. The more "eyes" on prospective players the better, especially in the Latin and Asian markets.

Mike Castleman Jr. said...

Anon...your post was a pile-on as anonymous. Sheer stupidity? How so...what in your post wasn't bithy and moany? You described it as such yourself

A coordinator of scouting doesn't necesarily scout...this is an administrative role that is savvy in baseball operations...not baseball.

The little details of a title is what stands out to you about the hire of the brainiac? How about the profesional credentials? How about the fact that the new GM...who had significant success at the Cardinals convinced a dude with that much brainpower to LEAVE his current the same Cardinals? How about the fact that the Cardinals had more draftees out of the last (5 or 6 drafts I believe) than any other team make it to the big league club? Oh yeah...a world series title to boot...

Winning minds and winning experience need to permeate the organization...not just on the field.

His title is the kind of detail that jumps out at you and leaves you cold on Luhnow? Really?

My point regarding the use of's easier to be a critic when one remains faceless and nameless. I just think it's small to be negative in that fashion...convince me i'm wrong.

Anonymous said...

You may be right about the actual duties of a scouting coordinator, but I have yet to read anything that says her duties do not involve baseball decisions. Again, no big deal, but like I said before, small details factor into my judgement, and smart competant people generally don't bestow meaningless and pretentious titles. No doubt, I could be wrong.

Also, there is nothing bitchy or moany about that observation. There is nothing that indicates a half empty outlook on life, and why would someone need to abandon the Astros and be a Pirates fan once they get good. That is stupid, and it doesn't even follow from your faulty premise.

As to the qualifications of the "Director of Decision Sciences," big deal. I'm not that impressed by analytical research in baseball and besides, maybe he was on his way out anyway. People who have read Bill James or Moneyball think that it is some magical path to truth that only they can see. Sheer arrogance. Did it shine a light on some inefficiencies? Sure, but it has been tremendously overhyped. A lot of people embrace it embrace because they have no other skills to understand the game. Is it useful? Sure. Is it what has been holding the franchise back? Hardly.

Luhnow's record is not that impressive at the Cardinals. I've seen the drafts, and the list of players. Not terrible, but not that impressive either. Most knowledgable fans realize it was Pujols carrying that club (and a quality manager). If they didn't, they will realize it this year when he is gone. We will see just how much all those draftees contribute this year. Come back to me then and brag on Luhnow's track record.

By the way, Pujols was not snatched up due to some statistical analysis or decision science led theory. Just good scouting. That is the way most stars are identified. Proclaiming otherwise shows ignorance of the skills that have always made clubs successful, and always will.