When J.P. Ricciardi, armed with the scout-averse teachings of Billy Beane that would later be revealed Moneyball took over the Blue Jays back in 2001, there was something of a scouting purge in Toronto. New Jays’ GM Alex Anthopolous is remedying that, increasing the team’s number of domestic scouts from 28 to 54 in an attempt to better compete with the Yankees and Red Sox in the AL East.
Rosenthal characterizes this as the teachings of Moneyball coming full-circle. And on a literal level — fewer scouts to more scouts — it is. But it’s not accurate to suggest that this is some sort of repudiation of Michael Lewis’ seminal book. That’s because the point of Moneyball was not that statistical analysis was superior, full stop. The book is a work of journalism more than anything else, and the point was to report that, at the time it was written, the use of statistical analysis was rare, and that by using it heavily, teams of lesser means like the A’s would be able to exploit an inefficiency and gain a competitive advantage.
Now that every single team uses statistical analysis in ways that would make the 2002-era Billy Beane look like a Luddite, giving short shrift to scouting in favor of statistical analysis makes little sense. Indeed, as Anthopolous himself notes, the fact that most teams have moved, at least a little bit, away from scouting as a primary analysis tool itself creates an inefficiency to be exploited.
J.P. Ricciardi is a smart guy. Alex Anthopolous is a smart guy who seems to know the limitations under which his team operates and is willing to adapt to circumstances. Because of that, the future looks a lot brighter in Toronto than it did just a few months ago.
The Red Sox have more or less withdrawn from the Edwin Encarnacion sweepstakes, with Evan Drellich of the Boston Herald noting that much of their reluctance hinges on the likelihood that they’d exceed the new $195 million luxury tax threshold by locking the DH into a lucrative deal. That doesn’t leave them without options, however, and FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman reported that the club could be interested in 29-year-old corner infielder Pedro Alvarez, as well as fellow free agents Mike Napoli and Matt Holliday.
After playing just 10 games at DH from 2010 to 2015, Alvarez suited up as the Orioles’ primary designated hitter and part-time third baseman in 2016. His defense is sub-par, to say the least, but he batted .249/.322/.504 with 22 home runs for Baltimore in 2016.
According to Heyman, the Red Sox envision using Alvarez in much the same way the Orioles did. He’d have a place as the team’s DH with the occasional infield start, while Hanley Ramirez would keep his post at first base. Whether the Red Sox make offers to Napoli, Holliday or Alvarez, they’re expected to pursue a short-term deal in order to stay under budget.
The Braves signed left-handed reliever Jacob Lindgren to a one-year deal, according to a team announcement on Sunday.
Lindgren, the Yankees’ top draft pick in 2014, was nicknamed “The Strikeout Factory” after blowing through four levels of New York’s farm system in 2014. He started the 2015 season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre and was called up for his major league debut only two months into the 2015 season. The 22-year-old lasted seven innings with the club before succumbing to bone chips in his elbow, and underwent bone spur surgery in June before trying his luck again during spring training in 2016.
In August, the Yankees shut Lindgren down for the remainder of the season so the lefty could undergo Tommy John surgery. With a projected return date of 2018, Lindgren was non-tendered by the Yankees on Friday.
While the Braves won’t get the benefit of Lindgren’s top prospect skill set in their bullpen anytime soon, he will remain under club control if they keep him on their 40-man roster beyond the 2017 season (per ESPN’s Keith Law).