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.
Who says no-hitters can’t be just as fun when they happen during spring training?
Angels’ right-hander Bud Norris delivered two perfect innings on Friday night, paving the way for an eight-pitcher no-hitter against the Mariners at Tempe Diablo Stadium. Jose Alvarez, Cam Bedrosian, Andrew Bailey, Austin Adams, Drew Gagnon and Justin Anderson each filed a hitless inning of their own, leaving right-hander Abel De Los Santos to close out the ninth inning with just three pitches — and three game-saving plays by the defense.
Of course, it didn’t hurt that the Angels were facing a bevy of Mariners’ backups, rather than their starting lineup. In fact, Seattle’s lineup featured just two starting players — outfielder Leonys Martin and shortstop Jean Segura — while the majority of their everyday position players took on the Royals in a 4-3 win elsewhere in the Cactus League. The Mariners managed to reach base twice, first on catcher interference in the fourth inning, then on a four-pitch walk in the sixth, spoiling the Angels’ chances of turning their combined no-hitter into a combined perfect game.
Still, whether it’s executed in spring training or the regular season, against an All-Star lineup or one comprised of minor leaguers, a no-hitter is a no-hitter. The team’s eight-pitcher effort marked the first spring training no-no the Angels had completed since 1996, when they took on the Giants in a 15-0 showdown. Unfortunately for the 1996 squad, their regular season ended with a 70-91 record, good for last place in the AL West. Perhaps this no-hitter will prove a better omen for the coming season.
Rangers’ bullpen candidate Tanner Scheppers left Friday’s Cactus League game with pain in his “lower half,” according to reports by Evan Grant of the Dallas Morning News. The specifics of the right-hander’s injury have yet to be determined, but he was accompanied by the athletic trainer when he exited the game and is scheduled to undergo an MRI on Saturday.
Scheppers, 30, has a long history of elbow and knee injuries. He missed all but 8 2/3 innings of the 2016 season after undergoing a procedure to repair torn articular cartilage in his left knee. While he appeared healthy enough through his first seven appearances this spring, he failed to impress with three runs, five walks and six strikeouts over 7 2/3 innings with the club.
Should Scheppers find himself on the disabled list for another lengthy stay, MLB.com’s T.R. Sullivan speculates that his absence could clear some room in the bullpen for Rule 5 draft pick and fellow righty Mike Hauschild. Hauschild, 27, has dealt seven runs, five walks and 15 strikeouts through 17 1/3 innings in camp.