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.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.