David Laurila of FanGraphs had the opportunity to pepper Cardinals assistant general manager Michael Girsch with some questions. Girsch provided a great deal of insight into how the team operates in the front office under GM John Mozeliak.
The Cardinals, of course, fell two games shy of winning their second championship in three years as a direct result of having one of baseball’s most modern approaches to player evaluation. They were beaten by the Red Sox, a team that is at the forefront of front office modernization. Observing the success these teams have enjoyed in recent years, more and more teams are embracing analytics, using it side-by-side with scouting information. Only a handful of teams, most notably the Phillies, do not use analytics in some form.
Anyway, as much as I’d like to quote the entire article here, I’ll just quote one part that was of particular interest, then send you off to FanGraphs to read the rest.
On the RedBirdDog and Dashboard systems: “[RedBirdDog] is what we call our report-writing system. Scouting reports for amateur and pro, international, minor-league game reports, player-development progress reports — all of that is done through a website we call RedBirdDog. It’s basically a data-entry system for our staff to create reports.
“On the front office side, we have a separate site we call The Dashboard. It’s not for high-level summary data, but rather where we go for information on players. Everything we have about a player is there, from medical history, scouting reports from before and after he was drafted — all of that is in one place. Basically, we use The Dashboard to summarize and review those reports.
“We also have systems on the major-league side for advance scouting purposes. We have an advance-scouting portal that makes data — things like spray charts — available to our major-league staff. We have a group in our clubhouse doing video advance work, using BATS, to help the staff with advance scouting.”
MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.
According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.
It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.
Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.
Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.
Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.
Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.
The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.