Texas Rangers: Rangers Magazine

Rangers Magazine: Front office's 'common sense' metrics

April, 17, 2012
You can gauge a player’s production in the lineup based on runs batted in and runs scored. You can gauge a fielder’s production based on defensive runs saved. You can gauge a pitcher’s production based on WHIP (walks and hits allowed per inning). So, how does the Rangers' front office gauge production?

Rangers director of baseball operations Matt Vinnola talks about how the front office measures production, using the smell test and more.

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“We try to be consistent. We have developed some in-house metrics that we believe in,” Matt Vinnola, Rangers director of baseball operations, said on a recent edition of Rangers Magazine on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. “We’re kind of proud of the way those things measure ... I don’t want to say non-traditional components, but maybe components that are not readily available in a box score.”

Statistical analysis projects are part of Vinnola's job description. There are many different websites, theories and formulas in this baseball age when it comes to figuring out the method that leads to success. However, the Rangers blend the dry erase board variables with the eyes and gut.

“I would consider us a common sense type of front office. It has to pass the smell test for us to really believe in a metric. We try and use an observational method when we do our study. Put simply, I see us doing this or this seems to be the pattern with our play right now ... statistically, how can we show that’s true?” Vinnola said. “Then, honestly we look to the scouts and the [field] staff and to our advance [scouting] guys, Adam Lewkowicz and Joey Prebynski, to try and help us out on what they see with our club and tie those things together. For me, that’s when statistics is most effective is when you marry it with the scouting and the evaluative abilities of the people who are around the players on a day-to-day basis.”

Vinnola was tight-lipped about the Rangers in-house metrics, but he did discuss one point of emphasis: productive outs. Vinnola also discussed his role since moving to the Rangers from the Colorado Rockies organization, his long-standing relationship with general manager Jon Daniels and assistant general manager Thad Levine, his role in arbitration and feelings about the arbitration process, projecting the future with or without Josh Hamilton and more. Listen to the podcast.

Tim Purpura talks Roy Oswalt, Martin Perez

February, 13, 2012
On Friday, a blog post on ESPNDallas.com from Jayson Stark detailed how Roy Oswalt would not be signing with the Texas Rangers. On Saturday morning, former Houston Astros general manager and current senior director of player development for the Rangers joined Rangers Magazine and discussed a bevy of topics, including Oswalt.

Rangers senior director of player development Tim Purpura discusses the team's interest in Roy Oswalt, the future of Martin Perez and much more.

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“The fact of the matter is, I think, in any offseason other than this one, it might have been something that made a whole lot of sense. Given the fact that we already have six starters, adding another one to the mix and changing the dynamics of where we’re at ... that’s something that I think has been part of the thought process,” Purpura said. “Is that the right step? The right move for the Texas Rangers right now?"

And, I know that’s something Jon [Daniels] has been handling and has been in contact with Roy’s agent. Those are good decisions to have to make where you have an abundance of pitching, an abundance of starting pitching and then you have to pick who’s going to be the ones that will come in and do the job for you for that long season.”

Purpura knows Oswalt very well having worked for the Astros from 1994 until 2007. With the Astros, Purpura had worked in minor league operations, player relations, was the farm director and eventually the general manager -- notably at the time the Astros went to the World Series in 2005. The Astros drafted Oswalt in the 23rd round of the 1996 June draft. Whether it’s making a decision on Oswalt, delaying contract talks with Josh Hamilton or signing Yu Darvish, Purpura is impressed how his current boss runs the baseball operations.

“He’s a very patient person. He’s a very analytical person. He looks at all sides of the issue which I think you absolutely have to as a general manager. He solicits opinions extremely well,” Purpura said. “He’s got a very talented group surrounding him with Thad Levine, AJ Preller and Don Welke. And, he listens to everyone and then he makes his decision as to which course he wants to take which is exactly a way a general manager should operate.”

I have an unsolicited opinion. As Spring Training approaches and there’s no true frontrunner on the left side of the Rangers bullpen, how about Rangers top pitching prospect Martin Perez making the big club and beginning his major league career as a reliever?

“Those are tough decisions from the point of view of this is a guy who probably is at the top of the list of our starting pitchers in the minor leagues as being a number one starter down the line. You have to balance the development process with the need to win at the major league level,” Purpura said of Perez who ESPN’s Keith Law ranks as the 20th best prospect in baseball. “It’s a delicate balance.”

From his time with Astros coupled with being the vice president and chief operating officer of Minor League Baseball (a position he held since 2008), Purpura is fluent in understanding and achieving that balance.

I will continue to support Perez to the bullpen concept (this is not a forever thing for me) until a major event changes my mind. A major event, to me, is defined as a current starter getting injured (think Tommy Hunter impact last spring) or the Rangers trade for a left-handed reliever. Yes, Joe Beimel will be in camp and so will Michael Kirkman, but let’s debate Perez to the bullpen on future shows or share your comments below or on Twitter @RangersRadioBD.

Purpura spoke more about Perez as well as Nolan Ryan, more on JD, why he decided to come work for the Rangers, his reflection on how the Astros made it to the World Series in 2005 and more. Listen to the podcast. Rangers Magazine airs Saturdays from 10-11 a.m. on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM.



Adrian Beltre
.323 18 75 77
HRA. Beltre 18
RBIA. Beltre 75
RA. Beltre 77
OPSA. Beltre .876
WC. Lewis 10
ERAC. Lewis 5.34
SOY. Darvish 182