Wednesday, October 5, 2011
Moneyball GMs and the Angels: unlikely marriage
By Mark Saxon
Angels team president John Carpino was meeting with front-office executives Bill Stoneman, Tory Hernandez and Justin Hollander Wednesday morning about the team’s search for a general manager. According to a source with knowledge of the situation, the discussion is “wide open” at this point.
The Angels have been inundated with phone calls and e-mails from people interested in the job, but have not begun to assemble a short list of candidates or to set up interviews.
“That’s Point F and things are still at Point A,” the source said.
The discussion is philosophical in nature. The fact that Stoneman is the senior baseball voice in the process gives us a pretty good notion where things might go from here.
It’s been eight years since author Michael Lewis came out with the book “Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game,” but the schism it created in baseball still hasn’t closed entirely. Now, there’s a hit movie, starring Brad Pitt, out, reminding everyone of how different it is to evaluate players based on raw data instead of on the data gathered by a scout’s eyes.
With Stoneman and manager Mike Scioscia the primary voices being heard in the Angels’ offices, it’s tough to imagine interviews being extended to Billy Beane -- the protagonist in Lewis’ book – or to any of the so-called Moneyball GMs in baseball, which includes Boston’s Theo Epstein. It’s also hard to imagine those guys pushing for the Angels job, realizing they’d be operating in Scioscia’s shadow.
Since the book came out, the Dodgers (Paul DePodesta, not to be confused with pseudonym Peter Brand), Texas Rangers (Jon Daniels), Arizona Diamondbacks (Josh Byrnes), Pittsburgh Pirates (Neal Huntington), Tampa Bay Rays (Andrew Friedman) and San Diego Padres (Jed Hoyer) all hired GMs who had never played or coached at the professional level, but had impressive educational pedigrees.
Some of those guys, including Daniels and Friedman, have built perennial contenders, but will the Angels view them as fits? Doubtful. Will they feel like they have the power to make radical changes in the Angels' roster with Scioscia so heavily involved? Doubtful. Disciples of those guys, people like David Forst in Oakland or Thad Levine in Texas, also seem like outsiders in this process.
When I took a look at the Angels’ use – or lack of interest-- in statistics last spring, I talked to Stoneman about the Moneyball approach.
"If you're talking about looking at statistics, I can do that myself," Stoneman said. "If I'm going to have someone working for me, I'd rather have someone who can take a look at a guy and tell me if he can play or not."
At this point, we’re reading tea leaves -- and hoping for smoke signals from the Angels’ offices -- but all we can do is surmise. Unless there is a dramatic change in philosophies -- and it’s hard to imagine Stoneman and Scioscia not being heeded by Carpino and owner Arte Moreno -- look for a more traditional GM to settle into his Angel Stadium suite when it’s all said and done.