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Old BaltSun "What If?" Article


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Duquette, 56, relies on both approaches described by "Moneyball" author Michael Lewis: traditional, scouting-based player evaluation and cutting-edge statistical analysis.

"It's all geared toward identifying talent and measuring performance," he said. "There are a lot of weights and measures today. We use them to take a 360-degree look at player contracts before we acquire one."

Duquette has his baseball "lifers," the sages who were educated in the game's school of hard knocks. Some have stellar resumes.

Special assistant Lee Thomas, 78, a former major league executive of the year, helped run the St. Louis Cardinals when they won three National League titles in the 1980s and served as general manager of the pennant-winning 1993 Philadelphia Phillies. He has eyes on players at every level.

International scouting director Fred Ferreira, 77, who signed slugger Vladimir Guerrero and Yankees star Bernie Williams and more than 70 other players to their first pro contracts, discovered Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez toiling in the Mexican leagues. He still combs Latin America for potential major leaguers.

Gary Rajsich, 60, who drafted pitcher Jon Lester for the Red Sox in 2002, heads the club's scouting program. John Stockstill, is the director of player personnel and Dean Albany scouts the Mid-Atlantic region.

"The veteran baseball men who have made their livelihood in the game — I find them absolutely invaluable," Duquette said. "They all have a knack for identifying talent, and all of them are great teachers."

Duquette also has his analytics types. These team members have seen much less baseball, but bring more formal education. They're experts in such new metrics as range factor, adjusted production and wins above replacement — attempts to express objectively the traits that scouts intuit on the field, in numbers that can be weighed, analyzed and compared.

Sarah Gelles, a fellow Amherst graduate, is the team's director of baseball analytics. Mike Snyder, a Princeton alum, helps Stockstill direct player personnel. Matt Koizim, who has an MBA from University of Pennsylvania's Wharton School of Business, coordinates professional scouting. All are under 30.

Among the sabermetricians, Walters, the Loyola professor, is the anomaly; he's 60.

"The kids we've hired in the front office have extremely high intelligence," Duquette said. "They also have a great work ethic and a great passion for baseball. We screen for those qualities. You have to have them to put in the hours we do."

Front office team members say each group complements the other. An analytics type can test the hunch of a scout who likes the sizzle of a pitcher's fastball. A baseball person can run an eye test on a stats geek's theories.

The interplay between the camps can border on the comical. Albany, a Baltimore native and longtime local scout and coach, said one statmeister tried to tell him a certain player had good range.

"I said, 'good range?! Ever seen his slow [backside] move? You know where you can put your analytics,'" he recalled, laughing. "These [kids] see me coming, they lock the door."

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International scouting director Fred Ferreira, 77, who signed slugger Vladimir Guerrero and Yankees star Bernie Williams and more than 70 other players to their first pro contracts, discovered Orioles starter Miguel Gonzalez toiling in the Mexican leagues. He still combs Latin America for potential major leaguers.
Still my favorite Fred story
“Dan, you’re fairly committed to developing from within, that appears to be our strategy going forward, how important do you think these international signings can be, long-term?”

“Fred Ferreira , who is our international recruiter, is just a fantastic scout. Fred signed 63 players from the amateur level ,brought in to pro ball, that got to the big leagues. His goal is to get to 75 and get into the HOF. I don’t know of any better talent scout than Fred. Fred seems to have a natural way of recruiting talent. He was recognized last year as the International scout of the year. He signed Miguel Gonzalez for us and he has since brought some good players to the organization including Henry Urrutia. Fred was telling me all the players he signed for the Yankees. He signed Bernie Williams, Mariano Rivera, Jorge Posada, Hensley Meulens. Then I brought him to the Expos, he signed Vladimir Guerrero Javier Vazquez, Jose Vidro, so he’s signed some really good ballplayers. Fred went to Cincinnati and during his time there he worked for Marge Schott and I looked on his resume' and I said, Fred, why did you not sign any good players when you were in Cincinatti, you were there for five years? He said, “I think it was because Mrs Schott kept asking me why I didn’t drive to Puerto Rico from Ft. Lauderdale when I had a company car.”

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