I have a final exam tonight 7 and I’m not prepared. I should be glued to my text book for the next 7 hours, no distractions. I should pretend the Winter Meetings don’t exist, which should be relatively easy to do (I fall for the Winter Meetings gag every single year. I spend four days doing google news searches every five minutes like a lab rat pressing a cocaine lever and every year I’m left scratching my head in the end). Well, today I’m taking fifteen minutes away from study time to write an observation about Dayton Moore that has finally sunk in. Now, I’m not going on a Farnsworth rant, although I could, mainly because the Winter Meetings thread is probably the most hilarious Farnsworth rant going on the internet right now. We Royals fans at the moment are like siblings in the back of a car on a long road trip.
“This is horrible!”
“No it isn’t, shut up and sit still.”
“I can’t. I won’t. This is awful!!”
I’ve recently come to the conclusion that I never offer anything new in my posts. Today is no different. Here’s something you already knew about Dayton Moore coming straight at you – predictable as a Farnsworth fastball. And yet why does it feel like an epiphany to me?
Moore is head over heels in love with raw tools. He’s the anti-Moneyball. The Moneyball debate, as everyone knows, basically drew a line between old school scouts who were love with raw tools and heady folk who were in love with stats. (It’s amazing to me that a highly complex industry could watch and measure athletes for years, over 100 in this case, an industry in which millions of dollars ride on the accuracy of evaluations, where generations of evaluaters further and further refine their trade—in the same span of time another industry invented an airplane, then a rocket to the moon, then a space shuttle, then a robot who drives around the surface of Mars—and one day some guy shows up and says “You know what? You’ve been doing this wrong all along.” It’s not amazing to me that the guy showed up. It’s amazing that he was basically right.) I say ‘basically’ because there is something to raw athleticism. Cole Hamels, Zack Greinke, and Josh Hamilton are the results of scouts who based their evaluations on athleticism more than stats. Colt Grifin was, too. So it’s a mixed bag. And there are still two camps; for every stathead there’s a someone in love with the abstract notion of ‘athleticism’, and the secret of scouting lies between them.
I’m just guessing here without crunching numbers, but you could say that Justin Smoak represents the Stathead’s choice of best hitter available at the #3 pick in last year’s draft, while Eric Hosmer is the quintessential ‘raw tools’ pick. Hosmer might well win that competition, which is why I brought it up. I don’t want to just assume that the Moneyball approach is always right, even though it’s trendy to do so.
Back to Moore. What I knew all along, but have only this morning just truly understood in my scrambled brain, is how firmly Dayton Moore is in what I’m calling the raw tools camp. Dayton’s list of priorities in a baseball player are the following for hitters: 1. Speed. 2. Power. 3. Likely to perform very well in a Decathelon. 4. Able to do 300 pushups. 5. Flexible. 6. Can jump very high. 7. Has a good batting eye and works the count.
For Relievers: 1. Throws 97 mph. 2. Throws 96 mph. 3. Throws 95 or above. 4. Has good movement and control.
Now, I specify Relievers here because Brian Bannister and Kyle Davies have dispelled the notion of a total raw tools approach to starters. And for me that’s a good sign. That tells me Dayton has a plan, an approach; he differentiates roles. Relievers should be toolsy, Starters can be more subtle (although he’d like for them to be toolsy).
One credit you have to give to Moore: he has an approach. He’s got an idea out there, but perhaps to a fault; strong conviction can sometimes become blind conviction, just ask George Bush.
Anyway, Kyle Farnsworth iced this epiphany for me. He throws 95+. Back in the day, he threw close to 100. Every other indicator shows he is quite the simplistic pitcher. Just rear back and see how fast you can heave that sucker. Mike Jacobs is Farnsworth’s offensive equivalent. Grip it and rip it, no complexity here. I can’t say Crisp is the speed version, but he’s a little too close for my comfort.
Here’s the upshot of all of this: with guys like Jacobs and Guillen and Crisp and Farnsworth (ßthat’s quite a few raw tools, no?), there’s a chance they could all pan out in one glorious explosion. There’s a chance they could fall flat. It’s just a huge gamble. It’s like Posnanski said after the Meche acquisition, Moore is a gambling man.