It will never be a clean slate for Paul DePodesta, whose post-“Moneyball,” sadly controversial tenure with the Dodgers made him a third-rail persona.
But this piece by Mark Simon of ESPN.com, following DePodesta’s first conference call with reporters since the Mets hired him as vice president of player development and amateur scouting — a title that probably drew guffaws from those who viewed him as nothing more than a stat geek — is a good way to wipe the slate as much as possible.
You can tell people a thousand times that “Moneyball” wasn’t about on-base percentage, that it wasn’t a rejection of scouts, but some will never believe you. Well, here are some excerpts from No. 1,001:
For those who think that the Mets espousing Moneyball philosophies will mean a strict adherence to baseball analytics and a formulaic, stats-over-scouts approach to player acquisition, some clarification may be in order. …
“Moneyball has taken on a lot of connotations that weren’t intended,” DePodesta continued. “Moneyball doesn’t have anything to do with on-base percentage or statistics. It’s a constant investigation of stagnant systems, to see if you can find value where it isn’t readily apparent. It can be anything. At the time, it happened to be using statistics to make us better decisions. That’s not always the case. There are new frontiers we need to conquer.” …
There was excitement in DePodesta’s voice with regards to his primary role, overseeing player development and amateur scouting. The Mets will have directors for each, both of which will report to DePodesta. Former Blue Jays GM J.P. Ricciardi will oversee the professional scouting side of baseball operations.
“For me the draft is the best day of the calendar year, though it’s certainly not the most glamorous,” DePodesta said. “It’s something I love getting involved in, getting out and seeing players. With my background from the last few years, I’m probably not as married to the college player as some may think. I have certain things I look for, pitching- and hitting-wise, but I’m open to any type or shape of player and any type of background.”
What’s the message that DePodesta wants to send to the statistically inclined portion of the fan base, one that has reacted overwhelmingly favorably to the news of each of these hirings?
“We’re still going to be wrong, probably often, but hopefully we’re disciplined enough in our processes to be more right than we are wrong,” he said. “The guiding principle is uncertainty. We want to try to understand and corral that uncertainty as best we can to help us narrow our choices to guide our intuition to the best choice possible. Hopefully we’re right more often than we’re wrong and hopefully we’re right when it counts.” …
“I’m probably one of the few people out there who was really, really concerned during my college years about being labeled a dumb jock,” DePodesta also said (according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com on Twitter.), “and then was labeled a geek once I got into my professional career.”