Dodger Thoughts

Jon Weisman's outlet for dealing psychologically with the Los Angeles Dodgers, baseball and life

The evolving mindset of the Dodgers

J.P Hoonstra of the Daily News captures how these Ned Colletti Dodgers are not your slightly older sibling’s Ned Colletti Dodgers. Too much interesting stuff to excerpt here, so go read the whole thing.

One interesting aspect of the story is that the Dodgers’ recent focus on college pitchers comes about a decade after they seemed to succeed in bucking the arguments in Moneyball that college players were the way to go. From Dodger Thoughts, June 3, 2003 (and understand this was written with some horrible Dodger drafts still fresh in my memory):

… I’ll post again after the Dodgers make their first-round selection in today’s draft. The big question: Will they again buck the growing wisdom, racing from radical to conventional, that it is safer to take college players than high school players?

James Loney appeared to make the Dodgers look smart last year in going the old (high) school route with his stellar Rookie League season in 2002 at age 18. This year, however, Loney is batting only .252 with an OPS of .688 in the A-ball Florida State League, so although he may of course make it, it’s not going to be a cruise to the majors after all.

It’s not that college players are locks to succeed. Bubba Crosby, for example, was a college man. Scouts rated him a dubious first-round pick in 1998, and only recently has he begun to even challenge that assessment. And as a Stanford graduate, it pains me to note that ever since Mike Mussina and Jack McDowell, baseball has been littered with the carcasses of lumpy Cardinal pitchers – the latest being Jeff Austin, who tied a major league record in May by allowing home runs to the first three batters of a game.

Nevertheless, there is solid research out there for anyone to see that your odds are better if you allow colleges to help you weed out the suspect prospects. If you don’t, you’re much more likely to end up with an abysmal draft history like that of the Dodgers.

There isn’t much advantage in getting a younger guy – the point is to try to get the right guy.



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  1. foul tip

    A new mindset might be behind the seemingly higher level of interest in Tanaka than Price. However high the price for Price (!), if the Dodgers land him it will include key names from the farm system.

    Tanaka would cost only money, not a hit to the prospect list.

    Speaking of whom, is Tanaka subject to the posting process, making him much more expensive?

  2. Dammit, since you took the time to post I better take the time to comment again. ;)

    I love hearing the advances they’re making in mindset and scouting, using an analytics department + investing in closer-to-ready college/minors talent. As I said in previous thread, I can’t think of a better model for this than the recent Cardinals. Very heartening piece.

  3. Onlyatriple

    DT regulars will be amused by a comment left on Mark Saxon’s ESPN-LA blog about the Dodgers. The commentator (not Mark) proposed that the Dodgers hire, or I guess re-hire, Larry Bowa to be the bench coach. Let the groaning begin…

  4. SaMoDodger

    Limiting yourself to college pitchers would have meant missing out on Kershaw, no? Younger players are much more of a longshot, but if they do prove to have the talent, you get them in their prime for many more years. Tim Lincecum is already washed up at age 29.

    I’m not suggesting that teams take nothing but high schoolers, but if you’re confident in your farm system, getting players into your way of thinking sooner can have its positives.

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