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Monday, November 21, 2005


Meaty Replacements

Few teams take reclamation projects or scrap heapers and turn them into viable major leaguers, or at least quality parts in a system, like the Cardinals. LaRussa, Duncan and the other coaches get much of the credit, but those things would not be possible without a decent scouting department. (Please note that I am NOT choosing a side in the Moneyball vs. Traditionalist debate. For the record, I think a good mix of the two is the only truly rational way to run a team.) Jim Leyland worked for the Cardinals as a "special assignment" scout for the last several years, based out of Pittsburgh. Leyland was hired after the 1999 season by the Cards as a major league scout. However, he got an even more special assignment this fall though when he was hired as the Detroit Tigers manager. I don't know to what extent the Cards utilized Leyland's services over the last few years, but evidence suggests that he was pretty important to the organization's acquisitions of major league players, whether by trade or by talent. While we were all pleasantly surprised by Nunez's performance, Jim Leyland probably was less surprised. I'd wager that Jock also consulted him before signing Suppan. Those two are obvious given that they played for Pittsburgh at some point while Leyland was working for us. So, as the Hot Stove season presses on, and talk about reclamation projects and scrap heap players gets tossed about, think about the impact of Leyland's loss to the system. The scrap heap plan only works if you can find the scraps that still have some meat on them (that's an appetizing analogy). As Suppan or Nunez indicate, Leyland possessed an ability to find those meaty scraps. Hopefully, the team has others that can find the meatiest tidbits in the alley dumpsters. Question for readers, if you have any insight into Leyland's role in the Cards' scouting system, we'd love to hear it. Email me or post it in the comments section below.
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ummm ... anyway ...

I'd have to look it up, but it seems we always beat the Pirates more often than we should have while Leyland was on the Cards' payroll. Yeah, I know the Bucs haven't been very good fpr the last several years, but it seems we totally owned them - even more than other teams did. Perhaps Leyland watching those guys play every day in Pittsburgh gave us an edge.
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