A week ago I went on a week-long scouting mission. During that week, which was spent watching both minor league and big league games, often I got asked questions by fans in the stands about what exactly I am doing. Therefore, I thought I would explain what it is that the scouts are doing when you see them behind the plate at a ball game.
Generally speaking, there are two types of scouts – free agent/amateur scouts whose primary function is to watch college and high school games to scout players who they want to draft in June, and professional scouts whose job it is to watch and report on Major League and minor league games.
At a Major League game, those professional scouts are there for one of three reasons. One reason would be that they are there to cover and report on an entire team. Each of our professional scouts are assigned a certain number of teams prior to the season. It is their job to scout and file a report on every player on those teams. They enter those reports on their computer and it goes into our professional scouting database.
Another reason a scout may be at a game would be because the team that he works for may be having trade discussions with a team and he might be sent to watch that team for a number of days to report on certain players or to help decide between two or three players who have been offered in a trade.
The third reason would be to "advance" one of the teams playing the game. An advance scout watches the team that his club plays next and reports on tendencies, individual strengths and weaknesses and a host of things that help his team prepare for that upcoming series. For example, Mark Weidemaier is the Dodger advance scout.
His report will include a pitcher’s velocity and movement on all his pitches, any patterns that the pitcher has, the time a pitcher takes to throw the ball to the plate for our base runners, batters strengths and weaknesses, running times to first base, the arm strength of every player on the field, managers’ tendencies (when he bunts, who does he hit and run with and on what counts, etc.), and many more.
Advance scouting is one of the toughest forms of scouting and in Mark, we feel like we have the best in the business.
In the Dodger organization, we have nine scouts who are strictly professional scouts. These men are consulted on trades and have a lot of interaction with Ned Colletti, Kim Ng and myself. After the June draft, we also have our free agent scouts go out and scout minor league and big league games. It is important for these scouts to see professional games not only for coverage purposes, but also to keep their minds attuned to what it is they are looking for in amateur players.
I’ll have a lineup for you shortly, plus information that was requested about the equipment that travels with us on the road, but for now, be sure to take a look at Jon Weisman’s article on CNNSI.com about the Dodger farm system and how it’s helped us get to one game over .500.
In fact, in case you need ammo for your East Coast friends who continue to say the NL West is the NL Worst, consider the following from Jon’s article: NL West teams are a combined 103-91 and have a 56-44 record against the rest of the NL, compared with 39-51 for the East and 57-57 for the Central.
For those that don’t know Jon (which I’m guessing are none of you, given that he’s the one that took Dodger blogging to its current level), be sure to check out Dodger Thoughts.
Also, for those who haven’t heard, the LA Times has started a new blog about the Dodgers, which is handled by Brian and Andy Kamenetzky, of ESPN the Magazine fame. Those two also did a Laker blog all season and are very witty writers. Though they won’t travel with the team, they are at almost every home game and should be a good source for interesting tidbits throughout the year.
And finally, a brief thought on last night’s game. Obviously the big storyline came from Takashi Saito throwing two innings and earning the save in place of Danys Baez. While Grady told me last night that Danys will close the game tonight if needed, it certainly goes to show that there is a place for hunches in baseball. Far too often, we only notice a manager’s gut instinct when it turns out the wrong way, but Grady’s decision last night played a huge part in us winning and getting over the .500 hump for the first time in more than a month.
And, as evidence that he doesn’t only go on hunches, he’ll be starting Oscar Robles today at third base because he’s 6-for-12 off Byung-Hyung Kim.
There’s a place for numbers and hunches in baseball, and I personally think that the ones who can combine the two theories the best will be the ones that prevail.
Garciaparra, 1B (NL Player of the Week)
David Vincent, who does tons of statistical research for the Dodgers simply because he loves the game of baseball, wrote an op-ed piece in today’s USA Today about why home runs have increased in baseball over the years.
It’s an interesting take…
It was just a minor league transaction, but music lovers might have taken note when the Dodgers promoted infielder Carlos Santana from Extended Spring Training to Single-A Vero Beach. The Dominican-born switch-hitter batted .295 in 32 games for the Gulf Coast Dodgers last season. He is not to be confused with this Carlos Santana. (Hey, you said you wanted more minor league stuff, right?)
Since we’re all at the ballpark and away from our mother’s on this day, the least we can do is wish them all a Happy Mother’s Day on the blog. Of course, my mother doesn’t read this so she’ll never know, but that’s okay. Hopefully some of our players’ moms are reading this and know that their sons are thinking of them.
In fact, I’m currently wearing a pink wristband today, as are most of the Dodger players. Pink bats were used by Kenny Lofton and Nomar Garciaparra on the first time through the lineup and all of this is done to help raise awareness for the dangers of breast cancer and important of early detection. Fans wanting to make a pledge to the Susan B. Komen Foundation can do so here and know that it is helping a good cause. In fact, both of my grandmothers had breast cancer, so knowing that they were able to beat it makes today extra special.
On the field, Danys Baez took yesterday’s loss like a pro, as he knows that you can’t be perfect. I think Dodger fans were truly spoiled for many years, getting to watch Eric Gagne save 84 games in a row. In the meantime, Grady said that if we have a save situation again today, Danys will be out there.
Eric Gagne did throw a bullpen session here at AT & T Park and is getting closer to returning. He could throw batting practice on Tuesday and is working his way back to a minor league rehab assignment. The hope is to have him back in early June.
Meanwhile, I’m still working off my pasta hangover from dinner last night. Tommy Lasorda took Charley Steiner and I to Fior d Italia, the oldest Italian restaurant in the country. When we got back, we were so stuffed we had to walk around the block a couple times and as you can imagine, doing that with Tommy in SF is quite an experience. Everyone stops him for a picture or just to say hello.
Back to the ballgame…
As I continue to try and make this the place to go to get news first, I’m bummed to inform you that Bill Mueller will undergo arthroscopic surgery on Monday in Phoenix. If all goes as expected, the prognosis is 4-6 weeks for recovery time.
Also, Brad Penny is having a precautionary MRI on his back right now, but everyone is hoping it’s nothing serious.
Otherwise, it’s a nice day by the Bay and the vibe in the clubhouse is positive, which is to be expected, given that we’ve won six out of seven.
Meanwhile, if you’re looking to buy some cool memorabilia and support a good cause at the same time, check out the Jackie Robinson Foundation’s online auction.