Monday, March 13, 2006

Its that time again

Its that time again. Book review.

This month’s entry, “Scout’s Honor, The Bravest Way to Build a Winning Team.” Funny that Earl, just this morning was throwing out a potential book review for me and that book was focused on the Atlanta Braves. Well, this book is also about the Braves and their commitment to scouting and player development. For some reason it was brought to my attention that this was supposed to be “the answer” to Moneyball.

Continued in comments


  1. Well it turns out, it is nothing of the sort. This book is a complete waste of time. First of all, the writer is awful. I mean brutally, terrible awful. Secondly, he is a complete Braves insider, who basically has worked for the team in several capacities. So the book is more a propaganda tool than anything else. Of course since he is an insider, he has tremendous access and, accordingly, there are quotes galore from throughout the organization, but still the entire concept of writing an objective book, is laughable.

    The book jumped around a bit – detailing the careers of scouts and then linking the scout back to certain players that were drafted or developed by the Braves. But the names all start to blend together after a while. If you are a huge Braves fan, perhaps this would be interesting. I was bored.

    Then there was a bit of copy cat format, in detailing Braves draft picks, round by round. Yawn. Its like Moneyball. Except suckier.

    There are details about players moving up the ranks, but no specifics. Minor league affiliates have changed a lot over the last 10-15 years. Please tell me, in 1991 was Rome in South Atlantic League. Was it Low A, High A. Good grief. I’m probably nitpicking on this one since the average fan may not care.

    And for all this being billed as the anti-Moneyball, it really has nothing to do with Moneyball. There are long detailed chapters about certain players and how they were drafted, the scouting, the negotiations, etc and then in the last paragrapgh, for example, on why Chipper was the number one “ wasn’t because of his high school RBIs or his on base percentage or any other statistic…” sounds like a dig at moneyball. Mind you, Todd Van Poppell was the top prospect in baseball that year but scared off most teams (including the Braves who really wanted him) with high demands. Ironically Van Poppell signed with the A’s, and was pretty much a bust. And then the writer suggests that had Van Poppell signed with the Braves he may not have been such a disappointment. I’m sure Dave Duncan would be glad to hear that.

    The author hardly ever mentions that the Braves had one of the highest payrolls of the ERA – of course that is changing. And I do give them TONS of credit for being able to constantly rebuild. But the book still sucks. And as far as the money, in quite a few of the Braves trades, they were financially motivated. Like Denny Neagle or Hudson. The team trading them could no longer afford them Sure the Braves had the prospects to make the deal, but the author makes it seem like money was not even a factor.

    Even after reading this book, I’m not sure who really should get credit. Schuerholz. Stan Kasten. Paul Snyder. Roy Clark.

    He makes tons of stupid comments that just really can’t be supported. He makes a claim that the Braves Grounds Keeper is the best in baseball. But then there are some quotes about how the field is really tough and plays poorly. I’m sure both statements could be true.

    Selective fact checking and numbers quoting – the author has great stats on things that support his arguments. Especially player stats (always AVG, HR and RBI for hitters – not one mention of OBP in the book aside from two digs at moneyball and for pitchers, it is always W-L, ERA and K’s – nothing more, nothing less). I guess he just takes them from the media guides or something. Then he will have specific percentages on tons of other data relative to the Braves, but then will make comments like “the Dodgers have historically used a very large percent of their top draft picks on high school players.” Well that helps. Right after you just told me the Braves took 64.9% of high school players with their top 10 picks from 1991-1999.

    Another laughable one was trying to give some credit to Jose Hernandez for helping the 99 team win the division. He played in 45 games and hit .253/.302/.373 but the writer says he provided a real pick me up after Walt Weiss struggled. In 110 games Weiss hit .226/.315/.323. Yep. Huge upgrade there.

    I could go on and on. But I got so fed up with the book, I stopped taking notes half way through it. It might be the worst baseball book I ever read.

    The last chapter tries to “address” Moneyball. It started okay but quickly spiraled. Exactly like Earl said, people who criticize it should actually read. There are quotes from Pat Gillick who says he has not read it but he is a big fan of scouting. I know I’m preaching to the choir a bit but we all know there is room for both and that Michael Lewis intentionally wrote a provocative book. Why do all these guys that say they haven’t read Moneyball, actually say that? Can they not articulate the reasons they disagree? Do they think that by claiming to not have read it, they it will make Lewis or Beane feel badly? We know they ALL have read it.

    Oh well, in summary. This book was very, very bad. With baseball season about to begin, this traditionally begins the “book release” season. With new daughter and reduced hours on airplanes this year, we’ll see how many I can get to.

  2. Oh and the funniest thing. The biggest thing that they look for in scouting? Makeup. Not blush and masscara, but a players character and integrity. funny coming from the team that employs Bobby Cox as Manager and actually traded for Gary Sheffield.

    I guess the makeup meter was broken when they drafted John Rocker.

    And one other thing I forgot to mention. The Braves have never made a mistake. Ever.