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Thread: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    An interesting article in the Washington Post. I'm still now clear on how much the Reds have upgraded their scouting department, although that's not to say the necessarily haven't - I just don't seem to see how much.

    Nationals' Biggest Hires Don't Even Play

    By Barry Svrluga
    Washington Post Staff Writer
    Saturday, March 10, 2007; E04

    VIERA, Fla. -- On paper, the Washington Nationals' important business Friday took place in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., where they played another Grapefruit League game against the Baltimore Orioles. In practice, the bulk of the regular lineup remained at Space Coast Stadium, working out in the morning and enjoying the rest of the day off as the grind of spring sets in.

    But in reality, the Nationals' most important work took place on fields hundreds and even thousands of miles from here, be they in Arizona or Arkansas. The Nationals are widely predicted to finish last in the National League East, but they believe they will be contenders in the future. And they say that, at least in part, because of the work being done by nameless, faceless men holding radar guns and notebooks: scouts.

    "There's nothing more important than what our scouts are doing right now," General Manager Jim Bowden said earlier this spring. "We've built an all-star team of these guys, the best there are in baseball, and we're going to compete with every single team. There's nothing we won't do to find and get the best players there are."

    Bowden isn't afraid of strong words on almost any subject, but he appears especially passionate about this one. Opposing executives, coaches and players around the Grapefruit League are wondering whom the Nationals' starting rotation will comprise and how the 2007 team will possibly stay competitive. But within the executive offices at Space Coast Stadium -- and, indeed, quietly around the country -- the club is developing a swagger when it comes to its overhauled scouting department.

    "I'm thoroughly impressed with the scouting and development departments, and I'm hard to impress," said Chuck LaMar, one of the dozen new scouts the Nationals hired. "I don't say that because I'm new on board. We are going about it the right way, and we are going to succeed."

    LaMar is just one indication of the Nationals' commitment to hiring the best evaluators available. He is a scout's scout who came up through the Pittsburgh and Cincinnati organizations before becoming the director of scouting and player development with the Atlanta Braves, where he worked under Nationals President Stan Kasten. In 1995, he was hired as the general manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, a position he held until he was fired a decade later.

    LaMar now considers that "a 10-year detour." In November, he was hired as a special assistant to Bowden and a national "cross-checker," one of the people who offers second and sometimes third opinions on potential draft choices or prospects in other teams' systems.

    "I am a scout," LaMar said. "I've always been a scout, and I always will be a scout."

    That is exactly the kind of person the Nationals tried to hire in the offseason. Last July, they made their first significant move in this department, luring respected evaluator Mike Rizzo from the Arizona Diamondbacks and naming him assistant general manager and vice president of baseball operations. Rizzo's reputation lies in Arizona's well-regarded minor league system. The Diamondbacks drafted and developed 2006 Cy Young Award winner Brandon Webb -- as well as top prospects Chad Tracy, Justin Upton and Stephen Drew -- under Rizzo.

    Rizzo will help Bowden oversee the amateur draft, which takes place in June. Because free agents Alfonso Soriano and Jose Guillen signed elsewhere in the offseason, the Nationals received compensatory picks in the draft and now have five of the first 70 choices, including the sixth selection overall. Washington is hyping the baseball draft, which has a reputation as being fickle, as one of its major hopes for the future. Front-office members do so because of their unshakable belief in the hires made in the offseason.

    "The people who say the draft is a crapshoot are the people who aren't successful at it," Rizzo said. "I think evaluating players is a skill. It's a talent. It takes experience. To call it a crapshoot really minimizes what successful teams do, and that's make informed, educated choices. I don't think it's luck that determines success. It's hiring the best scouts and trusting them."

    Bowden and Rizzo believe the Nationals did that. Moose Stubing, who spent four decades with the Angels, came aboard last November as a special assistant to Bowden. "They gave me the title," he said at the time. "And they made it hard to resist."

    Translation: They paid a more-than-competitive rate. "They just flat-out bought a lot of these people," said one source. Kris Kline, a 25-year veteran, and Bill Singer, who will spearhead the Nationals' effort in Asia, both came from Arizona. They hired Jeff Zona, whose 16-year career was spent with the Red Sox.

    "We have enough bodies," scouting director Dana Brown said. "We can see players we never would have seen before."

    The addition of Rizzo could have been seen as a demotion for Brown, who now has a boss he didn't have before. Yet Brown said, "I don't think of it that way for one minute."

    Brown used his opportunity as scouting director of the Montreal Expos, and then the Nationals, to develop a reputation as a top evaluator of pitchers. His first-round picks from 2003 (Chad Cordero) and 2004 (Bill Bray) are both relievers in the majors now, and some of the organization's best pitching prospects -- Collin Balester and Clint Everts -- were chosen under him as well.

    But Brown said the club had little chance to do well in later rounds because its best scouts were spread too thin.

    "Our depth in this draft will be way, way better than in the past," Brown said.

    Friday, LaMar saw the New York Mets and Detroit Tigers in Port St. Lucie, Fla. Rizzo was in Fayetteville, Ark., seeing amateurs. Brown believes he will see 250 to 300 players before the draft.

    "There's nowhere we won't go," Rizzo said. "This is a competition. We need to beat other teams at it. We need to be the best, and we will be."

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  3. #2
    GR8NESS WMR's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    LaMar now considers [serving as GM of the Devil Rays] "a 10-year detour."
    Wow, Devil Ray fans--as few as they may be--must really appreciate hearing that.
    Quote Originally Posted by Scrap Irony View Post
    Calipari is not, nor has he ever been accused or "caught", cheating. He himself turned in one of his players (Camby) for dealing with an agent to get one Final Four overturned. The other is all on the NCAA and Rose. (IF Rose cheated.)
    "Cheering for Kentucky is like watching Star Wars and hoping Darth Vader chokes an ewok"


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    Member membengal's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    Have they identified living, breathing starting pitchers yet?

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    Member Strikes Out Looking's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    Even if they identify top prospects, remember who the GM is.
    Win the Division

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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    I don't know if this is beefing up. A lot of their front office got fired this winter for various (non-baseball) reasons. They were depleted til recently.
    Last edited by TOBTTReds; 03-12-2007 at 10:49 AM.

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    You're soaking in it! MartyFan's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    I think it may be considered beefing up because of the quality of the people they are hiring and the track record they hold.

    TC, was LaMar a 10 year detour in TB? I know you can't answer that!

    BTW, don't the D-rays generally get talked about in a favorable light when it comes to their drafts and Minor League system?
    "Sometimes, it's not the sexiest moves that put you over the top," Krivsky said. "It's a series of transactions that help you get there."

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    Redsmetz redsmetz's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    Beefing up was my choice of words, but it does seem to have been a significant overhaul. And yes, as one poster noted, JB is the GM and that can be problematic in the long run.

    I'm still not clear on what all exactly we have done in the scouting area. We all saw the couple of folks who left (and discussed it with Hal McCoy) and I keep seeing little mentions here and there about some individual or another is now with the scouting department. How much was our overhaul and have we added scouts here in the U.S. and Canada, as well as adding to our international presence?

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    If you're serving the fans hamburger, you're always telling them about the great new dessert being made in the kitchen.

    Problem is Bowden is the maître d'.

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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    If you're serving the fans hamburger, you're always telling them about the great new dessert being made in the kitchen.
    Dude. That is NOT hamburger. hamburger would be an upgrade.
    "Even a bad day at the ballpark beats the snot out of most other good days. I'll take my scorecard and pencil and beer and hot dog and rage at the dips and cheer at the highs, but I'm not ever going to stop loving this game and this team and nobody will ever take that away from me." Roy Tucker October 2010

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    Quote Originally Posted by dfs View Post
    Dude. That is NOT hamburger. hamburger would be an upgrade.
    I don't eat meat, dead flesh is dead flesh. :

  12. #11
    Beer is good!! George Anderson's Avatar
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    Re: Nationals Beef Up Scouting Department

    Chuck LaMar was the GM the year the Rays picked Hamilton.
    "Boys, I'm one of those umpires that misses 'em every once in a while so if it's close, you'd better hit it." Cal Hubbard


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