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Thread: What makes a good minor league system?

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  1. #1
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    What makes a good minor league system?

    Setting aside the specfic talent for a minute, I'm curious about the structural quality of a minor league system. What determines how good your minor league system is? How do we measure the quality of the system itself, aside from the current level of talent? Can we isolate the problem(s) in a struggling system? Maybe development is good but scouting is poor. Maybe scouting is good and development is fine, but players are being rushed by a desperate GM.

    A few thoughts:
    - Draft position helps, but isn't a top factor, as evidenced by the Red Sox and Yankees strong systems and the Pirates and Orioles comparatively weak ones.
    - The level of talent in a minor league system ebbs and flows, but good systems always rebound quickly after graduating their current crop.
    - Money matters, but how much? The really strong systems aren't primarily strong because of over-slot bonuses and major league contracts.
    - What are the general areas to consider and who are the people to be judged?

    It seems to me that we often mix up the strength of a team's minors in regards to talent and the quality of the organization itself. I'd like to separate the latter as much as possible. It's one thing to do this on an ad hoc basis, "Braves are good. Pirates are bad." but can we create a measurement system that can be applied repeatedly.

    Maybe there are 3 or 4 general areas we can rate 1-10. Maybe we have to do it by level. Maybe personnel turnover is such that we can't yet rate certain aspects, but I'd like to be able to understand the quality of the Reds organization from the non-player perspective.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 01-02-2008 at 04:34 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  2. #2
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Continuity, every SS in the system should approach a DP the same way every man should have the same approach on the bases regardless of the situation or the time of year or the venue. Style isn't to be threatened if everyone knows from day one in the organization how something is to be handled whether in Billings or Cincinnati.

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    15 game winner Danny Serafini's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by westofyou View Post
    Continuity, every SS in the system should approach a DP the same way every man should have the same approach on the bases regardless of the situation or the time of year or the venue. Style isn't to be threatened if everyone knows from day one in the organization how something is to be handled whether in Billings or Cincinnati.
    That's good to a point, but adhering too strictly to a style leads to things like "all batters must talk a strike before swinging". A main core idea is good, but it has to have some flexibility in it to take advantage of an individual's strengths or weaknesses.

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    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Serafini View Post
    That's good to a point, but adhering too strictly to a style leads to things like "all batters must talk a strike before swinging". A main core idea is good, but it has to have some flexibility in it to take advantage of an individual's strengths or weaknesses.
    I'm thinking more Branch Rickey and the Dodgers then Dan O'Brien and the Dayton Dragons, one thing's for sure... don't be an orthodox about any dogma.

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    WOOOOO!!! *BaseClogger*'s Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by Danny Serafini View Post
    That's good to a point, but adhering too strictly to a style leads to things like "all batters must talk a strike before swinging". A main core idea is good, but it has to have some flexibility in it to take advantage of an individual's strengths or weaknesses.
    That is exactly what I was thinking. I don't want to lose out on a guy because he doesn't fit the perfect mold. From what I have seen recently, I think one of the most important things that determines the strength of a system is the international scouting. It is just such a huge bonus if you can mix a bunch of Johnny Cueto's with your draftees. I think part of the problem with our farm in the past was a lack of young latin players in our system...
    "On-base percentage is great if you can score runs and do something with that on-base percentage," Baker said. "Clogging up the bases isn't that great to me."

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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Among other things...

    • draft position
    • $$$ for signings in the international markets
    • volume of top-round picks (via free agent compensation)

    Quick ways to get top talent.
    "Baseball is a very, very complex business. It's more of a people business than most businesses." - Bob Castellini

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Other questions:

    Have we really drafted poorly? Are we picking less talented players than we should have picked? By what measurement? Compared to what baseline?

    Do we have a problem with player development -- that is a failure to get players to realize their talent? Again, by what measurement and compared to what baseline? Is this concentrated in certain areas, such as pitcher control?

    Is health something we can blame/credit to the organization or primarily luck? That is, if a pitcher's arm falls off, who's fault is it?

    What role does the GM play in supplementing the system from outside, beyond just draft picks? How have the Reds done in this regard?

    Regarding WOY's point, I would go back to what my 7th grade basketball camp instructor always said "Practice doesn't make perfect; It makes permanent. Perfect practice makes perfect." We could consistently teach guys to do the wrong things and it would not be a virtue.
    Last edited by RedsManRick; 01-02-2008 at 04:40 PM.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

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    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Other questions:

    Have we really drafted poorly? Are we picking less talented players than we should have picked? By what measurement? Compared to what baseline?
    Gruler instead of Kazmir
    Bailey instead of Weaver
    Stubbs Instead of Lincecum
    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    Do we have a problem with player development -- that is a failure to get players to realize their talent? Again, by what measurement and compared to what baseline? Is this concentrated in certain areas, such as pitcher control?

    Is health something we can blame/credit to the organization or primarily luck? That is, if a pitcher's arm falls off, who's fault is it?
    Lot's of surgeries and washouts early in this decade. The surgeries dropped under DanO's watch and that trend seems to be continuing under Krivsky.
    Suck it up cupcake.

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    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by TRF View Post
    Gruler instead of Kazmir
    Bailey instead of Weaver
    Stubbs Instead of Lincecum

    Lot's of surgeries and washouts early in this decade. The surgeries dropped under DanO's watch and that trend seems to be continuing under Krivsky.
    The specific example thing always bugs me. We could do that all day. Every team that passed on Pujols (ie. every team) looks stupid. This is really the whole point of my thread. We can find copious anecdotal find reasons to point how horrible we are, but without a systematic way of evaluating performance, it lacks context.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  10. #10
    breath westofyou's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    The specific example thing always bugs me. We could do that all day. Every team that passed on Pujols (ie. every team) looks stupid. This is really the whole point of my thread. We can find copious anecdotal find reasons to point how horrible we are, but without a systematic way of evaluating performance, it lacks context.
    Yep, a great example of the skill of the draft is found in mining lower level talent, not getting the star over the other guy your scouts thought would be a star. Look at successful teams and generally they find diamonds in the lower rounds, though not baseball the Detroit Red Wings have crafted the draft into a gold mine of late round talent that they obtained by having scouts scout the planet and a set system that they could telegraph their hopes about the players growth if drafted.

    Pitchers are a wild card, THE most volatile act in baseball is throwing a ball, it's unnatural and when you earmark a man-boy to be an instant star your setting the bar high from the start.

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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    The specific example thing always bugs me. We could do that all day.
    in those three cases the specific player cited was preferred at the time of the draft by a consensus of Redzoners. And that's eminently fair. Your Albert Pujols example isn't applicable.

    In your recent posts, you often serve as an apologist for a franchise that has long depended on apologists. You also apologize for ineffective players. For instance, IIRC, you posted that Todd Coffey isn't actually responsible for the home runs that he surrendered, correct?

    you, sir, are the Epitome of Apology.

    (I will retract this if seen as a personal attack. I intend no offense, merely making an observation)

  12. #12
    Stat Wanker Hodiernus RedsManRick's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton View Post
    in those three cases the specific player cited was preferred at the time of the draft by a consensus of Redzoners. And that's eminently fair. Your Albert Pujols example isn't applicable.
    I think you're failing to understand my point. I think the claim "there have been bad outcomes in the past" has been fully proven and I'm not arguing that point. I'm not saying the Reds haven't been bad or made poor choices. I think the results of the past decade bear out that claim.

    Rather, I'm asking for an understanding of how and why so that we can more accurately understand how we are today. That some guy no longer in the organization picked Chris Gruler instead of Scott Kazmir tells me nothing about the process or intelligence of picking Devin Moreseco over Rick Porcello, for example. How can we assess the quality of that pick and that player? Must we wait 5 years? Should we simply go on hype or consensus? Who made that pick and why? Was it using the same logic as the Gruler > Kazmir pick? Was it a decision based on the same kind of information? Can we expect that kind of decision to be made in the future given everything we know about the Reds today?

    We supposedly have access to why things happen. Why is it wrong to ask the questions how and why? The Reds don't suck because sucking is an intrinsic characteristic of being the Reds. There are specific reasons, specific actions, specific PEOPLE, responsible for that sucking. If those things change, it's eminently reasonable to ask the question, might the decisions of today and tomorrow be different as well?

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton View Post
    In your recent posts, you often serve as an apologist for a franchise that has long depended on apologists. You also apologize for ineffective players. For instance, IIRC, you posted that Todd Coffey isn't actually responsible for the home runs that he surrendered, correct?

    you, sir, are the Epitome of Apology.

    (I will retract this if seen as a personal attack. I intend no offense, merely making an observation)
    Well, I'll try and take the high road here. I don't mean to be an apologist. What I try to do is separate out what happens from why it happens. The former is interesting. However, the latter is required if we are to try and use the former to project forward what is likely to happen in the future.

    I want to understand what underlying causes result in the bad outcomes we've observed. Sometimes bad outcomes happen because people make bad decisions. But sometimes bad outcomes happen when people make good decisions. (and visa versa for that matter).

    The Reds have had bad outcomes, that has been clearly established. I want to understand whether the decisions (actions, etc.) were also bad. Or more precisely, what bad outcomes were the result of bad decisions/actions, and which were simply the result of something beyond anybody's control (call it luck or random variance if you want). It's not a direct cause/effect relationship where every bad outcome is the result of a bad decision/action. Using 3 specific examples in which a bad decision resulted in a bad outcome doesn't prove otherwise. Being told that Reds scouts missed on 3 specific players doesn't begin to answer my question.

    Regarding Coffey, either I wasn't clear or I was being misinterpreted. My point in that conversation, and others like it, is that merely describing things that have happened in the past and using those events to predict future events are very different things. You need to assess causes to understand likely future outcomes.

    It seems to me that the above point highlights our fundamental misunderstanding.

    Your typical line of reasoning seems to be:

    Things that have happened in the past are likely are likely to happen in the future. It is based on an assumption that outcomes are all the result of the observed actions.

    Example: Todd Coffey allowed a lot of HR in 2007. Todd Coffey is a pitcher who allows lots of HR. Todd Coffey will continue to allow lots of HR in 2008.

    Mine is:
    Things that have happened in the past have happened for lots of reasons, only some of which are causes we've observed. If we want to understand what is likely to happen in the future, we should understand more precisely what caused that thing to happened and see if that cause(s) is likely to reoccur, thus producing the same result. Then we can predict what's likely to happen in the future.

    Example: Todd Coffey allowed a lot of HR in 2007. The rate at which Todd Coffey allowed HR was so high, so out of line with his other numbers, and so out of line with what we see from pitchers generally speaking who perform as he performed otherwise that we can reasonably expect his HR allowance rate to be lower in the future. Thus, Todd Coffey will likely allow fewer HR in 2008 and not suck as much.

    It's not that Todd isn't "at fault" for allowing lots of homers in 2007. It's that the occurrence of him allowing lots of HR is not 100% a result of the quality of his pitching. If Todd Coffey is the exact same pitcher in 2008, based on everything we know about pitchers and baseball, we would expect him to allow fewer HR in 2008.

    Let me take a simpler example. Free throws. I give you 5 free throws. You clank 1 off the back rim, 1 lips out, and 1 hits the backboard, then side rim and misses. You're shooting 40%. Now, based on that, I can say pretty definitively that you are responsible for that 40% FT%. However, if somebody watching you with me says, let's give him another 5 shots and asks me how many you're going to hit, I'm going to consider more information than just the fact that you were 2 for 5 last time. I'm going to look at your career FT%. I'm going to look at your form. I'm going to see if the wind was blowing. Bottom line, I'm not going to assume you're going to go 2 for 5 next time. That past performance is merely 1 data point among many to consider. Would you call me an apologist for suggesting that you're most likely to hit 3 of 5 next time?

    It's the same way with Todd Coffey's HR allowed. And now I'm trying to gather information about minor league systems so that I can be more objective than simply saying "we missed on Kazmir, Weaver, and Lincecum, therefore we're doomed for eternity."

    What frustrates me is that I think you are being more objective than that. I think you do have a sense of what's really going on behind the scenes. You see that things haven't changed substantially and thus feel that because the causes are still there, the outcome isn't likely to change. But for some reason you seem to averse to actually making that argument. It's easier to throw out an example or two and be done with it. I want more evidence before making my judgment and will take a neutral position until then. If that makes me an apologist, so be it.
    Games are won on run differential -- scoring more than your opponent. Runs are runs, scored or prevented they all count the same. Worry about scoring more and allowing fewer, not which positions contribute to which side of the equation or how "consistent" you are at your current level of performance.

  13. #13
    Vavasor TRF's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by princeton View Post
    in those three cases the specific player cited was preferred at the time of the draft by a consensus of Redzoners. And that's eminently fair. Your Albert Pujols example isn't applicable.

    In your recent posts, you often serve as an apologist for a franchise that has long depended on apologists. You also apologize for ineffective players. For instance, IIRC, you posted that Todd Coffey isn't actually responsible for the home runs that he surrendered, correct?

    you, sir, are the Epitome of Apology.

    (I will retract this if seen as a personal attack. I intend no offense, merely making an observation)
    what he said. minus the apology stuff.

    Redszone screamed when Gruler was taken. I, in my only redszone draft picked Lincecum 1st overall for the Royals. A lot of us wanted Weaver over Bailey. And we are all amateurs. IMO we were 3-3, and the Reds K'd 3 times.

    And yes, I should have read the rest of the thread before posting.
    Last edited by TRF; 01-04-2008 at 12:13 PM.
    Suck it up cupcake.

  14. #14
    Box of Frogs edabbs44's Avatar
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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    Quote Originally Posted by RedsManRick View Post
    The specific example thing always bugs me. We could do that all day. Every team that passed on Pujols (ie. every team) looks stupid. This is really the whole point of my thread. We can find copious anecdotal find reasons to point how horrible we are, but without a systematic way of evaluating performance, it lacks context.
    The one thing that gets my goat has been Cincy's refusal to draft the "tough signs" when they fall into the 5th round and even further. It kills me to watch Mike Stanton get $5-6 million and then have Cincy skip over first round talents in the 5th round just because they want 1st round money.

    Load up, then either follow them through the farm or package them together for proven players. Young talent has many benefits.

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    Re: What makes a good minor league system?

    What makes a good minor league system? The acquistion of talent, the development of that talent and the proper utilization of that talent.
    The Reds acquistion of talent is currently well-regarded. Now that we have some real major league talent - how do we best utilize it?
    Trade the talent for talent from other organizations or incorporate talented but inexperienced players into the big league mix? The Reds need to make the right decisions with our top 4 guys.

    Then there is development. I have been disappointed for a long time with the Reds development approach - they don't seem to teach plate discipline to a sufficient number of hitters and they don't seem to be able to increase velocity for a sufficient number of pitchers. I think more money should be injected into the development portion of the Reds organization - through staff salaries, better facilities, and better data and analysis. The Reds should be able to isolate and address weaknesses in organizational depth. They may not have the same amount of money as other organizations, but they have enough to improve what they are currently doing.


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