Open source front offices

Covering Spring Training the right way
More Joba bang for the bucks

My line of work is basically all Internet, so I stumble across some strange things. Today, it was a Wall Street Journal article about how baseball teams are using the wisdom of fans to make decisions. We know, thanks to Peter Gammons, that front offices read blogs. This piece goes a little deeper, citing a few specific instances of teams using the aid of fans for strategic advantage.

The first is of a Cardinals program called One for the Birds, wherein fans send in bios of lesser-known college players. The powers-that-be then review these fan submissions and send scouts to check out the most interesting of the crop. This is absolutely free for the Cardinals to try out. While they’ll have to spend the money to actually scout the players, they’ll have a decent idea of who’s worth it and who’s not. The pay-off for a real discovery by these means would be astronomical.

And then there’s the infamous Internet story of U.S.S. Mariner’s open letter to M’s pitching coach Rafael Chavez, urging him to fix Felix Hernandez’s pitch selection. Through a simple analysis, Dave Cameron, the site’s author, determined that King Felix was far too reliant on the fastball. The letter was penned on June 27th, the day after Felix got lit up by the Red Sox for five runs in 5.2 innings–a far cry from his near-no-hitter back in April. He ended up tossing 16 innings over his next two starts, allowing just two runs, both in the first bout. The funny thing is that he struck out only seven over those two starts, which isn’t usually Felix’s game. However, he only walked three, which surely aided in his success.

This actually plays right into the philosophy espoused in the book Wikinomics, which, coincidentally, I’m in the middle of reading. It’s about harnessing the awesome power of mass collaboration. Which is really what we do here on baseball blogs. We talk, you comment, and we’re all a bit more knowledgeable as a result. While some baseball front offices tend to shun blogs, some are embracing them as source of collective knowledge. We at RAB — Mike, Ben, myself, the commenters, hell, even the lurkers — might not have more knowledge than Damon Oppenheimer and Brian Cashman. But because we’re all working together, we might think of something that the two of them couldn’t. And that, my friends, is how we’re all doing part to help our beloved Yankees.

Covering Spring Training the right way
More Joba bang for the bucks
  • BrunoAKAmaximumpotential

    Perfectly put my friend.

  • brad k

    Well said and proof of what fans bring to the table. It’s nice to see some recognition for the fans. To me it’s also one of the most obvious differences between baseball and other sports. Please don’t get me wrong because there is no questioning fans devotion to other sports but I have always felt that the connection between the sport and it’s fans is strongest in baseball. There is more to debate. More players, more games, more individual contribution by the players.

    There is no question in my mind that the Internet has revolutionized the way diehard baseball fans see the game. I’m in my mid forties and have been a Yankee fan since I was five and I think the way I see the game today is better then at any other point in my life. From Sabermetrics to blogs, baseball is so much more dynamic now. Even though the season ends in October and doesn’t begin until April, I check the top blogs and team sites every day of the year. It’s a slice of sunshine in the middle of the cold winter. 10 years ago you could a month without seeing or hearing a word about the game.

    • mg

      I agree. Over the last few years participating in various Yankees blogs as well as reading the vast array of opinions available on the net has greatly molded the way I view the game. As usual Joe, good job.

  • Mike_@_NYYU


    It’s just like when these medical research companies tie in hundreds of idle PC’s to use their power to find cures for diseases.

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  • barry

    you have mets ringtone add? what the hell? lol

  • E-ROC

    After that piece, I feel cool now. Thanx Joe!

  • steve (different one)

    i hope cashman isn’t cruising the comments section at LoHud or reading WasWatching for ideas.

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  • Mark McCray

    If you are into things like that check out:

    Pretty cool idea in my opinion.

    • Joseph P.

      Good idea, poor execution. There’s no value there…nothing that makes me want to join them.

    • Steve S

      thats illegal

      • dan

        How is that illegal?

  • ceciguante

    i’ve watched an unsigned pitcher with this explosive, late breaking slider. it’s truly dominant — near unhittable. i’ve barely seen it touched, cuz it just dives out of the zone.

    granted, it is my friend sean’s wiffle ball slider. but i think the yanks should know about it. you never know.

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  • dan

    This could backfire. What if they read Was Watching?

  • Dan from PA

    This is called “crowdsourcing”:

    Crowdsourcing is the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people, in the form of an open call. For example, the public may be invited to develop a new technology, carry out a design task, refine an algorithm or help capture, systematize or analyze large amounts of data (see also citizen science).

    The term has become popular with business authors and journalists as shorthand for the trend of leveraging the mass collaboration enabled by Web 2.0 technologies to achieve business goals. However, both the term and its underlying business models have attracted controversy and criticism.