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Great read on the Halos by Sam Miller - ESPN Mag article


bloodbrother

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http://espn.go.com/new-york/mlb/story/_/id/10470778/los-angeles-angels-try-anything-fix-worst-franchise-mlb-espn-magazine?ex_cid=espnapi_public

 

 

It will be in ESPN mag in March, but you can read it now. Very informative stuff and some really encouraging signs for the Halos going forward

 

"But if some players like Wood aren't fixable, will baseball at least be able to identify their failings better when it's smarter about everything in 10 years? "My gut feeling is we'd be more skeptical about him faster," says MLB.com's Jim Callis. "I just think there's a limit to what you can fix. My gut says it's innate talent more than it is being able to develop something."

 

That's what Servais is testing now, and there are signs that the systemic approach is working: The Angels' system improved from 22nd in on-base percentage in 2012 to second in 2013 (according to their internal stat reports), and their 2013 draft class hit more homers last summer than any other club's, even though the Angels didn't draft a hitter until the ninth round. Perhaps the best sign of all: His coaches told Servais that the Rays -- "an organization that actually does the studies," he says-were snooping around, trying to find out what LA was doing differently."

 

 

Servais sounds like a definite keeper

Edited by bloodbrother
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Some more encouraging signs for this org going forward

 

"The Angels, upon Servais' arrival, were spending around $9 million a year on player development, meager compared with most teams. Their Dominican facility, with no air conditioning and terrible food, was dilapidated; MLB threatened to shut it down. Their use of technology was 10 to 15 years behind the rest of the league, according to their own estimates.

 

Since last year, the Angels have tripled their spending on Dominican facilities and bumped overall spending to $12 million annually. Smaller expenses are no less important to Servais: a nutritionist, hot breakfasts at spring training, a supplements budget, cellphones for coaches, travel budgets for coaches' families, bedspreads with the Angels logo for the Dominican kids. Bedspreads probably won't win the Angels their next title, but they might just make players a little more comfortable -- and they cost less than Josh Hamilton earns taking batting practice.

 

2. Try Everything. The Angels' PD staff -- half of it hired or in new positions since Servais took over -- has become used to seeing its unconventional ideas tested. In the Dominican Republic, the Angels started measuring time of possession. (The quality of pitches increased significantly the quicker the pitcher worked.) They're filming instructional leaguers from ladders so players can see their footwork on defense. They're incorporating elements of advance scouting in rookie ball: Idle pitchers will sit in the stands, chart the way opposing pitchers attack hitters, then run back to post the results in the dugout. They measure new stats -- like how often batters fight back from a pitcher's count -- and share them with the players.

 

The Angels expect to finally install TrackMan video technology, at a cost of $500,000, at one of their minor league parks this season, giving them access to troves of information on pitcher spin, hit trajectories and other granular data -- and shrinking the large data gap between them and other forward-thinking organizations. A team can have one of three relationships with advanced metrics. Tier one: Ignore them. Tier two: Embrace and employ what's already out there. Tier three: Create its own intelligence.

 

"We want to get to three," Servais says."

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You beat me to it by a couple minutes, bb, I just came on here to post this.  Really interesting article.  Sounds like the org is taking some good steps towards fixing the farm system.  Kind of crazy that it got that bad, seeing as how it wasn't that long ago that they had a great farm and were considered a model org.

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It certainly is encouraging to be moving forward, and not backwards.

 

The value of high draft picks cannot be ignored, becasue if you look at the top 20 prospects in baseball, 16 of the 20 were first or supplemental picks in the 2010-2013 drafts. The other four were all signed out of Latin America.

 

Still a value of a system is not all in the top prospects. And a team that wins a lot, is not always going to be able to get the top flight talent in the top half of the first round. There is no doubt the teams who consistently lose and have meager payrolls will find their way into the top ten prospect rankings. 

 

Yet, a team's organizational talent is also able to be supplemented by players in the 2nd-10th rounds, and able to produce quality big leaguers from lower picks. Of course it helps to be awarded compensation picks like the Angels were in 2009, but it also helps to scout and draft with eyes for the future. Especially getting a nice mix of college and high school talent.

 

I feel the Angels had in recent years before DiPoto almost exclusively ignored college hitters, drafting college starters but mostly high school kids. Signability is always an issue with high schoolers in later rounds, like when the Angels failed to sign Matt Harvey in 2007. 

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Thank you for posting this. Great read indeed.

 

Some thoughts:

 

1) A lot of this is Jerry Dipoto. Say what you want about the man, but I believe he's doing a LOT to improve the organization overall. He's gotten the organization to overhaul its approach to player development and how much it spends on it. He hired Servais, and that was a great pickup. 

 

2) In talking privately with many of the coaches in the system, I had heard about this, but in a different way. Some who declined to be interviewed about how or what they coached responded with comments like "you know all the answers, there the same ones that you've been told all your life. Just make it simple and do them" or comments to that affect.

 

3) The Angels have moved a couple of coaches up a level this year. I had thought that maybe it was to keep the same coaches with the same players. I'm now more convinced of that and will try and figure it out this year.

 

4) I don't think it's entirely fair to blame our lack of post seasons entirely or even substantially on Brandon Woods. That's way too much blame for one person. There is another person who has a much greater role in the lack of post seasons, and he isn't a player IMHO (or owner, coach, manager, or anyone else in the organization--maybe someday I will write about it). Yes, the failure to develop Brandon Woods had long term ramifications, but that's not all his fault either.

 

5) I think that this article actually makes the case more for scouting than analytics. A scout can tell you if a player is coachable, how well he responds to adversity, how dedicated he is to doing mind-numbing drills to make a skill ingrained. Numbers alone cant tell you that.

 

6) As I wrote in the intro, the Angels organization is not as bad as Baseball America and other organizations make it out to be. Too many of them rely on the number of high round draft picks and don't look always look past that. We had 4 teams in the playoffs last year (and one barely missed it). Even if you figure some of our teams were slightly old for their leagues, there must be more to it. Look at the improvement in OB% and HRs hit (both of which Dipoto has emphasized as important and probably pushed for drafting--look at Cal Towey as a prime example of that).

 

7) Really interested in watching Yarbrough's development this year.

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My takeaway from this and the changes/enhancements being done throughout the minors with this team is that they may have a better % of success from less heralded/less toolsy types. Yeah, this system doesn't have any real loud impactful type talents YET, but going forward they can perhaps produce more under the radar type guys like CAlhoun or perhaps even a Borenstein(whenever he gets his chance) who contribute and are valuable, cheap pieces to a major league roster.

 

Similar to what we are seeing with the Cardinals and players like Allen Craig, Matt Carpenter, Matt Adams, etc. in recent years.

 

Anybody know why they didn't keep their Dominican facility up to date? That sounds embarrassing from an MLB org to have a place in such condition at one point. Either way, glad the new regime has taken significant steps to remedy that situation

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Fantastic article. It sounds like Servais really knows what he's doing. 

 

I really liked reading the part about the 55 coaches being on the same page. That type of commitment to seeing your goals achieved as an organization is going to go a long way in helping this system get better. This goes back to when Trumbo said he was never really told that plate discipline was important as he came through the system. But once he reached the big leagues, he was told that hitting home runs isn't the only important part of offense. 

 

Emphasizing these strategies to young kids and the coaches should help everybody get on the same page and lead to some players breaking out. 

 

These sort of things can only help you so much but it's good to see an overall desire to make players feel more comfortable, especially in the DR facilities. It's pretty bad that they let the facilities get bad when Dominicans have made such an impact not just in baseball but specifically for the Angels. Treating those kids right and getting them to that next level should help a ton. 

 

Overall, I'm really happy to hear this news. It looks like the organization has moved on from making mistakes by signing 30 year olds to mega deals and will potentially try to be more savvy about the way they construct rosters. 

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Fantastic article. It sounds like Servais really knows what he's doing.

I really liked reading the part about the 55 coaches being on the same page. That type of commitment to seeing your goals achieved as an organization is going to go a long way in helping this system get better. This goes back to when Trumbo said he was never really told that plate discipline was important as he came through the system. But once he reached the big leagues, he was told that hitting home runs isn't the only important part of offense.

Emphasizing these strategies to young kids and the coaches should help everybody get on the same page and lead to some players breaking out.

These sort of things can only help you so much but it's good to see an overall desire to make players feel more comfortable, especially in the DR facilities. It's pretty bad that they let the facilities get bad when Dominicans have made such an impact not just in baseball but specifically for the Angels. Treating those kids right and getting them to that next level should help a ton.

Overall, I'm really happy to hear this news. It looks like the organization has moved on from making mistakes by signing 30 year olds to mega deals and will potentially try to be more savvy about the way they construct rosters.

Interesting trumbo quote.

Ive been lucky enough to chat with a few players on the team, and one of the things I asked about was the minor leagues. Some of the things i was told blew my mind (being that I lean more towards new age thinking vs old school stats). It would be one thing to hear one guy say it....to hear it from several has led me to fully believe it.

Ive vaguely commented about it on here in the past. Our player development was going the wrong way for years, and we paid the price unfortunately.

Glad to see theyre focused on turning it around. Maybe we dont see results for a few years.....but lets be honest. Are any of us going anywhere?

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