The Chicago Cubs have long been a notoriously “scout” sided organization. Statistical analysis no doubt had its place, but its place was probably somewhere in the back of the room near the custodial closet.
Perhaps that’s changing under new owner Tom Ricketts, who’s decided to bring in a top statistical dog.
Cubs owner Tom Ricketts put his first stamp on the baseball department with the hiring of Ari Kaplan as manager of statistical analysis.
Kaplan, whom the Cubs said did not wish to be interviewed, reports to general manager Jim Hendry. The Cubs say the hiring is an addition to the baseball operations department and does not signal a change in philosophy.
For years, the Cubs have tried to shed a reputation as being “anti-stats.”
“I was joking around before: Look at all those stats we knew that Silva had,” Hendry said of pitcher Carlos Silva, who was 1-3 with an 8.60 ERA with Seattle last year before turning it around with the Cubs this season so far. “It’s a process. Some of the best guys statistically we’ve ever signed, the on-base percentage people a year or two ago, it doesn’t work out always.
“It’s a game that has to have a strong human element, whether it’s scouting or performing. You just don’t draw people up on computers and plug them in and that means they can perform at Wrigley Field in a pennant race. You just keep putting all your information together. You rely heavily on your scouts.”
Hendry noted that Kaplan has done work with the Cubs in the past, doing salary arbitration analysis for former president Andy MacPhail. Kaplan has had his own Web site, ariball.com.
The Cubs say he’ll research things such as upcoming six-year free agents and help scouts with improved computer programs. Hendry said he’ll be a complement to Chuck Wasserstrom, the Cubs’ manager of baseball information. Daily Herald.
Yeesh – Hendry really sounds excited to have a stats guy on board (eyes roll into skull).
Still, this is a step in the right direction for an organization that I’ve noted has an 88-year old blind scout working for them. It’s also a good sign for the Ricketts’ regime.