When Kevin Goldstein was hired by the Astros this year by new GM Jeff Luhnow to be the team’s Pro Scouting Coordinator, the move raised some eyebrows. Goldstein, after all, was “merely” a writer for Baseball Prospectus. He was not a rising star in some baseball organization, he was an Internet nerd.
Of course, that’s not how folks like me reacted. Having long been a follower and admirer of Kevin’s work, I heralded the move as a smart, outside-the-box hire from a clearly progressive front office. And, in an interview with the Houston Chronicle, Luhnow revealed just how outside-the-box the Astros are going with what Goldstein actually does for the organization.
From the Houston Chronicle, a quote from Luhnow on Goldstein’s job, emphasis mine:
Kevin [Goldstein], even though he’s a new to our organization, is going to be a critical person for us in corralling all of the available information on players and other teams. Any move we make, of course, whether it’s a Rule-5 selection, a signing, a waiver claim or free agency signing, anything relies on what information do we have about players from other organizations. And the reason that we hired Kevin to help manage that department is in this day and age so much of that information goes beyond the traditional scouting evaluation that you do at the standard level. We need that. That’s a core part. That will always be a core part. But anybody who has sat down at a computer and tried to Google a player realizes how much valuable information is out there that goes beyond what a scout might see in a stadium. There’s stuff you can churn up all over the place. So I really think of that role – part-scout, part manager of people … part investigative reporter, because you are digging; the last thing you want to do is sign a free agent and find out he has two DUIs and you missed it and it was obvious and it comes out in the paper. … And then part leveraging the free work that people have done for us. I mean, it’s amazing how many websites and analysts and people are out there. Obviously you have to take all of that stuff with a grain of salt because it’s not your own resources and you don’t have quality control or anything like that. But if you’re ignoring that information, you’re leaving yourself at a disadvantage potentially. So really that, the fact that Kevin was really able to do that as a one-man band covering all 30 organizations for Baseball Prospectus, imagine what he can do when you give him 10 full-time scouts and you give him all the resources to generate this. And you give him all the internal information that we generate as a major league club that third parties aren’t exposed to, I think he’s going to be real critical for us going forward.
That’s dense, but the gist is: the Astros are using Goldstein as an all-purpose information aggregator and evaluator for players they are considering/reviewing/analyzing/etc. What a savvy move considering Goldstein’s prior career and skill set. One thing that was unclear about the Goldstein hire was how he, given his background, was going to fit in as a “pro scouting coordinator.” Now it makes perfect sense. Goldstein is going to be what he’s always been – “part-scout, part manager of people, part investigative reporter” – he’s just now going to do it for a big league organization.
In other words, it sounds like the Astros were looking for an Internet nerd (which, I hope by now you realize is a compliment coming from these corners) who knows a ton about evaluating baseball players, rather than looking for a mere scouting or sabermetrics wiz. They wanted someone who, among Goldstein’s other unique qualifications, knew how to mine and cull the mass of information and analysis out there on the Internet. In an era where teams are constantly looking for as much information as possible (and for ways to exploit inefficiencies), why wouldn’t every organization want their own Internet nerd?
So, hey, take heed, ye Internet nerds of the baseball sphere: maybe the Cubs will come a-calling. Hopefully they do soon, if they haven’t already.