Mets Vice President of Player Development and Amateur Scouting Paul DePodesta, participated in a chat yesterday over at Baseball Prospectus. DePo fielded a variety of great reader submitted questions ranging from Moneyball to the new CBA with plenty of dope on many of the Mets prospects.
Brian (PA): What are Josh Edgins chances of making the club as the lefty specialist? And do you see him contributing to the major league club this year if he doesn’t win the job out of spring training. Thanks
Paul DePodesta: Brian, we just re-assigned Josh to minor league camp, but that certainly wasn’t owing to his performance. He showed that he belonged and that he isn’t intimidated by the setting. Our goal now is to get him some upper level experience, and hopefully he can maintain the same approach. If he does, he has the chance to be a part of our pen for a while.
Brandom Nimmo not having a highschool team to play for, what made the Mets decide he was a can’t pass on talent?
Paul DePodesta: Gabe, Brandon still played plenty of baseball, it was just Legion instead of high school. He also played in various showcases during the summer with the best high school talent in the country, and he performed well. Above all of that, though, was that we believed in the person. Chad MacDonald said it best when he said, “I don’t know where the walls in CitiField are going to be, but I know Brandon is going to run through them.” There is no doubt in our minds that Brandon will get the absolute most out of his ability, which makes it a lot easier to sleep at night after making the selection.
After he got a brief look in major league camp as a center fielder, are there plans to shift Jordany Valdespin into the outfield long-term or was that more of a one-time, contingency plan sort of situation?
Paul DePodesta: Rob, Jordany is athletic as anyone in the organization, so we thought it was the perfect time to see how it looked. He’s already played some CF in winterball, so it wasn’t a completely new experiment. Most of him playing time will continue to come in the middle infield, but don’t be surprised if we run him out there on occasion just to keep him fresh. Players with that type of versatility can be very valuable.
Who are under the rader prospects Mets fans should keep a eye on this coming season?
Paul DePodesta: Domingo Tapia and Rafael Montero. Both guys have a chance to emerge as our next group of top tier potential ML starting pitchers. They both have power stuff (Tapia routinely touched 100mph last summer), and both pound the strike zone.
Early in your career it seems as if you were portrayed as being strictly focused on stats and an Excel whiz. Now you are going to Wyoming to scout high school outfielders. At what point did you make the transition to incorporate more traditional scouting into your role? Was this done out of necessity to be able to have that dual skill set?
Paul DePodesta: Brian, it’s actually quite the reverse. I began my career in Cleveland charting games and then became the Advance Scout for the Major League team. I did that for a couple of years, and also did some professional scouting, before taking the job in Oakland. I know that ruins the story a bit, but that’s the reality.
That said, while I was scouting, I was acutely aware of my lack of experience. Because of that, I was trying to make sense of what I was seeing and attempting to somehow contribute to the conversation. The analysis allowed me to do that.
Do you see this team competing within the next five years? You’re in a division loaded with young talent (Washington, Atlanta) and big spenders (Philadelphia and now Miami). How does the Mets’ strategy going forward compare to the strategy of other teams in their division?
Paul DePodesta: Five years? Geez, I sure hope so!!! We definitely believe we’re a lot closer than that. There is no doubt that the division is a tough one, but we believe in our young core, and we’ll continue to add to it. The key for us is to make decisions that put us in a position to be a Championship caliber club every year. That’s the standard.
Paul, when you got here you famously said the Mets would be “moneyball with money”. Since then, ownership cut payroll by the largest margin in MLB history for one season and let arguably their best player sign with a division rival over money and not because of baseball reasons. How big of a challenge has this been for you and do you have any regrets taking the position? I hope the answer is “no”, because we need you! You’re one of the very best at what you do.
Paul DePodesta: Thanks for the faith! Absolutely no regrets – this is New York!!! There would be no better place to do something special than right here, and that’s our focus. A lot of the reports on our finances have been exaggerated. Ownership allowed us (even encouraged us) to be as aggressive as ever last year in the amateur market, and they continue to support our long-term vision.
These are just a few of the many questions which you can read at Baseball Prospectus.
It’s amazing how many fans continue to push the myth that DePo is purely a numbers guy when in fact he’s made a career out of scouting for several organizations. He uses the numbers more as way to corroborate what his eyes see, which makes his decisions much more informed thus minimizing some of the usual risk while maximizing the probability for success. Of course there are those who stick hard to the ignorant dogma that less information equals more. SMH.