DePodesta Interview Sheds Light On His Philosophy

Paul DePodesta, the former GM of the Los Angeles Dodgers, was hired as vice-president of player development and scouting of the Mets on Monday.

Rich Lederer of The Baseball Analysts, conducted a great interview with Paul DePodesta in June 2009. He has known DePodesta personally since 2005 when Paul was in his second year as the General Manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Here is part of his interview, and I encourage you to check it out in it’s entirety at his site.

Rich: Do you think the standard five tools (hitting for average, power, arm strength, fielding, and speed) are still the most important attributes of a player? Or would you insert plate discipline/pitch recognition skills into the mix?

Paul: Both tools and skills are important, as they often depend on one another in order to play. For instance, the combination of all tools and no skills is usually a promise unfulfilled, and all skills with no tools often results in a short career. We’d all prefer a plethora of both, but in the absence of that it’s a constant effort to figure out if the shortcomings in one area will inhibit the positives in the other.

Rich: While I understand “we’re not selling jeans here,” what roles do height, weight, and body type play in assessing current and projectable talent?

Paul: You may be asking this because our draft class looks as much like a football or basketball team as it does a baseball team. Malcolm Gladwell once wrote that 3.9% of all adult males are 6’2″ or taller, and yet 30% of Fortune 500 CEO’s are 6’2″ or taller. The fact is that people, in general, maintain an inherent physical appearance bias, and in sports we tend to gravitate toward big, strong guys. Therefore, nature pushes us to overvalue size at times, but things like strength, leverage, and angle can make a difference as long as there are underlying skills.

Rich: How do rank attitude, hustle, and leadership when scouting players? And how do you go about valuing those characteristics?

Paul: It can be really difficult for me to warm up to a player who has a low motor, but that’s just my personal take and one that I often have to guard against when writing reports. I prefer guys who play with energy and appear to really enjoy being out there. The minor leagues can be a real grind – I can’t imagine enduring that playing schedule – so I worry about guys who don’t seem to have that passion. That said, that passion isn’t always illuminated by a player bouncing around the diamond, which is why I have to be careful.

Rich: Is “feel for the game” something that is at all quantifiable? Is it inherent in most players or can it be taught or gained over time?

Paul: I don’t have a good answer for that. Every player is unique, and sometimes we’ll find a player who has terrific instincts for one part of the game while really struggling with other aspects of the game. Some of that “feel” though can come from experience.

Rich also wrote at the time, “DePodesta and winning are synonymous with one another.  All in all, the clubs DePodesta has worked for have won eight division crowns and accumulated a won-lost record of 1,137-943 for a winning percentage of .547.”

In a conference call today, Sand Alderson said that DePodesta will oversee both player development and amateur scouting, while J.P. Ricciardi will oversee professional scouting. John Ricco will also be involved in the decision-making and keep many of his current responsibilities.

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I'm a lifelong Mets fan who loves writing and talking about the Amazins' 24/7. From the Miracle in 1969 to the magic of 1986, and even the near misses in '73, '00 and '15, I've experienced it all - the highs and the lows. I started Mets Merized Online in 2005 to feed my addiction and interact with other passionate Met fans like you. Follow me on Twitter @metsmerized.