Mariners plan department devoted to statistical analysis
There was speculation a few weeks back that the new Mariners front office might try to do a little more work with statistical analysis. It turns out the Mariners...
Seattle Times staff reporter
There was speculation a few weeks back that the new Mariners front office might try to do a little more work with statistical analysis.
It turns out the Mariners are planning to do a whole lot more. In fact, they're in the process of creating an entirely new department to deal with the subject.
The department will fall under the auspices of Tony Blengino, a longtime baseball stats analyst and a special assistant to new Mariners general manager Jack Zduriencik. Details of the department's mandate and size are still to be worked out, but the move could vault the Mariners from their perceived Stone Age approach to stats to one in which they're seen as one of the game's more progressive franchises.
"We want to take all the information at our disposal and combine it with our scouting," Blengino said Friday.
Zduriencik has been on the job only a few weeks, and has been busy — specifically with his search for a manager — so it could be some time before the statistics department becomes a reality.
Zduriencik interviewed seven managerial candidates this week, and said Friday night there's a "very slim chance" he will bring in any others for interviews.
Zduriencik said he plans to speak with the seven candidates by phone this weekend, then possibly invite two finalists back for second interviews on Monday and Tuesday.
The Mariners have relied on freelance stats consultant Mat Olkin the past few seasons. Olkin was employed simultaneously by the Kansas City Royals last season and worked primarily out of his home office in Connecticut.
While former Mariners GM Bill Bavasi used Olkin as a sounding board for potential moves, he intentionally never let the consultant know just how much of his advice he was taking. Olkin has a confidentiality agreement with the team that prevents him from disclosing details of their discussions with other clubs he might be working for at the same time.
The new department could theoretically see its employees headquartered in Seattle or, at least, become full-time team employees rather than outside consultants.
"I'm not going to say it's a bad approach ... " Blengino said of the current consultant route. "But the idea is to have as much in-house information as you can get."
Blengino said the team has yet to contact Olkin about reviewing his mandate for next year.
"I've always had that statistical information in addition to scouting," said Blengino, a former baseball stats writer for RotoWire, whose first job out of college was as a CPA. "It's an aspect I brought to Jack when we were in Milwaukee together. That's where my core is. That's where I started."
Several teams have stats experts working on staff.
Bill James, widely recognized as the founder of sabermetric research, is part of the baseball operations staff of the Boston Red Sox. The Toronto Blue Jays used to employ Keith Law — a top stats columnist for ESPN.com — as a special assistant to GM J.P. Ricciardi.
"I can't imagine there are any teams that don't pay heed to some form of statistical analysis," Blengino said. "We have to take great care to make sure we do it right."
Geoff Baker: 206-464-8286 or email@example.com
Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company
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