Friday, August 01, 2008

Logan White's Cult of Personality

Logan White has been an excellent scouting director. The Dodgers have drafted very well. It is foolish to think that White is nothing special. He is special.

However, he is special at finding amateur players who will eventually succeed in the majors and seems to be pretty good at helping them get there. That specialty is distinct, however, from the ability to structure a roster or the ability to assign the proper value to major league players. It would be of little surprise to find out that White is really on the ball in understanding how valuable major league players are in relation to their peers and how much they should be paid, but personally it would be of little surprise to find out he is not on the ball in this regard. White seems a likely candidate to eventually be a GM, so perhaps we will get a good sense at that time. For now, though, I haven't seen the evidence that he can distinguish quality among successful players, which is distinct from his well-evidenced ability to distinguish quality among amateur players.

So, Logan White has established his reputation as someone I would want to draft the next Andy LaRoche, but he hasn't done anything to establish his reputation as someone I would want to decide how much value the rights to LaRoche have vis-a-vis Ramirez, Ethier, Blake, DeWitt, etc. He may be miscast in an Assistant GM role, and he may not be. In any event, I feel he was taken for the proverbial ride yesterday by seemingly giving his assent to Colletti/McCourt's disappointing charade.

Most of the significant decisions made by the Dodgers in Colletti's tenure have shown an inability to precisely and accurately evaluate talent in the major leagues and upper minor leagues. What amount of responsibility Mr. White holds in this regard is, of course, unclear to me. I just feel as if those who make remarks about trusting White's judgments of major league players or even AA and AAA players are falling victim to a faulty syllogism: White is good at drafting talent, major league players are talented, therefore White is good at discerning among major league players. It is simply the case that baseball performance data for physically mature players with years of professional training (generally, any player older than 23 or 24 or so) can be projected successfully into the future, and that this projection offers a much greater degree of precision than a scouting-only assessment.

I'll continue to give White props for his outstanding drafts for years to come. I've never had any reason to trust his acumen for gauging the relative strengths of major leaguers. Then again, Colletti has done nothing but establish distrust, so White is looking pretty good next to him.

1 Comments:

At 4:41 PM, Blogger Paul said...

"Logan White has been an excellent scouting director. The Dodgers have drafted very well. It is foolish to think that White is nothing special. He is special."

Are you certain of this, or is this just a kind introduction accepting the common wisdom to avoid a fight on that point, thus giving greater apparent strength to the central theme?

Just as an example, to quote you "So, Logan White has established his reputation as someone I would want to draft the next Andy LaRoche..."

But he too LaRoche as pick number 1171. You are really willing to contribute his skill in drafting to explain pick number 1171?

His biggest success from 2002/03 is arguably Russell Martin - pick number 511.

His number 1 picks from 2002/03 are, respectively Loney and Billingsley. Billingsley is an unmitigated success. Loney is a plus defending, low power, low walks first-baseman who only dominated the minors in rookieball. Matt Cain, as one example, was selected after Loney.

I am not saying I think Logan White sucks. I just think he has a reputation that outstrips his actual skill, as many people who get lucky on small sample sizes can do.

If you have really done a thorough analysis of drafts since 2002 (or did he start in 2001?) and have concluded that White is really something special, I'd like to see the case. I am skeptical that its really sustainable.

 

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