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SportMLB: Dodgers, Astros' success has baseball scrambling to keep up

01:05  12 september  2019
01:05  12 september  2019 Source:   usatoday.com

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BALTIMORE — Baseball’s hyperactive transformation has played out at least partially in the public eye, be it a lopsided defensive shift, an exotic breaking pitch thrown in a 3-0 count or a uniformed coach who never made it past junior college as a player.

MLB: Dodgers, Astros' success has baseball scrambling to keep up© Provided by USA Today Sports Media Group LLC

For the next several weeks, change will occur in a far more private fashion, be it a phone call from the general manager, or a summons to the corner office, where a loyal employee will be informed their services are no longer needed.

Certainly, this ritual is nothing new. Contracts for scouts and many baseball operations types typically expire at the end of October, resulting in a rash of hiring and firing that, back in the day, looked like a game of musical chairs, as Charlie Crosschecker merely changed the team for whom he worked but not his job description.

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Major League Baseball , for its part, continues to deny that anything is abnormal. In fact, before Game 5, Joe Torre, the league’s chief Perhaps the Dodgers , like the Astros , had been commanded not to comment on the baseball . “I don’t really notice that stuff,” Kershaw all but whispered after the game.

Major League Baseball ( MLB ) is a professional baseball organization, and the oldest of the major professional sports leagues in the United States and Canada.

This hiring-and-firing season, however, has an entirely unique feel, one that reflects the state of the major leagues: The Dodgers and Astros are lapping the field, and everyone else is trying to catch up.

For now, that game is about brain power and personnel and revamping processes to meet the modern demands of procuring and developing the game’s greatest players. And that will only accelerate the amount of personnel shifts this winter.

Five teams – the Phillies, Mets, White Sox, Rays and Mariners – have already made changes atop their pro scouting, amateur scouting, Dominican scouting or player development departments.

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If Major League Baseball created a homer-palooza, the Astros were slightly better suited to win it. Baseball ’s big public data repositories don’t have detailed postseason batted-ball information The Astros ’ pitching staff isn’t as talented as the Dodgers , or as good. But Astros pitchers were fourth in

The Astros kept the Dodgers at bay with a steady stream of relievers to finish piecing together the biggest 27 It happened quick. We did what we could to kind of damage control and keep us in the ballgame, but Brian McTaggart has covered the Astros since 2004, and for MLB .com since 2009.

For other franchises, the cuts run much deeper.

“Right now, we’re 46-97 and we’ve got a long way to go to get better,” first-year Baltimore Orioles general manager Mike Elias said Tuesday, hours before his club’s 98th loss. “And we need to do things differently to get better.

“It’s contract season in baseball and we’re doing as best we can to move deliberately and in a timely fashion through all the different decisions we have throughout a very large, multi-faceted department.”

For Elias and San Francisco Giants GM Farhan Zaidi, that means wholesale changes as they try to craft replicas of the monsters they helped create in Houston and Los Angeles, respectively.

Elias confirmed Tuesday that the Orioles have terminated 25 employees in baseball operations, mostly scouts and some of them with longstanding ties to the organization, such as pitcher Scott McGregor. Meanwhile, Zaidi has fired eight of the Giants’ 20 pro scouts, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, including former big leaguers Brian Johnson and Steve Balboni, whose advance work was integral to their run of three World Series titles.

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That Elias and Zaidi would work in near lockstep is not surprising. Both are rookie GMs hired last November, long after many significant baseball ops moves were made, and now have completed significant evaluations of existing personnel.

And both were second-in-command in the construction of two of the most dominant and – key word here – sustainable baseball powerhouses. Elias rode shotgun with GM Jeff Luhnow as the Astros went from three-time 100-game losers to 2017 World Series champs and soon, three-time division champs.

Zaidi teamed with club president Andrew Friedman in October 2014 to construct a big-market behemoth in L.A., as the Dodgers are heavily favored to reach their third consecutive World Series – while boasting a consensus top-10 farm system.

That’s an almost impossible feat, since the best teams draft last. This year, the Dodgers will pull off the rare feat of boasting Baseball America’s minor league player of the year – shortstop Gavin Lux – during a a season they’re reigning pennant winners. That hasn’t happened since the Braves had a young Andruw Jones in 1996.

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The Dodgers are one of baseball 's most powerful sides, perennial contenders in the National League (NL), but for the Astros , success has been Dodgers looking to finally make good. The Dodgers had the best regular-season record in MLB this season. The Dodgers are without doubt one of the

Lux was drafted 20th overall in 2016 and catcher Will Smith – now a starter for the seven-time division champs – was chosen 12 slots later. Walker Buehler, their likely No. 1 playoff starter, was picked 24th overall in 2015.

In short, almost any team could have had these guys. And surely the Dodgers’ ability to game the system and churn out young – and, most important, cost-effective – talent will drive other franchises to ask, “Why can’t we be more like them?”

“This is a period where there are a lot of changes and a lot of different areas of investment for teams than there were five or 10 years ago,” says Elias. “When we were in Houston we were among the teams probably out ahead of the curve in terms of recognizing the trends and positioning ourselves for them. Los Angeles is probably right up there in that regard.

“They’re two of the best organizations in baseball right now. Everyone’s looking to them as model franchises and trying to follow suit. It’s just the way the business works.”

Yet copy-catting isn’t so simple; while the Astros turned deliberate misery into a fine art, franchises in Toronto, Chicago and Pittsburgh are finding it more challenging to turn the tanker around when they’re ready to compete.

Duplicating the Dodgers’ and Astros’ outcomes is even more challenging, be it popping a steady stream of Buehlers and Luxes and Alex Bregmans on draft day, or turning up underperforming gems like Max Muncy, Chris Taylor or Collin McHugh.

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The momentum went from all Dodgers to all Astros to all Dodgers in two half-innings. Thanks for signing up ! Keep an eye on your inbox for the latest sports news. He has been a member of the BBWAA since 2015 and has previously written about both fantasy baseball and real life baseball for

“The thing is, that’s not going to work for everybody. Not everybody can have great drafts every year,” says veteran Dodgers starter Rich Hill. “There’s only so many diamonds in the rough out there. Now, it depends on whether you have the scouts that can pick those guys out. Obviously, that’s a huge tip of the cap to the scouting department here with the Dodgers and the Houston Astros.

“They’ve done incredibly well at drafting and developing and finding undervalued guys from other organizations, because they see them and say, ‘Well, you know what, we have the coaches that can develop that talent.’”

And that requires a total commitment, be it investments in technology, brain power, or those who can relay the former to the group that matters most – the players.

Sure, Edgertronic cameras are expensive – about $6,000 a pop – but so, too, is the ability to interpret its findings.

“I’ve had a few coaches in other organizations who were incredible coaches and decided to leave because they didn’t get paid. Understandably,” says Hill. “If you’re a quality coach, you should be able to get compensated for that, because you’re only making players better, which is going to lead to a World Series, possibly. Why not make that small investment for a big return? I think that’s something that’s being done in these organizations.

“Technology is great. Yeah, we can quantify that stuff, but if you can’t translate that to the player, it doesn’t mean anything and all of a sudden, it just becomes another language you don’t understand.”

Elias knows this better than almost anybody. He says the Orioles plan to fill all the positions lost in this purge, “if not more. It may not be the same title, the same location, but we’re going to be growing as a department and in player development, specifically, I expect an increased headcount. There will be positions that never existed before with the Orioles.”

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The race for the No. 1 seed: Astros 93-50 Yankees 93-50 Dodgers 92-52 Braves 89-54 Twins 88-54. Jesse Rogers ESPN Staff Writer. Boone said they need to figure out "the best environment to continue to build him up and give him and us the best chance at having success the rest of the way."

Cue the high-speed cameras, the analysts and developers and decision scientists and quality control coaches, all aiming for uniformity in development. In a perfect world, the Orioles will construct an enduring winner – in a very cost-efficient manner.

In the meantime, the game will continue to change – particularly in the front offices and front lines of drafting and development. In an industry where “adapt or die” is now an almost universal credo, it’s impossible to avoid bloodletting in the service of progress.

“No one likes doing this stuff,” says Elias, “but we have a job to do, we’re going to be accountable for the results of it and we’re doing a lot of new things around here.

“This is the most competitive environment in baseball. And we have no choice but to try and keep up.”

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: MLB: Dodgers, Astros' success has baseball scrambling to keep up

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