Why I Do Not Trust Unnamed Scouts

A classic tool for sportswriters to resort to when looking to fill some column space is to find a major league scout and ask him to just riff on a bunch of players. To be fair, Mark Feinsand did so on his blog, where pretty much any content goes. However, reading the things the scout said reaffirms for me the validity of the general movement away from pure scouting towards statistical analysis. Here are some of the highlights:

On Derek Jeter:

“Jeter is the No.1 guy on the club no matter how you look at it. He makes that team go. He can play for my team any day. He has the damndest inside-out swing I’ve seen in my life. He’s a smooth player. He doesn’t have a lot of time left at shortstop, but he’s what he should be – a captain. He’s the leader of this team and has the greatest makeup of any player ever. He’s the consummate professional. His defense is solid. He can make all the plays, can turn the double play and still has good feet. Is he the best? No. But he’s still good enough. I like everything about Jeter.”

This is the kind of stuff that makes people call Jeter overrated. Is he still a good player? Certainly. But his defense is by no means solid, and all the intangibles in the world do not make him the player that “makes the team go.” And how exactly can you make the call that he has the greatest makeup of any player ever?

On Johnny Damon:

He’s always been a great runner. He’s come a long way in his career and found a way to hit. I don’t know how he does it with all that movement, but he can make contact. He’s a dangerous hitter. He never could throw great, but now he can’t throw at all. He’s still the best center fielder on the team. He can go out and get the ball.”

Where has this guy been for the last 3 seasons? Damon is an awful CF at this point, and he is at most the third best CF on the team. The guy then goes on to contradict himself with the following about Brett Gardner:

He always looks good in the spring and looks like a heck of a player, but the regular season is different. I like Gardner though. He’d be my center fielder if I’m running that team. He has good makeup and great hustle. I like speed and this team definitely needs speed.”

So….Damon is the best CF’er on the team, the Yankees have a logjam in the outfield, and he would go with Gardner? Seems pretty crazy, unless he does not like Nick Swisher:

“Swisher doesn’t fit in this organization. He’s a goofball for one, but more than that, I don’t think he’s that good a fielder anywhere you put him. As a corner outfielder and first baseman, he’s not what I would call a good defender. He doesn’t run that good. He can jump on some pitches and hit them far, but you’re banking on him doing something with the bat if you’re going to play him. The only way he works himself into the lineup is if Damon or Nady don’t perform.”

The scout doesn’t like Swisher because of his defense on the corners. For some reason, I do not think I am going to put much faith in the assessment of a guy who considers Johnny Damon the Yankees best defensive CF’er and Derek Jeter a solid shortstop. The lesson here is to avoid putting much faith in the words of unnamed scouts, as they like to make bold statements that they will never be held accountable for.

0 thoughts on “Why I Do Not Trust Unnamed Scouts

  1. Steve

    Ugh. Guys like this give scouting a bad name. The bias in every statement is obvious to everyone but him.

    This is also why a good GM listens to a bunch of scout’s opinions, and looks at sabermetric data, then put it all together and try to make decisions.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Exactly. The tred is moving away from a club drafting or signing players based on the recommendation of one old dude.

  2. The few scouts I do know don’t give interviews because stuff like this. Unnamed sources pretty much say whatever you want them to say. You could just keep asking scouts until you get the answer you want to hear from them.

  3. Unnamed scouts, unnamed sources, several front office types, and sources within the organization are phrases I translate into ‘I just pulled this out of my backside, and I need to give it a little credibility’.

  4. Steve

    Moshe doesn’t trust unnamed scouts, but oddly enough he DOES trust Politicians, Car salesmen and e-mails from strangers in Nigeria who want to loan him 6 million dollars.

    Go figure.

    • Moshe Mandel

      Lol. You mean those Nigerian dudes arent going to give me a million bucks if I send them 3,000 in administrative fees?

  5. Basil Fomeen

    Why don’t we replace the adjectives “unnamed”, & “anonymous” with “imaginary”. Cause I think some of these writers pull these people right from their a$$. Klapisch’s columns have become unreadable because of all of his so-called unnamed sources.

    How about naming a scout every now & freaking then?! They all crack me up trying to add some credibility to their redundant columns… sorry, just one of my pet peeves.