Thursday, November 29, 2012

It's The Scouts, Not The SEALS...

After all the SEALS training noise, Bob Nutting said he was taking a close post-season look at Pirate operations. While the effect on having farm hands carry logs and frolic through obstacle courses isn't known yet, it is apparent that the owner found one area that he felt was needed a good boot in the behind - the scouting department, the lifeblood of every small revenue club.

First, in early November they brought aboard 72-year-old Bill Livesey, who worked as a scout with the Yankees from 2008 until the Buccos came a'calling. He was also a pinstriper from 1978-95, and one of his positions was vice president of player development and scouting. In fact, except for a spell at managing, everything he's been involved with from the Bronx Bombers has related to scouting and development.

In between, Livesey was Tampa Bay's Special Assistant to GM Chuck LaMar and Director of Player Personnel. Then he moved on to the Toronto Blue Jays as a Special Assistant to General Manager J.P. Ricciardi in 2003 before joining the Mets as a Special assistant to GM Omar Minaya from 2004-06.

The grizzled hunting dawg is old school; he believes sabermetrics have a place in scouting, but thinks eyeballs should count as much in evaluations as iPads, and that's a change of direction for Pittsburgh.

Then on Wednesday, the Pirates have announced the hirings of four new pro scouts: Ricky Bennett, Carlos Berroa, Ron Hopkins and John Kosciak. Bennett and Hopkins were both scouting directors, Kociak is a long-time seat-of-the-pants scout, and Berroa adds more cred to the Latin operations.

Bennett had been with the Astros since 2005. He was in his second full season as director of professional scouting after previously serving as assistant general manager and director of player development. Bennett oversaw the club's Minor League affiliates from 2005-10.  Prior to that, Bennett also served as Director of Minor League Operations for the Detroit Tigers from 2002-04 during his eight year stay with Motown.

The Pirates didn't say where he would be assigned, but Bennett seems like a copacetic replacement for recently departed scout Mike Leuzinger, who was the area supervisor for North Texas and Oklahoma, as could Ron Hopkins, too.

Berroa joined the Pirates from the Miami Marlins, where he had 15 years of experience working as a Puerto Rican area scout based out of San Juan. He's also the baseball director of the Puerto Rican Baseball Academy & High School, unique in that it's both an academic and sports school. One of its players, SS Carlos Correa, was the first overall pick in this year's draft.

Hopkins spent the 2012 season as a national crosschecker with the Baltimore Orioles and has over 30 years of scouting experience. He was considered a  candidate for the Orioles scouting director position before Dan Duquette hired Gary Rajsich for the job in November. Rajsich canned Hopkins in June, citing the dreaded philosophical differences, according to the Baltimore Sun.

Before that, he was the Director of Scouting for the Texas Rangers for six years from 2004-2009, spending his last season as a Special Assistant to GM Jon Daniels. Prior to joining the Rangers, Hopkins spent eight years with the Oakland Athletics after also working in the Kansas City, Seattle and New York Mets scouting departments. He's known as a strong talent evaluator.

Kosciak was the northeast area supervisor for the Astros last year. He's a long time scout who had ties to the Dodgers for 14 years and Padres for nine before joining Houston. Kosciak is one of those guys you find huddled together in the stands with stopwatches and radar guns at the high school and college fields, taking notes before hopping into the Buick and heading off to the next game.

Hey, an organization is as strong as its weakest link. And it looks like the Pirates are trying to make sure that scouting and evaluation, often times questioned during the Huntington era, won't be that link for Pittsburgh.

1 comment:

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