Saturday, March 7, 2009

Evaluating the GM Candidates: LaCava v. Rizzo

Warning--This post was written with an inaccurate understanding of La Cava's resume. I somehow got it in my head that La Cava was in charge of the drafts in Atlanta and Montreal when he was in those cities, but a quick glance at the old Baseball America executive database would have told me that wasn't the case. He's worked closely with Toronto scouting director Jon Lalonde on the Toronto drafts since 2002, but the Atlanta and Montreal drafts really weren't his at all. Oh well. Tony's supposed to be a really nice guy, so I'm sure he'll forgive me. Everyone else just take this one with a grain of salt...

Stealing shamelessly from a similar post by Bucco Blog, I'm going to begin working through a series of analyses of the various rumored GM candidates getting mentioned by the Great Mentioner.

My method is to simply look at the performances of the various candidates in the draft. Many of them have experience as scouting directors, with the draft as a primary area of responsibility. Obviously the draft is a team effort, and the GM sets the strategy (Ricciardi in particular had a very concrete strategy of drafting only college pitchers, for instance, which LaCava may or may not have totally agreed with--we'll probably never know), but the scouting director probably deserves the largest share of credit or blame for the performances of their teams in the draft. Also, the team's willingness to pay for bonuses and top scouts has an impact, etc.

Still with all that acknowledged, I compiled the total win shares of every player drafted by LaCava and Rizzo from 1999-2004 ('00-'04 in La Cava's case, since he didn't start in Atlanta till then). In case you aren't familiar, Win Shares is a Bill James concept that quantifies every player's contributions in wins. One win share is worth 1/3 of a win. I'm using the slightly refined Hardball Times version of the stat, mainly because the info is there for free. You can read more here or also here.
I'm cutting off at 2004 just because the 2005-'08 draft classes are all still too young to really even begin to draw conclusions.

Here's what I found:

Year Player Round Overall CWS
2000 Adam Wainwright 1 29 36
2000 Scott Thorman 1 30 4
2000 Kelly Johnson 1s 38 48
2000 Blaine Boyer 3 100 3
2000 Zach Miner 4 106 17
2000 Adam LaRoche 29 880 71
2000 Trey Hodges 17 520 0
2000 Charles Thomas 19 580 9
2001 Michael Hinckley 3 82 2
2001 Josh Labandeira 6 172 0
2001 Chad Bentz 7 202 0
2001 Chris Schroder 19 562 3
2002 Jeremy Guthrie 1 22 27
2002 Brian Slocum 2 72 0
2002 Ben Francisco 5 154 11
2003 Aaron Hill 1 13 48
2003 Josh Banks 2 50 1
2003 Shaun Marcum 3 80 28
2003 Jamie Vermilyea 9 260 1
2003 Tom Mastny 11 320 4
2003 Ryan Roberts 18 530 0
2004 David Purcey 1 16 1
2004 Zack Jackson 1s 32 1
2004 Curtis Thigpen 2 57 3
2004 Adam Lind 3 83 17
2004 Casey Janssen 4 117 13
2004 Jesse Litsch 24 717 20




368

Rizzo



Year Player Round Overall CWS
1999 Casey Daigle 1s 31 1
1999 Chris Capuano 8 238 35
1999 Matt Kata 9 268 12
1999 Doug Devore 12 358 2
1999 Lyle Overbay 18 538 82
2000 Mike Schultz 2 69 0
2000 Bill White 3 99 1
2000 Josh Kroeger 4 129 0
2000 Tim Olson 7 219 1
2000 Brandon Webb 8 249 114
2000 Brian Bruney 12 369 10
2000 Doug Slaten 17 519 6
2000 Andy Green 24 729 0
2001 Jason Bulger 1 22 0
2001 Mike Gosling 2 66 2
2001 Scott Hairston 3 98 22
2001 Chad Tracy 7 218 57
2001 Brandon Medders 8 248 14
2002 Chris Snyder 2 68 48
2002 Lance Cormier 4 129 9
2002 Dustin Nippert 15 459 1
2002 Brian Barden 6 189 0
2003 Conor Jackson 1 19 43
2003 Carlos Quentin 1 29 36
2003 Matt Chico 3 96 5
2004 Stephen Drew 1 15 44
2004 Garrett Mock 3 86 2
2004 Ross Ohlendorf 4 116 0
2004 Mark Reynolds 16 476 29




576

So what does this tell us? First, both these guys have done pretty damn well. But Rizzo has been great. With 576 win shares in 6 drafts compared to La Cava's 368 in one fewer draft, he blows him out of the water.

It's been pointed out that the team was particularly willing to spend (which is how Rizzo ended up getting Stephen Drew, the top position player in the '04 draft, at #15). We need to keep this in mind with all the comparisons between Rizzo and other drafters.

Still, even if you take out Drew and Rizzo's solid 1999 draft (since La Cava didn't draft that year), he's still ahead 400 WS to 368.

Because there is an element of luck involved, I think it's useful to see what each guy accomplished if you knock out any top 6-7 picks in the first round (where the odds of getting a good player are really much higher) and also eliminate the highest career win share players from each team, just to eliminate any real Albert Pujols-like flukes. For Rizz, that means taking out Brandon Webb and for La Cava, Adam La Roche. With these adjustments, Rizzo leads 462 to 297. If you further assume that Drew wasn't a top 6-7 pick but was a top talent and therefore remove him from Rizzo's tally, that drops his lead to 418 to 297. Then if you further correct for Rizzo's one-year advantage by eliminating his 1999 draft results, you finally get to near-parity--actually a slight 297 to 286 lead for La Cava. Of course, that's an awful lot of "fairness adjustments." Rizzo should get credit for his solid 1999 draft and for hitting on Brandon Webb.

I could look much deeper at these lists to see who does best with pitchers, hitters, and try to detect any other patterns, and I may do that in the future, but for now this is as far as I'm prepared to go. Tomorrow, I'll continue the post by looking at La Cava v. Rizzo v. Chuck LaMar.

5 comments:

Keith Law said...

Lacava left atlanta after 2000 to become farm director for montreal, and he was never scouting director for Toronto (that has been Jon Lalonde since 2004).

Steven said...

Right--I have the results of the Atlanta 2000 draft, Montreal's 2001, and Toronto after that.

Thanks for the corrections on the titles though. My understanding is that he was quite involved in the draft in each place--no?

Keith Law said...

Involved, yes, in toronto. Not at all in montreal, and just as a scout in Atlanta in 2000. I'm not sure how you could do this exercise with his resume. He hasn't had the autonomy over a draft that Rizzo had in Arizona.

Steven said...

Well shoot. Somehow I had it in my head that La Cava was scouting director in those cities, but a quick check of the facts shows me that's totally wrong. Probably I should have done that before posting

I misfired badly on this one. Let's see if I can try to write something a little less dumb tomorrow.

ericp331 said...

How does Red Sox Assistant GM Jed Hoyer compare to Rizzo and LaCava?