Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Our Season

I'm sorry that I went radio silent for a few days there after responding to a handful of comments. In general, this is a very busy time of year for us, but throw in a family wedding and my wife's birthday and I fell behind more than I expected.

People often ask, "So what do you do when the season ends? Do you take a lot of time off?"

My first season in baseball was with the Cleveland Indians in 1996. The team dominated during the regular season (99-62), so the playoffs were never a question. The only question was how far we were going to go. Since the Indians had been to the World Series in 1995, we held lofty expectations.

We lost in the first round.

Nobody, including the intern (me), was ready for such a shock. As it happened, the fourth and final game was on a Sunday, and my parents had traveled to Cleveland for the weekend. In the midst of my post-game stupor, I remember saying to them, "What do you I think I do tomorrow? Do I show up for work at the same time? Do I wear the same attire? Is everyone going to take some time away?" Since I had started my job during spring training, I had never experienced an "off-season".

The next day I showed up at my normal time in my normal attire figuring that if anything I should err on the side of diligence. Somewhat to my surprise, everyone was there already busy at work. That afternoon, John Hart called us into his office, and we had a brief discussion regarding the upcoming months. John began by saying, "Today starts OUR season."

I remember thinking that I really needed a break.

Now, of course, I'm accustomed to the schedule, and John was absolutely right. This is our season, and we've been busy the last few weeks in preparation. The GM's meetings, which begin next week, are akin to Opening Day, so our "spring training" is nearly finished and we can't wait to get started.

21 comments:

Alex said...

Two questions:

a) Any "spring training rituals" you front office folks do to get ready for the "season"? Stack up on sleep to get ready for the 18 hour days at the meetings? Pack lozenges to ail your throat from the non stop talking?

b) Aside from fetching coffee and the usual fare, what kind of stuff did you do for Cleveland as an intern in '96?

Dan said...

Paul,

As a Padres fan I have experienced many aspects of the season, from Spring Training to the World Series. One part of the year that has always been shrouded in mystery to me is instructional league. Can you give us a picture of what that is like? Thanks in advance. And, of course, thanks for doing the blog. I am looking forward to seeing how the front office does in their 'Season'.

william said...

I hope you guys have a great season.

Lucky for you, around here, expectations aren't very high.

Paul DePodesta said...

william,

We always have high expectations.

Paul DePodesta said...

alex,

I was the minor league van driver in spring training.

Jason @ IIATMS said...

Being a senior member of the team, do you guys set up a war-room for free agents? How do you prioritize and then plot your strategy? Are the scouts deployed to the various leagues already in action? How often do they report in?

Do you get involved in the marketing/community affairs stuff?

What about the things that don't directly impact the players, such as stadium issues/upgrades? Do you get into that minutae or do you stick strictly to the "talent" side of the operations?

field39 said...

Do you guys prepare a "State of the Franchise" report?

Katherine said...

A little off topic, but I was just curious to know how you got your job interning for Cleveland? Had you had much work experience in baseball before that?

william said...

We always have high expectations.
____

I would hope so.

But I was thinking more along the lines of the fans.

Steve E. said...

Paul-

Sorry, I know this is a bit off-topic, but I have to ask...

Rumors are out there that a "Moneyball" movie is going to be made with Brad Pitt playing the role of Billy Beane. What are your thoughts on this? And, which actor would you like to play your role?

Brian Gallagher said...

Hi Paul,

First--and this is nothing new--I love your blog. Thanks for all the work and candor you can spare.

As for the offseason, I presume the bulk of the front office's time is spent getting ready for the winter meetings, but how much long-term planning is sorted out? Is there much discussion of the not-so-imminent future, say two or three years down the line? I would think that such planning would impact your current strategies, but due to turnover in the front office maybe having a specific long-term plan wouldn't fly?

Thanks again.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

If you were interested (you obviously were) in a job in baseball as a front office man, what is the best way to get started?

Phx Jeff said...

marksmith,

Join the Pad Squad...I'm serious.

Phx Jeff said...

Paul,

Why is it that Major League teams are always concerned about trading players within the division? Would violating this unspoken rule teleport a general manager to the same black hole where pitchers are sent when they step on foul line chalk?

If you have true confidence that you're receiving more value in the transaction, does it really matter which team receives your cast-offs? In fact, wouldn't you prefer to trade within the division, so that you could decrease the value of that team?

Paul DePodesta said...

phx jeff,

I basically agree with you. Ideally, both sides win when you make a deal, so you're not necessarily making your opponent weaker in the transaction. However, it's silly to think that the only way for them to get better is to deal with you. The fact is that if you don't get them the player they want, they'll try to acquire him elsewhere.

Personally, I prefer the strategy of focusing completely on your own team/organization and not spending time and energy worrying about what the other Clubs are doing around you. Everyone's trying to get better all the time - it's unavoidable - so you might as well get what you want out of the deal.

Paul DePodesta said...

field39,

We do year-end reports/evaluations on our Major League and minor league teams.

hector said...

Paul,

The GM meetings, what can you tells us about them? I have heard that trades have been done on cocktail napkins...

How would you describe this upcoming GM Meeting and the next one, I forgot what it is call, the winter meetings?

And why do they call it the hot stove league? Because of hot rumors?

hector said...

Paul,

I was just reading that Chad Cordero and Ryan Wagner refused their assignments to the minors and became Free Agents. I know that they were injured, but shouldn't the team try to sign them immediately?
Once they regain their health, Cordero is a proven performer and Wagner is a former #1 draft pick.

What do you think? is it worth it? After all, it fits with the thinking of buying low.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

What is the Pad Squad and how does one join?

Phx Jeff said...

marksmith,

The Pad Squad are the young men and women in the stands and on the field at games running all the fan contests. They try to keep the fans engaged between innings. I'm sure the pay is nothing special, but it may be a foot in the door. I doubt it's the 'best' way to earn a front office position. It's more of a round-about way--like joining the Army as an enlisted man to eventually become an officer. That said, I know a girl who worked her way into some sort of front office position after starting out as a member of the Pad Squad.

tHeMARksMiTh said...

I live in Kentucky.