I am Thad Levine, Assistant General Manager of the Texas Rangers, and I have helped launch a company that uses fantasy sports to raise money for nonprofits.
You would be surprised what some players ask for in negotiations. Or put better, what some agents ask for on their player's behalf. Common things like no trade protection, bonuses for awards or reaching certain performance thresholds. What has become more prevalent is that clubs will ask players to agree to make annual charitable contributions. This is one of the things that inspired us to launch www.meaningfulwins.com, because we found so many players were passionate about giving back and rabid fantasy football players.
For the players from the Pacific Rim, you will oftentimes see requests for interpreters and massage therapists. Some of the most uncommon things that you will find in contracts - flights for family members to join the player on the road, and by far the most curious thing that I ever have seen was one player asked for an annual $250,000 allowance for his wife to spend on her equestrian expenses.
You identified one of our biggest challenges. This has impacted us unfortunately quite negatively. Used to be that we could tell all the players involved in trades before it became public. Now, that is extremely difficult to do. Last year, Ian Kinsler found out through the media that he had been traded. We felt awful, but someone called the media literally before we were able to complete a call to Ian.
That being said, at the trade deadline, we are all on twitter, because you may be surprised how many trade discussions are inspired or refined by tweets
Trades tend to be unique one trade to the next. Baseball is all about talent evaluation. Everyone understands the concept of scouting two short stops. But our jobs also require us to scout each GM. So depending on which GM you are negotiating with, the discussion will go differently. In the case that you mentioned, Dave Dombrowski is extremely well respected and typically for clear at what he is prepared to do and what he is prepared not to do, so negotiations with Detroit are always very smooth.
We have always tried to draft the best player available rather than for a specific need. So much can happen in the time that it takes for a player to make it to the majors.
There have been so many studies about drafting college versus high school players. Great players have come from both. We just try to identify players with the most upside and then develop them to reach their potential.
Josh is one of the most talented players that I have been blessed to see play on a regular basis. As a Rangers' fan, it was a lot easier to root for him 2 years ago than it is now.
I would be surprised if the Union ever approves a formal salary cap. There have been discussions about stiffer taxes for going over a certain threshold. There has also been a lot of talk about having a salary floor as well. In the next collective bargaining session, i am sure that this topic will be discussed exhaustively.
Those sites, and others, have done such a phenomenal job. I believe that is why you see so many clubs hiring their employees. Really the only thing that we have access to that they do not is an extensive database from our scouts. We use those sites extensively in our analysis.
Out of respect for Josh and his family, I do not want to get into too many of the details. Josh was a tremendous part of our success during our two World Series runs. We supported him as best as we could. Truth be told, a large part of his success here can be attributed to how open he was with Ron Washington and how much chemistry the two had.
So many people have tried to come up with a formula that separates them in their decision making. I am a firm believer that the team with the best talent evaluators will make more good decisions, so I would try to surround myself with the best talent evaluators who also happen to be good people.
When the book Money Ball came out, front offices were labeled as either analytical or scouting based in their decision making. As a "younger" front office, we used to be younger than we are now, we were considered an analytical group, when in practice, we were much more scouting focused in our decision making. In the past five years, we have made significant investments in analytics both in people and systems.
Joey Gallo has amazing talent. The temptation is to call him up, knowing that he would likely launch some bombs up here. Our hope is that once he comes up, he will never have to go back down to the minors, so we are making sure that he has much of a foundation for success up here as possible before promoting him.
Sadly, other than Keith Foulke, i cannot remember a situation when a player has retired or given money back. Back loading contracts is dangerous, because at some point those checks will come due and you will wish that you had the money to invest in other parts of your team.
The season has been a disappointment on a number of fronts. The combination of injuries this season and the fact that the past 4 seasons we had traded some of our minor league players to help our minor league team has left our system too thin to excel in 2014. Hoping that we can reduce injuries next year coupled with wave of minor league talent that we have coming should put us in a much better position next year.
The two skills best to develop are your analytical and communication skills. Passion for baseball is a must and any Spanish language skills are very valuable.
AJ is a good friend and has been a tremendous asset to the Rangers. He is one of the best talent evaluators i have ever known. We have great people here ready to rise to the challenge that AJ's departure has presented.
Keep honing your analytical and communication skills. It is very difficult getting into the game, but perseverance will pay off. Everyone working in the game fought those odds at some point in their careers. It is massively rewarding working in baseball. Remember that every time it looks bleak. Keep fighting.
It has been tremendous. Any additional piece of information that we can use to help refine our decision making process is great for the game.
It has been staggering. MLB doesn't take it lightly. They have commissioned a number of studies to try to assist the clubs. The scariest figure is how many high school players are getting TJ.
Meaningful Wins is a platform that allows you to play fantasy football for the nonprofit of your choice rather than just for yourself. If you win, the cause benefits as well. Believe it or not, 40 million people spend over $2 billion a year on fantasy sports. We are trying to provide a vehicle to convert some of that money into charitable donations that can make a difference. Visit www.meaningfulwins.com and participate. Everyone can help the cause.
We plan on employing a Psychic. All joking aside, our medical staff is excellent and they are working tirelessly with our strength and conditioning staff to leave no stone unturned with regards to preventing injuries as best as we can.
It was about 5 injuries ago, that we all looked at each other in the front office and said, "I have never seen anything like this." Then we proceeded to have five more injuries. All of the injuries have given a lot of our young players opportunities to cut their teeth at the Major League level. It has also given us a lot more insight as to what roles those players can play in 2015 when we expect to contend in the AL West.
Thank you for your comment.
I believe that the next CBA will be centered around discussions about a World Wide Draft and further means to keep payrolls in check on the high end and competitive on the low end.
We have been blessed to be able to rebuild without ever picking in the top 8 picks. That being said, with the new CBA, the Houston model should be very successful. I think that we are starting to see their progress, and they will only get better.
It has been quite challenging. We have had to redefine what is success for the season. We have worked with Ron Washington to establish that our focus for this season is developing some of our younger now and future core players at the big league level.
The biggest changes in the game in the last 15 years, in my opinion, is the influx of really intelligent people into front offices, the proliferation of social media, and advancements in strength and conditioning.
The beauty of working in baseball for me is that i don't think that i will ever lose my passion. I am blessed to work in baseball.
I don't see a runaway favorite in either league. Each team has some flaws. I will take Detroit over Washington.
I grew up in Virginia. My father and I went to a lot of Baltimore Orioles games, and I was a diehard fan.
We expect to be very competitive again in 2015 and beyond. We have a strong nucleus at the Major League level, and we have some very talented players knocking at the door to come up.
In years like this one, you find yourself sneaking out to Frisco a little more often than usual.
We look for high end talent, good work ethics and great qualities as a teammate.
Most recently, i have been using Old Spice shower gel. Very refreshing.
Great to hear. Good luck the rest of the way at TC Williams. Odor and Profar are both extremely talented. In addition with Sardinas and Elvis, we have what we believe to be 4 of the better middle infielders in the game. I think that there will be a lot of competition in spring training next year.
I think that you have identified one of our biggest challenges. We have always aspired to have as many impact players year to year, but never aspired to have the same players. That being said, we have learned from every move that we have made and especially those two.
I am an impartial participant. We are trying to redirect as much money as possible to worthy causes. We have 10 preferred nonprofits featured on the site, all are tremendous causes. Thank you for participating.
Without a doubt. The stadium is electric, especially when we are doing well.
As a function of the Cubs rebuilding and us going for it, we have made a number of trades with them that were short term decisions for us. We hope to continue to develop our own and see them succeed for the Rangers. That being said, we are extremely creative and will continue to explore all means to give us a better chance to bring a championship to the Dallas - Ft Worth metroplex
You can never have enough pitching. We will continue to scout, draft, sign and develop as many talented pitchers as possible.
Identify your passion and never, ever stop pursuing it. The reward when you get to live your passion is immeasurable.
My father gave me a genetic gift of love of the game. He took me to games from the age of 5 all the way until I went to college. He never stopped educating me about the beauty of baseball. I owe my passion to him. I am living out this dream career for the both of us.
Our mantra as we approach this off season is to get back to out scouting teams rather than relying on out spending teams. We will make smart, targeted free agent acquisitions, but i would expect us to be more active on the trade and development fronts.
Our health insurance doesn't cover complications due to boomstick consumption, so i haven't risked it yet.
I had two terrific contacts, Josh Byrnes and Paul DePodesta. I was tireless in my pursuits. And i tried to develop my communication and analytical skills as best that i could to be an asset to a front office.
I do think that good pitching tends to beat good hitting. That being said, in 2011, we were one pitch away from proving that good hitting can beat good pitching. It's about creating a competitive advantage.
Great observation. The ballpark has played neutral this year. Probably should let it play out another year or two before drawing conclusions, but the drop in power is noteworthy.
We will always explore every means of scouting great up and coming talent. Regardless the rules and restrictions, we believe in our scouts and will always pursue their recommendations.
Wash has always wanted a team capable of winning in a variety of ways, so we have tried to be as balanced as possible.
Wash is the best morale manager that i have ever seen. His ability to make every player feel as if he is going to be the player of the game is so genuine and pays dividends each and every night.
We do have ball off the bat velocity, but i think that is becoming mainstream as well. Other than scouting reports, i would assume most sabermetric innovations coexist between front offices and the public domain.
Stay true to your passion. I went pre Med and got an English Major, so know that all educational foundations can lend themselves to success in baseball.
When we started in our current roles in 2006, pitchers were reluctant to come to play here mostly because it was a hitters' park and the heat. Once we started winning, and ever since, pitchers have aggressively pursued us. Turns out playing for a winner is an amazing aphrodisiac.
A few trades jump to mind. Never really have ranked them. Mench and Cordero for Carlos Lee and Nelson Cruz. Frankie Francisco for Mike Napoli. And Edinson Volquez for Josh Hamilton.
Every time that i saw Rougned play in the minors, I walked away thinking that he was the best baseball player, not always the best prospect, on the field. He is going to have a very bright future.
I wouldn't tell you to take specific classes. I would encourage you to develop your analytical, communication and Spanish language skills.
I do think that would level the playing field more. We do embrace the challenge of competing when the field isn't level.
AJ had a huge impact in Latin America. He has developed our scouts there to succeed, and they will always have our support.
As far as up and coming countries, China and Curacao will continue to grow.
Hard to ever understand each organization's challenges unless you work there, but Neal has done a great job.
The Cubs were rebuilding, we were going for it, they loved our players and we are aggressive. That combo led to a number of trades. We are hoping to keep our wazoo to ourselves moving forward.
I think that the game has cleaned itself up considerably over the last few years. Unfortunately, the stories of the few remaining cheaters will always distort that fact.
I do not, More importantly, none of our catchers do either. I would expect that it will be modified this off season.
I think that was far more fiction. We valued Nolan and his advice very highly. He helped shape this franchise and played a major role in our success.
I think that the goal is to get the calls correct. No on likes the stoppages. Perhaps, we could put a 2 minute time limit on reviews. If the umpires dont see anything conclusive in 2 minutes, then the play on the field stands.
It appears to tie into the Tommy John question asked earlier. Pitchers' muscles are getting stronger, they are putting more torque on their arms, but their ligaments are staying the same strength, generally unable to withstand the increased torque. Just one theory...
What did you have in mind?
We are doing everything in our power to put the injured players in positions to be full go by the beginning of our next spring training. We hope to go into camp with as few players with restrictions as possible.
The amount of trades made with both teams trading major league talent was quite surprising. Emphasizes how teams value prospects and how many teams are trying to win now. Can't remember the last team that a contender trading its clean up hitter for an ace. The Detroit - Tampa trade negotiations probably started a while ago, but i am sure that it picked up a good deal of steam after the Lester - Cespedes deal.
I do think that he is focused on pace of game. He will need to continue to maintain the momentum of cleaning up the game and continue to grow revenues in new and creative ways.
We have never wanted to have a face of the franchise, because good or bad, everyone's career must come to an end.
Larry Walker and Josh Hamilton are the two most talented players that i have seen play on a regular basis. As far as a young player who i thought would be a star, Mike Trout and Clayton Kershaw jump to mind.
I will take Priest Holmes if he is still on the board.
Greg Maddux was one of the people who inspired us to launch www.meaningfulwins.com. Aside from being a Hall of Fame pitcher, Greg and his wife have long supported Candle Lighters - a nonprofit that helps families that have children who have cancer. In addition, Greg is a diehard fantasy football player. When we brought the idea of using fantasy sports as a vehicle to raise money for causes like Candle Lighters, he was 100% behind it.
I am on twitter, under an alias...
We felt that it was turning the corner to being the best division in the game last year. Have to respect each and every team in the division.
In game entertainment has blown up in recent years. If you have an expertise and a passion, you should reach out to teams.
We try to stay disciplined to not talk about specific prospects but rather about waves of prospects. The reality is that someone who you expect to impact the major leagues likely will not, and someone that you are not expecting to overachieve certainly will.
Feliz continues to regain arm strength, but i do not anticipate him returning to throwing 96-100 mph.
Of the 81 home games, i probably see 70 live. The 11 or so that i miss is only because i am visiting one of our affiliates. In addition, i travel with the team on about 1/3 of the road games, and see approximately 30 minor league games a season.
We would be all in favor of that. As it stands, and frankly i do not see it changing, player contracts are totally guaranteed in baseball. More and more, teams are insuring contracts as a means of mitigating their risks.
I appreciate the words of encouragement.
The Phillies had such a great run. They decided to retain the core of their team that had helped them win. In the meantime, they traded their prospect depth to extend their window to win. Unfortunately, they have had to weather a lot of injuries and some aging stars while other teams in their division appear to be peaking.
We have one in-house lawyer. I believe that we also use external lawyers from time to time.
I probably should be a little more in tune with our promotions. I will have to defer to you on this one.
You are absolutely correct. Fielding metrics are still quite raw. As an industry, there is a race to come up with a refined fielding metric.
We have a very productive internship program. Send your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org (Matt).
We scour the entire sites, and several others. We are not too proud. If there is cutting edge information out there, we want to know about it.
Follow your passion and never give up. As you progress on your pursuit, hone your communications, analytical and Spanish language skills.
Thank you so much. We are launching with fantasy football. Provided that things go as well as we expect, the product will work with baseball, basketball, hockey, nascar, heck even oscar pools.
The insurance policies and premiums vary from player to player. As you referenced, the coverage is based on the health of the player you want to insure. We do not insure all of our players, but the majority of the higher salaried players.
We always view trades based on what we are getting in return. If you have a policy of not trading within your division, keep in mind that there is nothing that prevents a team of trading the player that they just acquired from you to another team within your division
That is a very accurate assessment
For this industry, secondary degrees help, but nothing replaces on the job training.
Hone your communications and critical thinking skills. Never hurts to learn Spanish.
2015 should be very bright. Once we get our horses healthy and blend them with some of our upside prospects, we should be very competitive next season. Also, we are going to have the ability to do some serious damage on the amateur and international fronts.
We believe that our window to win now is still wide open. Someone drew the shade this season, but the window is still open.
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