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Mariners blog

Daily coverage of the Mariners during the season and all year long.

November 15, 2008 at 10:52 AM

New stats department for M’s

As we mentioned in this morning’s paper, the Mariners are about to create a new department of statistical analysis that should be in place for the coming season. Details are sketchy at the moment. Tony Blengino, assistant to GM Jack Zduriencik, told me yesterday that there are other pressing issues the new front office has to deal with before firming up plans for the stats department.
Makes sense. Zduriencik is about to hire a new manager. He told me last night that there’s only a slim chance he’ll bring anyone new into his field of seven candidates. He wants to phone up the seven this weekend and have a more relaxed, casual conversation with each of them to get to know them better. If he feels the need, he’ll bring two finalists back and interview them again on Monday and Tuesday. That means, at the latest, a midweek decision and press conference no later than Thursday.
If Zduriencik skips any second interviews, we could have a press conference by Tuesday.
Other than that, the team also has player decisions to make in lieu of the free agency season being upon us. This is more than just figuring out where Raul Ibanez fits in the picture. The M’s have to make a call on Erik Bedard and whether he’s going to be ready to start the season as planned. If he’s not, then the question of whether to tender him a contract becomes an issue.
But the M’s and Blengino say they’re serious about this stats department thing. It could take on any number of shapes and sizes. I asked Blengino whether it would be closer “to 2 or 20” people. He replied that it certainly wouldn’t be 20. But there are other things to work out. Would it be housed here in Seattle? Would it hire college interns, some of whom may be trained in other areas of stats crunching? Remember, Blengino got his start in the working world as a CPA.
Where does current freelance stats consultant Mat Olkin fit in all this? The M’s don’t know yet and say they’ve yet to contact him.
The M’s won’t be the first team to hire in-house stats evaluators, since that’s the one route they’re pretty sure of heading in with this project. But an entire department? That’s certainly pretty rare and cutting edge in this game. Blengino says he wants to get this right, so he’ll take his time.

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