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Thoughts on Scouting

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John Sickels, SB Nation/Vox Media

As I was driving up I-35 yesterday, I was thinking about the issue of scouting along two particular themes.

First, as you likely know the National Baseball Hall of Fame has a new on-line searchable database including thousands of scouting reports. I could waste many many hours having fun with this. . .err, I mean, devote many many hours to research and historical study. Some of these reports turned out to be extremely accurate of course and just about all of them are fascinating in one way or another.

This report from 1980 emphasizes the projectability
of the 17-year-old Dwight Gooden. Clayton Kershaw's report from 2006 is very detailed. I like this report on Chuck Knoblauch from 1989. It is interesting to note that the reports become more detailed and deeper over time.

Not every report turns out well of course. Some reports on Robin Ventura for example were less than enthusiastic. Even the sharpest, most intelligent and observant scouts can make mistakes.

The other theme revolves around Conor Glassey's recent broadside against the internet. I'm not sure who is out there disrespecting scouts; as far as I know, most people in the baseball journalist and analyst universe have immense respect for scouts and, indeed, draw much information from them and share information with them just as Baseball America does.

That said, Glassey makes some excellent points about exactly how difficult scouting is, as well as the intense dedication scouts must show to the profession. They don't get paid very much; they travel incessantly; they work immensely long hours for little recognition; they often sacrifice their family and personal lives for love of the sport. He's very right about all that, and I hope that the new Hall of Fame emphasis on scouting brings more attention to exactly how important scouts are to the success of a major league organization and the sport as a whole.

Along those lines, it seems to me that a smart organization would do very well to boost the pay of scouts. Some teams have hired more scouts as the necessity for internal player development becomes more apparent, but beyond that, I think a progressive organization would also be wise to improve what scouts, especially veteran, proven scouts, get paid.

If you can spend six million dollars for a utility infielder, surely you can afford to give your scouts a healthy pay increase. It would help their morale at least, and perhaps ease some of the mental and emotional stress that scouts labor under. Aside from any ethical consideration, employers that treat their employees well tend to get more out of them. Happy employees are usually better employees. Most of corporate America has forgotten that, but a smart organization should remember that principle and apply it.

Without scouts, there is no baseball. We should all remember that, and I'm glad to see scouts get more and more recognition.