On Tuesday, White Sox director of baseball operations Dan Fabian chatted with a few bloggers about a wide array of topics ranging from the relationship between sabermetrics and scouting to trade rumors. U-God at South Side Sox transcribed the entire conference call, which is well worth a read. Below are a few highlights.
Fabian passed on answering a question from Jim Margalus (also of South Side Sox) asking about the feelings of the "previous regime" -- Ozzie Guillen, Joey Cora, etc. -- toward sabermetrics. "I just want to look forward to 2012," Fabian said. "We're going forward and we're happy with where things are set up right now."
That doesn't mean Fabian was unhappy with the way things were set up in terms of stats under Guillen, although it was apparent he and his coaching staff weren't too in to the idea of statistical analysis. It was, at the least, an interesting non-answer.
Fabian was much more open to discussing Kenny Williams' strategy in balancing scouting and numbers, though.
"Kenny's very straightforward that he's going to look at the scouting report first, but at the same time I know that he'll also look at the statistical information," Fabian explained. "We have discussions about various profiles we like to see, things that have evolved over the years.
"There are always two sides to the coin and I think we've always been more in the middle and there seems to have been more of a correction in the industry towards the middle at this point. It got very stat-heavy for a while there and I think everybody's realized you need both pieces there."
The stats vs. scouting debate that was brought about by Moneyball (a decade ago with the book) seems to have ended with both sides finding a middle ground, although you'll still find some stuck-in-their-ways person arguing for one side or the other. Fact is, Kenny Williams is like most other general managers in baseball -- he looks at both sides.
He has more of a scouting background, so naturally he uses numbers to back up scouting reports. That's fine, just as using scouting reports to back up numbers is fine. The White Sox, as an organization, use advanced stats. Like Rick Hahn said at SoxFest, "Yeah, it's like we don't like puppy dogs, chocolate and Christmas. Everybody likes those things."
Finally, Fabian mentioned how, before the trade deadline, he and his staff will put together a list of players for the Sox to target. I followed that question up by asking him if those rough lists ever get leaked out and create the rampant trade rumors we see during the midseason and offseason.
"I wouldn't think any of them come out of our information" Fabian said. "We're very tight-lipped and closed with what we have, so I think that very rarely do we see players that we're discussing come out. Honestly, things do come out from trades, but we keep it in a pretty small group and we feel pretty good when we do things and there wasn't a lot of feelings out in the world that this is what we were doing. We don't want to get things ruined by having information get out before it's ready."
This pretty much fits the bill with the Williams era in Chicago -- the White Sox rarely follow through on rumored deals. Most everything the team has done has seemingly come out of thin air, from the Sergio Santos trade to the Jim Thome deal five years ago.
But perhaps other teams allow names from those preliminary lists to leak, thus creating some of the bevy of trade rumors that rarely come to fruition. Just a thought.