Yesterday I was fortunate to be able to spend some time on the field at Camden Yards with Daniel Moroz from Camden Crazies, Anthony Amobi from Oriole Post, and Steve Giles of Baltimore Sports Report. The Orioles invited us to watch some batting practice then talk to Matt Klentak, the Director of Baseball Operations, and Jeremy Guthrie (no introduction needed). It was a great gesture by the Orioles to give us the access and it was also really cool.
We got to the field just as Luke Scott was in the cage taking BP, smoking balls into the center field seats. Also in his group were Nick Markakis, Vladimir Guerrero, Mark Reynolds (who was hitting balls the way we thought he'd hit them in actual games), and Adam Jones. The usual suspects (Palmer, Thorne, Hunter) were hanging around the cages in addition to coaches and a few guys from the Mariners. The Mariners filtered out of the third base side bullpen as BP went on, and we got to watch them do some warming up and stretching. Just hanging around in his jeans was Ken Griffey, Jr. It's amazing how much he just looks like a regular dude. The weather was gorgeous and I could have just stood there behind home plate watching the guys forever, but we had business to take care of.
Matt Klentak, the Director of Baseball Operations for the Orioles, met with us first. Not being entirely sure what Klentak's responsibilities were, that seemed a reasonable place to start the Q&A. While his responsibilities vary depending upon what is needed (he mentioned that a person in his position should never fall in love with one particular task because things change so rapidly), he is largely responsible for the administration of the forty-man roster. Upon hearing this I of course immediately thought of Pedro Viola and how he has managed to defy all logic by remaining on the roster this long, but I kept that to myself. Klentak is responsible for ensuring the Orioles meet all the rules of compliance regarding the forty-man roster, including managing the disabled list and other details.
Klentak also spoke about international scouting and specifically the Orioles' decision to not be one of the major players internationally. Klentak echoed the sentiments previously voiced by President of Baseball Operations Andy MacPhail when he said that historically speaking, investments in the international market aren't as sound as domestic investments, and while the team has increased its resources for the international market the past couple years, they are not and probably will not be one of the biggest spenders internationally.
Klentak then went a step further, telling us that last year the Orioles brought someone in for the specific task of analyzing the return on investment for international signings and based on the results, it was determined that it wasn't high enough to to warrant a bigger investment than they are giving it (he understandably declined to give details on the study). The Orioles have to be mindful of their resource allocation and while the domestic front is also risky, it's easier to know their true talent level. Players in international markets have agents that protect them so fiercely that it can be difficult to see them play in enough game situations to accurately assess their talent.
A few other topics were broached with Klentak (he doesn't know what will happen with the new CBA agreement and while he's disappointed with the on-field performance of the team he's certain it's not what we'll see for the rest of the season), but the international scouting conversation was definitely the most interesting. Afterward Daniel Moroz (official number cruncher of the blogO'sphere) expressed an interest in doing his own research on the rate of return on international prospects, and when I got back to my computer I emailed our James F because I knew he would be interested in those comments. Hopefully one or both of those guys will do some digging to try and determine just how valuable international scouting is.
I'll have more later today on meeting Jeremy Guthrie and what he had to say about his performance so far this year, his opinions on Zach Britton and being considered a mentor, his foray into the world of social media, and more.