It is a two-part interview with MacPhail about the O’s signing and scouting of international players since he took over in his current position. Tomorrow, I will feature here an interview with Baseball America’s Ben Badler with his analysis of the O’s efforts on this front.
Now, Part Two of the MacPhail interview.
Were the O’s one of the finalists for Miguel Sano?
“Yeah. What we did with Sano is we valued him where we thought he’d go in the draft and made an offer commensurate with that, and he did better.”
So what he signed for was more than your final offer?
“Yeah, by a good margin. Not that we were lowballing him, but by a good margin. We had the advantage of having Sano in our camp playing games. So we went out and made a first-round type of offer, but where we would have thought he’d go in the first round. He said, ‘I can do better,’ and he did it.”
Is any of the Orioles not spending big on international bonuses tied to in terms of the money you spend in the Dominican, for want of a better word, the turmoil there, the buscones (agents), the messy situation there?
“Dave (Stockstill) is running our efforts there and we are getting pretty reasonable results. I have targeted, which I will not share, and Dave and I have talked. We have targeted a specific, ‘This is what I want you to shoot for.’ That is who we are trying to sign right now as we speak.”
What do you mean by specific target?
“A certain guy, type of player - this is what I am looking for. This is where we need help and that is what he is doing. There are a couple of guys that he is trying to sign right now, but it’s too close to July 2. Every day after July 2, it stairsteps down and my suspicion is our budget is bigger this year than it was last year. We are prepared to do more this year and we are targeting a certain kind of guy. We do that based on where we think the averages are best.”
The perception is that the Orioles just don’t have enough scouts and scouting resources on the international front. Is that a fair criticism?
“I don’t know. I am sure there are organizations that have more. You have to evaluate it today in the context of what is going on today. The buscones are going from complex to complex, they are not in the hinterland anymore.
“You are not targeting guys all over the island. It’s just not the same game it used to be. We probably place a greater reliance, for better or worse, on our American evaluators going over there as opposed to be a totally domestic in the evaluation.”
What do you mean American evaluators? Some of your own amateur scouts?
“Or player development guys. So if an infield rover, for example, goes over to the Dominican, we will make sure he sees some guys we are looking at that are middle infielders. If the pitching rover goes over, we will make sure he sees some arms. If (hitting instructor) Denny Walling goes over, we look at some bats.
“Where I am really headed with this is we just seem to be more American-centric with our cross-checking.”
Could you see a scenario where you would get in the higher dollar game?
“Sure, if our guys say he’s worth it.”
Where are the Orioles at in Venezuela right now?
“Better. We are still very much working on augmenting our efforts there.”
Was there a situation a couple of years ago where the Orioles let go some of their scouts in Venezuela?
“Yeah, they had a problem getting back in the country, but we have rectified that, to my knowledge, in terms of getting accomplished what I think needs to get accomplished.”
So do you sign many more Dominican players than Venezuelan players?
“Right, but I think that’s common. We are still very much working on augmenting (our efforts there). We also seem to get something out of Curacao and I would not rule out Japan (in the future), but that is more pro type players.”
Are you looking mostly for pitchers in the Dominican?
“I choose not to give our strategy away there.”
In summing it all up, are you completely satisfied with your international efforts?
“You can’t really be completely satisfied. It’s a tactical decision.”
You yourself said, “Maybe it’s me, my generation.” Do you ever think about that, that a younger general manager might say we must be doing more than this on the international front?
“If you want to put $5 million down on batting practice, have at it. Now, in three years, if I’m wrong and I see that’s where you should be, then we’ll be there. But I am going to need to see proof that I am wrong, that’s all.”