Last week, the Miami Marlins honored that early offseason pledge to beef up their analytics department by hiring Jason Pare. Pare was a former Toronto Blue Jays staffer, and has now been brought in crunch the baseball numbers here in South Florida. Marlin Maniac set out to interview the head man over at Jays Journal, Keegan Matheson, to pick his brain for any insight he has on what this hiring means for the Marlins.
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- How much of a part do you think analytics played in the Blue Jays recent success over the last couple seasons?
KM: The raw on-field impact of analytics is difficult to measure in terms of quality at this point for Toronto, but the Blue Jays have certainly let their (small) analytics department have a voice in the conversation recently. Jason Pare joined the club as a “number two” man to top analytics executive Joe Sheehan.
A recent example of the analytics department steering the ship would be the signing of Justin Smoak last offseason as the team worked to replace Adam Lind. A Globe & Mail story at the time quoted then-GM Alex Anthopoulos as telling his analytics department that, if they wanted to offer Smoak a contract, all they had to do was stand on the table and ask for it. And as the story goes, up onto the table went Pare.
- What can you tell me about Jason Pare-when he came on, influence he had, and the like?
KM: (Addressed some of this in #1) Pare joined the Blue Jays prior to the 2014 season after spending time with the Cleveland Indians. Originally an author for Baseball Prospectus, Pare was part of a more crowded analytics department in Cleveland, so Toronto did offer a much greater opportunity level.
- Weighing 1 and 2, do you see this as a good addition for Miami?
KM: Toronto and Cleveland certainly operate in different markets and within different parameters. Pare has also been able to experience an increasing level of responsibility within his analytics roles over the past several years. While he’s not a name we’d often hear in the press, very few analytics executives in the league are, so I’ve seen no reason to doubt him going forward.
- Do you see a connection between the increased use of analytics, and the hot topic of tanking?
KM: That’s a difficult one for me, because I’m not sure if teams are as interested in tanking as they once were. Organizations like Houston and Chicago (Cubs) have turned their franchises around so quickly that a full-length rebuild is becoming more rare.
If anything, I feel that these lower-quality or lower-budget teams can rely more heavily on analytics to get by. A lower ranking certainly helps with draft slot, but this can come into play with international signings and veteran reclamation projects, as well.
- Wouldn’t be Blue Jays-Marlins if we didn’t touch on 2012 mega trade. Thoughts on who won that deal, and whether 2016 season will seem to widen or shorten that gap?
Can we call it a wash? An All Star season from Troy Tulowitzki may help the Blue Jays via multiple degrees of separation (via Jose Reyes), but with Mark Buehrle now headed towards retirement and the Josh Johnson Experiment existing as a painful memory, it’s difficult to take much from the deal. The R.A. Dickey trade with the Mets, however, is still a sore spot for many fans.
At this point, you’ll most often see the Marlins mega-deal met with a defeated sigh. It was huge, it happened, but the paths that the players have taken since makes it feel like a decade ago