...to Blue Jays Consultant (Baseball Operations) Keith Law, who marks his first year with the organization today. For a quick trip back in time, take a look back at the lengthy Baseball Primer thread that his announcement precipitated. Law's move from Baseball Prospectus to a major-league club was greeted by Primates roughly the same way as was Richard Dreyfuss's ascension to the alien spaceship by the scientists in Close Encounters -- congratulations on achieving our collective dream, you lucky stiff.
The thread itself, unfortunately, is crammed with too much talk about whether or not Keith is a pleasant e-mail correspondent, which was and is beside the point (though just for the record, he is). The more interesting discussion is about whether the Blue Jays became, with his hiring, the poster boys for sabrmetrics, the great walking experiment in whether or not a sabrmetric team can succeed.
In retrospect, of course, these arguments were off-base: Ricciardi wasn't building a spreadsheet-based club, either before or after Keith's hiring. What sets the Ricciardi-LaCava-Wilken-Law-Scott braintrust apart from many other teams is their intelligence and their willingness to consider new angles and innovative solutions, including those revealed by sabrmetrics, in an effort to build a successful organization. Sabrmetrics won't tell you to offer Dave Berg a two-year contract or to take a chance on Tanyon Sturtze, but the Blue Jays have done both these things confidently. To call the team a sabrmetric laboratory is to vastly underestimate the complexity of running a major-league club and to undercut the insights that all of the front office's personnel bring. If (when!) the Blue Jays succeed, it will be testament to the power of smart thinking and the courage to innovate, exactly the same as every other successful company or initiative the world over.
The thread is notable also for the appearance of two current Batter's Box contributors, Craig B and Gideon, under their own names, and for the fact it was my first post at Primer -- a momentous occurrence that helped pave the way to my presence here today and to many, many hours of using the Internet at work for non-business purposes. Accordingly, I'd like to take this opportunity to thank my employers for not firing my sorry butt. :-)