The Indians and DiamondView: Does It Work?

An article by Albert Lyu at Full Count Pitch that covers a lot of things Indians, including new GM Chris Antonetti and outgoing GM Mark Shapiro, the Indians use of the DiamondView player evaluation system, and the decisions to trade Bartolo Colon and to let Jim Thome walk. While the parts about Antonetti/Shapiro and Colon/Thome are by far the more interesting portions of the article, I’m beginning to think that the DiamondView portion is far more important.

Lyu is probably handcuffed by never used the DiamondView program and having to rely on secondhand info to describe it. I never felt like I really understood the system. Is it a program that runs on a computer or is it a completely different set of hardware? I found the DiamondView portion of the article to be difficult to read, although I got the point that DiamondView is highly efficient and very fast.

While Lyu touts the achievements of the Indians using DiamondView (namely, the 2007 AL Central crown and the heist of Grady Sizemore and Cliff Lee from Montreal) and how other clubs (he names the Chicago Cubs) are starting to try to emulate it, I’m left with a nagging doubt as I read it: maybe the system isn’t working.

And yes,while  it has had some successes, the Indians have missed badly on players, presumably using DiamondView: David Dellucci, Jason Michaels, Kerry Wood, Brandon Phillips, you could make a case for Travis Hafner, and most likely (unfortunately) Andy Marte, among others.

There is a human element to baseball, as at least two of the previously mentioned players (Phillips and Marte) were victims of former manager Eric Wedge’s ire, and rarely played. Wedge actually ran Phillips out of town. But still, DiamondView obviously doesn’t take things like “sudden nagging injuries.” The system seems to work best on trades with other organizations, but seems to fail (miserably, I might add) at evaluation of college players (Jeremy Sowers springs to mind).

But there’s no denying that DiamondView has worked a few times, as the home run Mark Shapiro hit for the Bartolo Colon trade has shown. Lyu’s use of the Jim Thome decision isn’t as strong, as Thome was still a productive player after he left Cleveland.  But there’s no denying Lyu’s argument that even if Thome was productive, his salary would be handicapping the team. Tribe fans are seeing this right now with Hafner.

So there’s definitely some merit to the DiamondView evaluation system. But given some of the recent decisions by the Indians management, I think it might need an upgrade.

Tags: Andy Marte Bartolo Colon Brandon Phillips Cliff Lee Grady Sizemore Jeremy Sowers Jim Thome Kerry Wood Travis Hafner

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