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Giants, Rangers rise from old-school approach


ARLINGTON, Texas -- Two wins from their first World Series title since moving to San Francisco in 1958, the Giants have gone back to nature with a 100 percent homegrown postseason rotation.

The Rangers, while determined not to let their first-ever World Series appearance slip away, take comfort in the fact they are no one-hit wonder, that they've stockpiled enough young talent that they will become regular visitors to the Fall Classic.

If this World Series seems a bit more organic than in recent years, it's because it is.

In an age of quantitative analysis and hard drives dominating many baseball front offices, both the Giants and the Rangers have gotten here the old-fashioned way, with a heavy emphasis on scouting and player development -- and not so much on graphs and metrics.

"That's our hope," says Texas general manager Jon Daniels. "I'm not sure that's what everybody expects from us.

"We're definitely not trying to re-invent the wheel. Our better decisions have been when they've been scouting-driven."

"This is one of the last pockets of old-school baseball," third base coach Tim Flannery says of his Giants. "That was one of the reasons we were honored to come up here and be a part of it.

"You sit in meetings and you look around, and you're surrounded by people who played and had glorious careers. Guys like Dick Tidrow and Felipe Alou."

At the helm since 1993, San Francisco's Brian Sabean is the game's ranking general manager in terms of seniority. Tidrow, vice president of player personnel, has been with him since 1994. While Sabean has lost a couple of key advisors and great friends over the years in the late Pat Dobson and Ted Uhlaender as well as Ned Colletti (who moved on to become general manager of the rival Dodgers), John Barr (special assistant to the general manager) and Bobby Evans (vice president of baseball operations) currently play vital roles in Sabean's inner circle.

In staying current, the Giants do employ two analysts who study numbers. But, as Sabean says, "we don't call them computer guys."

One of the game's most under-the-radar GMs, Sabean ducked one interview Thursday in San Francisco about the club's philosophy and then finally declined an interview Friday in Texas because, as he said, "the players are the show right now. The spotlight should be on them."

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That spotlight is especially intense on the mound when San Francisco is pitching. Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Madison Bumgarner, the four Giants postseason starters, are products of the organization's draft. Bumgarner was chosen for the postseason rotation over Barry Zito, the $126 million free agent.

Lincecum, Bumgarner and rookie sensation Buster Posey were first-round choices in three successive Giants drafts.

"We watch a lot of film, and we scout," says Tidrow, who pitched 13 big-league seasons, mostly with the Indians, Yankees and Cubs. "We like to see people live."

When Alou retired as manager after the 2006 season, the Giants asked for -- and received -- permission from the Padres to hire Bruce Bochy. Bochy had managed the Padres for 12 seasons, winning four NL West titles during that span -- including back-to-back division titles in his last two seasons there.

But with Sandy Alderson, the godfather of "Moneyball," presiding over the Padres as president, they didn't value Bochy, with his knack for relating to players and the game on a human level rather than via numbers and trends -- at least, they didn't value Bochy as much as his $1 million salary called for.

This postseason, Bochy has hit more solid notes than Pavarotti ever did. A former catcher who handles bullpens particularly well, Bochy manages by instinct, with a unique blend of following matchups and his gut instincts.

You won't find reams of scouting materials next to Texas manager Ron Washington in the dugout, either. Though Washington's gut steered him horribly wrong in the late innings of Game 2 Thursday night, he has been mostly tremendous for Texas all summer long.

You will find key baseball officials from both the Giants and the Rangers in the stands -- not at their computers -- during batting practice, intently studying both their own team and their rival looking to glean any bit of intelligence or insight they can.

Before Game 1 of the Division Series, the Rangers recognized their scouts on the field. After clinching their first World Series berth with a win over the Yankees in the ALCS, Daniels grabbed a microphone and thanked the club's scouts for their vital work.

"We're going to use all of the information available to us," says Daniels, whose Rangers do not employ a full-time statistical analyst. "The easiest decisions to make are when the scouts' recommendations and the objective analysis line up. But that usually doesn't happen.

"I'd like to think we've built our organization on our people. Scouts, coaches ... I'd put that group up with anybody else's."

Among Daniels' key advisors are assistant GM Thad Levine, player personnel director A.J. Preller, Don Welke, the senior special assistant to the GM and scouting, and director of player development Scott Servais. And, of course, club president Nolan Ryan, who isn't exactly on-board with modern-day pitch counts. The Rangers do not employ anybody whose sole job is statistical analysis.

They've earmarked millions of dollars into player development, scouting and international scouting figuring that, as a mid-market team, that's the only way they will be able to consistently win.

You're seeing the results in this year's AL champions: A solid dozen members of the Rangers' young 2007 Instructional League team have advanced to the majors, including shortstop Elvis Andrus, closer Neftali Feliz, outfielder Julio Borbon and pitchers Tommy Hunter, Scott Feldman and Derek Holland.

"And we're just as high on our 2010 Instructional League group as we were the 2007 group," Welke says. "They're just younger. And the '07 guys have been phenomenal."

Welke, with more than 40 years of scouting in the game, was a key advisor to legendary GM Pat Gillick in Toronto in the early 1990s as the Blue Jays built back-to-back World Series champions in 1992 and 1993. Welke also was the Dodgers' senior scouting advisor from 1999-2006 until he was let go when Paul DePodesta became GM there.

Welke says the current group of young Rangers is "as good as any of the talent that the young Blue Jays or Dodgers had." With the Jays, Welke was directly responsible for signing, among others, Pat Hentgen and John Olerud. With the Dodgers, he was involved in obtaining, among others, Jayson Werth and Cesar Izturis.

When Daniels talks about how some of the Rangers' "better decisions have been scouting-driven," he ticks off the names of Feliz, Andrus, Nelson Cruz and pitcher Alexi Ogando.

"Our guys saw Ogando as an outfielder in the Dominican Summer League," Daniels says. "They said he's got a good arm, he can't hit, maybe we can turn him into a pitcher."

At 33, Daniels is 21 years Sabean's junior. Despite the age gap, the similarities run beyond the two teams battling for this year's World Series title.

"You've got to know what you're doing -- he's going to expect you to," Tidrow says of working for Sabean. "He's going to take all of the information and make a decision. It's pretty basic. It's pretty old-school -- put all the information on the wall, and then decipher it."

"All of our staff, from people like [major-league coaches] Dave Righetti, Mark Gardner and Roberto Kelly, to the people in the minor leagues, some of these guys have had great careers," Flannery says. "Jim Davenport and Joey Amalfitano, all of these cool old guys. I'm sitting in the meetings looking around and going, 'All right. This is the spot. At least we all speak the same language.' "

Most of the time. But every now and then, if someone drops some new technology term, Flannery will just grin. He knows what's coming next.

"Sabean will be the first to say," Flannery says. "What the f--- does that mean?"


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