White Sox front office operations: a look inside


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Get ready for the 2012 Chicago White Sox season with a look inside how things are done in the front office. For those of you who have ever wondered how the Sox or any MLB team for that matter gets built, we bring you the insight of Dan Fabian, White Sox Director of Baseball Operations.

He was gracious enough to join us on conference call.

Transcript provided by South Side Sox

Could you run us through what a typical day for the DoBO is like?

DF: Well it depends on the time of year. My typical day during the season is I go through a process of things I do every day, I go through my daily charting (just the way I read my box scores), then it is also a lot to do with the pro scouts. We have eight pro scouts cover the minor leagues, catching up on their reports that come in along with the general organization of those.

Scheduling where we want to send scouts to. Those are probably the two things during the season that sort of take up the majority of my time. And then it’s just various projects, making sure we get all the information we need to get to our coaching staff. Daniel Zien, one of our assistants, handles the video portion of the advance scouting, but I assist with him there as well. Things come up during the year.

According to your bio on the team site, you were instrumental in developing the White Sox Scouting Portal. What exactly is that?

DF:  The scouting portal is a site where you can go to see any of our scouting reports or statistical information online. It’s something that started about ten years ago. It was just trying to make it so where ever you were traveling to watch a game in the minor leagues, you could get whatever you needed to see. It worked in improving the way the information flows.

What is it like around the major league trade deadline for you?

DF: The major league trade deadline is extremely busy. Really, we try to anticipate things as much as we can and have a bunch of material before hand, but things do pop up.

There’s two kinds of the trade deadline: the buying trade deadline and the selling trade deadline, but you still have to be prepared. Basically, we’ve gone through the first and second waves of our coverage at that point, combined that up with various statistical information, try to have it and hand and ready to go so that when something comes up, we can very quickly pull it together.

When trades come up, I’m sort of the first wave of compiling sort of a packet of players that are “Hey, here’s the ten guys from organization X that we should be thinking about. Now let’s look at the top four for the first guy and the next six for the second guy” and then that’s where Ken Williams or Rick Hahn obviously make the final decision. It’s trying to get the information in front of them to help facilitate the conversation.

To follow up on that question, what percentage of the players that you come up with are players that were requested that you look up and how many were ones that you saw that might be of interest to Kenny and Rick?

DF:  It’s all both. They’ll give you parameters on what we’re looking for at what levels and obviously there’s different levels of trades, but I’m really the first wave of information, I’m the guy sort of relevant. This offseason we’ve had a few of those. You get the information there and then the other organization obviously gets to say no to players too, so you have to react to that and try to find the right match.

Looking at different players, how much do you weigh with the eye test and how much do you weigh with statistical analysis?

DF: It’s obviously both and my background is in both areas. Back in the 90’s, I spent a lot of time as the Assistant Scouting and Farm Director. When Kenny came up, I worked the statistical research I’d done on the farm side on the major league side as well.

I’m an old line stat-head going back to the Bill James Abstracts in the 80’s and ELIAS and all that, so I’ve been doing a lot of the years on both sides. The scouting reports are going to be first, but the statistical analysis is another piece to try and determine which players are the best fits. Everyone one of our summaries has both those things on the page. It has the most recent scouting reports along with the statistical analysis with the basic numbers and some of the higher sabermetric numbers as well.

Paul M. Banks is CEO of The Sports Bank.net, an official Google News site generating millions of unique visitors. He’s also a regular contributor to Chicago Now, Walter Football.com, Yardbarker, and Fox Sports

A Fulbright scholar and MBA, Banks has appeared on live radio all over the world; and he’s a member of the Football Writers Association of America, U.S. Basketball Writers Association, and Society of Professional Journalists. The President of the United States follows him on Twitter (@Paul_M_BanksTSB) You should too.

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