To read the first part of the interview with Tom Moore, follow the link below:
TigsTown: Are there guys out there that you thought got big money and didn't deserve it, or other names that you felt were underrated?
Tom Moore: You know, that’s why I like the international market because there are 30 teams out there and 30 organizational philosophies and it only takes one team to like a guy, even if the other 29 teams don’t think he’s worth a dollar, but you think he’s worth 10 dollars. You give him the ten dollars and everyone says you’re crazy, but it really depends on how he ends up doing in the big leagues to see who is right or wrong. That’s the way we've seen it – internally we've had success, with our philosophy.
We have done our homework on guys who have signed for a lot of money, like Cespedes and Moncada. We've got great ownership in Mr. I and support from Dave Dombrowski and Al Avila. Time and time again, we've said “hey let’s go after this guy” and they've been behind it. At the same time, I feel a sense of responsibility if I think a guy is really worth that sort of money. If they are they going to tie up Major League resources, maybe we can get something that is going to be as good or better now to contribute.
TT: What’s your philosophy right now as far as how to identify that talent and differentiate what you do amongst the 30 teams?
TM: For me, it’s having a staff of experienced scouts and evaluators, as well as having an experienced field staffs that are developing players under a common philosophy. We have guys that need to and work as a team, communicate, share thoughts and ideas. Having academies to bring in a player for a 5 day look so that the field staff can give their opinion on what they really think, how receptive the players they are to learning and changing mechanics or whatever it might be. The more info you can get, the better you’ll be. We've been really fortunate because Dave Dombrowski and Al Avila have been really supportive and patient. This sort of strategy takes time, because these players need time to develop.
Guys like Hernan Perez, Avisail Garcia, Bruce Rondon; we signed those guys in 2007, and its 7 or 8 years later and they’re just now approaching contributing at the big league level. It takes time and a concerted effort from all of your staff.
But at the end of the day, in comparison to spending your resources on one player and banking on that one guy, I’d rather spread it out and maybe you can end up getting three or four guys. Whether those three or four guys are as good as that one guy, you never know. But they could fill two or three holes that you’re looking for, and that allows the team to spend the money to get a superstar, or you trade those guys to acquire a guy to fill a hole. That’s worked for us.
We don’t ignore those high profile guys by any means. But at the same time, we feel like we have to make the decision if it’s going to be all our eggs in one basket or not. Having experienced scouts, they have a lot more of an inventory of players they have seen over the years. They have the experience to project on players which might not be guys that you need to break the bank on to sign. Players like Willy
Adames and Domingo Leyba out of the Dominican Republic and Zach Shepherd out of Australia are those in which we signed within our means and all of a sudden we’ve got a handful of guys that turn into premium guys – that to me is what it’s about.
TT: Obviously you mentioned Australia – are you trying to focus more there, less there, about the same?
TM: We’re constantly trying to evaluate markets throughout the world to try to keep an eye on where things are. Australia is no different than any other market where it’s as peaks and valleys a little bit. We have a great setup there for when the time works to make a good signing.
TT: Is there a country out there where you feel like it definitely is on the rise, outside of those waves?
TM: Yes, Brazil is starting to make a little noise; they’re showing a lot more interested in baseball. They’re becoming more organized in terms of youth baseball; it’s not going to be an immediate thing, but long term, that’s going to be a source of baseball talent. And in Europe, MLB is investing a lot of resources in developing the game there.
With that said, a lot of the places where the best talent is, are places that if baseball isn’t the number one sport it’s one of the most popular sports in the country. I feel we have to go after the talent where baseball fever is taking hold. In Europe they’ve made a lot of strides, but it takes a long time to develop the sport, because as you know, it’s not something where you can pick up a ball and know how to play.
I always go back to the best athlete in the world at the time, Michael Jordan made that switch to a game he played when he was younger, and showed how it’s really hard to play this game at the highest level.
TigsTown would like to thank Tom Moore and the Tigers for taking the time to discuss their international operations with us.