The Arizona Diamondbacks announced on Friday night that they have hired Mike Fitzgerald to be their Director of Research and Development. He has spent the last five seasons in the front office for the Pittsburgh Pirates as a quantitative analyst. Less than a month ago, the Pirates lost long-time scout Greg Schilz to the Phillies.

For an in depth look at Fitzgerald and what he meant to the Pirates, check out this article on Grantland from Ben Lindbergh. It’s definitely worth checking out.

This is a huge loss for the Pirates to say the least. Fitzgerald was a big part of the front office, who had a hand in everything from defensive alignments to the batting order to batter/pitcher match-ups. He worked side-by-side with Dan Fox, who heads the sabrmetrics department for the Pirates as their Baseball Informatics Director. He was on the road with the team and sat in on meetings with the coaches.

If you don’t want to check out the in depth article, then Travis Sawchik had a pair of interesting tweets about Fitzgerald that help just a little to explain his importance:

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  1. this just tells you what a tight wad nutjob really is….not only can we not compete with other teams regarding player acquisition, in addition, with our administrative personnel…it never ends…

    • #NotSureIfSerious. Fitz is basically getting Dan Fox’s job with Arizona. Unless Huntingdon wanted to fire Fox, he wasn’t going to keep Fitz. It’s sort of like complaining that they couldn’t keep Banny as bench coach when the Rangers offered him a job as Manager.

        • Er… The Dodgers and Cubs each have a Director of Research and Development, with a staff of analysts and developers.

          The Pirates have a Director of Baseball Informatics, with a staff of analysis and developers.

          Fitz will be the Diamondbacks’ Director of Research and Development, and will hire a staff of analysts and developers, instead of being one of the analysts on the staff.

          How would the Pirates have “kept him happy” short of giving him Fox’s job? For that matter, how would the Dodgers or Cubs have kept one of their analysts had the D’Backs wanted to hire him away?

          • The same way the Dodgers are Cubs able to keep three or four GM-worthy guys happy, title creep.

            Promote Dan Fox, with a raise, to a new position like Executive Vice President, Baseball Informatics and promote Fitz, with a raise, to Fox’s old job. Or create a new position for Fitz himself like Director, Quantitative Communications and allow him more autonomy and decision-making.

  2. I highly recommend the Lindbergh article. It reinforces the idea that Baseball is the most complex game ever designed by the mind of man. I hope Dr dng is right that the Pirates have depth at this position. Of course, our guys still have to play better than their guys.

    • Unlikely, since the Williams deal wasn’t just because they lost Jim Benedict. It was because teams usually don’t take two front office members from the same club in one year, and the Marlins had already signed Mark DelPiano earlier in the off-season. They basically had to compensate for breaking an unwritten rule.

  3. For every athlete in the League, trust me, there is a Baseball Nerd (no offense) waiting in the wings!!!

    • Yeah good idea. He’s had zero success. Only 3 playoff seasons. 5 years of meaningful September all in a row (not sure any team has matched that other than cards). Building one of the best systems top to bottom in baseball (ranked by outside sources). Building a Caribbean baseball acaemdy others drool over. All done with a relatively meager revenue stream… Let’s get rid of that guy.

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