Lee MacPhail IV is the Professional Scouting Director for the Baltimore Orioles.
His great-grandfather Larry MacPhail worked as the Chief Executive of the Brooklyn Dodgers, Cincinnati Reds, and the New York Yankees. His grandfather Lee MacPhail was General Manager of the O’s between the ’59 and ’65 seasons, spending 45 years as a Front Office Executive. They are the only father-son duo ever elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame.
His Uncle Andy, is obviously the current President of Baseball Operations / General Manager for the Orioles.
That linage continues with Lee MacPhail IV, who has worked with the O’s, Texas Rangers, Cleveland Indians, Minnesota Twins,
In addition to being the current Director of Professional Scouting for the O’s, he was previously the Director of Baseball Administration for the Nationals, Director of Amateur Scouting for the Indians, Director of Amateur Scouting for the Orioles, and Director of Player Development for the Birds.
Baltimore Sports and Life thanks Mr. MacPhail for taking the time to answer a few questions.
Mr. MacPhail: “Comparable in nature. We are very competitive relative to our competition. Size does not always win out in scouting. Quality, credibility and stability are important hallmarks for a scouting staff. We have been together as a unit for a number of years now allowing us to develop group cohesiveness, which in turn produces more efficient evaluations. Our staff has a better grasp on players we prefer and we have a greater understanding of their evaluation styles.”
Mr. MacPhail: “Work ethic, organization and passion for the game are key ingredients in pro scouting. Our pro Scouts come from a variety of backgrounds which shape their perspectives and efforts. There is not one standard model but most of them require the key ingredients listed above. Having field experience or amateur experience can augment their efforts but is not required. Information is a key component to decision making process. Former players have inroads to clubhouses and dugouts based their playing experiences, which can often distinguish their evaluations. Different life experiences produce different perspectives and differing opinions within the department. Any encourages different ideas and utilizes multiple sources and perspectives when making decision.”
Mr. MacPhail: “Sure, in fact still do. I am not sure I understood the effects as much then as I do today. There have thousands of baseball men who have given their lives to this game, most of them in anonymity; numerous baseball professionals who are very qualified but have not been provided opportunity. I empathize with their plight. I have been afforded certain opportunities based on my family name and am forever grateful. I am fortunate to have been raised in a grounded environment, allowing me to maintain perspective throughout. I am confident I have never abused such ‘privilege’. It reminds me of a saying related to nepotism…”it can get you in the door, it does not keep you in the door though.” That has been a humbling mantra. Also being born into such a significant baseball family also raises the expectations and scrutiny thought. It’s daunting at times being compared to family predecessors. I have been fortunate to be in situations where I have been able to establish my own identity and have my own successes away from the family name, making the transition here working for my uncle much easier.”
My understanding is that at that time, the Professional Scouting Department would be charged with presenting potential external options to address the weaknesses. The General Manager would attend the GM Meetings, and discuss in broad terms with his counter-parts, judging possible available deals for players the team would like to obtain. After the GM meetings, the Professional Scouting Department would narrow down the teams and players you want to target most at the Winter Meetings.
Is this basic representation accurate? If not, can you expand some light on the role of your department during these events?”
Mr. MacPhail: “Pretty accurate. While we did not have Organizational Meetings this year we did have Professional Scouting Meetings in November immediately following the GM’s meetings in
Is someone also responsible for reviewing bigger-picture aspects (financial constraints, changes in organizational philosophy, Mgt. Structure) and projecting how those issues will impact the respective franchise during the forthcoming season?”
Mr. MacPhail: “The time available for such reviews seems to narrow every year. I feel like the Arizona Fall League just ended. Your description is correct, the remaining times in the off-season are spent reviewing the state of the pro scouting department. Items for review include organizational depth, budgets, data input and output, data mining. Etc.”
Mr. MacPhail: “Each organization has differing philosophies regarding the intermixing of staffs into respective baseball operations disciplines. Often times these philosophies are fluid. Exposure and knowledge can be beneficial depending on staff and organizational makeup and aid in staff development. Timing and chemistry are essential factors to success though. Too often times, though, forced intermixing of disciplines can yield confusion, misinformation and inefficiencies. At the present time, we feel comfortable with our structure and prefer to simplify the process, centering our scouts focus.”
Mr. MacPhail: “There have been a number of names discussed during my time with the Orioles. It’s a fluid process, though. Players change, organizational needs change almost daily. Industry depth changes intermittently. Ebbs and flows to the cycle; over the past few years SS depth has been lacking; ten years ago teams were overflowing with SS. 3B prospects were abundant a few years back. We have to be proactive throughout the process to monitor and address those changes. Change for change sake is not always beneficial. Our first objective as an organization is to develop from within; cheaper and more efficient way means of player procurement. For example, not many Oriole Fans were familiar with the name Pedro Florimon at this time last year. Now he is on the 40-man roster and potentially on the cusp of helping our Major League club over the next few years. When internal options run dry though, we have to be ready if inventory suits at a given time.”
Mr. MacPhail: “Ah, you found that. I barely remembered it myself. I stumbled across it about a year back. The innocence of youth! A lot has changed over the past 18 years, both personally and professionally. Our industry has also changed significantly. I could not have anticipated my career path from 22 to now, nor can I anticipate what lies ahead over the next 18 years. I am happy in my current discipline and pleased with my skill set and hope to hone each in the coming years. At the same time I have a family to balance. Often times those two desires can conflict. At the end of the day, my goal is to reach my potential both personally and professionally. Who knows were that will be but if I am giving back to the game I love, all the better.”