Hoping the Astros Hire Keith Law

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The new front office of the Houston Astros led by Jeff Luhnow interviewed ESPN analyst and former Blue Jays assistant Keith Law for several roles.

He has yet to be offered a position.

I hope he gets one.

Because Law has become such a polarizing, prominent and referenced voice in all things baseball, he’s accumulated a large number of fans that take every word he says as gospel and others who think he’s obnoxious and thin-skinned.

Sometimes I agree with him and sometimes I don’t.

In matters of scouting and analyzing prospects, I’ve always seen him as one who regurgitates stuff he’s heard and repeats terminology designed to sound as if he’s assessing when he’s simply attempting to sound more knowledgeable than he is.

He doesn’t have a thorough understanding of the game itself in most contexts other than those he’s soaked up from scouts and his statistical knowhow.

As simplistic as is the overused, final say argument-ender from players and managers of, “What do you know? You never played professionally,” in response to a questioning of their performance and strategy, to use a Law statement in the aftermath of his silly online slapfight with Michael Lewis over his mostly accurate review of Moneyball, there’s a kernel of truth to it.

It’s very easy to sit on the sideline and say to a Jeff Francoeur that because he bats .420 with the count 3-1, “Well, why don’t you take more pitches?” Or to tell Gio Gonzalez that (I’m making these numbers up) that when he throws a first pitch strike, he gets the hitter out 97% of the time and should throw more first pitch strikes as if he’s not trying to do exactly that.

It’s not that easy in practice and if you’ve never physically played the game, you’re missing an imperative facet to accurately gauge and understand why a player doesn’t do what seems so simplistic on paper.

The aforementioned Lewis dustup showed Law to be skittish and disingenuous. He got caught in a lie and knew he was caught in a lie—if Lewis had the interview on tape or kept his notes, it would’ve been known immediately—so he bailed out before the facts were exposed and tried to “explain”.

You can’t be smug and condescending and completely unable to take legitimate questioning of your agenda and credentials; you can’t rip into front office people and managers and hide when your own “expert” analysis is disputed.

It doesn’t work that way.

His ESPN “mock drafts” are for public consumption only and essentially irrelevant.

I could scour the web right before the draft, find the top 40 ranked prospects, look at their amateur stats and physical attributes and formulate a “mock draft” that would look like I knew what I was talking about whether or not I’d seen and heard of any of the players; there would be people who read what I wrote and defend it based on my skills at sprinkling key words into the piece based on what I wanted to convey.

If you sound like you know what you’re talking about, there will be a vast percentage of readers/listeners who take it as fact that you do, even if you don’t.

The Twitter tough guy responses to anyone who dares question him are indicative of one who has a lot to say from the safety of his computer or phone, but disappears when directly challenged.

If you examine his current Twitter feed, you’ll see that he’s still making snide and—in my opinion—unprofessional comments about people in the game; about contracts; about trades; about drafts; about everything. It’s strange from someone who clearly wants and is waiting for a potential job offer to get back into the trenches and will have to deal with those same people who will remember what he’s said about them.

Wouldn’t shutting down the tweeting until he knows about the job be the wise, intelligent thing to do?

Incidentally, Law has me blocked on Twitter. Never once have I said anything abusive. Like him, I say what I think and what I’ve said about Law is that he’s an armchair expert; I’ve pointed out his cluelessness of baseball history, and ridiculed his silly mock drafts.

Having a thin skin is unsustainable and an invitation to disaster; if he’s going back into a baseball front office, he’s going to have a big problem with those who are waiting for a chance to get back at him for the things he’s said over the years.

To use the title of his food/culture blog “The Dish”, my advice to anyone and everyone is don’t dish it out if you can’t take it.

As popular as Law apparently is with his fans, his critiques are disguised as “honesty” and devoid of accountability.

If he got back into the arena and was the person making the decisions, there would be nowhere for him to run if they failed; but he’d also get the credit if they worked.

It could mean nothing that he was interviewed last week and that he’s yet to have been offered a position; presumably it he’s not, he’ll find a way to spin it to save face and stay at ESPN. But why take the interview if you don’t have serious interest in the job?

That the Astros are a front office that is using the statistical template that Law believes in makes it a good match; but if they don’t want him, it’s going to be quite embarrassing and a window into his actual credibility within baseball.

I want him to get a job with the Astros.

I don’t want him to fail; I don’t want him to succeed.

I’m indifferent.

I’d just like to see what happens once he’s out of the studio and off the web, making decisions for a franchise and has to answer to critics rather than being one himself.

He’d better be a success.

Because people don’t forget.