Astros Hire Of Mejdal Signals A New Direction
HOUSTON—Since coming on board late last year, the data-driven CEO George Postolos and general manager Jeff Luhnow have revolutionized the thinking of a club that was never all that pioneering in the world of 21st-century statistical analysis.
Never was this more evident than in Luhnow's hiring of his former Cardinals co-worker Sig Mejdal as the Astros' director of decision sciences—a "1984"-style title but one with real consequence right now.
"It's really someone to oversee the architecture and ongoing operation of all the systems that we're going to utilize to make better baseball decisions," Luhnow said.
Some of Mejdal's duties will be on the major league level: evaluating his own players, crunching the numbers on contracts and even mathematical studies of player injuries and mechanics. However, the major implications, especially in the full-scale rebuild currently ongoing, will be in the talent pipeline.
Mejdal will work with scouts to pick targets in the other 29 farm systems, should there be more trades like the ones that have decimated the big league team but restocked a lagging farm system the last two years.
And in this organization, evaluation of amateur talent will be key.
Mejdal will scour the amateur ranks to find players based on production and at least suggest some to scouts trying to find hidden talent later in the draft, stressing that his statistical evaluations will never stand alone without the trained baseball eyes.
Like Luhnow, Mejdal is a trained engineer. A SABR member since childhood, he appeared in the book "Fantasyland," in which he developed a modeling system to help guide author Sam Walker through a high-stakes fantasy baseball season. After the 2004 season that the book chronicled, he joined the Cardinals, serving most recently as director of draft analytics.
n Four-time Astros all-star Cesar Cedeno returned to a full-time role with the club for the first time since 2001. He will serve as hitting coach for Rookie-level Greeneville.
n Keith Bodie was promoted from Triple-A hitting coach to manager at Double-A Corpus Christi. Rodney Linares becomes manager at high Class A Lancaster after serving in the same role at low Class A Lexington in 2011. Ivan De Jesus returns to Houston from the Cubs to manage Lexington.