Longtime Scouts Kevin Saucier, Ed Creech Honored At East Coast Pro
A pair of veteran scouts were honored prior to the final game of East Coast Pro on Saturday. Cardinals scout Kevin Saucier and Giants Senior Advisor of Scouting Ed Creech are both retiring this year after spending decades in the industry as players and scouts.
Saucier was a second round selection out of high school by the Phillies in 1974 and went on to have a five-year major league career with the Phillies and Tigers. He won a World Series Championship with the Phillies in 1980 when he went 7-3, 3.42 over 50 innings as a reliever. After his playing career, Saucier joined the MLB Scouting Bureau and was with the organization from 1984-2016 before joining the Cardinals.
Creech was also a second round draft pick, selected out of Mercer by the Expos in 1973. After a six-year minor league career with Montreal, Creech coached and managed for the organization in the minor leagues before moving to scouting in 1985. While an area scout with the Expos, Creech signed Marquis Grissom and Rondell White, among others. After his time as an area scout, Creech served as a scouting director for the Expos (1994-1997), Cardinals (1998), Dodgers (1999-2001) and Pirates (2002-2007). He was responsible for selecting players like Milton Bradley, JD Drew, Andrew McCutchen, Javier Vasquez, Neil Walker and Shane Victorino along with 65 other big league players over that 14-year period. Creech also contributed to drafting first round pick Buster Posey and others during his time as Senior Advisor with the Giants.
After Saucier and Creech were honored at Hoover Met Stadium, they were given rocking chairs to finally have a rest when they put their scouting days behind them. Baseball America caught up with the two to talk about their careers, how scouting has changed and what advice they would give up-and-coming talent evaluators today:
Baseball America: What does this mean to be honored like this at an event run by scouts, among all of your colleagues?
Ed Creech: To be honored by your peers is probably the biggest honor you could get anywhere. It was a surprise to me, I’m sure it was to Kevin too. But that’s the biggest honor you could have.
Kevin Saucier: I agree 100 percent. It’s all the guys that you’ve worked with through the years. We’ve met a lot of great people. One thing I’ll tell you about baseball people, generally, they are great people. And especially in the industry we’re at there are just great people. They are all friends, you know? We all try to look out for one another here. But this means so much coming from them.
EC: We probably see each other more than we do our family if I’m being honest with you, over the 33 years that we’ve been doing this. (Kevin’s) been doing this about 38?
KS: 35 years of scouting and nine playing. I had 45 total and you are going to have close to that.
EC: I’ve got 45 total after this year, too.
BA: Scouts are always competing against each other, but what is that brotherhood like? It seems like a tight group.
EC: It’s like playing ping pong against your brother or anybody else. You want to beat their ass, but you still love them afterwards.
KS: He’s right. Even though I was with the Bureau for 32 years it was still—I call it a game. Even though these guys were clubs I wasn’t going to let them beat me. I wasn’t going to let them sneak somebody in on me. It was like a game. But the thing of it is too, and Ed said it, we are on the road so much and we see each other so much. Scouting is one of the loneliest jobs in the game and to me it’s the most thankless job in the game. And I don’t think scouts get enough credit of what they do out here. And we respect each other too, that’s another thing. There’s a lot of respect for each other out here.
BA: How has the scouting job changed in the time you started to now and how have you adapted along with the game?
EC: Well it’s pretty obvious, there’s a lot more socialized scouting than there was before. We used to have to go out and find the names and do it ourselves and search the American Legion tournaments and things like that. Now it’s pretty much—it’s harder to hide a guy. You know, there are just so many avenues to get information from and that’s probably the biggest change. We can get into the statistics and all that stuff, which is probably a good reason I’m getting out now because I don’t understand half of it (laughs). But at the same time, we still analyze the strikeouts to walks, the guys with power, how many extra base hits. We did the little things, we just didn’t take it as in-depth as they do now. Which is something I have no idea about.
KS: I agree with him 100 percent. I don’t understand a lot of the analytic part of it. Back when I first started scouting it was all about evaluating tools. And still to this day that is a major part, evaluating tools, but the analytical part has played much more. You have social media now. Hell I remember when I scouted, you didn’t have cell phones. You didn’t have MapQuest to get you around. We didn’t even have computers. That was another thing for me to adapt to when they first put a computer in my hand, I had no idea what a computer was. But I knew I had to self teach myself to work it or I knew I wasn’t going to be in the game much longer. So of course I learn how to work a computer. But things have changed so much since we first started scouting, it’s just unbelievable. You used to hand write your schedules. Whether it be for high school or college, people don’t do that anymore everything is on the computer and on the internet.
EC: We used to carry so much stuff with us in our trunks if we didn’t get a ‘down and out’ in a motel we got mad. Because we’d have to carry it upstairs.
KS: I check into hotels now and people still don’t know what the hell a ‘down and out’ is.
BA: I've never heard of that term until just now.
EC: It’s a room facing the parking lot that you can back your car up to. Right up to the sidewalk and you can take all your stuff out of the trunk and move it in. We had to have schedules, we had to have paperwork, we had to have our report stuff, we had to have workout equipment, we had to have lawn chairs—we had to have just about anything that you could think of. And basically that’s what we had to do. Now it’s just a brief case.
KS: And reports, you would put them in an envelope and mail them through the post office. Now you just hit a button and boom, it’s gone.
EC: I still remember back when I was an area scout my crosschecker’s address. When I told him his address the other day, I saw him the other day, it was Eddie Haas. He goes, ‘Hell I can’t believe you remembered that address, I don’t even remember it.’ I would mail one copy to him, mail one copy into the office and I would keep one copy.
KS: Same thing with the expense account I bet you. Same damn thing.
EC: Yessir. Same thing. All by hand. Had to line up this column and this column. And if they didn’t add up you had to start all over again.
KS: The other thing is, and I don’t mean this in a negative way—well I guess in a way I do. What I call true baseball people, I just feel like to a degree sometimes I feel like they are trying to run them out of the game. And that’s the one part I don’t like. There are still a lot of good guys out here who have been around the game, who know the game. And I guess that’s where the analytical part comes in. Because I even know now, there was a comment made to me this spring, somebody had called the commissioner’s office about applying for retirement and the guy told him: ‘Listen if you want it you better start applying now. We’ve never had so many guys start applying for their retirement as they had this past year.’
EC: Is that right?
KS: Yeah. So if that doesn’t tell you what the sign of the times are.
EC: It comes in waves probably. Hell, we fooled them for 33 years—
KS: You hit it right on the head, we fooled their asses. (laughs)
EC: I don’t think I can fool them any longer. I don’t have the energy to fool them any longer.
BA: If you guys had any advice to give for young scouts who are asking you for tips, what is something you would tell them?
EC: Don’t be afraid to strike out. That’s the biggest problem I see. I hear people talking about ‘Oh man I’m afraid to turn this guy in, I’m afraid to turn that guy in.’ You know what, if you don’t swing for the fences you’re not going to make it. Don’t be afraid to strike out. I guarantee you if I looked at my failures right now I would be one depressed SOB. Because I had way more failures than I had hits, I will tell you that.
KS: There’s an old saying, ‘Columbus took a chance.’ Look what he came up with. Like he said you have to take those chances. To me with the young guys I think it’s going to be a bumpy road for a while as far as scouts. But the thing of it is you have to stay with it, work your ass off. Be dedicated to the game. You have to have passion for it. The way I always looked at it, I felt like I owed professional baseball something. And I think that’s the way you should approach it. Look, I owe this game something. They are giving me something, I owe them something. So bust your ass.