Barry Lewis baseball column: New book offers insight into baseball jobs (Tulsa World 5/13/2017)

May 13, 2017

Geivett, in various roles from farm director to assistant general manager, kept close tabs on the Rockies’ prospects in Tulsa.

After resigning from the Rockies’ front office in October 2014, he began writing a book, “Do You Want to Work in Baseball? Inside Baseball Operations,” that was released during the winter. Anyone who wants to break into baseball would be helped by reading the book.

But starting with an attention-grabbing opening anecdote involving his friend Tommy Lasorda, the book is also interesting and informative in so many areas for all fans even if they have no interest in working in baseball. There are many entertaining stories and it takes fans behind the scenes that really haven’t been explored before in a book, such as Geivett’s unsuccessful interview to become Houston Astros general manager.

The first seven chapters are primarily focused on how to get a job in baseball and what it’s like when you get that job. Four chapters are devoted to scouting and the final seven before the conclusion are on player development and how to build a championship team.

The book will help fans understand better why some decisions are made by teams, regarding personnel in general and during minor league games where strategy can be much different than in the majors due to player development considerations, such as why a pinch-hitter isn’t used in what would appear to be an obvious pinch-hitting situation.

Geivett, 53, broke into pro baseball as a player in the California Angels organization from 1985-88 and played against the Drillers. He was a scout for the New York Yankees and also worked for the Montreal Expos, Tampa Bay and Los Angeles Dodgers before joining the Rockies in 2000. He lives in Arizona and is a baseball and business consultant.

The website, www.insidebaseballoperations.com, has information on how to purchase the book.

 

Below is a Q&A with Geivett:

What inspired you to write this book?

“Whenever I’d go to a game, even when I first started scouting, I was often asked, ‘How do you get a job in baseball?’ ”

Why did you include your Astros interview?

“I had never heard anybody talk about what happened in an interview for a GM job, just whether they got the job or not, so I wanted to tell the story and what I learned. After my first interview with Montreal in ’94, I had never had to interview — Tampa Bay, Los Angeles and Colorado had come and got me. I wasn’t going to sugar coat anything. I thought I was well prepared for any questions that would be asked (by Astros owner Jim Crane). But instead he said, “What do you want to tell me?” I wasn’t prepared for that. The big lesson I learned is to have your presentation ready as if you aren’t going to be asked any questions. Many of the lessons in the book are applicable outside baseball.There’s really something in there for everybody. I had a federal judge tell me it’s basically a business book.

And you also learned from that Astros meeting never to wear cuff links to a job interview?

“Yes (with a laugh), I took off my (suit) jacket, my cuff link got caught in the lining. (As the jacket came off, the ripped fabric hung from the open sleeve).”

You gave Alex Rodriguez an OFP (Offensive Future Potential) score of 64 in a scouting report (included in the book) that you filed for the Yankees when he was 17 and still in high school in 1993. What can we learn from that report?

“I knew I was looking at an athlete with a lot of strength. A 56 was a first-round candidate. I was a little light with the 64. I wanted to raise it, but a 64 was the highest I had ever given an amateur player. I wanted to put him at 68. That still bothers me today.”

Who are some of the prospects that were with the Drillers who really stood out and you knew were going to be really good in the majors?

“Tulo (Troy Tulowitzki) we saw early at Long Beach State and we didn’t think would be still around for us to draft (at No. 7 in 2005). Ubaldo Jimenez. Matt Holliday at the end of his time in Tulsa started to come on and really took off in the (Arizona) Fall League. I don’t think anyone questioned he would play in the majors, we just didn’t know how impactful he would be. Jeff Francis was so dominant at Tulsa. Nolan Arenado was loved by our scouts. He was so good physically, but still maturing. We always liked him and knew he could hit, but defensively he was better than anyone expected in high school. He’s one of the best players in the big leagues. He doesn’t get the accolades that some others get because he doesn’t play on either coast.”

Who was the most pleasant surprise among those who played with the Drillers?

“Ryan Spilborghs, not just that he made the big leagues, but all the success he had. With his infectious personality, everyone in player development was rooting for Spilly.”

Q: Are you surprised that (former Oral Roberts and Drillers infielder) Doug Bernier is still playing in his 16th pro season after you signed him as an undrafted free agent in 2002?

A: “If you read the book you can figure out how that can happen. He’s the type of guy who excels on defense up the middle and you’ve got a chance if you can do that, no matter what you hit.”

Do you have a favorite memory from your trips to Tulsa?

“What I recall most are the times I spent with (former Drillers owner) Went Hubbard. He was a great man. I remember our lunches and talking to him about baseball and how much he loved the game and how he loved baseball in Tulsa, and he wasn’t even from Tulsa. Baseball means a lot to Tulsa and Went is a huge part of that.”

Q: Was the Rockies’ pennant in 2007 the highlight of your career?

A: “My biggest thrill was every single time we had a player get to go to the big leagues for the first time. It’s not just an achievement for that player, but for their entire family. There is so much a player has to go through to get there and to play a little part in that special time in their life is a thrill. Working in the minor leagues is really my favorite place to be, helping younger guys fulfill their dream.”

 

Tulsa World: Barry Lewis Baseball Column, 5/13/2017

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