Well, it says 5 years ago, they would not be a team you would expect. I still say it's the Cubs, and yeah, this is just a guess. But I really can't think who else would have a reason to do it.
When I go down the list, here's the teams that have a front office with a strong, expressed interest in Big Data.
- Red Sox
- Padres (Jed Hoyer legacy)
Here are the clubs that are known to have been investing in advanced metrics previously, in some cases at a limited scale.
Out of the teams listed above, the Cubs stand out as the one with the strongest support for big data from the front office, and the biggest gap in terms of what they have now. There was an article about Theo recently that talked about the fact they had someone on payroll who would print emails and web pages out for scouts to read, since they were not reading them online. Five years ago, they are one of the last teams I would expect to use metrics in a meaningful way.
I discount the other teams based on the following factors:
- If it was the Yankees, the price tag would be more like $13 million. They don't spend cheap period.
- If it was the Nationals, Davey Johnson would not be in the front office. He has been vocal about not using advanced stats in game-time decisions.
- If it was the Phillies, the system would be less about game time decisions and more about scouting. Their issues with their scouting system are well-known.
- The Rays are all about efficiency and doing the most with what they have. They don't like to acquire free agents, they are about building from within. They are not going to have a lot of historical data about their players for a system like this to chew on. It would not make sense for them to invest in one.
- I could almost see it being the Dodgers, but the Dodgers have a lot on their hands with new television contracts. I doubt they have the bandwidth for an organizational overhaul on top of that. They are focused on marketing, and this plays a role in how they make decisions.
- The Mets continue to struggle financially, and I am not sure they are entirely solvent. I am sure a capital expenditure like this would be something people would have already heard about through the media. It's possible it's something that would need to be approved by a bankruptcy judge.
The teams I simply discount are as follows. I don't see where big data fits into what they are doing. A $500,000 investment in winning requires some kind of organizational commitment to transforming the club overall, which just doesn't jive with the way these teams spend money. They either have systems that already work, or the markets they operate in allow them to make money without winning. I don't see where the impetus for a big, organizational change comes from with these ones.
That leaves about 11 teams to think about. If there was a wildcard, I would say it's the Twins, simply because Selig owns them and is aware of what Big Data can do.