Friday, September 4, 2009

Pags Interview Part 2

As we mentioned earlier this week, former Yankee third baseman Mike Pagliarulo recently agreed to an email interview with us.

Part One ran yesterday and focused on Pags' time with the Yankees from 1984-89.

Here's the conclusion, covering Pags' playing career after leaving the Yanks as well as what he's been up to in his post-playing days.

Once again, our thanks to Pags for taking the time to do this. Don't forget to check out Dugout Central, backed by Pags' Baseline Group, for more baseball coverage.

Matt Bouffard: In July of 1989 you were traded to San Diego. What was that experience like for you after having been in the Yankees organization since being drafted in 1981?

Mike Pagliarulo: I did not like leaving New York. I felt it was my home, and the place that gave me a professional baseball life through an opportunity. I’ll never forget that, and I’ll always be grateful to the Steinbrenner family and the personnel working for the Yankees. I would not have wanted a start to my career any other way.

MB: After your stint in San Diego, you found yourself with Minnesota for the 1991 season. You had a great post-season, batting .308 with a pair of home runs, including an extra inning game winner in Game 3 of the ALCS. What are your lasting memories of being part of that championship team, and playing in one of the most memorable World Series ever?

MP: Everyone from Little League to the Majors always talks about teamwork. The best companies in the world use team building characteristics during their interview process every day. Playing in that series I felt the meaning of teamwork. I mean, I felt the true essence of its existence. From trust, coordinating plans, and investigating the opposition, I realized what the true value of “team” meant. I was also aware of the elements and characteristics of skill. By the way, none of these points are illustrated or represented by data anywhere yet they are the most significant factors of skill and how baseball is played. Funny thing, I can describe it to millions of people and they’ll understand exactly what I’m talking about. But in the game of baseball today, that particular description is considered subjective because it doesn’t fit into someone’s formula.

MB: You spent the 1994 season playing in Japan with the Seibu Lions. What were your impressions of the Japanese game? Did you encounter any anti-gaijin sentiment?

MP: I appreciate the Japanese way of playing baseball but more thananything else, I respect their approach. In Japan there are no standards of play yet all the players practice basically the same technique. They are very disciplined as a culture; we could learn a lot from them. It’s no surprise they’ve won the WBC twice. They prepare better.

MB: What sort of connections did you make in Japan? How did it help in starting your Pacific Rim scouting group?

MP: The Japan teams need the same type of help the MLB teams need. The only difference is that in Japan they’re losing talent because the American teams steal their players. American teams are losing talent because they forgot how to develop players. I merely bridge the gap of cultural differences and assist in combing the needs of the two biggest baseball markets to make everyone benefit.

MB: Some Yankee fans have been critical of your group's role in theKei Igawa signing. What's your side of the story on this issue? Do you think Kei Igawa could succeed as a Major League pitcher, perhaps outside of the AL East?

MP: Let me correct you on that. Yankee fans know exactly what they’re looking at because they love researching the players. I suggest they weren’t real Yankee fans. Because in this instance, those same people don’t know how Matsui was acquired and they probably think I had nothing to do with Matsui either! I did the work and got all the information on Matsui and advised on all the other Japan negotiations. That’s a fact. It saved the Yankees about $8 million and helped developed the relationships they currently have there too. When the front office wanted little Matsui (Kaz Matsui) I was the only one who said no, and with good reason. I’ve got a good reason for all my decisions.

Then they changed the process for signing Pacific Rim players when Igawa was available: no more conference calls and no more collaborative meetings. Kei Igawa could succeed as a Major League pitcher. Keep in mind my business is consulting and players have roles determined by the various MLB teams. Igawa could play, but not for the New York Yankees. Igawa could play for a second-division type club and on the back end of the rotation. His success would not be good either. But, if you look at the talent out there and you’ve got pitchers in their forties getting extensions because the talent development isn’t like it once was, he (Igawa) can most definitely play.

The rest is history. My group has projected more than $350 million of player contract value and has never been wrong. We are the foremost leader in projecting risk of injury and talent for championship roles. I’ve got data to back all research findings for risk of injury and skill value. Assigning a player to a role is a piece of cake. Do you actually think I’d still be working if I was wrong about a player when millions of dollars are on the line? Our prediction models and research far exceeds most MLB teams because it’s all we focus on. We have to be right, so we don’t scout. We use a unique system capable of measuring performance and projecting risk. I’m really not sure with all those millions why other teams aren’t doing the same.

MB: What's going on with the Baseline Group these days? What are your plans for the future of the organization?

MP: The plan is to help support the foundation of baseball. That is done by understanding the core elements of how the game was built, and then protecting those interests: Ownership, fans, players. Leadership provides the environment. Players compete at a high level of skill to provide unique value. Fans justify that value. The focus is those areas and they’re all connected. They are the most significant part ofthe game; to think otherwise would be a mistake. The future looks very bright, and with a little help we’ll be able to purchase a minor league team and implement development as owners so that other ownership groups can benefit. The main benefit would be to create transparency for owners. I believe things are the way they are because the metrics associated with measuring value stinks. Baseball is the only industry that is unable to value the core assets of its businesses; that is a shame. The owners, fans, and players deserve more and it doesn’t start with money because everyone doesn’t have money. It begins with respect.

MB: At the Closing Ceremonies for Yankee Stadium last year, you were featured in the montage of former Yankee third basemen. Were you watching that night? What was that honor like for you?

MP: I missed the ceremonies last year, I’m sorry to say. But I have fond memories always. That day might have been the greatest but it comes second to the people I was able to share baseball and friendship with all around the Stadium. Honestly, I can see that batting cage as clear as a bell, and feel the fans along the third base line, and picture The Boss pacing around his suite; pacing because he always wanted to win so very badly. Those memories will never fade, because the fans won’t let it. I thank them for the great honor of recognizing me and keeping those thoughts in the front of my mind. I’m reminded today everywhere I travel by New York Yankee fans. It’s the greatest feeling.

MB: What's it like being a former Yankee living outside Boston these days? You get any flack for that? Didn't you grow up as a Yankee fan, and if so, how did that come about, and what was it like to be a Yankee fan in Medford during the 1970s?

MP: My dad was the biggest Billy Martin fan ever. We grew up in Boston and everyone was a Red Sox fan except him. When I was a kid I always thought my father was right except when it came to the Yankees. Well, after my first big league spring training where I met the big league guys for the first time; I said, “Dad you were right again!” The Yankee organization was built on class and respect and everyone I met there was the same way. Back in Boston I still caught heat, but nobody gives out that much crap without being scared!


  1. My dad always told me that Billy Martin was an alcoholic asshole who got into physical altercations with umpires and even his own players. He said Martin couldn't hold down a managerial job with the same team for more than 4 years and would eventually wind up in an early grave due to his drinking. Dad, you were right again!

  2. Tough to argue with that one Smarty. Don't forget opposing players as well. I think he got sued by an opponent whose jaw he broke during an on field brawl in his playing days.

    But the guy was a helluva manager. He got immediate results nearly everywhere he went, and won division titles at every stop but Texas, where he turned a last place team into a second place team. Unfortunately for him, the same things that made him successful were the same things led to him wearing out his welcome, and the same things that led him to that early grave.