Rockies beefing up research and development staff

Rockies beefing up research and development staff

DENVER -- To keep up with the increase in advanced information, the Rockies are expanding their baseball research and development staff by three, assistant general manager Zack Rosenthal said.

The club is going through applicants for three jobs in baseball research and development: web developer, baseball systems developer and analyst. The deadline for applications was Sunday.

The Rockies, who are also seeking a new manager and mostly new coaching staff, are working quickly to complete what is an expansion of what is becoming a research and development staff. Rosenthal said it doesn't mean the club will be run by soulless computers; it's just another way to seek a competitive advantage through research.

"There is a huge proliferation of data out there," Rosenthal said. "With TrackMan and Statcast™ , that's really a lot of information, and there will be a lot more. Obviously, we need a lot more people to handle it. It's that simple. There's a lot more to do.

"We're always looking for ways to get better, and we are looking for smart people to help us do that."

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Rosenthal, who holds a doctor of law degree from Boston University, supervises the group that will look at the various ways to help with information. In a hands-on sense, Trevor Patch, as manager of baseball analytics, has been working with Jamie Hollowell, a baseball data architect, and Domenic Di Ricco, a manager in baseball operations who also helps in myriad areas. Also, Matt Obernauer works primarily with information in preparation for the MLB Draft. Like many clubs, other front-office personnel, such as assistant general manager-player personnel Jon Weil and senior director of player development Zach Wilson, the video staff and field staff collaborate on information gathering and application.

According to people around MLB familiar with such operations, the Rockies are beefing up one of the smaller staffs in the Majors. However, exactly how many employees most teams have in the area is unclear. Rosenthal said most teams don't discuss it publicly (he did not discuss many specifics of the Rockies' operation) because they don't want to give away how their operation mines information. Many have employees, especially part-time, who may not be listed in team media guides.

The Rockies' search has been more public than most, because the club advertised the positions on Rockies.com as well as other job boards. The job listings foreshadow that the club is moving away from classifying the jobs as "analytics" and toward "R&D" to present a broader scope.

Exactly how the increased personnel, presumably, more and better information will be used will evolve, Rosenthal said.

The Rockies have already started down that road. Pitching coach Steve Foster and bullpen coach Darren Holmes, who were retained (along with third-base coach Stu Cole) from former manager Walt Weiss' staff, are using TrackMan and Statcast™ information such as "spin rate" (projected revolutions of the baseball on a given pitch), arm angle and velocity. They diagnose issues, then boil new-school information into old-school coaching points.

The new personnel will not be involved in the search for the new manager or coaches. The Rockies are moving quickly -- other teams are known to have wide application windows -- because they want to get the expanded staff finding ways to win as soon as possible.

"We have an impressive list to go through the process with, and we're in the early stages of trying to get it sorted out," Rosenthal said. "With the General Managers Meetings [next month in Phoenix] and Winter Meetings [in December in Oxon Hill, Md.], we need to get started on some things we'd like to do for next season."

Thomas Harding has covered the Rockies since 2000, and for MLB.com since 2002. Follow him on Twitter @harding_at_mlb, listen to podcasts and like his Facebook page. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.