The Cubs have long been known for seeking out the brightest minds in baseball in their pursuit of mining strategic advantages, and they may have just found the brightest yet. Often called “The Smartest Man in Baseball,” former MLB pitcher Craig Breslow will be bringing his blend of experience and intelligence to Chicago’s front office as Director of Strategic Initiatives, Baseball Operations.
Wow, even the title sounds erudite. According to the Cubs’ press release, Breslow “will help to evaluate and implement data-based processes throughout all facets of Baseball Operations.” As you might imagine, his experience will color his new role heavily as he will “support the organization’s pitching infrastructure in Player Development and the major leagues.”
That brainy sobriquet was initially applied to Breslow by Star Tribune beat writer Lavelle Neal when the lefty was pitching for the Twins back in 2008. Hardly a hollow compliment, Breslow earned the nickname by graduating from Yale with a 3.5 GPA while majoring in molecular biology and biochemistry. He went on to a solid career that featured a 3.45 ERA over 576 appearances in 12 years, becoming one the rare rare Ivy League pitchers to find prolonged success.
In his new role with the Cubs, he’ll ostensibly assume many of the duties previously held by assistant GM Shiraz Rehman, who left earlier this offseason for a similar job with the Rangers. The title is a little different, but Breslow will be likewise tasked with discovering the kinds of competitive advantages the front office has had less success leveraging in recent years.
“I don’t think anyone in the organization is super proud of the totality of the work the last two years,” Epstein admitted recently. “That’s not where we wanna be, we wanna make sure we’re putting our absolute best foot forward. You only get one crack at this and it’s not easy, but it’s a special opportunity and we all need to put our absolute best foot forward, including myself, including everyone in the organization.
“I think that’s really the theme in talking to players, talking to coaches, talking to the front office, I think we’re all sort of hunkering down and making sure we leave no stone unturned and making sure we do our jobs the absolute best way that we all can and that we all set up our lives in a way that leaves nothing undone to try to help the Cubs win a championship next year.”
So it sounds like Breslow will be more of a geologist or archaeologist than a biophysicist, but maybe his biochemistry mumbo-jumbo will help with clubhouse relations. Wait, does this also mean The Professor will now be the pupil? I’m so confused.
In all seriousness, this seems like a great hire for the Cubs and should pump even more fresh blood into the front office. Between Breslow, Tommy Hottovy, and Brad Mills, the Cubs are loading up on young-ish former pitchers with a strong analytical bent, blending the worlds of scouting and metrics as they seek to maintain a competitive edge.
Now if only they could try to gain an advantage by signing a current player or three.