ANAHEIM -- Eddie Bane is what the kids these days are calling "old school." Bane, the Angels' scouting director, hasn't been on the phone for a minute before he's already railing in staunch disagreement about what he considers to be the rigid thinking of baseball's nouveau chic "Moneyball" movement.
Moneyball is the bestselling Michael Lewis book about how the Oakland A's utilize statistical analysis culled from computer programs and unique drafting strategies to win a lot of games without a large payroll. The book has opened a lot of eyes to a different way of building a ballclub.
The "Moneyball" approach to the First-Year Player Draft is to eschew high school and junior college talent because it's too high-risk.
Proven college players are preferred, and A's general manager Billy Beane and his former assistant Paul DePodesta, now the Los Angeles Dodgers' GM, have popularized drafting players from a computer.
If a college player has high on-base percentage, draws a lot of walks, hits home runs and doesn't strike out a lot, that's a perfect scenario.
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In other words, who needs scouts when you have all the information right there on your Dell, dude?
Eddie Bane doesn't see it that way at all.
"We absolutely don't believe in 'Moneyball,'" Bane said. "We don't believe it works. I believe (longtime Angels scouts) Tom Kotchman, Jack Uhey and Jeff Malinoff are going to find me better players by going out there and watching them play than by plugging numbers into a computer.
"Our guys are real comfortable with computers, but they're not going to tell me to draft a kid just because he's put up great numbers at UConn or he's hit a bunch of homers at New Mexico State."
Ever since Bill Stoneman took over as Angels GM before the 2000 season, the Angels' approach to the draft has been the "best available player" route.
And according to Bane, the approach will remain the same in this year's draft, which begins next Monday.
It might be tougher than usual, though.
The Angels sacrificed their second and third-round picks to acquire free agent starters Bartolo Colon and Kelvim Escobar, who were both offered aribitration by their former clubs, Chicago and Toronto.
The Angels will hold on to their 12th pick in the first round, but they won't pick again until the fourth round, at selection No. 113.
"To tell you the truth, I'm OK with that," Bane said.
"The way we improved our club this offseason, with Vladimir Guerrero, Colon, Escobar and Jose Guillen... well, let's put it this way. I don't think you're going to be able to get a Vladimir Guerrero in this draft. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'd love to have more picks, but I understand."
Past five No. 1 picks Year Player 2003 Brandon Wood, SS 2002 Joe Saunders, LHP 2001 Casey Kotchman, 1B 2000 Chris Bootcheck, RHP 1999 John Lackey, RHP
That said, the Angels are looking for outfielders.
It is probably their weakest overall position throughout the minor league system, although Bane said that their recent draft-and-follow signing of Stantrell Smith, a quick and powerful outfielder from North Florida Community College, might get things going in the right direction.
"Stantrell is the type of guy we're going to keep looking for," Bane said. "He's raw, but he's very athletic with a fabulous body, and [he's] a tools guy. But we don't just put him out there as our crown jewel. We want a ton of guys like him."
Bane said that he doesn't foresee any difficulty in getting that type of player, either.
This is especially true, he said, when more and more clubs are becoming obsessed with the "Moneyball" approach, which is limiting them in terms of taking perceived risks on players with more upside than traditional accomplishments.
"We won't overlook good college players at all," Bane said. "But to put all your emphasis on only one thing doesn't make sense. We'd lose out if we thought that way."
So for the time being, Bane will hit the books and try to find that "best player available." He said that outfielders will be on the radar, and, of course, so will pitchers, who are always on the radar.
And while he'll talk on and on about why he doesn't believe in "Moneyball," he's happy to say that he's found one big advantage to it.
"I'm frankly glad all those teams are starting to think that way," Bane said. "I feel better knowing they're all going to ignore players that we've identified. A lot of high school players and junior college players are going to be available in places where they probably shouldn't be.