Suffice it to say that the 33-year-old appears to be well prepared for his new job, in which he will be heading the Cardinals amateur scouting efforts and leading their drafts. These were roles previously held by new Houston general manager Jeff Luhnow.
With some big shoes to fill, Kantrovitz has plenty of work to do in his new assignment. He is returning to his native St. Louis from Oakland, where he most recently was in charge of analytics projects as well as international operations.
Kantrovitz was kind enough to field a long series of questions. The first group of his answers follow.
Brian Walton: First of all, congratulations on your new assignment. How and when did the opportunity come to your attention and what was the interview process?
Dan Kantrovitz: Thanks Brian, I appreciate that. I think Mo called Billy [Beane] with the request for permission during the winter meetings and then Billy and (Oakland Assistant GM) David [Forst] told me about it shortly thereafter. The interview process was pretty standard. I flew into St. Louis and met with the front office crew and we discussed things like strategy, personnel, etc. After Mo made the offer, I discussed the position with both he and Bill [DeWitt] and they made it pretty difficult to turn down.
BW: What are your primary and secondary responsibilities (amateur scouting, draft, international, etc…)?
DK: The first day on the job, Mo and I had a conference call with Bill discussing some free agents unrelated to the draft, but with so many high picks this year, my focus right now is on this draft.
BW: You've been a player, scout, an analyst and more. What about your background made you most qualified for this job?
DK: Tough question. I'll go with having a college/pro playing background. In this particular role, I think that helps me connect with some of the more experienced scouts, in terms of knowledge and credibility.
BW: What part of your role do you see as the most exciting? Most challenging?
DK: Everything about the role is exciting. I feel like scouting is in my DNA and is what I'm most passionate about in this game. But specifically, probably the amount of picks we have up top in this year's draft is most exciting. In terms of most challenging, I think this year, more than most because of the new CBA, we'll have to really think on our feet about how to allocate the signing bonus pool. Signability is always key in the draft but with the current set-up, and penalties for exceeding the pool, we'll have to be very buttoned-up on the asking prices and motivations of each player, particularly the high school players.
BW: Did you think you would ever return to the Cardinals? Why or why not?
DK: To be totally honest it wasn't on my radar. I was enjoying my role in Oakland as their Director of International Scouting.
BW: With the Cardinals previously, you led college scouting. Now you will oversee all amateur scouting. How much broader in scope is your new job?
DK: It is broader for sure. In previous roles with the Cardinals, I had experience with running the day to day stuff and was involved in the decision making. But in this role, similar to what I was doing in Oakland (just with a different class of player), I'm directly responsible for managing and supervising the scouts and ultimately for deciding which magnets to pull off the board on draft day.
BW: To whom do you report directly and how will your reports be organized?
DK: I report to our GM, Mo. On the domestic side, the basic org chart of our scouting department has about 15 area scouts and another 5 or so regional and national cross-checkers. We'll tackle this draft based on their opinions.
BW: How will the organization replace Sig Mejdal, who was until last week Cardinals director of amateur draft analysis?
DK: Sig and I worked closely together in the past. In fact, together we helped build some of the current system/processes that the Cardinals still use today, for example how to combine subjective and objective data. I think that with my contribution to our analytical efforts, combined with the very strong analytical resources that the organization already has, we will be able to cover that role.
BW: What drove your decision to return to school to get your masters?
DK: Like a lot of businesses or industries, sometimes it takes a little hands-on experience to realize exactly what tools and skills will be important in the long-term. And after 4-5 years of scouting and front-office experience, it was clear to me that learning how to analyze and interpret data would always be important and was something that I wanted to remain on the cutting edge of.
BW: Who do you consider your career mentors and why?
DK: That's probably a longer conversation, but guys like Mo, Jeff Luhnow, Billy Beane and David Forst have all influenced how I think about this game.
BW: What have John Mozeliak and Jeff Luhnow meant to your career?
DK: I've been very lucky to have been around both of them. Both are exceptionally smart and talented baseball execs and good friends. I have a lot of faith in Mo and his leadership abilities and am looking forward to working with him again
BW: Mo has led drafts in the past. What role will he play in draft prep and the draft itself?
DK: Like you said, Mo has ran drafts and will be a huge resource for me. He knows the market - I'm sure he will remain very involved.
BW: Who will break ties if needed on draft picks? Who will be the final arbiter?
DK: That's my job.
Special thanks go out to Dan for taking the time to answer these questions during a very busy period, both personally and professionally.
The remainder of this extensive interview will be available exclusively to subscribers to The Cardinal Nation. Get to know Kantrovitz as he explains his baseball and educational background, what he has learned at his many stops along the way, his philosophies and much more.
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Brian Walton can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Also catch his Cardinals commentary daily at The Cardinal Nation blog. Look for his weekly minor league column during the season at FOXSportsMidwest.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.
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