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01/03/12 9:00 PM EST
Astros GM Luhnow adds two to operations staff
By Brian McTaggart / MLB.com
HOUSTON -- Jeff Luhnow has long been a proponent of sabermetrics, so it shouldn't come as a surprise that one of his first duties as Astros general manager was to bring in someone to help sort through the massive amount of data that's available. Luhnow announced Tuesday he had hired Sig Mejdal from the Cardinals, where he had worked with Luhnow for the previous six years and was most recently the team's director of amateur draft analytics. Mejdal's title with the Astros will be director of decision sciences. The Astros also announced they had hired Stephanie Wilka as coordinator of amateur scouting, a position previously held by Mike Burns before he took a job as an area scout with the Blue Jays. Mejdal was involved with modeling, analysis and data-driven decision-making throughout all levels of the Cardinals organization and was a key contributor in the Draft decision processes that led to more Major League players than any other organization during that timeframe. "It's a capacity that he was involved in and helping us build when I was with the Cardinals, and he had a lot skills and passion in that area," said Luhnow, who was hired away from the Cardinals last month. "He's going to be a key member of the front office." Luhnow described Mejdal's new role as a systematic method of combining all the information you can collect on players, whether it's using previous performance information, health and medical information and opinions of scouts who have laid eyes on players. "It's really a systemic approach to combining all the information into a decision-making tool to assist people, whether it's the scouting director or farm director or general manager, in making decisions," Luhnow said. "There is a pretty significant component with it that's data-driven and based off of using stats from the past to project future performance. It's definitely a critical component." Wilka, meanwhile, has previously worked in the PR department of the Red Sox and served as executive director of the philanthropic arm of the Dodgers. She has an undergraduate degree from Harvard and a law degree from Pepperdine. "She has a passion about baseball and should be a good addition," Luhnow said. Mejdal earned two engineering degrees at the University of California at Davis and later completed advanced degrees in operations research and cognitive psychology/human factors. He has also worked at Lockheed Martin in California and for NASA. Mejdal has been active in baseball statistics and analytics since earning his membership in The Society for Baseball Research (SABR) while in grade school.