Kane Cornes and David King aren’t so sure about Port Adelaide’s ‘Moneyball’ approach to this year’s trade period.
The Power look set to be one of the busiest clubs in October with Essendon’s Brandon Zerk-Thatcher, Geelong’s Esava Ratugolea and Western Bulldogs ruckman Jordon Sweet already requesting trades to the club.
‘Moneyball’ originated from baseball with franchises effectively recruiting players from other clubs that they believe are undervalued using a raft of statistics.
Given that none of Zerk-Thatcher, Ratugolea or Sweet are stars in their own right and likely won’t cost too much at the trade table, Cornes believes the Power must be taking that approach when recruiting the trio.
As all three of the potential recruits are yet to truly establish themselves at AFL level, Cornes believes the Power are projecting what they could become instead of the players they’ve been so far.
He discussed the theory and the incoming players with King on SEN Breakfast.
Cornes: “I just think Port Adelaide going for Zerk-Thatcher, Sweet and Ratugolea, there’s got to be a bit of Moneyball about that, doesn’t it?
“You’re projecting forward, because they’re not big names at all.”
King: “What are you saying? Are you happy with those selections or not?”
Cornes: “Well, I’m not. On the surface I’m going, ‘Why are they going down that path?’.
“Half of it is a need, they need a ruckman and they need some key defenders.
“But half of it must be, ‘We think there is value in this player that perhaps their club hasn’t seen yet’.”
King: “It has to be, I mean these guys are all 25 years of age plus.
“That’s the worry that I’ve got with it is that 25 years of age, I think Sweet’s only played 11 games, he’s an unknown quantity.
“You’ve got Ratugolea who’s probably played a dozen games down back and he’s going to become your prime centre half-back? He’s an unknown quantity in that role.
“Zerk-Thatcher, well he’s not exactly Stephen Silvagni and he hasn’t played a lot of footy either.”
Cornes: “He’s not. So it has to be Moneyball.
“The thing is you’re not giving much to get them and you’re not paying them a lot, although Ratugolea probably gets paid pretty well.
“I just wonder whether that is coming into it a little bit more and they’re looking at the stats and they’re looking at other sports to work out a way that they can put a winning team together.”
With all three of the players already requesting trades despite Port Adelaide being in the midst of a September campaign, King asked Cornes whether their pending arrivals would be affecting players who currently hold those roles.
King: “I’m interested in the timing of all this and you can’t protect the football club, from the outside noise.
“I wonder what this does to the guys that are in those positions. Does it have any impact on the incumbents going into a final?”
“We spoke about this with Scott Lycett and with the club meeting Brodie Grundy and, ‘How’s the confidence level in Lycett?’.
“But I think he would be probably fully aware that this will be his last season and he’s got to give it all for the last remaining games that are there for him.”
While Port Adelaide no doubt have one eye on 2024 and beyond, their focus this week is on their Semi Final against GWS which is set for Saturday night at the Adelaide Oval.
The winner of that game will face Collingwood in a Preliminary Final at the MCG.