Hey, let’s give a hand to the Phillies. Just this week, the team went out and bought themselves their first ever computer.
Sitting stately on Ruben Amaro‘s desk, the shiny, glimmering Commodore 64 is ready to work and help usher in a new era of Phillies baseball.
You see, the Phils are a “traditional” ballclub. They’ve never liked your fancy machines, your new-fangled numbers, and your high falutin’ Moneyball nonsense. You nerds with your “sabermetrics” and such, well, that’s just a fad, like television or mobile telephone devices.
At least, that’s the way the Phils used to operate. But, armed with their brand new electronic thinking device and fresh off their worst season since 2000, Amaro and the Phils finally appear ready to utilize a few modern tools to help them with player evaluations.
In an interview with MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki yesterday, Amaro admitted the team may start using more analytics when making decisions on players.
“We’re going to make some changes,” Amaro said. “I think we’re doing some stuff analytically to change the way do some evaluations. Look, we are going to continue to be a scouting organization. That said, I think we owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate. We’re going to build more analytics into it. Is it going to change dramatically the way we go about our business? No, but we owe it to ourselves to at least explore other avenues. We may bring someone in from the outside, but we have not decided that yet.”
Huh. You mean, relying on a seven-year-old scouting report ISN’T the best way to evaluate players (Delmon Young, y’all)?
First of all, it’s downright scary that, in the year 2013, the Phillies don’t already have someone in their front office who deals with analytics. Most baseball teams have entire analytics departments. It’s no wonder the Phils have missed so badly the last few years on trades and free agent signings.
Consider the many mistakes:
- Replacing Jayson Werth with Ben Francisco, John Mayberry Jr. and Delmon Young
- Signing Chan Ho Park, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez, Chad Qualls, Chad Durbin and Mike Adams
- Signing Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $50 million contract.
- Releasing Pittsburgh closer Jason Grilli and Oakland power hitter Brandon Moss.
Of course, the Phillies have not done EVERYTHING wrong. The Ben Revere trade looks decent enough, and Amaro did show great restraint last year in not overpaying for a free agent outfielder. But the team has missed far too often on player evaluations in recent seasons.
It’s crazy that a team in the year 2013 is ignoring something that has been a major part of baseball for the better part of the last decade. It’s like Ryan Howard refusing to watch video or take instruction from hitting coaches. Why on earth would you ignore something that could clearly help your ballclub? Has it been sheer pride? Arrogance? Ego? Laziness? Ignorance?
Probably all of the above.
Amaro’s comments seem to indicate the Phils are going to wade carefully into the mysterious world of numbers, and for sure, he’s not going to morph into Billy Beane, John Mozeliak or Andrew Friedman overnight. But some of that may be his way of defending his previous sole reliance on scouting and his inability to admit he was wrong about much of anything. Perhaps he will do more behind the scenes than he’s ready to say publicly right now.
No doubt, Amaro is worried about his job and is willing to do pretty much anything to turn the team’s fortunes around in 2014.
It’s easy to make fun of the Phillies’ antiquated ways of thinking. In fact, it’s very easy. But we are seeing some growth here. This is welcome news and, hopefully, Amaro will try to raid the analytics departments of the Cardinals, A’s or Rays in putting together this new analytics staff.
Hopefully, Ruben brings aboard a staff, and not just one guy to sit in a room with a graphic calculator and a spread sheet.
Nevertheless, kudos to Ruben Amaro and the Phillies for joining us all in the 21st century.
Even if it is 13 years late.