Is Ruben Amaro Coming Around on Analytics?


Aug 16, 2013; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr prior to playing the Los Angeles Dodgers at Citizens Bank Park. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Losing can sometimes be a great motivator. It can spur an individual to re-evaluate the way they do things, their philosophies and their habits.

Perhaps that is what is happening with Ruben Amaro.

In an interview with the New York Times on Saturday, Amaro appeared to indicate the Phillies may just be ready to embrace the world of… dare I say it… ANALYTICS!

"“We may be looking to fortify some of our information with some more statistical analysis,” Amaro told Tyler Kepner. “We have to look at the way we do things and try to improve. That’s our job, to try to get better every year. I’m not so stubborn that we can’t try to do things a little bit different, or think that we can’t make better decisions. That’s what I’ll challenge our people to do, and I think they understand that. That’s part of what I expect of my staff, and of myself.”"

*picks self up off the floor, dunks head in bucket of cold water, re-reads paragraph, passes out again*

No one likes losing, especially when you’ve gone from being the marquee team in the National League to just another also-ran, trying to figure out if winning games is better or if tanking to get a protected draft pick would be more beneficial. And perhaps all this losing (which has slowed a bit as the Phillies have won 6 of their last 7 games), as well as the success of franchises like St. Louis and Tampa, is starting to creep in to the stodgy old minds that run the Phils.

Think about rooting for a team that no longer thinks RBIs, wins and saves are the most valuable statistics in baseball. It doth make the heart beat faster.

Perhaps Amaro actually has read the newspaper reports and blog posts that make it all too clear how behind the 8-ball the team is when it comes to the advantages of statistical analysis. Perhaps he just now realized that every single team in Major League Baseball has an analytics department of some kind, using the new-wave stats in conjunction with traditional scouting to make informed decisions on players.

Perhaps Ruben is feeling what we all are feeling.

"“I absolutely understand people’s frustration,” Amaro said, “because I’m every bit as frustrated as everyone else.”"

And I totally believe he is. No one takes over a World Series winning team and wants to see it devolve to the point the Phillies have.

So perhaps this new low ebb is a motivating factor. We can only hope so.

In one other piece of news from the story, Kepner revealed that Amaro is still negotiating with Cuban defector Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

"In March, Baseball America ranked the Phillies’ farm system 24th of the 30 teams. But Amaro insisted the team had better prospects than people realize, and, he said, he continues to negotiate with a top Cuban pitcher, Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez."

Where those negotiations stand at the moment remains unclear. It’s just good to know Gonzalez wasn’t kidnapped by Cuban officials and smuggled back to his home country.