Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. didn’t need to tell anybody that he didn’t have a very good year. His team finished with the seventh-worst record in Major League Baseball at 73-89, 23 games out of first place in the same NL East the club once presided over for five consecutive seasons.
Amaro accepted his share of the blame anyway, admitting the front office needed to do better job of evaluating players in a wide-ranging interview with Phillies beat writers such as MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki. It’s not enough though to simply say, “My bad,” and go about business as usual moving forward. Something has to change.
Amaro acknowledged that as well, and somewhat surprisingly, it sounds like the Phillies could take a slightly different direction this winter. After years of marginalizing or flat out ignoring sabermetrics, it seems the GM is finally ready to let advanced statistics into his heart—or into the building anyway.
“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.”
Critics have been dwelling upon the Phillies' lack of interest in an analytics department, but it sounds like that’s poised to change. My hope here is Ruben will indeed bring somebody in from the outside, if for no other reason than to inject some fresh blood into the front office. It helps if somebody knows how to interpret those fancy numbers too.
While I feel the biggest proponents of sabermetrics can occasionally go overboard in tearing down traditional measures or scouting methods, it doesn’t make sense for a team to ignore any data that could be interpreted as useful either. In other words, this decision is probably long overdue—but at least it’s a start.
Amaro also discusses some potential moves that could be on the way in the offseason, how injuries and the age of the club’s core will impacting decisions, and what the payroll could look like for 2014 in the interview.
>> Amaro Feels the Heat, Talks Future [Zo Zone]