Phillies hire analytics guru, Amaro unsure it changes anything

Phillies hire analytics guru, Amaro unsure it changes anything

Upon finishing out 2013 with a 73-89 record, Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. finally conceded the front office needed to begin incorporating analytics into personnel evaluations. Ladies and gentlemen, the future has arrived—better late than never.

MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki revealed the organization has tabbed Scott Freedman from Major League Baseball’s Labor Relations Department for a new yet-to-named position in the front office. Thanks to Zo, we do know one of Freedman’s specialties is advanced stats, and his job is to apply that knowledge in Philadelphia. That’s a step in the right direction at least.

How valuable Freedman’s contributions will prove to the organization remains to be seen. It’s easy to be skeptical of a franchise that’s been ignoring this data at its peril for years already, while Amaro downplayed how this newfound wealth of information will impact the club’s decisions.

"I don't know if it's going to change the way we do business, necessarily," Amaro said recently. "We still plan to be a scouting and player development organization, but I think it's important to get all the information and analyze not just what we're doing, but how other clubs are evaluating players."

It almost sounds as if the Phillies are more interested in learning how other teams evaluate players than improving upon their own methods. In which case, Freedman was a good hire because as Zolecki explains, few people in baseball would have a better understanding of what those teams value.

The Phillies were particularly interested in Freedman's ability to expand their data analysis capabilities. His experience in preparation for salary arbitration cases got him involved with advanced metrics. And Freedman's work with MLB gives him an idea of how other teams use analytics.

Whatever his intentions exactly, you can’t knock Amaro for making analytics part of the process—although it’s certainly fair to ask what took so long. Apparently, the league has been placing Scott Freedmans in front office positions for awhile now.

Freedman first appeared on Philadelphia's radar this summer. MLB regularly trains people like Freedman, then helps place them in front offices across baseball.

Do I understand this correctly? You mean to tell me the league has been actively training people who are well-versed in advanced stats for jobs in baseball? And this entire time the Phillies were like, “No, thanks?”

/smacks forehead

>> New hire to help Phils better utilize advanced stats [MLB]

Report: Eagles considering moving on from Jason Kelce

Report: Eagles considering moving on from Jason Kelce

According to a report, Jason Kelce might have already played his final game in an Eagles uniform. 

The team is considering "moving on" from the veteran center by way of trade or outright release, according to PhillyVoice's Jimmy Kempski.

Kelce, 29, has a cap hit of $6.2 million in 2017 and the Eagles could save $3.8 million by cutting him after a disappointing 2016 season. He's still under contract through the 2020 season, but the Eagles could elect to move on without serious salary cap implications. 

In November, Kelce gave a very honest assessment of his play: “I think that I quite frankly need to do a better job. That’s what it comes down to. I love playing in this city, I love playing in this organization, and if I’m going to keep doing that, I have to do a better job.”

The obvious choice to replace Kelce, if the Eagles decide to go this way, would be 2016 rookie Isaac Seumalo. The third-round pick played six positions last year but did not play a single snap at center, which might be his most natural spot. 

Seumalo didn't play at center because for the second straight season, Kelce didn't miss a single snap. He played all 1,133 snaps in 2016 and hasn't missed a play in the last 39 games. Kelce was a sixth-round pick by the Eagles out of Cincinnati in 2011. 

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The Sixers are for real (and Sam Hinkie had nothing to do with it)

The biggest sports story in town is the Sixers, winners of 4 of 5 and an exhilarating team on the floor, led by a superstar player who seems to actually get us as a fan base. And to think, all it took to bring us to this point was getting rid of Sam Hinkie.

Look at what a dark place the Sixers were in a year ago. They were in last place, with the league’s worst roster and no hope for the future except for a bunch of ill-defined future draft picks. And they were led by a general manager with absolutely zero interest in winning, explaining himself, or (worst of all) appearing on the WIP Morning Show. 

But now, there’s hope. Joel Embiid is the real deal. The supporting cast is rapidly improving, with guys like T.J. McConnell, Robert Covington and Dario Saric looking like valuable supporting players, and Ben Simmons joining them very soon. 

I know the Hinkie apologists are going to say these improvements are because of him and that he deserves credit -- please. To credit Hinkie with drafting Joel Embiid is the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in all my years of watching Philadelphia sports. We all know Hinkie wanted Andrew Wiggins -- therefore, he gets no credit for drafting Embiid. And as Bob Brookover pointed out last week, Embiid is a Sixer because of luck.  

Ben Simmons, of course, was drafted by Bryan Colangelo, who also acquired the best Sixer since Thaddeus Young, Ersan Ilyasova. And if the two first-round picks next year turn out to be stars, Colangelo will get credit for those, too

Hinkie did things like draft three centers in a  row, take Jahlil Okafor over Kristaps Porzingis, trade valuable players like Michael Carter-Williams and K.J. McDaniels for nothing, and sign no veterans at all for three years. 

Joel Embiid is a winner, Sam Hinkie is a loser, and that’s all there is to it.  

In other Sixers news, it was nice to see Simmons warming up on the court last week against Boston- when Embiid did that, it meant he was 16-18 months away from returning to action. In the last two years, the Sixers lead the league in pre-game social media posts featuring players who aren’t active for that night’s game. 

And speaking of records, congrats to Nerlens Noel for breaking Shane Victorino’s longstanding local athlete record for use of “you know” in a single interview, when he talked to Woj last week

Other Philly sports takes: 

The Cowboys’ loss to the Packers on Sunday proves two things: Dak Prescott is a fraud, and the Cowboys were never very good anyway. The only reason they went 13-3 was the easy schedule. 

Can you believe Allen Iverson getting photographed in a Cowboys jersey? Doesn’t he know the rules? If you play in Philly, you must root for every one of the city’s teams, regardless of circumstance, for the rest of your life. 

Even so, shame on the Knicks’ Derrick Rose for no-showing a game. If you want to be a legendary NBA guard, you’re supposed to skip PRACTICES, not games. Not a game. 

Angelo made a good point: Embiid is so perfect as a Philadelphia athlete that it makes me notice how much Carson Wentz isn’t. Hunting trips? Shotgun gifts? Getting locked in a gas station bathroom? That’s just not cutting it. Carson, immediately, needs to start drinking Shirley Temples, imitating pro wrestler entrances, and insulting porn stars on Instagram, or else I fear he won’t last in this town. 

Another good column by Marcus Hayes -- the Eagles must sacrifice multiple draft picks to trade up for wide receiver Mike Williams. Whatever it takes. 

Come on Eagles- no room on the staff for either of Buddy’s sons? How about both? 

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