Ruben Amaro Is Unimpressed by Your Fancy Numbers

Ruben Amaro Is Unimpressed by Your Fancy Numbers

Regardless of their impact on baseball, there's little debate that WAR, VORP, and WHIP would have all made viable names for 80's bands.

Bob Brookover has a piece in this morning's Inquirer about the Phillies' front office and their take on Sabermetrics.

In short, the club is aware of advanced statistics, claims to understand them, and, apparently, rarely discusses them in evaluating talent.

From Phils GM Ruben Amaro:

"We do utilize some of the information," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said during a recent workout at the Carpenter Complex. "There are times when I think maybe we should use it some more, but, frankly, I have a great deal of confidence in the people that we have hired to help us make some of the scouting and personnel decisions. I err on that side probably because I believe in our people."

And from assistant GM Scott Proefrock:

"I honestly can't tell you the last time WAR or VORP or any of those things were brought up in a conversation," assistant GM Scott Proefrock said. "We're aware of them, and we understand what they are. It's just not something we find relevant."

These approaches are, respectively, reasonable and alarming for a team with a $170 million payroll. Intangibles and requisite numbers of "tools" are great to talk about, but shouldn't you want the complete picture of how a guy is going to complement your ball club when when you're rapidly approaching the luxury tax?

On the one hand, there is a human element to baseball just as there is any sport. Averages are called averages for a reason and good scouting and coaching will allow a team to know to take or not take a risk when they have an inkling that a player might buck a certain trend. For example, manager Charlie Manuel shares a story in Brookover's piece about how Shane Victorino was 2-for-10 off Derek Lowe last year before Manuel and Victorino made some adjustments that allowed Shane to rip off three hits against Lowe in his next appearance.

On the other hand, 2-for-10 is a small sample size and and an everyday centerfielder versus a specific pitcher is different than, say, Victorino's lifetime numbers against as a switch hitter who bats righthanded against righthanded pitching. And as we'll address in a second, those stats are somewhat less than "advanced."

To his credit, Charlie has been paying attention to OBP and OPS for years, but has also said he has no understanding whatsoever of WAR (Wins Above Replacement). For reference, Jayson Werth had highest the WAR of any position player on the team in his final season with the Phils. Whether those 5.2 wins were worth $126 million is another story.

We're not pining for the front office to take a SABR class, we're just begging Manuel to start using ordinary statistics in his in-game decisions. Hunches are hunches, but statistics are calculated for reasons beyond who has the most stolen bases in history. More often than not, you don't need don't need sabermetrics to tell you not to pitch J.C Romero against two righties in the middle of the order just because he's your "eighth-inning guy" or because he looked really good against that lefty in the two-spot. You just need to study your own personnel a little harder than "well, he was throwing hard in the pen yesterday."

We love you Charlie. We get confused by acronyms, too. But we also have
computers -- so we can tell when you should have known better.

Back to the broader issue, sabermetics: an attempt by the unathletic to make themselves seem important, undervalued realities overlooked by dated "baseball men," or, you know, relevant when relevant?

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

Best of NHL: Penguins beat Panthers in Sidney Crosby's debut

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby scored in his season debut as the Pittsburgh Penguins rallied to beat the Florida Panthers 3-2 on Tuesday night.

Crosby, who scored on a power play, missed the team's first six games with a concussion. Carl Hagelin and Eric Fehr also scored for the Penguins, who extended a seven-game unbeaten streak against the Panthers.

Marc-Andre Fleury, who has started the first seven games of the season for Pittsburgh, stopped 20 shots. Matt Murray, who backstopped the Penguins to a Stanley Cup in June, served as the backup to Fleury after missing the first six games with a broken hand.

Reilly Smith scored a power-play goal and Mark Pysyk also scored for the Panthers, who have lost 11 of 12 against the Penguins in Pittsburgh.

James Reimer made 19 saves in his second start of the season (see full recap).

Kings top Blue Jackets in overtime
LOS ANGELES -- Alec Martinez scored 1:14 into overtime, and the Los Angeles Kings rallied to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 Tuesday night for their third straight victory.

Drew Doughty scored the tying goal with 5:57 left in regulation for the Kings, who won their third straight overtime game after an 0-3-0 start to the season. Captain Anze Kopitar also scored, and third-string goalie Peter Budaj stopped 19 shots in his third consecutive win.

Cam Atkinson scored a tiebreaking power-play goal late in the second period, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 27 saves for Columbus. Brandon Saad also scored for the Jackets, who had won two straight after an 0-2-0 start.

Martinez ended it by putting a rebound into an open net for the defenseman's second goal of the season (see full recap).

Lightning strike for seven goals in win
TORONTO -- Steven Stamkos matched a career-high with four points -- two goals and two assists -- and the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 on Tuesday night.

Frederik Andersen gave up seven goals on only 24 shots, the third time in five starts he has allowed at least five goals and fourth time he's allowed four or more. The 27-year-old has an .851 save percentage so far this season.

Alex Killorn, Victor Hedman, Nikita Kucherov, Vladislav Namestnikov and Jonathan Drouin added goals for Tampa Bay, while Ben Bishop made 40 saves.

William Nylander, James van Riemsdyk and Auston Matthews scored for the Maple Leafs, who outshot the Lightning 43-24 (see full recap).

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

Report: Eagles make inquiry about Bears WR Alshon Jeffery

The Eagles could be looking for a bigger name outside.

In need of a deep threat — and reportedly in talks about a trade for 49ers wideout Torrey Smith — the Eagles are interested in Bears wide receiver Alshon Jeffery and attempting to make a move for the 2013 Pro Bowler, according to a report Tuesday night by Benjamin Allbright of Mile High Sports Radio.

We followed up with Allbright, who clarified the Eagles simply made an inquiry.

Jeffery, much more of a do-it-all, dynamic wide receiver than the one-dimensional Smith, is 26 years old and can become a free agent at season's end. He'll warrant good money, but would make the Eagles better in more ways than one compared to Smith.

The 6-foot-3, 218-pounder put up 89 catches for 1,421 yards and seven touchdowns in 2013, followed by 85 catches, 1,133 yards receiving and 10 scores in 2014.

This season, he has 520 yards receiving and has yet to find the end zone playing for the quarterback-challenged Bears, who are 1-6 and more than likely thinking about next season.