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 NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

Best of NBA: Curry, Warriors demolish Cavaliers, 126-91, at home

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors certainly looked ready to trade some more blows with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers come June.

The two-time reigning MVP hit five 3-pointers and had 20 points while matching his season best with 11 assists in Golden State's 126-91 rout of the defending champs Monday.

Klay Thompson scored 26 points with five 3s, and Curry made four steals. Draymond Green produced his third triple-double of the season with 11 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists while matching his career best with five blocks -- and had another dustup with King James in the process.

James had 20 points on 6-of-18 shooting and eight rebounds, and he and Green became the talk once more as their relationship turned even more testy.

Kevin Durant added 21 points, six rebounds, five assists and three blocks for the Warriors in a much-hyped matchup merely weeks after Golden State lost 109-108 in Cleveland on Christmas (see full recap).

Thomas explodes for 17 in fourth quarter to lift Celtics over Hornets
BOSTON -- Isaiah Thomas scored 17 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter, and the surging Boston Celtics beat the Charlotte Hornets 108-98 on Monday night for their ninth victory in 11games.

It was Thomas' 25th straight game with 20 or more points. He's been putting up big final quarters of late -- scoring 20 or more three times this season. No other NBA player had done it more than once entering Monday.

Al Horford had 22 points, while Kelly Olynyk and Jae Crowder added 15 apiece for Boston, which has won all three meetings with Charlotte this season.

Kemba Walker scored 24 points and Marvin Williams 21 for the Hornets, who lost their fifth straight -- all on the road.

Thomas scored 13 straight points, pushing Boston ahead 93-83 with his 3-pointer from the left wing with 7 minutes left.

Boston led 80-71 entering the final period (see full recap).

Wizards remain hot with win over Trail Blazers
WASHINGTON  -- Bradley Beal scored 25 points and John Wall had 24 as the Washington Wizards took a page from the Portland Trail Blazers' playbook by hitting 13 3-pointers in a comfortable 120-101 victory on Monday afternoon.

The Wizards, who rely less on the 3-pointer than almost any NBA team, were 13 of 23 from beyond the arc in their 12th consecutive home victory. The 3-pointer-heavy Trail Blazers shot 8 of 26 on 3-point attempts.

After Washington coach Scott Brooks called Portland guards Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum as good as any backcourt in the league, Beal and John Wall outplayed them. Lillard led the Blazers with 22 points and McCollum had 12, but they combined to shoot 11 of 29 from the floor.

The Wizards have won four of their last five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

Best of NHL: Penguins halt Capitals 9-game streak with wild 8-7 OT win

PITTSBURGH -- Conor Sheary scored 34 seconds into overtime and the Pittsburgh Penguins ended the Washington Capitals' nine-game winning streak with a wild 8-7 victory Monday night that included nine second-period goals.

Sheary had two goals and an assist for the Penguins, who snapped a three-game losing streak. Evgeni Malkin picked up his 11th career hat trick during a frenetic second period, and Sidney Crosby collected his NHL-leading 27th goal to go with two assists. Bryan Rust and Nick Bonino also scored for Pittsburgh, and Matt Murray got the win despite allowing seven goals on 28 shots.

The Penguins trailed 3-0 before scoring six goals in less than 11 minutes in the second period, more goals than the Capitals had allowed in a game all season. Pittsburgh led 6-5 after 40 minutes.

Lars Eller scored twice for Washington, and T.J. Oshie, Brett Connolly, Nicklas Backstrom, Justin Williams and Andre Burakovsky also found the net. Philipp Grubauer made eight saves after coming on in relief of Braden Holtby, who was pulled during Pittsburgh's second-period deluge (see full recap).

Eichel scores twice to give Sabres' 4-1 win over Stars
BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Jack Eichel scored two goals and the Buffalo Sabres defeated the Dallas Stars 4-1 on Monday.

Tyler Ennis scored 19 seconds into the first period. Ennis returned after missing 30 games with a groin injury that required surgery.

Jake McCabe also had a goal and Robin Lehner made 31 saves after missing the past three games with an illness.

The Sabres snapped a two-game losing streak and beat the Stars for the first time in four matchups.

Radek Faksa scored for the Stars in the opener of a three-game road trip. Kari Lehtonen stopped 25 shots. Dallas has lost two in a row and six of eight (see full recap).

Bishop anchors Lightning to 2-1 win over Kings
LOS ANGELES -- Brian Boyle scored the go-ahead goal late in the second period, and the Tampa Bay Lightning opened a six-game road trip with a 2-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Monday.

Ben Bishop made an early mistake that led to Kyle Clifford's goal for the Kings, but bounced back to make 31 saves in his second start back from a three-week absence with a lower-body injury.

Tyler Johnson scored in the first period for the Lightning, who won for just the second time in seven games.

Peter Budaj stopped 27 shots for the Kings.

Both teams played without stars due to illness. Kings captain Anze Kopitar missed his first game since Nov. 20, and All-Star defenseman Victor Hedman missed his first game of the season for Tampa Bay (see full recap).