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]

Drexel falls to James Madison in potential CAA Tournament preview

Drexel falls to James Madison in potential CAA Tournament preview

BOX SCORE

Jackson Kent and Tom Vodanovich combined to score 31 points and James Madison held off Drexel late to secure a 70-64 victory Thursday night.

The game could be a preview of a first-round match-up in the Colonial Athletic Association Tournament. With one game left in the regular season, James Madison (9-21, 7-10) is the No. 7 seed and Drexel (9-21, 3-14) has locked up the No. 10 seed. Those seeds meet in the first round, with the winner facing the No. 2 seed in the second round.

Sammy Mojica hit a 3-pointer with :32 left to get the Dragons within four, 66-62, but Shakir Brown and Joey McLean each hit a pair of free throws to seal the victory.

Kent hit 6 of 11 from the floor and tallied 16 points with eight rebounds to lead the Dukes. Vodanovich added 15 points.

Kurk Lee and Mojica both scored 18 points off the Dragons' bench.

Conspiracy charge added for 3 former Penn State administrators

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Conspiracy charge added for 3 former Penn State administrators

HARRISBURG, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania judge on Thursday allowed prosecutors to add a conspiracy charge against three former Penn State administrators, increasing their possible penalty if convicted of crimes for their handling of the Jerry Sandusky child molestation scandal.

Judge John Boccabella granted a request by the attorney general's office to tack on a related conspiracy count to the charges of endangering the welfare of children.

Prosecutors said each felony count carries up to 7 years in prison and a $15,000 fine.

Jury selection is scheduled for March 20 in Harrisburg in the case of former university president Graham Spanier, former vice president Gary Schultz and former athletic director Tim Curley.

The defendants sought permission last week from Boccabella for an appeal that could delay the trial. The judge has not ruled on that request.

They argue Boccabella erred when he declined to dismiss the child-welfare charges, arguing the statute of limitations expired, the defendants did not provide direct care for children and they are charged with actions that occurred before the law was revised.

Earlier this month, the judge dismissed charges of failing to properly report suspected abuse, and last year the Superior Court threw out perjury, obstruction and conspiracy charges.

The three administrators fielded a complaint in 2001 from a graduate assistant who said he saw Sandusky, then retired as an assistant football coach, sexually abusing a boy in a team shower.

They did not report the matter to police or child welfare authorities, but did tell Sandusky he could no longer bring children to the campus and they notified his charity for children, The Second Mile.

Sandusky currently is serving a lengthy state prison term after being convicted in 2012 of 45 counts of sexual abuse of 10 boys.

Last week, a new judge appointed to preside over his appeals under the state's Post-Conviction Relief Act scheduled a March 24 hearing at the courthouse near State College to "present and finalize the evidentiary portion" of the hearing.