In 2010, GM Ruben Amaro boasted, … “We’re not a statistics-driven organization by any means.” Shortly after, Amaro signed Ryan Howard (photo above) — already under contract for the next two years — to a five-year, $125 million extension covering his age 32 through 36 seasons.
By Sarah Berkowitz
The Phillies organization can be faulted on so many levels that it is pointless to name all of them, but here’s a start:
Terrible scouting has led to a virtually talent-free farm system
Last to realize that the core of the great 2007-2011 teams needed to be replenished — every year — which has led to the awful records of the past three season.
A clueless general manager who is so far in over his head that when real GMs like Boston’s Ben Cherington see his number come up on their phone they salivate.
Enough. You can fill in the rest.
But now, ESPN has commissioned a survey by Bob Baumer, co-author of “The Sabermetric Revolution: Assessing the Growth of Analytics in Baseball.” And, guess what: of all 32 MLB teams the Phillies are like climate change deniers when it comes to analytics:
No team was singled out more often as stubborn nonbelievers in analytics. Thanks to Bill James and generations of sabermetricians, baseball is further down the analytics road than the other major sports — which means the Phillies are further behind than any other team in sports.
In 2010, GM Ruben Amaro boasted, “We don’t have an in-house stats guy, and I kind of feel we never will. We’re not a statistics-driven organization by any means.”
Shortly after, Amaro signed slugging first baseman Ryan Howard — already under contract for the next two years — to a five-year, $125 million extension covering his age 32 through 36 seasons. Howard was coming off of his fourth straight monster season according to traditional Triple Crown stats, but he didn’t rate nearly as well in advanced metrics such as WAR in large part because of his liability as a defender. Giving that much money that far in the future to a large, immobile, power hitter at that age left the sabermetrically inclined scratching their heads.
Howard’s production and the Phillies’ fortunes have suffered in the years since, and his onerous contract now has the team in a bind.
In 2013, the Phillies hired Scott Freedman as manager of baseball analytics, but Amaro downplayed Freedman’s importance, saying, “I don’t know if it’s going to change the way we do business, necessarily.” Although not a programmer, Freedman is described as “a talented individual” and a “creative thinker” by former supervisors Dan Halem (MLB) and Adam Fisher (Mets) respectively. Freedman’s ability to pull the Phillies into the 21st century will require more support from upper management than it appears willing to provide.