While digging around the internet to find Amaro quotes I came across this article by Bob Brookover in March of 2012. From the title “Inside the Phillies: Who needs sabermetrics?” you know that this should be a treasure trove of bad Amaro opinions. The author gets his opinions on the table very early in the article:
VORP means value over replacement player. BABIP stands for batting average on balls in play. PERA is the acronym for peripheral ERA.
The most devout sabermetricians will try to tell you that there is no better way in the world to evaluate players than through their convoluted equations.
But honestly I don’t want to know what author has to say on the subject, I care about the quotes, so lets strip out Bob and then isolate each player in the story individually. This should give us a much better look at how the Phillies do business and where their mindset comes from.
Scott Proefrock – Assistant General Manager
On the use of sabermetrics
I honestly can’t tell you the last time WAR or VORP or any of those things were brought up in a conversation. We’re aware of them, and we understand what they are. It’s just not something we find relevant.
“From our perspective, it is important that we are aware of those things because there are other clubs that value them more than we do and look at them more than we do. So that can give us an indication of what they may think of some of our players and what guys they value maybe even more than we do because of the metrics.
Charlie Manuel – Manager
On what statistics he prefers and how he applies them to the game
“I’ve always been a guy who looked at OPS and on-base percentage. I definitely think OPS is really good to look at. I think you gather as much information as you can, and that weighs into who you play and what your lineup is. It plays a little part in it.
I need somebody to sit down and explain that to me. I admit that there are some things that I don’t understand yet. But if I see something that lights me up, I don’t care if it’s new or if sabermetrics came up with it. I look at it.
On how he uses statistics to manager
When you’re sitting there and a guy brings up sabermetrics, they don’t know nothing about that guy, and that may be the biggest thing. Sometimes a guy will look at you and say, ‘Why did you play that guy, he’s 1 for 16 against that guy with seven punch-outs?’ But when I’ve watched that guy, he might be 1 for 16, but nine of those at-bats the guy hit about three or four balls hard. Shane Victorino last year, for instance, was 2 for 16 or something like that against Derek Lowe, and before I played him we talked about it. He told me he had a plan for going up there against him, and he stuck with it, and he got three hits.
Ruben Amaro Jr. – General Manager
On the utilization of stats
We do utilize some of the information, 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.
The human element
I believe you can break down and analyze statistics any way you really want, but when it comes to scouting heart and head, you can’t do it with sabermetrics. In our current situation, I feel like talent and production is very important, but I want a player who has a championship-caliber outlook on how to go about his business.
On numbers in the minor leagues
It’s just too difficult to really project what the numbers will say. I lived it myself. I was a great minor-league player but a terrible major-league player. If you looked at my OPS and my on-base percentage, it was ridiculous. But I wasn’t a good major-league player because I couldn’t hit a breaking ball. That’s something that the scout will find out and see and then you can exploit that area on a guy.
I understand Hollywood is Hollywood, but there were a lot of unrealistic things that occurred in that movie. The thing that bothered me most is I think the fact of the matter was that Oakland had so much success because they had three of the best starting pitchers in the game. I don’t know if that was mentioned more than once, if that. A lot of the movie was based around Scott Hatteberg moving to first base, and I don’t think that was the reason why they had so much success.
Let’s Unpack This:
- The Phillies do not use advanced statistics in their personal evaluation of talent, they keep track of advanced statistics to know how other teams evaluate their talent
- Would they be better if they used their own advanced statistics, YES
- Does Amaro seem open to that idea, YES
- As a whole they aren’t close minded about the idea of new information
- They value scouting above statistics and think the context involved in scouting allows them to get better grasp on a player
- They have a huge emphasis on mental makeup and value work ethic, you can see this with the veterans they have kept and the FA they have brought in. Despite the character flaws of someone like Jonathan Papelbon, they value someone who goes about their work professionally
- The prospects the Phillies have traded include a long list of players with character/makeup questions: Kyle Drabek, Jonathan Singleton, Vance Worley, Jarred Cosart, Carlos Carrasco, Trevor May
The end result is that the Phillies do a lot of dumb things in their baseball department that are counter to what the rest of baseball is doing. They could make more improvements by moving forward as an organization. For me this is more interesting in how the overall narrative of a person is constructed. I have long pondered the question of how Amaro’s lack of public speaking ability and polish, coupled with his normal persona of being a smug, arrogant ass has affected the way he is portrayed in the media. It is interesting to see that once you strip out the media the quotes are not overly forward thinking, but they are surprisingly informative and give a much better insight into how the Phillies evaluate talent and run their organization.