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The Phillies didn’t hire a stat guy after all. They’re just renting him for a while

Nov 7, 2013, 10:30 AM EST

Pittsburgh Pirates v Philadelphia Phillies Getty Images

The Phillies were thought to have lumbered into the 21st century when they hired Scott Freedman, a statistical analyst the other day. Turns out that they didn’t hire him. They’re just renting him for a bit. Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News reports:

Freedman, however, is not a Phillies employee, assistant general manager Scott Proefrock said.

“He’s joined us through the commissioner’s office,” said Proefrock referring to the arrangement as an “externship.” “He’s here for a period of time,” Proefrock continued. “We were contacted by [the commissioner’s office] this summer. They proposed the arrangement, we had a need and took advantage of it. He’s a bright guy. It might become something more than [the current role].”

We are in an age where every other organization is deploying a team of analysts. Where there are extreme limits being placed on how much money one can spend on amateur talent. Where the difference between winning the World Series or not may depend on the finest distinctions between otherwise similar mid-level free agents. In short, the business of player development and talent identification is harder, more competitive and more critical than it’s ever been.

Against that backdrop, one guy full time wouldn’t be enough as it is. One temp, loaned out from the league office, is a joke.

  1. sgtr0c - Nov 7, 2013 at 10:47 AM

    In the last 8 world series there have been five different teams that have won. Phillies being one those teams. I do not think they are headed in the right direction yet, but you cannot really claim they are out of touch to what it takes to win in this century.

    • phillyupperdecker - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

      They got to the World Series because of home grown talent and some cheap bench and bull pen guys panned out. An analytics guy would only benefit that approach. Unfortunately, over the past couple years they have gone away from what got them there. By trading away prospects and trying to go after another ring the Phillies have dug themselves into a hole. They need to start making the right moves and having their minor league system develop some stars. Brown is a start, Asche looks good, and we hope that Franco is a star in the making.

      • ryanrockzzz - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:30 AM

        I agree with you. I think the fact the Phillies ignore this aspect of soucting and evaluation entirely is baffling. It’s almost like saying he don’t want all the tools in the toolbox to win. And trust me, after stripping the farm system bare, and having a roster full of over the hill, undermotivated veterans, they need every advantage they can get. But to Sgtr’s point, you can win with or without a bunch of stat crunchers, but if I am a GM, I would want as many options as possible.

    • stex52 - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:51 AM

      Imagine – say- that you were going into business exporting chemicals overseas. But you made the decision that those new statistical marketing analysis tools were “too expensive” or adding an analyst to your staff was too much of a headache. So you really didn’t need to break down long term supply/demand relationships, you were going to go with your lengthy experience and “gut feels.”

      You might do very well for a while because you are smart and know the market. But you are giving up on a stream of information that may prove invaluable one day. And it will catch up with you.

  2. mclovinhockey - Nov 7, 2013 at 10:49 AM

    Hire Jonah Hill, he was great in Moneyball ; )

  3. ptfu - Nov 7, 2013 at 10:54 AM

    “We were contacted by [the commissioner’s office] this summer. They proposed the arrangement, we had a need and took advantage of it.”

    So Bud “Sabremetric” Selig’s office is reaching out to the Phillies offering analytic help. You know you’re out of touch when the commish–who has never and will never use email**–takes pity on you and loans you a statistics guy to help out. Even Bud can see that RAJ isn’t getting it done.

    I mean, good grief, you can’t make this stuff up. Someone remind me again how RAJ still has a job?

    **Bud is rumored to have an iPhone though. I choose to believe this is why he moves so slowly on issues: because it takes ages to read all those pages of text squeezed onto that little screen.

    • bolweevils2 - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:33 PM

      That seems weird to me. The Commissioner’s Office shouldn’t be looking to help out one team, or any team. They are supposed to be the impartial league management, not giving the Phils advice on how do do their player evaluation.

      • tuberippin - Nov 7, 2013 at 5:21 PM

        I wouldn’t say they’re helping my Phils as much as forcefully shoving them, inch by inch, into the modern age of baseball.

  4. kellyb9 - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:00 AM

    If I was the GM of a professional baseball team, I’d be looking for any kind of advantage or edge I could find in helping me evaluate talent. Specifically, looking for commonalities among the statheads and the traditionalists, but that’s me.

    If you aren’t doing this, the only conclusions I can draw is that you feel as though the stat guys don’t know what they’re talking about or you simply don’t care about keeping your job. Keep in mind, every other team employees these guys – so as a Phillies fan I’m inclined to believe that Amaro simply doesn’t care.

    • bolweevils2 - Nov 7, 2013 at 3:39 PM

      In fairness, it could be that you believe there is value to be found in players that look good to the old time scouts but don’t fare too well under sabermetrics. In the Moneyball era, the A’s figured out that high OBP sluggers were undervalued in the market, so that’s where they could find value that other teams missed. The Phillies may now feel there is value in the old time player evaluation that the statheads are overlooking.

      I don’t buy that they are correct if that’s what they think, but it’s a plausible scenario why they might not be looking at stat guy’s analysis.

  5. phillphan - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:04 AM

    I wonder which one of the Braves statistical analyst suggested BJ Upton? I bet if the Phillies had signed him, Craig would be sure we knew all about it and how their lack of such a hire was the reason why.

  6. The Rabbit - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    Too funny, Craig.
    Some of us who are going through baseball withdrawal would be happy to work this winter as statheads for the Phillies; however, there are some team-specific unconventional metrics a group of us (mostly Phillies’ fans) have developed over the past few seasons.
    One example: The Phillies should avoid all RP’s named Chad at any cost. I know it’s a small sample size, but there seems to be a negative numerlogical connection between “Chad” and “Philadelphia”. We’re still researching it.
    Our services would be very affordable.

    • stex52 - Nov 7, 2013 at 11:38 AM

      Get back on that defensive metric, Rabbit. Several of us can’t wait to see it.

  7. tfbuckfutter - Nov 7, 2013 at 12:55 PM

    So current wisdom suggests buying and Ruben instead rents?

    Sounds about right.

    • paperlions - Nov 7, 2013 at 1:32 PM

      To expand on that analogy, current wisdom suggests buying land and developing large complexes, instead Ruben rented a basement apartment with a kitchenette but a shared bathroom.

      • chacochicken - Nov 7, 2013 at 6:13 PM

        and damn it if Ryan H. isn’t always in that bathroom.

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