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Abundance of “old school” types in Phillies organization intrigued pitching coach Bob McClure

Feb 14, 2014, 8:04 PM EDT

Bob McClure Getty Images

At the end of September, the Phillies said goodbye to longtime pitching coach Rich Dubee. Dubee had been with the club for nine seasons. In November, the Phillies announced they had hired Bob McClure to be their new pitching coach. McClure had previously coached for the Rockies, Royals, and Red Sox.

Also during the off-season, the Phillies hired an analytics “extern”, who eventually became a full-time employee — the organization’s first foray into analytics. The Phillies have been the laughingstock of the league, not just for their hesitance to embrace 21st-century ideas, but for their outright dismissal of them. In January last year, in defense of his signing of Delmon Young, GM Ruben Amaro famously said that he isn’t concerned with a player’s [lack of] walks, and that he cares about his overall production.

McClure said recently, “There’s a lot of good old-school baseball people here and that intrigued me.” McClure added that he thinks the use of baseball data can be “overdone”. Via Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly:

McClure’s keep-it-simple style won’t include bombarding his pitchers with analytical data. He believes too much of that can get in the way of executing the pitch.

“So many organizations are getting into the computer and data and number crunching,” he said. “There’s a lot of good old-school baseball people here and that intrigued me.

“I use it. I think there’s a place for old school with the new stuff and a place for new stuff with the old school. I think a mixture is good. But for me, I think it can be overdone.”

Meet the new boss, same as the old boss.

  1. andreweac - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    Dude demonstrated his tWtW with that quote.

    • smoothaswilkes - Feb 14, 2014 at 11:26 PM

      uh, no. mustache. nothing says grit and shows the outright will to win than that glorious mustache. that quote was just assumed.

  2. skerney - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    Translation: “I believe fire is magic, and it frightens me.”

    • 18thstreet - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:32 PM

      Is it that bad for a pitching coach to feel this way? I mean, it’s awful if a GM does. But it seems to me that a pitching coach’s job is to work with mechanics. And if the player is failing, then his roster spot is the fault of the GM and his playing time is the fault of the manager. But the pitching coach shouldn’t be worried about results, but worried about process.

      Help me out here.

  3. nymets4ever - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:21 PM

    Hi, I’m Bob McClure. You may remember me from such organizations as the Colorado Rockies, the Kansas City Royals, and the Boston Red Sox…

    • tfbuckfutter - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:34 PM

      Hi, I’m Bob McClure.

      You may remember me from damaging careers such as Lester, Buchholz and Beckett.

      • ezthinking - Feb 15, 2014 at 2:27 AM

        Or maybe they’re all rock-headed twenty-somethings that don’t listen to coaching, do their own thing, get hurt and then decide to listen.

        Kind of like most every 20 something.

  4. tfbuckfutter - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    I want to join a company in my field of expertise that is really lazy and resistant to new ideas.

    Anyone who actually cares in that organization is wasting their time.

    • ltzep75 - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:01 AM

      Look, all I know is that I trust what my eyes tell me. And my eyes told me that Bob McClure sucks.

  5. halladaysbiceps - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:35 PM

    “The Phillies have been the laughingstock of the league, not just for their hesitance to embrace 21st-century ideas, but for their outright dismissal of them.”

    Yeah, what a laughingstock the Phillies were and still are!. They not only won 5 straight NL East division titles, but also won 2 NL pennants and a WS with their “barbarian approach”. But hey, that’s immaterial to your narrative.

    • nymets4ever - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:38 PM

      I can’t stand the Phillies but this is an extremely valid retort…

    • raysfan1 - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:47 PM

      Fair enough. I think Baer, a Phillies-centric blogger and fan, is taking a slap at Amaro with his comment that you quoted. Amaro was not the GM who assembled the outstanding Phillies teams you rightly mentioned. He is, however, a GM who has made some very questionable personnel decisions that have directly contributed to their less than stellar finishes the past two seasons.

      Personally, I think McClure is right that some mix of analytics and “old school” is best.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:50 AM

        Well, yeah. Again, there is no team that doesn’t think scouting and coaching are important. Not one, ever. Teams never replaced scouting with analytics, they just used more information to IMPROVE scouting, player development, and understanding what in baseball leads to winning and losing.

        People that think any organization uses analyses to replace scouting, rather than as additional information to improved decision making is creating a straw man, because such an attitude or team has never existed.

    • ojdiddoit - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:15 PM

      Agreed…Seems the interns are the writers for this site

    • forsch31 - Feb 15, 2014 at 12:57 PM

      In 2006, the Cardinals won the Series. It was the last gasp of the MV3 team, which had won its division 6 times in 7 years and won 2 NL pennants. In 2007, the wheels fell off–the roster had gotten old, the farm system was thin and well short of good replacements, and traditionalist GM Walt Jocketty was busy with a civil war with the team’s new and analytical player development head. The Cardinals finished third in the Central with a 78-81 record. Jocketty was fired, an analytics-friendly GM was given the job, and the Cardinals set about rebuilding the organization from top to bottom. That’s because they had to.

      I’m seeing the same thing happening in Philly. Yes, they had a great team, but nothing lasts forever, and it doesn’t seem like Amaro has much of a plan to fix that. In the past two seasons, the Phillies have finished at .500 and .451, finishing 3rd and 4th respectively. They are declining; anyone who knows anything about baseball, traditional or otherwise, can see that. They’re at a critical point, and it just seems like they’ve decided to tread water, refusing to use a life preserver just because they didn’t need one before.

      Analytics is simply a new tool, and teams that have used that tool in the past decade have been successful. What kills me is that sabermetrics have brought back the importance of the farm system, drafting, and player development, which is far more traditional than anything Amaro has done.

  6. phillphan - Feb 14, 2014 at 8:41 PM

    Don’t let facts get in the way of a ridiculous opinion

  7. billybawl - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:01 PM

    This sounds like a thinly veiled jab at the Bosox for firing him during their terrible 2012 season.

  8. cruuuzcontrol - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:29 PM

    Phillies fans will be living on those past glories for a long time, and this is a significant reason why.

    • happytwinsfan - Feb 14, 2014 at 9:54 PM

      i dunno. maybe the old dude is just sayin that how well you actually execute the pitch is just as important as how much you fuss over which pitch to throw.

      • paperlions - Feb 15, 2014 at 8:54 AM

        Maybe, but no one would EVER argue against that point…indeed, almost everyone would argue that execution of pitches is far more important than pitch selection, because with execution, what you throw really doesn’t matter.

  9. sfbookreviews - Feb 15, 2014 at 1:29 AM

    Are we sure he added the “school” part?

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