Ruben Amaro relied on seven-year-old scouting reports to sign Delmon Young? What?

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If this was reported at the time of the signing I missed it, but Matt Gelb of the Philly Inquirer writes something fairly shocking today. The basis on which Ruben Amaro decided to sign Delmon Young:

To evaluate [Young], the Phillies relied on seven-year-old scouting reports from the outfielder’s days as a Tampa Bay farmhand. Two of Amaro’s assistants, Scott Proefrock and Bart Braun, were members of the Rays organization when Young was selected first overall in the 2003 draft. They vouched for Young’s ability.

I know it was a small contract, but wow. That can’t have been all of it, right? This had to be a situation in which they looked at his production in Detroit and then just completed a loop with some first-hand info on Young from the old Rays people, didn’t it? Delmon Young seven years ago is probably about as different from Delmon Young today than Delmon Young seven years ago is as different from a can of lima beans.

All that said, that’s just an anecdote the leaps into a larger story about how the Phillies use advanced metrics. The upshot: more scouting than sabermetrics. Interesting stuff, and a nice companion piece to yesterday’s stuff about the Washington Nationals.

There is, indeed, an MLB-to-Portland group

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On Monday, Baseball America reported that MLB is prepared to expand to Portland and Montreal. We talked about that at length yesterday. One of the most common responses to that piece has been “Portland? Really?”

There’s good reason for that response. Baseball-to-Portland has been talked about for years, but there has never been any real traction. Past initiatives have failed, significant public funding for a stadium seems to be a political impossibility and, heck, Portland wasn’t even interested in keeping its Triple-A team, turning its stadium into a much more successful soccer venue and not missing the Beavers all that much.

It would seem, however, that the reports are not mere speculation and there is a genuine baseball-to-Portland initiative afoot once again. From the Oregonian:

On Tuesday, former Trail Blazers broadcaster Mike Barrett confirmed to The Oregonian/OregonLive that he is part of the Portland group.

“I am officially involved with a campaign to bring Major League Baseball and a stadium development to Portland,” Barrett said. “There is also a formally organized, sophisticated and seasoned management group running this initiative. We will keep you fully apprised of any/all developments as this project progresses.”

One guy — a broadcaster no less — saying he’s part of a group is not exactly a major needle-mover, of course. But it does contrast with past Portland initiatives that have been well-publicized grassroots affairs. While those may have been more broad-based and while their public nature may have provided some refreshing transparency, the simple fact of professional sports ownership in the 21st century is that well-monied groups who play things close to the vest are more likely to make waves. We’re in an age when technocratic hedge fund-type guys make things happen in this arena, not in an age when flamboyant public personalities do.

None of which is to say that baseball in Portland is a lock or that expansion anywhere is a short term proposition. It’s just to note that, yeah, there is a bit more going on, it seems, than just pointing at a map and saying “yeah, a team would make sense here.”