Ruben Amaro Jr. and the Phillies might hire a stat-head

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Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has always prided himself on making decisions based on scouting and has often mocked the importance of statistical analysis.

But after going 154-170 over the past two seasons Amaro is talking about changing his approach, at least a little bit:

We’re going to make some changes. I think we’re doing some stuff analytically to change the way we do some evaluations. Look, we’re going to continue to be a scouting organization. That said, I think we owe it to ourselves to look at some other ways to evaluate. We’re going to build more analytics into it. Is it going to change dramatically the way we go about our business? No. But we owe it to ourselves to at least explore other avenues.

But wait, here’s the kicker from Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com:

Amaro said the club might hire a person with an analytics background. “We may bring someone in from the outside, but we have not decided that yet,” Amaro said. “If we have any changes at all, they will be pretty minor.”

Does that mean Amaro and the Phillies have yet to employ anyone with an analytics background? If so, that’s pretty astounding in 2013. Or, you know, 2003 even.

2017 Preview: The National League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the National League West.

The Giants had the best record in all of baseball at the All-Star Break and the Dodgers lost the best pitcher in the world in Clayton Kershaw for a big chunk of the season. Yet, somehow, L.A. won the NL West by four games. The biggest culprit was the Giants’ suspect bullpen, which they put some real money toward fixing this winter. Is it enough? Or is a a Dodgers team with a healthy Kershaw just too talented for San Francisco to handle?

Below them is an intriguing Rockies team, though probably not a truly good Rockies team. The Dbacks have a lot of assorted talent but are nonetheless in reshuffle mode following a miserable 2016 campaign. The Padres, meanwhile, are in full-fledged rebuilding mode, but do possess some of the best minor league talent in the game.

Here are our previews of the 2017 NL West:

Los Angeles Dodgers
San Francisco Giants
Colorado Rockies
Arizona Diamondbacks
San Diego Padres

2017 Preview: The American League West

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For the past few weeks we’ve been previewing the 2017 season. Here, in handy one-stop-shopping form, is our package of previews from the American League West

There’s not a lot of separation between the top three teams in this division. Indeed, it would not be a surprise for either the Astros, Rangers or Mariners to end the year on top. Part of that is because none of these contenders are perfect, with all three facing some big challenges in putting together a strong rotation.

Meanwhile, the best baseball player in the universe toils in Anaheim, where he’ll most likely have to content himself to playing spoiler. Up the coast in Oakland . . . um, green is pretty?

Our 2017 AL West Previews:

Houston Astros
Seattle Mariners
Texas Rangers
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Oakland Athletics