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.
A report from the Baltimore Sun’s Dan Connolly suggests that free agent catcher Welington Castillo currently tops the Orioles’ list of potential backstop targets for the 2017 season. With Matt Wieters on the market, the Orioles lack a suitable platoon partner for Caleb Joseph behind the dish, and Connolly adds that the club has been discussing a multi-year deal with Castillo’s representatives since the Winter Meetings.
Castillo batted .264/.322/.423 with the Diamondbacks in 2016, racking up 14 home runs and driving in a career-high 68 RBI in 457 PA. His bat provides much of his upside, and Connolly quoted an anonymous National League scout who believes that the 29-year-old’s defensive profile has fallen short of his potential in recent years.
For better or worse, both the Orioles and Castillo appear far from locking in a deal for 2017. Both the Rays and Braves have expressed interest in the veteran catcher during the past week, while the Orioles are reportedly considering Wieters, Nick Hundley and Chris Iannetta as alternatives behind the plate.
The Phillies reportedly signed veteran outfielder Daniel Nava to a minor league contract, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer.
Nava began the season on a one-year contract with the Angels, during which he slashed .235/.309/.303 through 136 PA in the first half of 2016. He was flipped to the Royals in late August for a player to be named later and saw the remainder of his year go down the drain on an .091 average through 12 PA in Anaheim. After getting the boot from the Angels’ 40-man roster in November, the 33-year-old outfielder elected free agency.
Nava is expected to compete for a bench role on the Phillies’ roster in the spring. As it currently stands, the club’s projected 2017 outfield features Howie Kendrick and Odubel Herrera, with precious little depth behind them. Nava’s bat is underwhelming, but at the very least he offers the Phillies a warm body in left field and a potential platoon partner for one of their younger options, a la Tyler Goeddel or Roman Quinn.