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.
The first truly big free agent signing of the offseason has gone down: the Chicago White Sox just announced that they have signed catcher Yasmani Grandal to a four-year, $73 million deal.
Grandal, 31, was the best catcher available in free agency. He is coming off a fine year with the Milwaukee Brewers, with whom he had to settle for a one-year pact in 2019. He hit .246/.380/.468 with 28 homers and 77 driven in. It was his fourth straight season with 20+ homers. While his catching has been criticized due to some high-profile mistakes in the postseason, the two-time All-Star once again proved himself to be one of the best pitch-framers in the game if not the best. Between the bat and the glove he has a claim to being one of the best all-around catchers in baseball.
The signing leaves open the question of what happens to James McCann, who was himself an All-Star this year. It’s not that hard a question, of course, as Grandal is a far superior catcher to McCann in every respect. The Sox could make McCann a backup. Alternatively, they could try to trade him to fill other holes on the roster.
The White Sox finished 72-89 in 2019 but are showing signs of coming out of rebuilding mode and into contention mode. This signing pushes them a big step into that direction.