Phils Add Unprecedented Futility? – Phillies Nation

Phils Add Unprecedented Futility?

The addition of the Youngs, Betancourt, and Mather put the Phillies in unprecedented company of acquiring futility. They can hide Betancourt and Mather in Lehigh Valley, but the Youngs... Photo: AP

Some of the Phillies additions this off season have been no doubt puzzling – while much has been written lately about Delmon Young, it seems to have been forgotten that Michael Young posted the lowest fWAR (as defined here) among player eligible for the batting title last year (-1.4). Delmon Young was twice as valuable (-0.7) as Michael but his triple-slash of .267/.296/.411 with a 3.3% BB-rate leaves a lot to be desired.

There is no good way to sort this out other than by hand so I capped my research at the previous ten years: the 2013 Phillies will be the only team in the last ten years to have either signed or traded for two players who finished the previous season qualified for the batting title and contributed negative value, in this case, WAR, to their previous team.

And there is reason for optimism at Citizen’s Bank Park. Or not.

Whatever the case, it does feel particularly weird to be relieved that the Phillies’ projected starting right fielder may not be ready for Opening Day. And trying to do the math to convert what Michael Young’s WAR would be with 2012’s triple-slash at third base instead of the first base he played last season make me feel like I’m a casino junkie looking to scrounge up change for that one last bet that will finally put me in the win column.

With the additions of the Youngs, Yuniesky Betancourt (-0.8 WAR in 2012 but did not qualify for the batting title), and Joe Mather (-1.5 WAR in 2012 in just 243 PA, did not qualify for the batting title), the Phillies have added four players who cost their teams over four wins combined last year. While Betancourt and Mather will be safely hidden in Lehigh Valley, the two Youngs will not. Things can only get better right? Let’s take a look at what history has to say about that:

– Four teams in the last ten years have had two batting-title eligible players post negative fWAR. Three teams did not make the playoffs: 2012 Seattle Mariners (finished fourth in AL West), 2011 Chicago White Sox (finished third in AL Central) and 2008 Kansas City Royals (finished fourth in AL Central). One team made it all the way to the World Series: 2012 Detroit Tigers.

– The 2003 Detroit Tigers had three eligible players post negative WAR totals (Bobby Higginson -0.1, Alex Sanchez -0.3, and Ramon Santiago -1.2). They finished 43-119, setting an American League record for losses and coming one loss away from tying the 1962 New York Mets for most losses by any team in either league.

– In 2004, there were only three players in the Majors who posted negative WAR totals and qualified for the batting title. One of them was surprisingly Edgar Martinez.

– The Phillies now have on their roster two players who have had the lowest WAR in all of baseball at least once in the last four seasons: Michael Young in 2012 and Betancourt in 2009. And remember: Michael Young was traded for something of value directly after his feat and Betancourt was traded for something of value during his run at history.

So, in conclusion, the Phillies’ pair of acquisitions (Delmon and Michael Young) is unprecedented in recent history. No team in the last ten years has duplicated that feat. Should the Youngs play to that same level in 2013, it will make them only the sixth team in the last eleven seasons to have a pair of players qualify for the batting title and be among the worst values to their club. What kind of finish would that mean for the Phillies? If recent history is any indication, they could either go the route of the 2003 Tigers, which is very unlikely, the 2012 Tigers, probably equally unlikely, or finish around .500 like the 2011 Chicago White Sox, which, in my opinion, is very likely.



  1. Rob h

    January 29, 2013 at 9:58 pm

    A-rod should personally fund a parade for us since he cheated to win the 09 series.

  2. William Rennick

    January 29, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    We’re looking at a .500 team again, and that’s only if things go reasonably well. Injuries could put the win total in the mid 70s. If Darin Ruf & Delmon Young actually get significant playing time (and I’m sure the pitching staff are having nightmares about that scenario) they could very well be the worst fielding team in the game. The corner infielders and corner outfielders will just be brutal defensively.

    • Ken Bland

      January 30, 2013 at 5:24 am

      I don’t know about win totals, but like yourself, the defense is a big concenr. Actually has been through most of the off season. Not that pre season expectations mean a thing (at least mine don’t to me), but ya kinda get some closure if you have a definitive feeling on how the club’ll do, so I’m inclined to join the fray. So I’ve played with that, but always wrap up with trust your first instinct, which is concern about the defense, which is a major thing in validating any of the 5 starters.

      The last time I was low in expectation on a ballclub that went the other way to a great extent was the Cards of a couple years ago. Course they made a couple terrific mid year deals, but between the pen, defense, no leadoff man, I just didn’t expect much. I think I actually had them 4th as an expectation. Or at least I saw a lot of things that could go wrong. Your thinking about the Phils reminds me of my thinking on the Cards. There are at least some strength areas the Phils have that maybe help pull the Phils closer to where the Cards finished.

    • luke ustaszewski

      January 30, 2013 at 12:50 pm

      I really don’t know what basis anyone is using to assume that Darin ruf will be brutal on defense. He caught everything he got to at the end of last season with the Phils, showed a decent arm and covered enough ground in left. I would consider him far better than say Matt Holliday of the Cards whom seemingly often drops easy fly balls. ruf’s arm is actually a vast improvement over Juan pierre’s whom I loved last year with the Phils. I think Ruf will surprise a lot of people both on offense and defense. As for Delmon Young, it is hard to judge how he will be. he played with bone spurs on his ankle and has also dropped 20 pounds. He also may surprise after having the medical issue resolved and having the additional motivation to meet contract incentives and having to repair his image. I wish the Phils would add Kyle Lohse for pithcing depth, but otherwise I expect Chase and Ryan to have major comebacks that can prpel the team to win the NL East again. we will see, but i think we will see a hungrier team this year. I think they were embarrassed by last year.

  3. Betasigmadeltashag

    January 29, 2013 at 11:00 pm

    I get really tired of all you sabre only stat people and criticizing every move before we see them play a single game in red pinstripes. Especially WAR it s such a random number of stats for agents to use. What the Phil’s did this winter is provide some stop gaps and depth while maintaining some payroll flexibility. One more thing D Young at the price they are paying him is set in stone starter. So can we please wait until ST starts before we burry this team and the moves that have been made.

    • EricL

      January 29, 2013 at 11:21 pm

      I get really tired of all you old-school non-stat people and praising every move even though we have lots of evidence from these players’ histories that they’re not really very good.

      WAR is not a random number. I’m sorry that you don’t like change, and that new statistics that you don’t fully understand are confusing to you, but that’s no reason to just say that they’re a random number. WAR is a rough estimation of the TOTAL value a player provides when you include his offensive abilities, defensive abilities and base running abilities. It’s much more objective a measurement than just watching the players, because people have inherent biases that don’t allow them to be completely objective. Statistically quantifying those things using actual numbers and game-situations is MUCH more accurate, and I’m not sure why the old school people tend to reject a more complete measure of a player’s value. It just doesn’t make sense.

      And, PS, I don’t care about spring training. It’s meaningless. It’s useful to get the players back into shape, get their stamina, strength and timing back up to speed, but if you judge any players based on anything they do in spring training you’re making a mistake. You shouldn’t make roster decisions based on most of what guys do in spring training because it’s too short and you’re not seeing them face real competition.

    • wbramh

      January 30, 2013 at 4:34 am

      Maybe players like Young and Betancourt stink because they’ve been wearing the wrong uniforms. I’ll buy that reasoning.
      But how about this…Rather than pay Young a million (assuming he gets a couple of pounds of pure fat off his back side) the team could pay me just 200K and I promise to be at least 1/5th as successful a hitter as Delmon – and not much worse in the field. The only thing I won’t do is yell anti-Semitic remarks in a bizarre, drunken rage.
      Stan Musial he’s not – on or off the field.

    • hk

      January 30, 2013 at 5:24 am

      Is OBP now a sabre only stat? Would it have made you happier if Ian had used OBP instead of WAR and stated that of the 56 qualified OF’s over the past 2 seasons, Delmon Young had the 55th highest OBP? If you want to expand the search to include his career best 2010 season and he’s 81st in OBP out of the 93 qualified OF’s from 2010 to 2012. Add to that the fact that he’s a notoriously bad fielder and base runner, which I’m sure would be backed up by any old school scout that you’d ask, and I would think everyone would come to the conclusion that it will take a reversion to his 2010 levels for it to be worth having this guy on the roster and, while possible, such an occurrence is unlikely. Plus to point to the fact that he’s “only” making somewhere between $750K and $3.5M totally overlooks the potential opportunity cost of any plate appearances he might take from younger, cheaper and better players.

    • Chuck A.

      January 30, 2013 at 7:38 am

      Isn’t a “sabre” a sword? So by saying “sabre only stat people” that must mean guys that are into stats that carry swords around.

    • luke ustaszewski

      January 30, 2013 at 12:54 pm

      totally agree with ERICL. This WAR business is pretty bogus, and as he says, let’s wait and see how ST goes.

  4. JohnMatrix

    January 29, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    I agree with you beta. This is basically the same team that made a run at it towards the end last year, with a better bullpen!! Not having qualls and crew makes the team better, and adding adams and durbin defintlately makes them better. Im excited to see brown every day. Hungry young guys in he out field! Lets go!

    • EricL

      January 29, 2013 at 11:28 pm

      Durbin is not necessarily better than Aumont or DeFratus or Schwimmer or Rosenberg or whomever. He’s really not that good.

      Adams has the potential to be good, but if you look at his numbers he’s been losing velocity the last 3 years, and his strikeout per 9 numbers have been dropping precipitously. That’s not a good sign for a guy in his mid 30s. And he’s coming off of fairly major surgery.

      And while the Phillies put together a nice run over the 2nd half, the Braves and Nationals still had better 2nd half records and both have improved. When Bryce Harper and Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward and Freddy Freeman and the like get a year older it’s good for their teams because they’re still young and getting better with age. When the Phillies get a year older it’s bad, because Halladay, Utley, Rollins, M. Young, Ruiz, Lee, etc. are all on the wrong side of thirty and in their decline phases.

      I’d love to see the Phillies repeat 2011 and win 100+ games, but at this point it’s no longer a realistic expectation. The Nationals are the class of the NL East now, with the Braves right on their heels, and the Phillies are sadly solidly in third place. That’s not to say lots of things could go right and they somehow sneak into the playoffs (look at Baltimore last year, for example), but to expect that and to have optimism that such a scenario is likely to happen is, I think, delusional.

      • Lefty

        January 30, 2013 at 6:38 am

        One point of disagreement.
        “and both have improved”

        But the Braves have not improved their outfield according to WAR. Look at the last few years of WAR for the law firm of Upton, Upton, and Heyward, and then look at Prado, Heyward and Bourn. They are not better, they are worse using WAR as the measurement, and it’s not close. They had a difficult arbitration with Prado and knew they couldn’t keep him past this year, so they had to make a trade.

        You can’t use WAR to make help make one argument, and then go against it to make another. And a few weeks ago, you called me hypocritical.

      • hk

        January 30, 2013 at 6:49 am


        WAR is a descriptive calculation, not a predictive one. Therefore, if someone wants to make the case that the Braves have improved, they would say that McCann, Freeman, Simmons, Heyward, the Uptons and even Chris Johnson / Juan Francisco are still of the ages where you would typically project their WAR’s to increase (they are all younger than Bourn, Chipper and Prado, the players the Braves lost). Having said that, my opinion is that the Braves non-pitchers project to have ~ the same WAR in 2013 as they had in 2012 with improvement at 1B and RF and huge improvement at SS offsetting the drops at 3B, CF and LF with C and 2B projecting to stay about the same.

      • Lefty

        January 30, 2013 at 7:17 am

        hk, The posting is about adding unprecedented futility in terms of WAR and using it to predict how the team will finish. I didn’t write it. It was retorted by several commenters, and EricL defended it.

        I only pointed out that by using the same methodology, his statement was wrong.

      • hk

        January 30, 2013 at 7:51 am


        It seemed to me that EricL responded to JohnMatrix, not the article, and he did so without mentioning WAR.

      • EricL

        January 30, 2013 at 10:30 pm

        First, Lefty, if I recall correctly I said that I thought your position on “performance enhancing” drugs with respect to the hall of fame was hypocritical because you thought the amphetamines of yore were okay whereas steroids were not.

        That’s just one particular position you took, not you in general, who I find to be one of the more informed posters here overall.

        Second, as hk says, WAR is descriptive of what actually happened, and not predictive. So when guys like Prado have a career year, yes, he posted a high WAR total, but that doesn’t mean he was likely to repeat it this season. It was also based on a huge bump in his defensive rating, which most advanced-stats followers will tell you is highly volatile, and thus at age 29, you’re unlikely to see him improve or even duplicate those numbers. So, when I look forward I try to judge how a team is going to do based on things like projections and aging curves and regression to the mean for outlying seasons and the like, and that’s why I think it’s reasonable to say that on total the Braves will improve, the Nationals will improve, and the Phillies are unlikely to improve much. (I’m still of the opinion that they’re something like a 84-86 win team, talent-wise).

        And again, remember that when I say improve, that doesn’t mean they’ll finish ahead of the Phillies. If you can accurately estimate the true-talent number of wins a team has (which, obviously, is almost impossible to do anyway), in any given year, due to luck and sequencing of events and other things out of their control they’ll finish within +/- 5 games of that number only ~50% of the time. So there’s lots of variance that allows for all kinds of weird results to occur.

      • Lefty

        January 30, 2013 at 11:23 pm

        I honestly agree with you Eric, intuitively and by looking at the aging curves I think the Braves will improve as well. As I told hk, since you were commenting on a posting that used WAR as a measurement of prediction, I assumed you were doing so as well when you responded to Beta. I was, evidently, not paying close enough attention to detail.

        But the more important issue is this. I firmly believe that all manner of reasonable methods should be used to measure performance. That includes, but is not limited to – counting stats, mathematical formulas, and the eye test. There shouldn’t be an “old school” of anything. Why not make use of all tools available to help predict and measure, it’s all good man. Years ago like most old ballplayers my age, I resisted the new metrics. But when I began digging deeper and opening my mind, I found a whole new world of baseball that I never understood thanks to folks like Bill James and Vince Gennaro.

        I respect you as well Eric, you are knowledgable and fun. I like all the analytics I’ve learned over the years and am excited about the continuing work SABR is doing.

        But you’ll have to forgive me for my preference to be delusional about my team in February. Because as illogical as that may be, sometimes the stories of the Orioles and A’s of 2012 are all we’ve got to keep hope alive.

      • hk

        January 31, 2013 at 5:41 am

        Lefty and EricL,

        It is important to note that, while both Bourn and Prado produced career years last year and both were unlikely to reproduce them this year*, WAR does describe what did happen and their combined 12.3 WAR contributed largely to the Braves 94 wins last year. When you add the 12.3 WAR to the 4.5 WAR that the Braves got from the now departed David Ross and Chipper, there is 16.8 WAR from non-pitchers last year that will have to be made up for by the Uptons, the 3B’s, a full year of Simmons and improvement from Freeman and Heyward. Personally, I think it will be difficult for them to improve much, if at all, upon last year’s position player production and whether they improve as a team will depend more upon their pitching. I think the Phils have a decent chance to contend with the Braves this year**.

        * The reason that I think that the Braves won the trade with the D-Backs is that they swapped Prado’s age 29 year for Justin Upton’s age 25, 26 and 27 years.

        ** I find it interesting that right now, after the Upton trade, the Vegas odds on the Phillies winning the NL pennant are the same odds that you can get on the Braves, Cardinals and Giants winning the pennant. Only the Dodgers, Nationals and Reds are listed as higher favorites than that group of four.

  5. Bart Shart

    January 30, 2013 at 12:05 am

    All we have to do now is wait and see. Who knows what mandates Amaro us under? Who knows how the key injured Phils from last year will rebound? I think Michael Young was a decent pick-up and will be a better fielding third baseman than what many think. I have to be optimistic at this point. It is just better for my health. Don’t worry, be happy !!!!

    • wbramh

      January 30, 2013 at 4:44 am

      Of course, whether the decisions are being made by Ruben or from above, the result is the same for the team and fans. As is always the case, an organization either gets it together or fails, year after year – like the Cubs and their baseball ignorant, far right wing owner.
      The Phillies current ownership has made some good decisions in the past. Hopefully, they’ll remember what they did right and try to do it, again.

  6. bacardipr

    January 30, 2013 at 1:22 am

    “Who knows what mandates Amaro us under? ”

    I think this statement is key here. No one knows or will probably ever know. Im figuring Rube/Phillies are going to make one final push with (whats left) of their aging core. Before a rebuild will happen. One will have a good argument that on paper the Phils arent ahead. The games still have to be played.

    • wbramh

      January 30, 2013 at 5:02 am

      The only question I’d have is whether it would be smarter trade away some of those veteran players now while they still have some worth and use that value to restock their depleted farm system with future stars. It may already be too late to do that, especially when you another team looks at the contracts that would have to be absorbed. The Phillies seem happy to go after pitchers who have been steadily losing velocity for three or four years and coming off of major surgeries or signing hitters who have been dropping in all the critical numbers and are hazards in the field. Other GMs may not be that charitable, especially to players who were mediocre in the heyday. At least Utley, Howard and Rollins were all superstars. Howard’s salary probably makes him impossible to trade and I’m sure Utley’s chronic injuries have dramatically lowered his trade value. Still, for the right young players, maybe it would still be worth trading a guy like Howard and eating most of his salary if that’s even possible. He might help win a pennant for a team on the cusp.
      The Phillies are not on that cusp.

    • hk

      January 30, 2013 at 5:43 am

      Signing below replacement level players and hoping they regain their past form – or in the case of Yuniesky Betancourt, hoping they gain someone else’s past form – is a very risky way to approach the season regardless of the mandate.

  7. bacardipr

    January 30, 2013 at 5:33 am

    It will be very hard next to almost impossible to trade Howard especially now. Coming off his torn Achilles. He will have to first prove he can be at least a resemblance of his former self. Not to mention his huge contract.

  8. Betasigmadeltashag

    January 30, 2013 at 6:31 am

    First off I do not have a problem with using sabre stats with other things. I would say the same thing to people who judge a pitcher by their W-L record. Also I do not praise every move they make or get all excited over a move every one thinks is great. I reserve judgment until we see how they play on the this team. I do think Brown showed improvement on defense. I do have concerns about M Young defense. One last thing I would say if you any one stat in in any one year to prove a point is a poor argument. And to throw in pick ups that are going to play AAA and a guy who can pull his weight can be cut cause he is only owed less then a million.
    I choose to take saber stats, classic stats , and the eye test AFTER a player actually does something on the diamond

  9. Brooks

    January 30, 2013 at 6:43 am

    I did see this on FB – and it does get my blood to boiling

    • hk

      January 30, 2013 at 7:10 am

      Why did it get your blood boiling?

      • Brooks

        January 30, 2013 at 7:13 am

        It’s an expression – blood boils when you’re pumped.

      • hk

        January 30, 2013 at 7:14 am

        Got it. I always thought blood boiling = anger. My bad. He has produced some great moments, hasn’t he?

      • Brooks

        January 30, 2013 at 7:24 am

        Regardless of what anybody has posted Ryan Howard is the MAIN reason the Phils have been and will be a force in the NL East.. Not the only reason, the MAIN reason.

    • Chuck A.

      January 30, 2013 at 8:24 am

      Brooks – Nice! Thanks for that. We WILL see that again this year and I agree that he WILL be a major factor in the Phils winning 90 games and making the playoffs.

      • Brooks

        January 30, 2013 at 8:42 am

        So many awesome memories and hopefully more to come.. didn’t you want Howard to catch up to Barry in that mess vs the Astros (in a way..)?

      • George

        January 30, 2013 at 9:50 am

        I find it ridiculous that so many people seem to think that because Howard didn’t play real well coming back too soon from a really serious injury that he’s completely washed up. I think anyone who’s put up the numbers he has, if healthy, will continue to be a force. Maybe not the huge force he was early on in his career, but a pretty big force nonetheless. People fail to realize that his running speed and defense were also affected hugely by his Achilles injury, and those should return, too. He’s just not the negative WAR player he was in 2012..

  10. Double Trouble Del

    January 30, 2013 at 9:28 am

    The greater meaning of this offseason lies in the fact that the Phillies are already thinking in terms of the future in their unwillingness to give longer term contracts or sacrifice their draft picks for anyone not named Hamilton. I commend them for not acquiring Vernon Wells or Alfonso Soriano. I commend them for not signing Nick Swisher, Scott Hairston or even Michael Bourn all of which would have been overpays. I don’t even mind the M. Young acquisition especially if you consider Dave Cameron’s predictions for a WAR bounce-back year. What I am perplexed about is why the front office felt the need to bring in the reigning ALCS MVP- is it really an indication that they have no faith in Brown and Ruf? If that is the case then the future success of the team might be farther away than we envisioned.

    • Chuck A.

      January 30, 2013 at 11:17 am

      Del – Yes, it is an indication of their lack of faith in Brown and Ruf. Brown hasn’t exactly set the world on fire (although he HAS had injuries) and Ruf, for all his mystique and prowess, has a whopping 37 MLB at-bats. So yeah, I get why they spent a measly $750,000 on a proven run producer.

      • Mark

        January 30, 2013 at 4:02 pm

        What did I miss? Who is the $750k run-producer the Philles sign? You can’t mean Delmon Young?

  11. George

    January 30, 2013 at 10:25 am

    To me, the only player mentioned that’s worth the worry is M.Young. Mather and Betancourt are minor league depth, and the kind of signings that every front office makes. D. Young, at his paltry pay, is not a lock, no matter what Amaro says about “starting RF.” He’s also 27 years old, and may actually have a chance to improve, if he’s grown up a little. He’s shown flashes of ability in the past.

    As far as WAR, or fWar, these are still only numbers, and despite what some claim for their “completeness,” are based on certain factors, like defense, which are still being argued over. I’m sure in 6he case of M,Young, for instance, that his constant shifting of positions has had a detrimental effect on his defense, and therefore, his overall performance. I really would prfer that instead of lumping everything into one “convenient” number, that each individual aspect be looked at seperately. To me, a better evaluation could be made in that way in that certain positions (particularly when a defensive replacement is availabe late in the game) a team might prefer offense to defense, others defense might come first.

    Lastly, there have been players who have had off-years due to injury, misuse, or switching popsitions. I’m with Beta here. Numbers are fine, and offer some predictive value, but they aren’t the whole answer. Spring training, despite what EricL believes, CAN reveal more. So what if players are just getting in shape or working on things. It’s still pretty easy to tell who has a smooth swing, who’s coachable, who seems to have a good batting eye, who is taking way to long to gain command of his pitches or control of his bat, who can actually judge a flyball or guage a grounder, etc. ad nauseaum.

    • Ryne Duren

      January 30, 2013 at 11:52 am

      couldn’t have said it better myself george. my biggest problem is the amount of questions the phils have this year. the guys coming off injuries, the youngs? can they be effective? the pen? is durbin as solid as before and can adams do what he’s done in the past? like ericL said. adams FB has been losing mph the last three years. they have so many variables that it’s difficult to actually gage how they’re gonna do. someone said in an earlier post if everything goes right they can win 90+ games. i agree with that, but that’s an awful lot of things that have to go right.

    • Lefty

      January 30, 2013 at 1:42 pm

      I agree with your comment 100%, and have just one further opinion on rating defensive performance.

      The managers and coaches need to be figured in. They make the decisions about where players should be positioned in the outfield, whether or not the infield should be in, at Dp depth, etc.

      These decisions affect the performance of the players on the field, and should be taken into account when evaluating a player’s defensive worth. Obviously there are some situations where this does not figure in, such as a guy with low arm strength, but in terms of catching the baseball, a player’s positioning is huge IMO. I assume they play where they are told as I’ve never seen a position player shake off a sign.

  12. Lefty

    January 30, 2013 at 1:23 pm

    First let me humbly request that all of you help satisfy old Lefty’s OCD, and get this one thing straight.

    The acronym for the “Society for American Baseball Research” is SABR, not saber, not sabre. When used in conjunction with the word “metrics” it has become commonly spelled Sabermetrics or Saber-Metrics, but separately the Acronym is SABR. There are no swords or weapons that Darth Vader or Yoda might use involved here. Thanks for letting me get through that. Sorry, but for some unknown reason, the word “sabre” on a baseball site just drives me bat-shit crazy.

    Now on to more important totally off topic things-
    The good folks of SABR have added some incredible and wonderful insight into the game of baseball for fans and the management of some major league teams as well. The current president of SABR, Vince Genarro is a sharp customer and also the author of “Diamond Dollars” which I highly recommend that all of you read.

    They also are still working diligently on the science of defensive metrics, and as George mentioned earlier, they haven’t got it right yet, and they know it. It is hoped that video technology will be major plus in making defensive assessment better now and in the future. They are also looking into even more new ways to be better at evaluating the value of individual players offensively and predicting performance. They are also endeavoring to find the exact right cocktail if you will, for team management philosophies pending whether you are small market, large market, or markets where revenues are less responsive to winning. (He cites the Braves as an example of this)

    But they haven’t perfected anything! As Vince will tell you in his book, there are simply too many obstacles to overcome for any system to guarantee success. He notes prospects that never fulfill their promise, free agents that don’t live up to the hype, and more than an occasional Tommy John surgery as just a few of these obstacles.

    So while it’s good to put your faith in a system, I know I do, it’s not always going to bring the desired results. And while it’s good to use your scouting, (the eye test) and let your record be the measure of your success, that’s not always going to work either.

    In my humble opinion, there simply are no absolutes! The eye test, the advanced metrics, even the counting stats, they are all good and should all be used together for predictive purposes, or simple as a measure of success.

    But as we all see every day on blogs like this one, that rarely happens. It amazes me that people can be so one sided, that they can’t see the value of using every available piece of information, whether it is processed by the eyes, by counting, or by mathematical formula. Again folks, it’s all good and should be used together.

    • George

      January 30, 2013 at 4:41 pm

      Lefty, you’ve really nailed it, in my opinion. Use every available bit of information. Like most everyone does when purchasing a car or choosing a spouse.

  13. Bob in Bucks

    January 30, 2013 at 3:35 pm

    Back to the original posting. Why go for these marginal players?

    There is no question that Amaro is reaching with these moves. Why? The answer is that the Phillies are in the worst of all possible situations. They have a number of high paid stars that brought them success in the recent past and they have been drawing huge attendance prior to a new TV contract. Accordingly Amaro cannot yet dismantle and start rebuilding because he would risk hundreds of millions of dollars on a TV deal based on the last 7 years popularity of the team.

    So, he has to give it a go BUT he is under financial restraints. Remember that Lee deal? The one that shocked us all. It is clear to me that the owners said this is your last cash Reuben. From now on everything has to balance – if you want a new guy get rid of an old one. (See add Hamels contract – delete Victorino/Pence.

    So having given up that Victorino/Pence money (or most of it) – after all the pluses and minuses (Blanton, etc) Amaro was left with little money. More importantly the actual cash flows on all of these contracts is back loaded so he actually has less money to go in the future and therefore can’t sign a big longterm contract until someone drops. So he goes for short term contacts i.e. Young(last year of his contract) and Young and Durbin.

    Now, who will sign a one year agreement? Only someone who feels they can’t do better. Why can’t they do better? Because they have had bad numbers recently. So, Amaro is hoping that they deliver on the upside but he knows it is not likely – its just that he can’t do better right now.

    The real changes will begin in 2014 with the end of Doc and Utley’s contract – $35 million.
    If the Phils do really poorly in 2013 Amaro will try to retool and rebuild but it is not going to be easy. Nothing really exciting on the farm.

    I regret to say the window has closed. Phils will meander around 500 for the next few years unless they get lucky with some kids.

    It won’t be pretty but as always – follow the money.

    • George

      January 30, 2013 at 4:59 pm

      I can agree somewhat with the financial considerations, but can’t fully go along with the thoughts on Victorino and Pence. Vic was in the final year of his contract and probably not worth extending. He had to be traded to get something back rather than the nothing he’d bring back in free agency. Pence was likely dropped because he’d had ample time to prove he wasn’t the answer, and he’d have been overpriced after arbitration. Again, it was probably a move to gain a player who could help long-term, rather than to keep a player who didn’t have talent commensurate with his salary.

      I do agree with your assessment of the “window.” The team probably do better than .500, but won’t be a powerhouse with the current aging core players. There may be more money around than anyone thinks, but to spend it this year on the free agents who, in most cases weren’t improvements, would have been stupid. It’ll be needed in seasons to come, when the next Halladay or Utley or Howard comes along.

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