Part of going from being an organization that values analytics to a team that successfully utilizes analytics in games is proper messaging to players. You can have the best information in the world, but if players scoff at those giving them the information – like former Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth apparently did – they’re unlikely to adjust their approach accordingly.
So shortly after the Phillies hired Gabe Kapler – a former player that’s analytically inclined – to be their 54th manager, they hired Sam Fuld, a recently-retired, 36-year-old outfielder that played for a few different progressive organizations during his career. While Fuld has an economics degree from Stanford University, he was given the title of major league player information coordinator. The Phillies said the goal of his position would be to “integrate the use of information in all areas of on-field performance and preparation and make recommendations regarding the most effective areas of future research and analysis.” Fuld would be a go-between for players, Kapler, general manager Matt Klentak and Andy Galdi, the Phillies director of research and development. Most importantly, players wouldn’t view him as a “super-nerd,” because he spent eight seasons in the major leagues.
The Phillies apparently aren’t the only organization high on Fuld around the league. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, Fuld “made a strong impression” on the Toronto Blue Jays in their managerial search. Jerry Crasnick, who every journalistic organization should be vying to hire, says that after interviewing, Fuld withdrew his name from consideration from the search. It would appear then that Fuld, who played in the majors as recently as 2015, will return to the Phillies in 2019. But this figures to be the first of many managerial interviews in the coming years.
Fuld isn’t the only person in the Phillies organization that has drawn interest for a managerial vacancy this offseason. Third base coach Dusty Wathan – a long time coach in the Phillies minor league system that finished runner-up in the team’s managerial search last offseason – is a candidate for the Texas Rangers managerial opening, per Bob Brookover of The Philadelphia Inquirer. It’s not clear if he’s interviewed for the position yet.
Meanwhile, another person with Phillies connections, former third baseman David Bell, has become one of the hottest managerial candidates this offseason. Currently the San Francisco Giants vice president of player development, the 46-year-old has reportedly drawn interviewed for the vacancy that his hometown Cincinnati Reds have, along with the Rangers and Blue Jays openings. Bell spent three-and-half of his 12 major league seasons with the Phillies.
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