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Recommended reading: David Murphy on scouting organizations vs. decision-making organizations

Nov 14, 2013, 12:37 PM EDT


The Marlon Byrd signing did not sit well with many Phillies fans in the Philadelphia area over the past few days. It’s not so much that people think Marlon Byrd can’t be a good player for the Phillies in 2013, it’s more the fact that the Phillies gave a guy getting up their in age with a checkered past a 2-year deal worth $8 million per. Was that really the best use of those funds?

The Daily News’ David Murphy uses this week’s move as a jump off into a more philosophical look at the Phillies organization being too dependent on scouting alone, instead of using those scouting resources in a larger decision-making process.

As is typical of a Murphy piece, it’s quite long, but it’s worth your time to get a reasoned look at some of the issues that could be plaguing Citizens Bank Park Way now and for year’s to come. Here is one pull quote I thought illustrated part of his point quite well:

Baseball decision making in the era of big data is as much about interpreting and utilizing probabilities as it is about individual judgments about a player’s abilities. The vast array of tools that are at the disposal of every personnel evaluator, professional or armchair, has leveled the playing field when it comes to grading out physical talent. Everyone sees the same numbers, the same games, the same video. Anybody who had watched a healthy amount of Padres and Rangers baseball over the previous five seasons could have told you that Mike Adams had the talent of a premiere setup man. The decision on what kind of contract a team should have been involved a host of variables that had nothing to do with the scouting report on him. What did the the historical data say about the likelihood of a reliever fitting his profile sustaining his production through two years? What did the market say about the other relievers who were commanding less money? What was the likelihood that spending that money on two $3 million relievers or three $2 million relievers would have yielded as good or better results?

It’s nothing against Marlon Byrd or Mike Adams per se. It’s more about the seeming lack of thought and analysis behind such moves outside of what the scouts have to say.

>>The problem with the Phillies, in eight of their GM’s words [DN]

  1. Mike - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:14 PM

    There is no real plan or thought. There is no analysis. The front office and it’s complete shunning of advanced stats has made them into a laughing stock. Every aspect of the organization has to work together for success. There needs to be a coherent plan that goes from the minors to the big league club. There needs to be better scouting and a full analytics staff that work together. And lastly there needs to be a new GM who is capable of running a team in today’s MLB.

  2. willh888 - Nov 14, 2013 at 1:25 PM

    It’s not even the fact they signed Byrd, it’s the price they put on him. Were other teams so high on this guy you had to sign him first week of FA for what seems to be a pretty high number for an older OF coming off a PED suspension? Was he some hot commodity? It’s not like the Delmon Young deal which was sort of intriguing at the time. He was a former top prospect, still in his 20′s and only made 700,000 on a one year deal. Those are reasonable risks.. not this Byrd nonsense. I’m not sayin full rebuild mode or anything, but what can Marlon Byrd do that made Ruben rush this deal? It’s like there’s a shortage on old outfielders.

  3. Greg - Nov 14, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    Excellent article. It seems like Ruben’s philosophy when he offers a contract is to just give a player what he thinks he is worth instead of waiting to see what the market is for that player or others at the position. We have seen it with Ibanez, Polanco, Adams, and (unfortunately) Papelbon. The deal Ruben gave to Papelbon looked like it was nowhere near what the next team in line would have paid and the philosophy outlined in this article pretty much sums up why.

  4. r0tcod - Nov 14, 2013 at 6:04 PM

    Here’s a question. Where are the articles written by sabermetric experts? I want to know what they would say about this move or that move. How far off are “scouts” usually from “saber-gurus” ?

    • phillies8008 - Nov 15, 2013 at 11:44 AM

      Fangraphs. You can find an article on just about every major signing made by any team in baseball written by sabermetric-savvy writers. Most of the time, the articles are well-reasoned, nuanced, and unbiased.

      Here’s the article that was recently written about the Byrd signing:

  5. Something_for_r0tcod - Nov 15, 2013 at 1:13 PM

    Joe Posnanski is not a sabermetrics expert but he does use advanced statistics in reviewing players.

    Most importantly it’s done in an entertaining way that easy to understand and fun to read.

    Here’s a sample on his blog about Joey Votto,


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