The Phillies announced last week the hiring of former Twins GM Terry Ryan as a scout. “Well, whoopity doo!” you might be thinking. It’s not exactly the type of move that generated high-fives and bro hugs among Phillies fans. And who knows, maybe he’s not even a good scout.
But that doesn’t matter.
This move is just another indication that the Phillies organization gets it. With the huge push for analytics from John Middleton, a new snazzy analytics system, a young, nerdy, GM, and hiring some guy from Google, it is easy to get the impression that scouting has now taken a back seat to computers.
Matt Klentak mentioned several times in his first press conference that he was interested in a balance between analytics and scouting, but until now, we never had any proof that these weren’t just words you say to shut the media and fans up.
"While we have made significant investments in our analytical endeavors over the past year," Klentak said in a statement, "it is important to remember that quality talent evaluation is essential to making quality baseball decisions."
Acquiring great players requires a marriage of analytics and scouting. While most teams lean at least a little in one direction, they need to rely on both. Use your scouts to tell you who they like and let the computers validate it, or the other way around.
What this news also shows is that the Phillies are committed to winning more than their current $84 million payroll would suggest. Don't forget about some of the money spent behind the scenes - things like GM and President salaries which are not disclosed, big, expensive calculators, upgraded facilities, etc. One cost that you don't see included in the payroll is scouting.
I always felt that if I was running the Phillies, I would outspend everyone on scouts. Find the best ones, buyout their existing contracts if need-be, and intentionally overpay them to guarantee the Phillies have the best scouts in the business.
Teams like the Tampa Bay Rays and Pittsburgh Pirates may not have the type of money lying around to invest the way their fans might like, but the Phillies do have that money - it's buried somewhere in one of those Comcast buildings along with the rest of their $2.5 billion dollar TV deal. It’s a way for a team like the Phillies with boatloads of cash to essentially go over the luxury tax limit without paying taxes on it.
This is no longer your grandmother's Phillies.comments powered by Disqus