A Smattering of Phillies News
Nothing too newsworthy to talk about in the days leading up to the beginning of spring training, but there are a few small news items out there. After the jump:
No big league deals in the pipelines
Ruben Amaro Jr. said he has no current major-league contract offers outstanding.
— Matt Gelb (@magelb) January 27, 2014
This doesn’t preclude a signing, but it does make it unlikely that the Phillies will sign someone like Ubaldo Jimenez or Bronson Arroyo, as some have suggested, before heading down to Clearwater, Florida. They could still grab one or two more players on a Minor League deal, but essentially what you see is what you get with the Phillies’ spring roster right now.
From Extern to Full-Time
The Phillies recently took a step forward with the addition of analyst Scott Freedman, who has a mandate to hasten the transition to statistical enlightenment. Freedman joined the organization from the commissioner’s office in November on a sort of trial-internship, but the Phillies liked what they saw enough to add him to their staff as a full-time hire several weeks ago.
While this can only be a good thing, we still don’t know exactly what Freedman has been up to nor what influence, if any, he has actually had in the early going. Additionally, it’s still concerning that the Phillies are content to have one guy rather than a team as most front offices have adopted in recent years. A statistician is still a human and prone to the limits of his own shortcomings and biases, so it’s always good to have other pairs of eyeballs — this is sounding an awful lot like scouting now, isn’t it?
Phillies’ farm system receives praise
ESPN’s Keith Law ranked the Phillies 14th in this year’s edition of his annual ranking of baseball’s 30 farm systems. Law ranked the system 27th last year, so this is quite a lot of progress. Law writes that he liked what the Phillies did in the 2013 draft, particularly in selecting shortstop J.P. Crawford and catcher Andrew Knapp. This is in addition to the continued progress of Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle — the only two to make the top-101 list from Baseball Prospectus — and some of the lower-ceiling prospects profiled here by Eric Longenhagen. Law writes, however, that the Phillies’ system is similar to that of the Texas Rangers, except with “fewer prospects who are potential grade 65 or better players in the majors”. In other words, fewer players who are likely to be big-time impact players. Things can change, though, and another year should give us an idea as to how the Phillies could look a few years down the road.
Cole Hamels on team chemistry
Craig Calcaterra commented on this over at HardballTalk. First, the Hamels quote:
“You have a lot of guys coming in and out and we didn’t know how to handle it,” Hamels said. “I think that was kind of the case. A lot of us had been winning, a lot of us were new, and all we knew was winning, so it was a different sort of perspective for a lot of us that we had to deal with.”
Hamels was asked whether the chemistry issues were a matter of the players not liking each other or the players not liking losing.
“It was not liking losing,” he said.
I liked what Craig wrote in response to it, so I’ll just quote that, too:
No matter how much people like to credit good and bad chemistry for the results on the field, Hamels is right: bad chemistry is a product of losing, not a cause. Or, if it’s not an actual product — if there are odd relationships and troublesome personalities in the clubhouse to begin with — they’re ignored or tolerated if the team is winning and made a scapegoat if the team loses. No one ever credits a losing team with having great chemistry.
A lot has been made about the change in the Phillies’ team chemistry given the last two poor seasons, but it has more to do with actualized risk and under-performance than any perceived intangible issues. And it will likely be the case again this season.