Sunday, November 21, 2010

How is Ruben Amaro Still Employed?

Ruben Amaro's continued employment with the Phillies only proves my theory that corporations (of any kind) prefer mediocrity to innovation and competence.  Think I'm wrong?  If I was, Amaro never would've said this:
"Amaro, however, did bring Werth into the discussion when asked about leftfielder Raul Ibanez‘ 2010 season.
Ibanez 'was still a pretty productive player and . . . his numbers are not all that different from Jayson’s last year,' he said. What did [Ibanez] have, 83 RBIs? Jayson had 85. [Ibanez] didn’t have as many opportunities as Jayson did to drive in runs.
“Clearly, Jayson had more runs scored [106 for Werth and 75 for Ibanez] and his on-base percentage and stuff were better, but [Ibanez] had 37 doubles and five triples. . . . The difference in their production was not all that great.”
This comment is interesting for two reasons.  One, Amaro is clearly trying to save face by justifying his signing of Raul Ibanez a couple of years ago.  By attempting to prop up Ibanez's performance (while cutting down Werth's), he's proactively trying to deflect criticism from both the fans and media.  Let's be honest about all of this though.  Ibanez is in a clear state of decline, and at this point is worse than Werth in every facet of the game.  Going into his age-37 season, Ibanez will be make $13M, thus making him nearly untradeable.  Essentially, Ibanez's presence on the 2011 roster is the primary reason the Phillies won't be able to re-sign Jayson Werth.

Two, Amaro's comment shows he lacks a fundamental understanding of how runs are created.  He still views offense through the lens of run production, rather than run creation.  In his world, all of the credit for run creation is given to RBI men that drive in runs.  As I've mentioned before, this point of view is fundamentally flawed because (a) it assumes the act of driving in runs is a skill (which it's not), and (b) completely ignores the skill involved in getting on base.  Getting on base is probably the most important aspect of run creation.  If players don't get on base, the only way for a team to score is via the solo home run.  I don't think I need to tell you that this isn't the most efficient way of scoring runs. 

My favorite part about Amaro's quote is when he says, "The difference in their production was not all that great."  Just looking at offensive production, Werth created 39.9 weighted runs above average (.397 wOBA), while Ibanez created 10.1 (.341 wOBA).  Werth got on base more often, slugged for a greater average, ran the bases more effectively, and was a slightly better defender.  Using WAR as a measure of value, Werth outpace Ibanez, 5.0 to 1.8.  In other words, Werth was an All-Star quality outfielder, while Ibanez was a fringe starter.  To me, the difference in production was huge.  Then again, I'm using objective measures, while Amaro is trying to save his own ass.  If it wasn't for a massive difference in age (and race), I'd openly wonder if Ruben Amaro and Britney Spears were twins separated at birth.  They both exhibit the similar levels of baseball knowledge and questionable judgment.

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