Catz Corner: Signing Roberto Hernandez was a big deal for the Phillies

xFIP says sign me. ERA says no. Who do you trust? - USA TODAY Sports

It wasn't a big signing, it might not mean much in the short term, but one comment from Ruben Amaro yesterday may be a very BIG bright spot for this organization. Not because of who they signed, but because of how they decided.

There's a tremendously well written piece by Matt Gelb right now on philly.com about the Roberto Hernandez signing.

I encourage all of you to take a look at it, if for only this small, but very meaningful nugget, directly from Ruben Amaro.

"We think Roberto Hernandez will help us," Amaro said. "Our scouts and our analytics people looked at the middle-of-the-road, back-end starters and we felt like he would be a good choice for us."

let me retype that for you.

OUR ANALYTICS PEOPLE LOOKED AT THE MIDDLE OF THE ROAD BACK END STARTERS AND WE FELT LIKE HE WOULD BE A GOOD CHOICE FOR US

Gelb goes on to show, by way of explaining xFIP to the masses, exactly what Ruben meant there, and I encourage you all to read the piece.

But what encourages ME, and what should encourage every single person out there reading this, that has followed this site for years, is that for the first time in the history of this franchise an general manager used the term "analytics people" in conjunction with a free agent acquisition.

And not just any free agent acquisition.

A free agent acquisition on the LOW END. THE BACK SIDE. WHERE VALUE FROM ANALYTICS REALLY MEANS MORE THAN ANYWHERE ELSE.

Durbin, Qualls, Romero, Wiggington, Nix… SCHIERHOLTZ!!!

Need I go on?

Exactly the kind of players we've been screaming about for years? Exactly the place in the budget where we end up getting killed?

Not this time.

And if you look at Hernandez it's not difficult to believe that this is valid and truthful.

We're talking about a guy who:

  • was willing to take a very low priced, short term deal
  • over the course of his career (save 2010) put up xFIP, FIP, and Sierra numbers CONSIDERABLY lower than his standard ERA peripherals.
  • in 2014 had a K/9 and BB/9 a full 3/4 points better than his career averages
  • in 2014 saw a very strange spike in HR/9, mainly based on a very irregular HR/FB rate that more likely than not was luck induced.
So basically every single thing that traditionally Ruben and co. would look at would have said not to sign Hernandez. When you consider the other teams that were prominently looking at him (specifically the Cubs) it's hard not to get somewhat excited, NOT ABOUT ROBERTO HERNANDEZ, but about the fact that the Phillies have dipped their toes into the saber metric world.

Look at the non roster invites yesterday, the Lincoln trade, in a lot of ways even the Byrd signing, if you put it in context with the idea that they wanted a RH bat, as opposed to say, Nelson Cruz…

They've been using the analytics "people" more than we think.

And on a side note, Why PEOPLE, and not PERSON? maybe it's not just some guy from the commissioners office locked in a broom closet here….

Feel free to be skeptical. You've earned that right. But maybe feel free to be optimistic here as well.  I know I am.

Ruben Amaro has made a lot of mistakes. The ownership group has too.  Yet, while this isn't a franchise altering signing, The way it happened, and how they came to the decision is.

Which probably means that we all need to hope that Hernandez is a bright spot this season, for obvious reasons.

In an offseason of what some see as mediocrity and lack of spending, if the use of analytics actually has been given a place? And they continue to benefit from using them, expand the program and tip toe into the 21st century?

It will be the best offseason in the history of the franchise, regardless of how many games they win or where they end up in the standings, and we might just look back to the one year deal for Roberto Hernandez a decade from now as a defining moment in franchise history.

Look, we all know, myself included that it's going to take something close to a miracle for this team to make the postseason in 2014. Hell, it's gonna take a miracle for them to compete. That said, I firmly believe we're at a point in the history of this franchise where, as fans, we have two choices.

1. We can continue to look at the past, and the mistakes, and harp on them to the point where nothing is seen in a positive light at all.

2. We can look at the present, and see what they are doing NOW and try and figure out how that affects the future. Both positively AND negatively.

If you can figure out how to spend more time doing the latter than the former? 2014 is going to be much more fun, much more rewarding, and much more interesting.

Catz out.
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