TGP EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Phillies Analytics Manager Scott Freedman - PART 2

Has a new day dawned for the Phillies and the use of analytics? - USA TODAY Sports

Part Two of our exclusive interview with Phillies Manager of Baseball Analytics Scott Freedman covers his long-term goals for the Phils' analytics department, his interactions with Ruben Amaro and Ryne Sandberg and the battle over the use of old and new-school statistics.

On Friday, in Part 1 of our exclusive two-part interview with Phillies Manager of Baseball Analytics Scott Freedman, we discussed the team's search for "interns" schooled in sabermetrics, his role with the team and how he uses advanced analytics in the arbitration process.

In today's second part, Freedman discusses his long-term goal for the new analytics department, how his interactions with Ruben Amaro and Ryne Sandberg have been thus far, the use of traditional stats versus sabermetrics, and whether or not the Phillies can compete for a playoff spot in 2014.

There's a segment of the fan base that is extremely excited to know that the Phillies have actually established themselves with an analytic presence. That said, there is still a level of skepticism out there regarding how much input the analytics department actually has. What would you say to the skeptics still out there to assuage that?

Freedman: "Ruben is an inclusive manager and he has embraced me as a member of the Department."

Where do you see the Phils' analytics department five years from now?

Freedman: "Expanded with more capability and value to add to each function of our Baseball Operations Department."

FIP, xFIP or SIERA?

Freedman: "In my opinion, every metric offers value in varying degrees. It's up to the analyst to understand the limitations of each metric and to incorporate that into their evaluation."

What are your interactions like with Ruben Amaro and Ryne Sandberg? Do you have frequent conversations with them? And do you go to them with information that you have found, or do they come to you with questions? Or, maybe it's both?

Freedman: "Yes, I've interacted with both Ruben and Ryne, Ruben more so than Ryne. I report directly to Ruben and communicate with him on a daily basis about an array of topics. Sometimes he has questions for me and sometimes I have questions for him. The culture here is open, familial and conducive to communication."

It's a cliché but seemingly one grounded in truth that 'old-school' baseball types regard analytics with suspicion, if not hostility. Without naming names, how have you tried to establish credibility in the front office, and is it your sense that the old guard is starting to understand that traditional scouting and new school quantitative evaluation are complementary rather than in conflict?

Freedman: "It isn't my job to worry about establishing credibility or force-feeding material to my colleagues. The aim of the analytics aspect of my job is to support Ruben and Scott and the Baseball Operations Department as best I can by providing a complementary perspective. Hopefully, the credibility component takes care of itself over time. My interactions with other members of the Department, scouts especially, have been overwhelmingly positive and productive. I've learned quite a bit from my colleagues and will continue to try to do so as long as I'm employed by the Phillies. I've only been here for a few months but my impression is that everyone's focus is on improving and optimizing our processes. Nobody seems fixated with only approaching decisions from a scouting perspective and marginalizing objective analysis or anything like that. It has been collaborative, not contentious."

How is your role going to change once the season starts? Will you transition from focusing on player acquisition to scouting the Phillies and their opponents? Or will there simply be no change?

Freedman: "I anticipate that once the season starts the focus of the analytics work may change somewhat. Notwithstanding, we have a laundry list of projects in the hopper and I expect to continue to work through those while also supporting Scott with transactions, payroll management, rules compliance and Major League administration. Mike Ondo, Chris Cashman, Kevin Camiscioli and our pro scouts do a great job with compiling the advance reports and I'll hope to be viewed as a resource for them."

Have you done internal evaluations in the minors to assist with player development strategies? And do you anticipate being involved in helping with the draft? If so, any idea how they'll use you for that yet?

Freedman: "Yes, I have had conversations with our Player Development and Amateur Scouting staff regarding how to best integrate analytics. I'll hope to be viewed as a resource for them."

How important are some of the traditional stats that many sabermatricians marginalize, like wins and RBIs? Are they still valuable statistics and worthy of being kept, or should they be done away with as a measure of a player's worth?

Freedman: "In my opinion, every metric offers value in varying degrees. It's up to the analyst to understand the limitations of each metric and to incorporate that into their evaluation."

Many of us at The Good Phight cut our teeth on sabermetricians like Bill James and Rob Neyer. What's your background in analytics? Is there a player or writer or event that convinced you that numbers other than traditional stats like RBIs and Wins are an important part of assessing baseball?

Freedman: "I was first exposed to the Bill James Abstracts in 2004 when I was working at the MLB offices in London while studying abroad during college. I used to stay late and scour the bios in the Club media guides to figure out how Baseball Ops officials got to where they were. Once I finished reading through the media guides, I discovered that they also had a cabinet full of old Abstracts so I started reading those. Like anyone else who loves baseball, as websites like Baseball Prospectus and FanGraphs and blogs like The Good Phight became increasingly prevalent I had access to more material to ingest. My internships at the Reds and Mets and my time at the Commissioner's Office provided me with opportunity to practically apply much of this stuff."

Finally, the big question. Can the Phillies compete for a playoff spot in 2014?

Freedman: "Absolutely, if everything breaks right."

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Once again, my thanks to the Phillies front office and to Scott Freedman for their willingness to talk to us. Here's hoping the analytical department continues to grow over the next few years.

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