2015 will be the Phillies first year not utilizing an advanced Scout, per Jim Salisbury. There are a few ways to see this, but, to me, the most obvious is "Good for them. Having one is kind of a waste now anyway." I'm sure some naysayers will simply contend this is the Phillies being cheap. I frankly think some folks have that tattooed on the inside of their eyelids, as a reminder when looking for an answer. However, it's not really applicable here as their Advanced scout is still on staff, they'll use him on special assignments instead. I assume this might mean scouting AL opponents the team has fewer scouting reports on, scouting potential trade targets and crosschecking when the data seems to indicate something unexpected. I imagine Craig Colbert, the advanced scout, will still travel extensively, he will just have a different focus.
Why even have an advanced scout in 2015 (or even at any point the last 5-6 years)? You want to know where to position defenders? Anyone with internet access can pull up spray charts for any hitter you are likely to play this year (exceptions: Yasmany, Kang and Rusney), including Minor Leaguers. How do you attack a certain Pitcher? You can pull up heat maps showing where a Pitcher locates certain Pitches. Even more, you can slice that by count, by handedness of batter, by month, etc. There are reams of information available in the public space making advanced scouting obsolete. The Phillies now have Scott Freedman and a small staff of analysts in-house, but even without them, it's 2015, I can sit at my home in North Carolina and bring up any game I want to see without travelling to a ballpark. I can pause, slow motion, rewind and replay anything I want. MLB teams have access to video to remotely scout anyone they want.
Now there are advantages to scouting in person. You can focus on an individual player, you can watch what he does while off the field and simply catch things cameras don't. The Phillies can now take a resource they were kind of wasting in Colbert and utilize him in ways where he can provide actual benefits to the club. Now, I'll be honest, I know nothing about Colbert. Is he a great scout? Is he an awful scout? I have no clue. What I do know is that he's a professionally trained scout who has established himself as a member of the Phillies organization and I will assume he is, at least, a decent professional scout. Why waste what he can bring to the table on games you can scout remotely for game plans you can assemble from other resources?
Does all this mean the Phillies are now fully embracing advanced Statistics? Not necessarily, they may simply recognize the redundancy of the role in a modern era with so much data available, which is a bit different rom fully embracing advanced statistics. Is it a PR move? I doubt it. Who the hell even ever cared that MLB teams had advance scouts in the first place? What it does mean is that the team is finally smart enough to realize it was wasting effort and money, that could be used better elsewhere, on a task that's been obsolete for years. The Phillies aren't the first or last team to eliminate the advance scout role. They're roughly middle of the pack, as about half the league has eliminated the role and half still bother with it. All of this suggests, to me, that the Phillies are working to improve in their management style. Not by leaps and bounds, but they also aren't simply just doing what they always did because that's how it's always been done either. It's a lost season, and while the Phillies were quick in Salisbury's article to point out that isn't the reason for the change, it will give all of us something else to watch for. Will the Phillies game strategy look any better or worse this year sans the advance scout? Will we see more shifts Defensively? Will Benson discover Chester's affair? All these questions and more will be answered this season on As the World Burns, I mean, the Phillies season.