Phillies Sign . . . *sigh* to 1 year, *groan* thousand dollar contract

The Phillies have signed Delmon Young to a 1 year, $750,000 deal.

twitter.com/jaysonst/status/293809333563707392

This is what happens when you get wrapped up in superficial identifiers like “right-handed bat.” We’ve arrived at the point where “right-handed bat” can refer to any player that has had marginal or better success against left-handed pitching in the last decade, regardless of the quality of his overall contribution to the team. Delmon Young is terrible. Full stop. By rWAR, he was a full win and two-tenths below replacement last season, and a total of almost a win and a half below replacement in the last two seasons, compiling a .267/.299/.403 line over that period. His walk rate from 2011-2012 is 3.9%, about half the league average for hitters, making him, at least in that respect, a good fit for the current Phillies lineup.

By the grace of Jim Leyland he accrued 608 plate appearances for the Tigers last season, and an accompanying 226 innings in the field, where he is one of the worst defenders in baseball.


Credit for this .gif to GIFULMINATION

This is where a past, more naive version of myself would write “Young can be useful if strictly limited to pinch hit plate appearances against left-handed pitching.” He has, after all, always hit lefties well — .307/.341/.483 for his career, with a .308/.333/.500 line in 189 plate appearances against them last season. But the Phillies don’t exactly have a stacked outfield at the moment. Ben Revere will certainly anchor the centerfield position, and the corner spots will be filled by some combination of Young, Domonic Brown (he screamed, into the uncaring void, season after season), Laynce Nix, John Mayberry, Jr., Darin Ruf, and, if he’s not offered back, Ender “‘s Game” Inciarte (though he’s more likely an emergency centerfielder).

If you’ll indulge me in a jaunty youthful fantasy for a moment, assume that the Phillies’ plan is for Domonic Brown to be the everyday rightfielder in 2013. That — stop laughing, please. That means the 2013 outfield is a high upside but big question mark mainstay (Brown) and a collection of players who each have a useful attribute or two, but who I cannot think it could be argued should be full time players on an ostensibly first-division team, and I include Revere in this. If this were the 2010 outfield of Raul Ibanez, Shane Victorino, and Jayson Werth, a player like Delmon Young would be helpful for 150 to 200 plate appearances against almost exclusively lefties. The same could be said for Mayberry.

But with 600 plate appearances or more to allot to this collection of would-be left-fielders, it’s impossible to parcel them out in such a way that shields you from each of these players’ severe respective weaknesses. You’re inevitably going to get intolerable doses of Young’s fielding and adverse platoon futility, Ruf’s defending and baserunning, Mayberry’s flailing against righties, and so forth. Right-handed pitching handled 58% of the league’s plate appearances last season. You can’t leverage 3 or 4 different platoon pieces against that. And all of this is presuming that Charlie Manuel is willing to get more creative than he’s ever shown the capacity to be. And it presumes that my Domonic Brown precondition is correct; it probably isn’t. If you’re going to go with a smattering of likely marginal guys and hope that a few best case scenarios find the light of day, why not at least round up marginal guys with average or better defense? That’s not the case here either.

In the Phillies lineups of yore, writing off one weak lineup spot wouldn’t be a problem. But which positions can be penciled in as certain offensive contributors in 2013? Carlos Ruiz, Jimmy Rollins, and, if one is willing to be generous with the health prognosis, Chase Utley. As I tweeted this morning, the model for a playoff-contending Phillies team is to hope that the offense somehow manages league-average performance, and that the pitching staff achieves 2011 levels of greatness. The overabundance of below league average role players is not going to help the chances of the current roster managing that.

This is not to even mention, by the way, that Delmon Young is a bigot. Stark’s reference to off-field issues alludes to an incident in which an intoxicated Young assaulted a man after repeatedly calling him a “fucking Jew.” I’ve long been on the record about taking a clubhouse full of jerks that can play baseball over a less effective squad of nice guys. But I have to draw the line somewhere, and I think just shy of an anti-semite being on my favorite team is a good place to draw it. No Luke Scott or Josh Lueke, and no Delmon Young please. If $700,000 wasted is the price to see Delmon Young fail his way out of baseball, I’d be more than happy with that outcome.

LATE BREAKING UPDATE: There is nothing good in this world.
twitter.com/magelb/status/293831734674477057

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73 comments

  1. EricL

    January 24, 2013 01:40 AM

    No, John, if by some miracle the Phillies win the World Series the moves Amaro has made are still wrong.

    As LTG said above, you evaluate the process, not the results.

    If someone playing blackjack hits on 19 with the dealer showing a 5 and lands a 2, thus winning the game, they still made the wrong move despite their victory.

  2. Cutter

    January 24, 2013 10:37 AM

    I find it amazing the amount of inside knowledge that everyone here seems to possess.

    I was unaware that many of the commenters have connections to Papelbon’s agent and know that he wouldn’t have received a similar deal from another team.

    Weren’t the Marlins throwing around a lot of money last season? Who’s to say they wouldn’t have preferred Papelbon over Heath Bell?

  3. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 10:40 AM

    @Cutter,

    And please tell me exactly what that Papelbon signing bought us, except getting us Delmon Young as our “RH bat.”

    The sign of a stubborn idiot is one who was told he was wrong when stuff was happening, has it proven to him that it was indeed wrong by hindsight, and STILL tries to defend himself by saying that “hey at the time, it was the right move!” Yeah, except nobody here, with or without inside knowledge, knew that it was the wrong move except you.

  4. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 10:41 AM

    I meant to say “everyone”, not “nobody.”

  5. Pencilfish

    January 24, 2013 11:28 AM

    LTG,

    You are lumping all closers together. They are not equal. Just because Madson got 1/8 doesn’t mean Papelbon gets less than 4/50. Your evidence is a flawed generalization. You are right I don’t have any evidence, but that’s because I haven’t made any unsubstantiated claims. You did, by saying we could have gotten Papelbon for less. Do you know if the Marlins talked to Papelbon’s agent before signing Heath Bell? Unless you were in on negotiations by Papelbon’s agent, you really don’t have any evidence.

    Swisher (age 32) and Sanchez (age 29 by Spring Training) retaining value? The latter more likely than the former, perhaps. Can anyone guarantee the Phillies wins the WS if we signed Swisher and Sanchez?
    Do we even need them to make into the post-season? Which teams (aside from the Yankees in 2009) have made big splashes in FA signing and then went on to win the WS lately?

    John Paul is right about luck. The 2013 Phillies are plenty good to win the WS, but a lot of things have to go right for them, including luck.

  6. Pencilfish

    January 24, 2013 11:47 AM

    EricL,

    You say that RAJ moves were wrong. Which ones? The Phillies made the playoffs 3 years running under his watch. You can’t just evaluate the process. In the real world, you also have to evaluate the results. I’m sure we are all evaluated on the results in our day jobs. Why can’t this be applied to RAJ?
    Gillick trade Gio Gonzalez for Freddy Garcia in December 2006. What did you think of the process back then? Or the result?

  7. Pencilfish

    January 24, 2013 11:55 AM

    Phillie697,

    I agree that Dom Brown should get a fair shot in 2013 and that DY’s signing may impact his chances, but if Dom Brown does well in Spring Training, why can’t he man LF and DY take RF? You don’t seem to have much confidence that Dom Brown can earn a starting job outright, but it must be given to him by default.

  8. Cutter

    January 24, 2013 11:59 AM

    @Phillies697

    The Papelbon signing brought the Phillies their one reliable reliever last season.

    And once again, you make too many assumptions about the market and what the Phillies would or would not have done in any hypotethetical situations.

    If you truly do have insider knowledge, then I apologize. Otherwise, you might want to tone it down. Nothing has been “proven” as you say.

  9. LTG

    January 24, 2013 12:01 PM

    “You are right I don’t have any evidence, but that’s because I haven’t made any unsubstantiated claims.”

    I don’t understand. If you don’t have evidence, how are your claims substantiated? This is getting ridiculous.

  10. Pencilfish

    January 24, 2013 12:13 PM

    LTG,

    You asked me to provide “evidence of my disputation”, which goes back to me saying you cannot prove that we could have signed Papelbon for less, unless you have inside information.

    You are right, this is getting ridiculous. Let’s just agree that Papelbon is paid handsomely (too much?) but we cannot prove RAJ overpaid.

  11. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 01:36 PM

    Here were the reasons why so many of us hated that Papelbon trade:

    1. $50M for a relief pitcher was too much, since they only pitch around 70 innings a season and therefore cannot have a transformative impact on the team’s record. So what exactly happened? We won only 81 games despite Papelbon by all accounts pitching very well. Why? BECAUSE RELIEF PITCHERS CANNOT AFFECT A TEAM’S RECORD THAT SIGNIFICANTLY. OMG, logic proven to be true. The outcome of the season, for most of us, is exactly the same had we not signed Papelbon and saved $50M; what’s the difference between finishing with 81 wins vs. 79 wins?

    2. That signing would hinder the Phillies’ ability to do things THIS off-season. Something you disputed vigorously if I remember correctly. Well, wouldn’t you know it, logic again proven to be true, again, and we get… Delmon Young.

    3. Even if I accept the premise that it’s fine to spend that much money on a good closer, we could have gotten one for cheaper. I don’t even think I need to illustrate this point, as I think that was proven LAST off-season.

    So, yeah, most of us were 3 for 3, you, 0 for 3. Again, I’m still waiting for you to admit that you were just wrong.

  12. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 01:38 PM

    I meant the Papelbon signing… I wish we’d trade him at this point.

  13. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 01:46 PM

    @pencilfish,

    I point you to this glowing assessment from our esteemed GM, who has buried Dom for 3 years now, on the two players who are the focus of our discussion:

    “In addition to the Delmon Young-related distaste for walks you’ll hear such gems as, ‘[D. Young] a much more accomplished player than Dom Brown’…”

  14. Cutter

    January 24, 2013 02:05 PM

    @Phillie697:

    1. Maybe theoretically, a closer can’t affect a team’s fortunes that much, but once again, I have to ask: How much worse would the Phillies bullpen have been without Papelbon last year? You say that they would have been only 2 games worse, but considering how poorly the rest of the relievers performed, this may be an underestimate.

    2. Did I miss when the Phillies said, “We aren’t signing Player X because we don’t have the money available?”

    3. Who was this cheaper closer that the Phillies could have gotten last year? Would he have been as effective as Papelbon?

  15. hk

    January 24, 2013 03:42 PM

    1. It depends how else they would have chosen to spend the $12.5M of AAV that Papelbon received.

    2. They may not have come out and said they can’t spend more, but can’t you infer that from the fact that they signed Wigginton, Qualls, Lannan and Delmon Young to play key roles on the 2012 and 2013 teams? Or, are you thinking RAJ felt those guys were the best talents available when he acquired them?

    3. No one cheaper was better, but the cheaper ones may have been more valuable.

  16. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 04:03 PM

    @Cutter,

    Okay, explain to me what’s the difference for our team last year had we won only 70 games as opposed to 81 games? Do the players get to play at a better golf course or something that I don’t know about?

  17. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 04:03 PM

    So now they get to play golf, except with $50M less in their pockets.

  18. Phillie697

    January 24, 2013 04:19 PM

    Oh, and the very definition of a dumbass GM is thinking that there was one and only one alternative when it comes to the position of… closer. You tell me there really is no alternative to replacing Albert Pujols, I may believe you. If you tell me there is really no alternative to replacing David Wright, I’ll believe you more. If you tell me there is really no alternative to replacing Troy Tulowitzki, I’ll believe you even more. Heck even if you tell me there is really no alternative to replacing Cole Hamels, I may even give you that one. But Papelbon? So you rather spend that large sum of extra money to get a closer who may save, say, 10 more runs a season (btw, almost impossible in just 70 innings, but it’s not out of the realm of possibilities I guess) over the second best guy or third best guy who would have come at a lot cheaper, as opposed to spending that money getting 4 other relievers who may collective save 12-15 runs and probably cost less? Or maybe another bat who may generate 20 more runs than the bat he replaces? That’s your idea of being smart?

  19. hk

    January 25, 2013 06:13 AM

    Cutter,

    Now that I have had a chance to search the internet on my computer instead of my phone, I amend #3 above to state that Joe Nathan, whose deal I applauded at the time for Texas, and Fernando Rodney (of course) were as good or better and cheaper or significantly cheaper. And, before you ask how RAJ could have known that Fernando Rodney would be so great for so cheap, the answer isn’t that he should have know that as much as the answer is that the more progressive GM’s like Friedman realize that you don’t have to overpay for a closer and that a team can contend with a cheap bullpen. I suspect Friedman didn’t even go into last season expecting Rodney to be the closer as much as he went into last season with a lot of options and let Joe Maddon figure it out.

    Even if we exclude Rodney from the equation because we all know that Charlie Manuel is not Joe Maddon and Charlie needs to paint-by-numbers when it comes to the bullpen, the question for you is, would you rather have seen the Phils spend the same amount of combined AAV on Papelbon and Laynce Nix or Joe Nathan and Josh Willingham last off season?

  20. Pencilfish

    January 25, 2013 11:10 AM

    Phillie697,

    There’s no question there’s a longer track record with DY than Dom Brown. Maybe that’s what RAJ mean by “more accomplished”.

    In any case, for $750k, it’s clear DY has to earn a job in RF. It is not unfair to ask likewise of Dom Brown. DY’s signing is like Juan Pierre’s last year. Great upside, low cost/risk. Wouldn’t freak out about it yet.

  21. Pencilfish

    January 25, 2013 11:35 AM

    Papelbon is not the only limiting factor this off-season. The Phillies probably committed more than they originally wanted on the Hamels and Lee deals, too. I’m not saying they are not worth it. Far from it. However, the length and AAV of their contracts dwarf Papelbon’s.

    I encourage everyone to look at the Phillies contractual obligations for 2013-2018 here to appreciate the complexity of keeping the team competitive and financially flexible.

    www.baseballprospectus.com/compensation/cots/national-league/philadelphia-phillies/

    If you take the time to examine it, you will notice upcoming decisions on Utley, Halladay, Ruiz in 2014. Many of you have criticized RAJ for not aggressively pursuing FA’s like Sanchez, Swisher, the Upton brothers, etc. Try writing your favorite FA contracts in the spreadsheet above and ask how one can fit Utley, Ruiz and/or Halladay within the budgetary constraints. Then, re-appraise RAJ’s decision-making process.

    I know, I know, many of you will say he overpaid Howard, Papelbon, traded away blue-chip prospects, etc, but the Phillies went to the playoffs 3 years in a row in his watch. Subtract all his trades and signings and add back in all the players he traded. Can you make a case the Phillies make the playoffs from 2009-2011?

  22. Phillie697

    January 25, 2013 11:35 PM

    2012 Cole Hamels – 4.5 fWAR

    2012 Cliff Lee – 4.9 fWAR

    2012 Jonathan Papelbon – 1.4 WAR

    So let see, does Papelbon make 1/3 of those other dudes? Ah… Darn it, he doesn’t. I don’t mind paying for results. It’s paying $12.5M for 1.4 WAR that I mind.

  23. Phillie697

    January 25, 2013 11:41 PM

    And to answer your very last question… Yes. Because if you give me back the 2008 team, our farm, AND $78M a year? I can hand that team to EVERY OTHER GM IN THE MLB and they would have kept the Phillies in the playoffs from 2009-2011. Probably 2012 too mind you. The fing Nats ENTIRE payroll last year was $81.3M, and that’s WITH Werth. Braves? $83.3M. Phillies were playing with two decks of cards to their one, and we didn’t even come close to the playoffs.

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