Some Thoughts on Amaro’s Thoughts

CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury has a very informative article up today with plenty of quotes from Phillies GM Ruben Amaro. He discussed the production of the core players and the state of the team going forward. I’d like to parse through Amaro’s thoughts and respond to them with some of my own.

On Ben Revere:

“Listen, we got what we thought would be good complementary players, especially in center field,” Amaro said. “We wanted to make sure we had someone who could defend and stabilize the position. It’s so important to have that in the middle of the field.

“Ben has been OK. I was hoping that he’d be playing better. He hasn’t played up to expectations yet. He’s still a young guy. He’s still adjusting to a new club and he wasn’t an everyday centerfielder in Minnesota. Unfortunately people expect a lot from a guy when you trade for him. We still need to be patient. Hopefully he’ll be the player we think he can be, but you always run a risk with a young player.

“From what we saw [when he was with Minnesota] we felt he’d be an above-average defender. He’s had some issues with routes. Again, he’s still learning. People wanted young players. We wanted young players. Sometimes it takes a young player time. You can’t expect them to all be stars right away.

I think I might be one of the few people left who still views the Revere trade positively, and it has nothing to do with how poorly Vance Worley has fared with Minnesota. Revere will never hit, that’s just a fact of life. Anyone expecting him to slug .350 will end up broken-hearted. Revere also certainly has some work to do in the outfield in terms of reads and routes.

That said, the best feature of Revere’s is his arbitration-eligibility through 2017. He is earning $515,000 this year at the age of 25 and enters his first year of arbitration after the season. There are two possibilities: 1) Revere continues to perform as he has, which makes him relatively cheap going forward; or, 2) he exceeds expectations, in which case the Phillies will gladly pay him an escalating salary. They are in no way bound to Revere the way they are bound to Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, et. al. so they could even non-tender him if a better option comes along.

On Domonic Brown:

“Look at Domonic. People said, ‘What’s with Domonic Brown? He’s never going to be a player. Trade him.’ I see that stuff. The fact of the matter is it takes time for guys to develop. What Domonic has done has been great. I didn’t expect this type of success this early. But he’s always had the ability and the talent and now you’re seeing what can happen when it comes together.”

Amaro deserves credit for holding onto Brown when other teams were knocking down his door trying to convince him to throw him in a trade. However, let’s not forget the poor way the Phillies handled Brown. In 2010, they called him up for the first time and let him start every day for two weeks. He posted a .607 OPS in his first 42 plate appearances through August 11. From the 12th through the end of the season, Brown started four times and appeared in 24 of his team’s final 48 games. Raul Ibanez, despite hitting well, shouldn’t have been taking away crucial playing time from the Phillies’ best prospect, who had dominated Triple-A pitching that year to the tune of a .951 OPS.

Brown was hit on the hand with a pitch during spring training prior to the 2011 season, breaking his hamate bone. While the recovery period for such an injury isn’t that long (Brown was back in the Minors by the end of April), it takes a while for players to get back their power. Keith Law estimated that at 12-18 months. It took Brown about 18 months to get his power back. In the meantime, he hit reasonably well in the Minors. The Phillies called him up again in mid-May. Between May 20 and July 29, after which they demoted him again, Brown posted a .729 OPS but with a sub-.400 slugging percentage. He started regularly but it was out of necessity, not choice.

Going into 2012, many expected Brown to earn a starting job out of spring training, but Juan Pierre took that honor. In order to get regular at-bats, Brown started in Triple-A. There, he hit .286 with a .335 on-base percentage, but not enough power. The Phillies called him up at the end of July after trading away Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence. In the final two months, playing every day, Brown hit .235 with a sub-.400 slugging percentage.

At no point did Brown get more than two months of consistent playing time in the Majors. The Phillies expected him to hit for power after an injury that specifically saps power, and they expected him to do it while moving back and forth from the Majors to the Minors. That is not how you develop talent. Judging by recent comments from Jimmy Rollins and Shane Victorino, that is not an uncommon sentiment.

As mentioned, Amaro deserves credit for protecting Brown from inclusion in trades several years ago, but also deserves criticism for the unprofessional way with which he was handled in more recent years.

On Delmon Young:

“Delmon has had success in fits and starts,” Amaro said. “By this time I had hoped for a little more consistent offensive production. How patient can we be? I’m not sure. But we’ll be patient until he improves or somebody produces more than him.”

Young’s production over the last three years:

  • 2011: .268 AVG/.302 OBP/.393 SLG (503 PA)
  • 2012: .267 AVG/.296 OBP/.411 SLG (608 PA)
  • 2013: .232 AVG/.290 OBP/.438 SLG (124 PA)

Considering the sample size, Young is hitting almost exactly how he hit over the last two years. Young is one of the least-difficult players to project. That the Phillies had hoped for better production out of Young speaks to a poor talent evaluation process. That his inclusion on the roster came at the cost of non-tendering Nate Schierholtz only speaks further to that point.

On Darin Ruf:

“People think because the guy hit 30-plus homers in Double A … ,” Amaro said. “Again, it’s Double A baseball. Yes, he has ability. But there’s a whole road of adjustments to be made at higher levels. He hasn’t gotten on a roll yet, but we do believe he’s going to come around and get hot. Hopefully he pushes us so we have to make a tough decision.”

I tweeted this earlier:

twitter.com/CrashburnAlley/status/344148315560087552

People got way too excited about Ruf last year when he was a 25-year-old beating up on 22- and 23-year-olds, most of them in Double-A for the first time. Ruf had actually spent his previous three years at various levels of Single-A. Eric Longenhagen sees teams employing a right-handed shift on him if he ever has an extended stay in the Majors. Ruf’s status in the organization is a reflection of how little top-level talent there is.

On the team overall:

“The best chance we have to be a winning club now and in the future is to have the top of the rotation we have with those two big lefthanders,” he said of Lee and Hamels. “That’s our best chance to win games. That’s what we’re in the business of doing.

“People think we’re going to blow up this team. We’re never going to be in the position of blowing up. There’s no blowing up. There might come a time when we make changes to improve for the future, but we don’t have a reason to blow it up. Boston didn’t blow it up last year. They retooled. That’s the challenge we have whether it’s July 31 or November 1.”

The difference between the Red Sox and Phillies is that the Red Sox had a decent farm system from which to extract talent. They were also lucky enough to find a team willing to take on $250 million in salary.

The Phillies tried retooling for the 2013 season. It’s not working because the roster is heavy on old, injury-prone veterans. Among players with 150 or more plate appearances for the Red Sox this year, David Ortiz is the only one older than 31. For the Phillies, five of the seven players to accrue 150 or more PA are 33 or older.

For the Phillies to do what the Red Sox did, they would have to do the following:

  • Find a team to take on Howard’s remaining contract the way the Red Sox did with their trio of stars, and the Angels with Vernon Wells
  • Make a series of trades (Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Michael Young, Delmon Young, Jonathan Papelbon) to acquire top-level Minor League talent that can be plugged into the starting lineup either immediately or in the near future
  • Fill in around the edges with smart, low-risk free agent signings (e.g. Mike Napoli, Stephen Drew) and risk-free trades (Mike Carp)

The Red Sox, though, have one thing the Phillies have not had, do not have, and most likely will not have for the foreseeable future: a willingness to embrace modern analysis. Rather than wed analytics with scouting the way most teams around baseball have done, the Phillies remain one of the few teams that still relies almost exclusively on its scouts. For this reason, the Phillies have whiffed big time on no-brainer free agent signings, selecting talent in trades, and identifying existing talent within the system. The Phillies can mimic the Red Sox all they want, but until the GM and the organization at large remains in the 20th century with the way they evaluate talent, they will continue to repeat the mistakes that put them in this position in the first place.

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94 comments

  1. VoteForDelmon

    June 10, 2013 03:36 PM

    “Delmon has had success in fits and starts,” Amaro said. “By this time I had hoped for a little more consistent offensive production. But you should still vote for him as an All Star, he is on the ballot. I made sure he was put on there. Vote!”

  2. Seth B.

    June 10, 2013 03:43 PM

    Man, Bill, home come you gotta make me so sad. Why do you have to be so right about how backward this organization is?

  3. JDM

    June 10, 2013 03:46 PM

    “People think we’re going to blow up this team. We’re never going to be in the position of blowing up. There’s no blowing up. There might come a time when we make changes to improve for the future, but we don’t have a reason to blow it up. Boston didn’t blow it up last year. They retooled.”

    They also knew how.

  4. mainerob

    June 10, 2013 04:03 PM

    This is my first post. As radio listeners are prone to exclaim without an ounce of originality, “long time, first time.”

    I admire your contrariness, Bill. Nirvana always needs some reality thrown back at it.

    Brilliant summary of how RAJ’s blue sky needs to be clouded over with the facts.

    Here’s what galls me about their free-agent signings and some trades: It really doesn’t take modern-day analysis, nor so-called scout’s eyeballs for a passionate follower of the red pinstripers like me (fan since 1950 when someone at the Philadelphia Zoo ran at my family shouting, “The Phillies have just won the pennant.” Little did I know then how aberrational that event would turn out to be.) to “analyze,” in particular, the free agent signings over the past few years to come to an immediate conclusion that they are mostly a waste of money with too many years attached to their contracts.

    Let’s look a small, but representative sample size: Baez, Qualls and Durbin (he lost his mojo in August of 2008, although last year was an outlier one) were all washed up rag-arms when they were acquired. How stupid and even arrogant for management to delude themselves into believing that joining a contender (pretender at this juncture) would somehow transform them into studs. Then there is the outlandish signing of Papelbon, who has delivered the goods, but that much for a closer?!

    Moving along, how does Michael Martinez get so much playing time. Sure, versatility is great, but when the output is mediocre at best, one has to wonder. Delmon Young. Really? Nuff said. We all knew that, despite his being on top of the heap when he was drafted, he had no sense of commitment to himself, much less any team he played for.

    Ryan Howard is a shell of his former self. Truly a sad state of affairs, because he is so likeable. But he is paid to deliver the goods.

    I know that this is getting way too long for anyone reading it, so I’ll stop now with this: RAJ and Co. are settling for less than stellar and that really irks me. With such a passionate fanbase along with years of suffering and embarrassment on our part, they owe us the best they can assemble with their inflated, but misapplied budget.

  5. Richard

    June 10, 2013 05:53 PM

    The only time the Phillies handled Brown poorly is when they sat him on the bench after Victorino came off the DL in 2010. He should have been sent back down (or never called up at all that season). Everything else has been reasonable. When he played in the majors in 2011, he was abysmal defensively. And he also incurred a few other injuries in 2012.

    “The Phillies expected him to hit for power after an injury that specifically saps power, and they expected him to do it while moving back and forth from the Majors to the Minors.”

    Did they expect him to hit for power? What makes you think this? There’s no evidence they expected him to hit for power after the injury. The fact is, his defense needed a lot of work (a lot), and he needed time to work his kinks out in triple-A. He began 2012 hitting horribly, just horribly. Finally his power started to re-emerge, and he was called him around the deadline, and he basically played.

    I’m no great fan of Amaro, and at the time I was impatient for Brown to get more MLB playing time, but looking back the only way to see it is that, that 2010 incident aside, the Phillies handled him appropriately.

  6. Ryan Sommers

    June 10, 2013 06:50 PM

    I know that’s become the company line since the Good Phight wrote about it, but it amounts to nothing more than a hindsight guess to say they handled him “correctly” in 2011 and 2012. The truth is that we can’t possibly know how different handling could have affected his development. But I think it’s worth bearing in mind that the main sap on his playing time in both 2010 AND 2011 was the fact that Raul Ibanez was given 1211 PAs over that time period, while not really being a better option offensively or defensively than Brown.

    Sure, in 2011 he was dealing with the hamate aftermath, but if he was given the lion’s share of those 1200 PAs to find his stroke and his glove (i.e. if the Phillies knew what a “sunk cost” was and just unloaded Ibanez), I suspect he may have put things together sooner. But like I said, no way of knowing.

  7. Richard

    June 10, 2013 07:18 PM

    Well, Ryan, for the record, at the Good Phight many of us have been discussing it in the terms I laid out for the last year.

    But, you’re of course right that there’s no way of knowing. Just as the counter-narrative, put forth here, that the Phillies handled him poorly is no more rooted in certainty – yet is often presented as fact.

  8. Richard

    June 10, 2013 07:35 PM

    Maybe a better way of putting it is that 2010 is the only time, as I see, that their handling of Brown can be described as indefensible or as obviously wrong. The other situations, I think, all have plausible arguments that can be, and have been, advanced in their defense. Hence, I no longer think it’s helpful to argue that he was poorly handled.

  9. LTG

    June 10, 2013 08:07 PM

    I’ve actually come around to the view Richard is putting forward. It took a long back and forth with Joecatz. I changed my mind because it is no longer clear to me that the best thing for Brown was to face MLB competition while struggling to regain his power. It is just as plausible that Brown’s psyche could have been damaged by repeated mediocrity (or worse) at the MLB level.

  10. EricL

    June 10, 2013 08:30 PM

    While it’s possible that struggling against major league level pitchers would have hurt Brown’s development, I’m not sure how confident we can be in making that assessment.

    Through his first month and two-thirds this season (his first 152 ABs through May 19th) Brown also struggled, posting a line of .243/.288/.414.

    Now, of course I’ve chosen an end point that not coincidentally falls immediately prior his offensive explosion, but that’s sort of the point. For a young, highly talented player past struggles (particularly in relatively small sample sizes) are not predictive of future struggles.

    I think it’s very clear that he should not have been sitting on the bench for any length of time during the 2010 season. Beyond that, however, I’m not sure either argument is bulletproof.

  11. Kevin H

    June 10, 2013 11:46 PM

    As a general rule of thumb, it isn’t wise to dump a top prospect to the minors after a month of playing regularly, hitting nearly .300 and getting on base at a .400 clip like the Phillies did to Brown in June of 2011. That had to be demoralizing for a guy to start feeling comfortable in the show, earn a nice paycheck, and playing for a World Series favorite. I’m not seeing how anyone is defending that as proper handling.

  12. Kevin H

    June 10, 2013 11:48 PM

    The “work on his fielding” argument only makes sense if Ibanez and Pence aren’t the guys who took his place.

  13. Phillie697

    June 11, 2013 12:11 AM

    Well I still don’t think they should have traded for Pence, so assuming they didn’t do so, that would have been what, at least another 500 PAs for Dom in 2011-2012? Assuming that all Dom needed was more repetition and that most people don’t view the Pence trade as a positive anymore, isn’t that by definition, albeit also with a little bit of hindsight, “mishandling” Dom?

  14. Phillie697

    June 11, 2013 12:12 AM

    And yeah, what Kevin H said about having to “work on his fielding.” No Pence meant never having to learn a new position.

  15. hk

    June 11, 2013 05:47 AM

    Further to Kevin H’s point, Dom produced a .333 OBP for the 2011 season, which was .014 better than the NL average OBP. He also produced a well below average SLG of .391, which should have been expected following the hamate injury a few months earlier. What did they expect from him as he recovered from a broken hamate bone in his age 23 season that he did not produce?

  16. Dante

    June 11, 2013 07:12 AM

    You are all forgetting the messing with Brown’s swing thing. Most teams will let a player stick with what works for them, and when they changed his hand placement it ruined his feel at the plate. He’s generally back to his old swing, and is a little smarter about what to do when he’s up there (shortening it as much as possible, quick to the ball, closer to the plate, etc.)

  17. NickFromGermantown

    June 11, 2013 07:32 AM

    Perhaps it’s possible that the 2010 mishandling of Brown is what caused his further problems? We’ll never know, but if he wasn’t mishandled in 2010, he probably would t have broken his hamate bone, and he probably wouldn’t have had to wait to recover his power for 18 months…

    The worst part about all of this is that Brown was outperforming Ibanez in 2010. There was no reason to mess with Brown the way they did.

  18. yo

    June 11, 2013 07:41 AM

    We’re fucked. As Eric and Bill have said, we’re stuck with Amaro for at least 3-4 years. We’re stuck with Manuel for less, although his “analysis” of his players/teams is no more sophisticated than the rest of the organization.

    Re: Mayberry:

    “He’s streaky,” Manuel said. “When he’s in those streaks, he pretty much makes you play him.”

    [In English - he hits lefties significantly better than righties].

  19. LTG

    June 11, 2013 07:59 AM

    “I think it’s very clear that he should not have been sitting on the bench for any length of time during the 2010 season. Beyond that, however, I’m not sure either argument is bulletproof.”

    This. Our epistemic position with regard to Brown’s development is not good enough to sustain either opinion in the disagreement reasonably.

  20. LTG

    June 11, 2013 08:07 AM

    697,

    The Pence trade was bad because of how severely RAJ overpaid for Pence, not because Pence blocked Dom. Dom was producing at below replacement level. He was still recovering from the hammate injury. And would have rode the pine once Mayberry went ballistic anyway.

    And even that argument for mishandling requires the premise that what Dom needed was to play in MLB more consistently and he would have blossomed sooner. That premise is at best unclear. And given Dom’s spate of injuries and how long it took his power to return, I no longer take it for granted.

  21. Ted Kennedy

    June 11, 2013 09:44 AM

    So getting stopgaps for one season is retooling? That’s hogwash. The team expected bounceback years from the core (Howard, Utley, Rollins, Halladay) and got complimentary pieces to fill around them (Revere, MYoung, DYoung). Unfortunately those core pieces have not stayed healthy and it throws the plan out of whack. Now they know they can’t rely on these guys to carry the team anymore. If you read anything other than that from his quotes, you are just looking for something out of him.

  22. Cutter

    June 11, 2013 10:32 AM

    In regards to Brown, I don’t see why people are upset about how he was handled in regards to the current team or the team going forward.

    He’s leading the league in homers, so it’s not like the “mishandling” is negatively affecting him or the team this season.

    If you want to say that he could have helped either the 2011 or 2012, then that’s a different point, even though Brown’s performance when he did play in those seasons doesn’t indicate that he would have made much of a difference.

  23. Phillie697

    June 11, 2013 10:34 AM

    @LTG,

    Everything you say is true, but the bad trade DID have the effect of taking away Dom’s PAs, that also can’t be disputed. So now we have a Pence trade that not only did we pay way too much for, it had the secondary effect of stunting Dom’s development, something that RAJ KNEW or should have known way back then as well. This was not rocket science. Yet he made that trade anyway.

    Whatever the primary reason for making the trade was, there was that secondary effect that EVERYBODY knew about. You can’t claim ignorance now.

  24. Phillie697

    June 11, 2013 10:36 AM

    @Cutter,

    If I remember correctly, it was you, Pencilfish, and a couple of others who before the season started claimed that Dom is a bust, or at least a semi-bust. Hindsight is always 20/20 ain’t it?

  25. Greg O

    June 11, 2013 12:01 PM

    Not trying to instigate, but could you specify which major free agent signings they blew? I was never a fan of going for Hamilton and adding another aging vet with a massive contract, but they did make a run at Bourn and both Uptons, they just lost out. I would say adding bullpen help would have been huge, but I didn’t forsee Durbin being the turd he was or the minor leaguers who looked promising last season regressing so badly this year.

  26. hk

    June 11, 2013 12:09 PM

    Greg O,

    Once the Revere for Worley trade was made and the team addressed CF with a low salary player, many on these boards were calling for them to platoon Frandsen and Galvis at 3B, platoon Schierholtz and Mayberry in RF and sign Anibal Sanchez to the rotation as a hedge against 2013 Halladay pitching more like 2012 Halladay than like 2010 and 2011 Halladay and for 2014 and beyond. Bourn and Swisher both went for cheap, although signing either of them would have cost the team their 1st round pick, so these boards were split on signing one of them.

  27. Cutter

    June 11, 2013 12:15 PM

    @697-

    Aside from being completely irrelevant to the particular argument at hand, I believe I said he had been a disappointment, not a bust.

    And I stand by that. People can talk all they want about mishandling him, but did Brown, but Brown also didn’t seize the opportunity either.

    If Brown had shown his 2013 form in those earlier appearances, the debate would be moot.

  28. LTG

    June 11, 2013 12:18 PM

    697,

    Whether it stunted Dom’s development is precisely the point that is in dispute. That Dom didn’t develop earlier is not evidence that Dom was stunted. It might have happened anyway. Indeed,those taking the contrary position (that RAJ handled Dom well) point to his mediocre performance at AAA as evidence that Dom wouldn’t have developed any sooner than he in fact did.

    You are obviously right that had Pence not been acquired Dom would have received more PAs, at least until Mayberry got hot. But from that it does not follow that he would have developed sooner since the time frame for development is variable from player to player.

    This is what Richard, EricL, and I are trying to say. Both sides of this dispute (RAJ handled Dom well v. RAJ mishandled Dom) rely on a premise–regarding how Dom would have developed absent other factors–that lacks evidence without speculative narration filling the gaps.

    Maybe RAJ handled Dom well, maybe he got lucky because Dom developed as he would have anyway, maybe he mishandled him. I don’t take myself to be able to assert any of these with more confidence than any of the others.

    And whatever the truth of the matter concerning RAJ and Dom, it doesn’t mitigate his awful performance as GM to date.

  29. LTG

    June 11, 2013 12:21 PM

    Ya know, if they’d signed Swisher and kept Schierholtz, there would be an obvious replacement for Ryan Howard that wouldn’t create a hole in the outfield.

  30. hk

    June 11, 2013 12:37 PM

    And if they’d signed Anibal Sanchez, there wouldn’t be a need to have Carlos Zambrano fill a hole in the rotation.

  31. hk

    June 11, 2013 12:39 PM

    Ted Kennedy,

    I know, the fallacy of the predetermined outcome says that we can’t be sure that Schierholtz or Sanchez would have performed as well for the Phillies as they have performed so far for the Cubs and Tigers, respectively.

  32. Pencilfish

    June 11, 2013 12:44 PM

    Cutter,

    Brown has only begun producing at a higher level in late April or early May. It is promising, but pitchers will adjust to him at some point. Let’s see if he can sustain it. RAJ also pointed out that Brown is very teachable, and Brown himself has credited Henderson and Joyne for tinkering with his swing. Even without the injuries and inconsistent playing time, it is fair to ask if Brown succeeds without the changes brought about by the hitting coaches

    I was glad to hear RAJ believes we need Lee and Hamels at the top of the rotation. Trading Lee is one of the most foolish ideas being promoted by frustrated Phillies fans lately.

  33. Pencilfish

    June 11, 2013 12:50 PM

    hk,

    How would signing Anibal Sanchez help? The Phillies need consistent offense. The starting pitching has not been poor.

    LTG,

    Signing Swisher means no J.P. Crawford. How is forfeiting the 16th pick an improvement in RAJ’s performance as a GM?

  34. LTG

    June 11, 2013 12:57 PM

    I’m aware. It seems to me some orgs have gone a long time without a 16th pick and still produced talent on the farm. I bet Swisher will outproduce the average 16th pick over his 4 year contract with the Indians. Given the Phillies desire to continue winning, Swisher looks better to me than the 16th pick. I also grant that reasonable people can disagree. My post was wistful.

    If Sanchez improves the net run production of the team, he improves their chances to win. Also, signing Sanchez starts a transition to the next batch of winning teams post Halladay (and eventually Lee).

  35. hk

    June 11, 2013 01:02 PM

    Pencilfish,

    At this point, I have mostly given up hope for 2013 – back in April, I thought this could be an 85 to 87 win team – and I’m thinking more about 2014, 2015 and 2016 as it pertains to Sanchez. If Sanchez was on the roster now it would allow for two options moving forward, either trade Lee (if the return is worthwhile) and go with a top 3 of Hamels, Sanchez and Kendrick or keep Lee and go with a top 4 of Lee, Hamels, Sanchez and Kendrick.

  36. Pencilfish

    June 11, 2013 01:14 PM

    LTG,

    Given the consensus that the Phillies farm system is barren, it would seem ill-advised to forfeit the 16th pick. Swisher would have provided more offense, but with Utley & Ruiz on the DL and Howard underperforming, how much of a difference would he have made? Even Brown’s outbursts as of late have only kept the Phillies near .500.

    No doubt adding Sanchez would have been positive, but his salary would have taken us closer to the luxury-tax threshold, leaving little room for any additions in July. Obviously, if the Phillies continue to play inconsistently, it may be selling (not buying) in July, which means Sanchez would be an unnecessary luxury, as some have argued Papelbon is.

  37. Phillie697

    June 11, 2013 01:33 PM

    @Cutter,

    Aren’t you contradicting yourself? First you say Brown is disappointing, and that he hasn’t shown his promise prior to 2013, but then you say we didn’t mishandle him. Had we properly “handled” him, maybe he wouldn’t have been “disappointing” to you in 2011 and 2012, no?

    I mean, how else am I suppose to understand your logic? That he was hurt and that he wouldn’t have been able to fulfill his potential until 2013, so the team handled him just right? Then how can you be disappointed in someone you acknowledge was hurt? Or that somehow after enough PAs, he finally learned how to perform in the majors? Then isn’t your disappointment directly tied to the fact that he DIDN’T get enough PAs in 2011 and 2012 to not be disappointing, thus “mishandled”? I have no idea WHAT explanation you are providing.

  38. Phillie697

    June 11, 2013 01:41 PM

    @LTG,

    I guess perhaps I wasn’t clear on what I was asserting. I agree again that both sides are speculating, but it is NOT speculation to say that RAJ KNEW trading for Pence would reduce Dom’s PAs drastically, and since conventional wisdom suggests that prospects develop with playing time, he made the decision to trade for Pence knowing FULL WELL that he was sacrificing development time for Dom. This was a conscious decision, and I challenge you and any of the “we didn’t handle Dom wrong” crowd to defend the contrary.

    We don’t know whether he would have develop earlier had we not traded for Pence, but it doesn’t change the fact that RAJ did what he did knowing full well he was doing it to the detriment of Dom (reduced playing time, and asking him to learn a new position, are you kidding me???), unless he somehow has some non-traditional new-fangled wisdom that I have never heard of before. Except this is RAJ, so we know that’s not true. That in and of itself is pretty self-evident that whatever RAJ’s motivations, his priorities are pretty short-sighted, as is evident in all of his other moves.

  39. Phillie697

    June 11, 2013 01:45 PM

    Again, Pencilfish now acknowledge that we have a barren farm system and can’t compete now. This is the same man who argued that the money we wasted on Papelbon was not a problem for this team, and that we should contend for the playoffs for a few more years.

    Must be awesome to argue for both sides.

  40. Pencilfish

    June 11, 2013 01:52 PM

    hk,

    I get your point, but remember the offense has gone backward several years in a row now. For 2014 and forward, adding offense (internally and externally) seems to be a higher priority. With Halladay, Utley and Ruiz *potentially* getting off the books in 2014, the Phillies will have $40M (!) for potential FA this winter. Sanchez would have eaten $15+M of that.

    Don’t give up on the Phillies yet. Since 2007, they have performed much better in the 2nd-half than in the 1st-half. We’ll have a better idea of their chances by early July. If they can’t take advantage of favorable match-ups in June, they are likely sellers next month.

  41. hk

    June 11, 2013 02:26 PM

    Pencilfish,

    Yes, if they don’t re-sign Doc, Utley and Ruiz, they’ll have a lot of money to spend before they reach the increased luxury tax limit. However, they’ll also have to replace Doc in the rotation (plus find a C, a 2B and at least one OF). Ignoring the need for a C, 2B and OF for the time being since we are discussing pitching, I hope they’ll seek a better 4th starter than the likes of Pettibone, Cloyd, Zambrano or Lannan. If so, they’ll have to turn to a trade or free agecy and the list of free agent SP’s is not an inspiring one with Matt Garza, Hiroki Kuroda and AJ Burnett as the top 3 names. Until RAJ proves me wrong, I will continue to predict that next year’s team would be better with Anibal Sanchez than whichever pitcher ends up as #4 in the rotation.

  42. PhilliesTruthIs

    June 11, 2013 02:43 PM

    Ruben Amaro Jr. has always come across as a very cocky guy to me.

    If you’re cocky and good, that’s one thing.

    When you’re cocky, and you REALLY SUCK at what you do…

  43. PhilliesTruthIs

    June 11, 2013 02:45 PM

    The Phillies have declined every year since Gillick left (Amaro took over).

    They have the 3rd highest payroll in baseball.

    They will miss the playoffs for the second year in a row.

    How is this acceptable to Montgomery and the owners?

    Amaro is the worst GM in MLB in my opinion.

  44. PhilliesTruthIs

    June 11, 2013 02:50 PM

    Phillies with Cole Hamels are 0-8 (5.28 ERA) versus teams other than Mets/Marlins.

    Phillies are 2-11 overall this season when Hamels starts, at $20.5 MILLION a year.

    Ryan Howard is currently one of the worst starting 1st baseman in the league.

    These two guys will make $45 MILLION a year for several years to come.

    I don’t understand how Hamels has gotten such a pass this year by most.

    Again, how is Ruben Amaro still the GM of this team?

    That Ryan Howard contract is one of the worst of all-time. A-Rod.

  45. LTG

    June 11, 2013 03:31 PM

    “conventional wisdom suggests that prospects develop with playing time”

    Sometimes they do; sometimes they don’t. Sometimes prospects are brought up too early, struggle, lose their form, and never make it or only make it later than they would have otherwise. How did we know Dom wasn’t in that camp? What if starts making adjustments to compensate for his injuries in order to stay in the lineup and screws himself up?

    Conventional wisdom also says that prospects develop with playing time at the appropriate level. It is possible that the MLB wasn’t the appropriate level for Dom at the time. It is also possible that, even if MLB was the appropriate level in 2011, the light-bulb would not have clicked until May 2013. I don’t see why any fan should take a side on the matter, given the paucity of evidence and severe lack of expertise and specific knowledge about the player.

    In the last analysis Dom is suddenly an awesome hitter because he drastically changed his approach. He could not have made this change before his hammate fully healed (because it depends on hitting for power), and his hammate did not fully heal until the last two months of 2012. And even in 2012 he didn’t make the adjustment. Would he have made the adjustment earlier if he had played more in 2011? I don’t know. Would he have had as much success then as now, had he made the adjustment? Probably not. What would have resulted in this counter-factual scenario? I have no idea.

    And why are you citing conventional wisdom? Conventional wisdom is often an oxymoron. I’d rather wise wisdom.

  46. Cutter

    June 11, 2013 03:40 PM

    @697-

    I understand that written words can be interpreted however the reader wants, but you’re getting a bit ridiculous.

    For the benefit of those here who aren’t blinded by Amaro-hatred, I will try to elaborate my logic:

    Was Dom Brown handled as well as he possibly could have been?

    Probably not.

    Would different handling of Brown have changed how he played in 2010-2012?

    Maybe, but it is difficult to say one way or another. He still was working on improving defense and was recovering from the hamate injury.

    Did Brown live up to his top prospect billing when he did play in those seasons?

    I’d say no. He certainly hadn’t looked like a future star, so I considered him a disappointment.

    If Brown had played better when given the opportunity those seasons, would he have gained more playing time?

    Probably.

    Did any mishandling of Brown affect him this season?

    Considering that he’s leading the NL in homers, it certainly doesn’t appear that way.

  47. Ted Kennedy

    June 11, 2013 03:41 PM

    Wins by year

    2008 – 92
    2009 – 93
    2010 – 97
    2011 – 102
    2012 – 81

    The decline started after 2011. The Phillies actually became a better team under RAJ. Up until last season.

  48. Joecatz

    June 11, 2013 03:45 PM

    Bill,

    Goes without saying that I’m in 100% agreement with everything g you’ve written here except the mishandling of Brown.

    Yes he should have been sent back down for two weeks in 2010. But would that have changed anything that happened from the hamate injury on is the real question we should be asking ourselves.

    I mean. If he doesn’t hurt the hand, do we trade
    For pence?

    And the 2012 stuff no offense but your way selective there. He had 20 ABs in ST before getting hurt. That’s what led to Pierre getting early ABs and making the team and Pierre’s play led to him staying, which led to them giving brown more time at AAA after a sub optimal start there when he got back on the field early in the season.

    It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to isolate browns first month at Lehigh in 2012 to see that in no way did he warrant a call up.

    He started to find his swing and got hurt again in June. Then he had a few more weeks of rehab ABs and was in Philly.

    So the first half of 2012 at Lehigh for Dom was basically all extended spring training and rehab.

    I mean its right there

  49. Ted Kennedy

    June 11, 2013 03:46 PM

    Amaro actually admitted they probably didn’t do Brown any favors by shuffling him up and down in 2010 and 2011. But since the line around these parts is that he is cocky, arrogant and smug who never admits his mistakes, this hasn’t been mentioned.

  50. Ted Kennedy

    June 11, 2013 03:52 PM

    Also, anyone who is blaming Hamels for having a terrible record is a moron. Look at his run support in those games.

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