Lesson Learned

GM Ruben Amaro uttered this memorable phrase back in January defending his signing of outfielder Delmon Young:

Offensively, the Phillies rank 27th in runs scored (526), 28th in on-base percentage (.303), and 27th in weighted on-base average (.301) as well.

The bullpen ranks 25th in runs allowed (213), 28th in ERA (4.38) and 28th in xFIP (4.37).

Both areas have problems that extend beyond the dearth of walks on offense and the surfeit of them issued by the bullpen, but a large majority of their problems this year wouldn’t exist if their organizational philosophy hadn’t been so dismissive of the value of a walk. Hopefully, the lesson has been well-learned as the Phillies are on pace to finish 73-89, which would be their worst finish since 2000 (65-97).

That the Phillies are mad at reliever Phillippe Aumont for not throwing strikes is quite funny, looking at the other relievers they’ve called on during this long season.

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  1. Richard

    September 04, 2013 07:13 AM

    I don’t believe for a second that the “organizational philosophy” of not properly valuing the walk extends to pitching. The problems the pitching staff has had this year are not philosophical, but consistent execution.

    And Aumont’s struggles with his control this season have been far worse than that of any of the other pitchers they’ve used.

  2. Bill Baer

    September 04, 2013 07:35 AM

    Luis Garcia is up there, and he’s always had control issues. J.C. Ramirez’s walk rate has gone up every year he’s been with the Phillies. Ethan Martin is fond of the free pass. Zach Miner’s control became significantly worse in between his Major League appearances but the Phillies felt he was worth bringing aboard anyway.

    If it was just one or two players who were having bad years, that’s one thing, but Jonathan Papelbon is the only one left in the bullpen with any modicum of control. De Fratus is likely someone having an abnormally bad season.

    Fortunately they have such a wide pool to choose from that they can cobble together a decent bullpen next year with Papelbon, Adams, Bastardo, Horst, Diekman, De Fratus, Stutes, etc.

  3. Richard

    September 04, 2013 07:38 AM

    Also, I’d add, that they probably care about Aumont’s future. Miner’s and Garcia’s, not so much, so it doesn’t hurt anything, other than our eyes this September, to keep them up.

  4. JM

    September 04, 2013 07:41 AM

    @BB I think Diekman has actually figured something out, same for De Fratus. Their locations have been much better lately.

    Overall though, this organization has never much cared about walks from the bullpen. We lauded Lidge in ’08, but there were very few 1-2-3 innings for him. Madsen also put his fair share of runners on base, but we all liked him.

  5. Bill Baer

    September 04, 2013 07:57 AM

    Me too.

    On an unrelated topic regarding Madson, I really liked what he said about HGH a while ago:

    “If HGH were legal,” Madson said, “just in the process of healing, under a doctor’s recommendation, in the right dosage, while you’re on the [disabled list], I don’t think that’s such a bad idea — as long as it doesn’t have any lasting side effects, negative side effects.”


    “Right now,” Madson said, “it’s cheating. I’ve never done anything like that, and I won’t.”


    “But I will still believe, even if I get healthy without that,” Madson added, “that it should be legal, in the right dosage, under supervision, with doctors, for the only purposes to help heal and get players back in the Major Leagues. Because people want to watch them, because of their talents, just to get them back on the field to play. That’s it. I think it would be good for the game; I think it would be good for the fans. Fans want to see the best players play, and they want to see the players that they watch come back from injury and stay back. I think it would be a good thing.”

  6. Stupid is as Stupid Does

    September 04, 2013 08:03 AM

    So let’s believe the pitching issues are not a philosophical RAJ lead organizational problem but the fact is the Phils were horrendous throughout their MiL system in teaching or implementing pitching efficiency. This is troubling when you are counting on the farm system to lead you from the desert.

    On the hitting side, I do believe this is a leadership and organizational issue as stated by RAJ and demonstrated quite effectively this year.

    If the Phils attendance continues to decline, and now that school is back, we should see a serious drop, does ownership take notice and implement accountability? Does Dave M even care?

    Last night was a tough lineup to watch but on the other hand, I would rather the Phils run out the kids and see what we have than play to win every night with the old guard. Winning provides no net gain at this point in the season.

    Go Iron Pigs!

  7. JM

    September 04, 2013 10:22 AM

    Thanks BB….I didn’t realize Madson was that efficient. Maybe I just remember that failed attempt to make him a starter…Any chance the Phillies take a 1 yr flier on bringing him back?

  8. Evan

    September 04, 2013 10:49 AM

    How bad did this organization mess up Aumont? Didn’t 29 other GMs peg this guy as a bullpen guy with closer stuff and RAJ was the only one to say he could be a starter? I almost wish he goes to a club with a decent bullpen coach/system and gets his kinks worked out and then haunts the Phils for years.

    Also, how is Stutes looking? Should he be healthy in time for Spring Training net year?

  9. joecatz

    September 04, 2013 11:03 AM

    I love how people just assume that the organization messed up Aumont. I mean, its understandable since you know, they’ve messed up everyone else and all but….the guy walked 5.6 batters per nine in 2009 for Seattle…

    and he’s been at:

    6.89 in 2010
    3.19 at AA in 2011 and 5.56 at AAA in 2011
    6.9 at AAA in 2012
    and at 6.09 at the big league level this year, followed by a horrendous 9.59 at Lehigh.

    that’s not a guy that the organization screwed up, its a guy who, in 5 years of getting repeated opportunities at the minor league level to get better never did.

    and it’s also a guy who now feels its okay, after NEVER IMPROVING, to throw blame at the organization, rather than to maybe look at what he’s doing.

    sometimes players just don’t do the one thing they need to do.

    He’s got a magical and special arm. But he has no idea how to control it, and two organizations and probably 8-10 different pitching instructors havent been able to help him.

    he hasn’t started a game since 2010 BTW… and when they first moved him BACK to the buillpen, in 2011 at Reading, he was able to control the walks for the first time.

    once he hit AAA as a reliever? the control issues surfaced again. thats the result of him not being able to repeat his delivery, and the level and hitters getting better.

    sorry, but this isn;t on the organization, its on Aumont.

  10. joecatz

    September 04, 2013 11:13 AM

    also, Aumonts control issues surfaced in Seattle after they CONVERTED HIM TO A RELIEVER, and when he hit AA. I’m not sure how anyone can take fault with looking at a then 20 year old former 1st round pick and believing that, as his K rates skyrocketed, and his control went out the window that maybe a move back to starting (which Aumont wanted to try) was a good idea.

    cause it was.

    and so was ending the experiment after a full season, and putting him back into the bullpen.

  11. Mark66

    September 04, 2013 11:29 AM

    When you struggle offensively the way Philly has this year. Then combine a bullpen that can’t get their sister out. Well I guess that suns up the season the Phils have had. You start at the top where the organization makes decisions. Get it right at the top and everything will fall into place over the whole season. The organization has let the FANS down.

  12. joecatz

    September 04, 2013 11:39 AM

    I agree with that Mark. The organization has let the fans down. But that doesn’t mean that everything that goes wrong with every player and every decision thats made good or bad is their fault.

  13. Phillie697

    September 04, 2013 12:10 PM


    I don’t know if the Phillies made all these pitchers into walk machines, but like Bill said, if it’s just one or two, you chalk that up to randomness, when it’s an entire crop of pitchers, you should start asking questions. Maybe we didn’t “make” them into walk machines, but maybe our philosophy of not caring about walks that much made us acquire a bunch of walk machines. The organization doesn’t have to actively turn anyone into anything in order to be bad.

  14. Pencilfish

    September 04, 2013 12:15 PM

    Why do you say the “Phillies are mad at Aumont”? It’s the other way around. From the organizational point of view, not calling up Aumont is a good thing. The team wants him to rest, clear his head and try again next year.

    Garcia, Miner and Ramirez are cannon fodder. We need 25 men on the active roster for meaningless games in August. Why not them?

    “Fortunately they have such a wide pool to choose from that they can cobble together a decent bullpen next year with Papelbon, Adams, Bastardo, Horst, Diekman, De Fratus, Stutes, etc.”

    We had a wide pool in 2012 and 2013 and look what we got. As difficult as it may be to find and sign a few good BP pieces, the team needs to spend time and resources on it. If analytics can be used to identify good position players and SP, I’m skeptical it can’t be done for RP.

  15. Stupid is as Stupid Does

    September 04, 2013 01:25 PM

    Ahhh, but there the rub. The Phils don’t use analytics to identify players. They use scouts and eschew the idea that analytics add much to the evaluation process.

    RAJ just recently stated “maybe we should look to use analytics as part of our process.” BUT unless they bring in someone from an organization with a well established process and in a position of authority where he can make the needed changes to the Phils talent evaluation, it won’t happen.

    I do not believe this will happen until RAJ is purged from the system and they bring in a GM from outside the organization. If they promote from within, we will see less change than is needed.

  16. Joecatz

    September 04, 2013 01:29 PM


    Aumont is on a different plane talent wise than most of these other guys. And not caring about a batter walking has nothing to do with pitcher walks. To compare the two and make the correlation that a statement made in defense of delmon young is an organizational philosophy that extends to young pitchers is a stretch. And that’s putting it mildly.

  17. Pencilfish

    September 04, 2013 01:35 PM

    My point is not that RAJ hasn’t used analytics. No one on this site has even suggested how analytics can be used to identify good BP pieces. Relying on a large pool and hoping that statistical fluctuations in a large sample will naturally yield some diamonds in the rough is just as antiquated as relying on outdated scouting reports.

    Are there any reliably predictive indicators for small sample sizes (typical for RP) that can be used to find these diamonds in the rough?

  18. Simmons17

    September 04, 2013 02:24 PM

    Other than the overall season, I don’t think anything disappointed me more than the bullpen this year. I honestly believed the Phillies were poised to have a bullpen that would help them compete with Washington and Atlanta.
    I have no idea what’s going with DeFratus, but right now, I wish they’d stop putting him in high-leverage situations and just let him get some work.
    Diekman has me very hopeful and I think Jiminez could step into the 2nd lefty’s role, making Bastardo expendable.
    I’m not counting on Adams for anything. I really hope they take a look at Martin in short relief the next few weeks now that Cloyd can take those starts.
    Finally, I know Papelbon is considered slighly more likable than A-Rod among most Phillies fans, but I am the only one who has noticed that despite a loss in velocity, he actually knows how to pitch. While not a great signing, it also is not the unmitigated disaster some like to make it out as.

  19. Mark66

    September 04, 2013 03:54 PM

    #1 Someone picks the player and #2 someone teaches and works with the players and their positions. So, you have either chosen poorly, or your instructors have not done their J O B. If #1 and #2 are accomplished then everything falls into place.

  20. Frank K

    September 04, 2013 04:08 PM

    Amaro passed on the likes of Marlon Byrd so he could roll the dice and hopefully come up big with Delmon Young. At lease Byrd could play defense; even if nobody could foresee the great offensive year he’s having.

    And I’m sure glad Amaro held on to David Herndon the last few years so he could take up a valuable roster spot while serving up Single A slop in relief. Rule 5 can really hurt if you don’t cut and run on bad decisions. Because of not acknowledging their mistake, they released the likes of Ryan Vogelsong and Jason Grilli. How’d that work out Rube?

  21. Scott G

    September 04, 2013 04:13 PM

    How any current Phillies fan can not remember Ryan Madson as a phenomenal pitch is crazy to me.

    I always liked Madson – even when he was struggling as a starter. I still remember his 3-hit game against the Rockies in 2006.

  22. SJHaack

    September 04, 2013 05:42 PM

    If David Herndon wasn’t hurt he’d probably be the setup man in this horrible bullpen. He was absolutely worth the roster spot.

  23. Phillie697

    September 04, 2013 09:26 PM


    The two don’t have to be related. They can both be happening at the same time. They may or may not come from the same mindset, but sure are we getting the double whammy at the moment that’s for damn sure.

  24. Phillie697

    September 04, 2013 09:28 PM

    Speaking of Rule 5… How many people remember that Mini Mart was a Rule 5 pick? Talk about not letting go of our mistakes…

  25. Phillie697

    September 04, 2013 09:33 PM

    Did someone seriously just suggest that a pitcher with a career K/9 of 6.41 and BB/9 of 3.73 (or 16.6 K% and 9.7 B%) is going to make Bastardo expendable?

    S. M. H.

  26. Robby Bonfire

    September 05, 2013 01:10 PM

    Somebody please give this “GM” clown a book, any book by Bill James. Of course he will just toss it, knowing, as we all do, that the job is his for the next 20-25 years. Penn Charter man, you know, which makes him a slumming buddy with the owner who hired him.

  27. Robby Bonfire

    September 05, 2013 01:19 PM

    By the way, from an offensive standpoint, walks ARE an integral part of production.

    And remember, “The Philly Way,” when secondary average was the front office guide to evaluating hitters? Secondary average, of course, referring to extra bases on hits, and ~WALKS.~ Seems the team had some success with this concept, back in the 70’s and 80’s.

    The Phillies were one of the first organizations not to buy into batting average, as the primary barometer of a hitter’s ability. They were light years ahead of the curve, in those days, really pioneering, in the Dallas Green era. Now, they are driving Model T’s in Formula One completion, at best.

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