2013 Phillies Report Card: Phillippe Aumont

We talk about reliever volatility on this site quite a bit and there has been no more painful microcosm of that proverb than Phillippe Aumont. Last year at this time Aumont had just finished an intriguing September in which he showed stuff we haven’t seen in Philly since Billy Wagner graced the organization with his presence. Emanating from Aumont’s fingertips were two 70-grade pitches; a mid-90s fastball that would touch 97mph with heavy sink and a ferocious two-plane curveball in the low 80s that flat out embarrassed several Major League hitters late last season. Remember this?

This year, everything went to hell.

Always a maddeningly poor strike-thrower, the stiff and un-athletic, 6’7” behemoth struggled even more with control/command in 2013, walking 51 hitters is 55 innings of work between Triple-A and the Majors. He threw just 53% of his pitches for strikes. That’s not far off from the 56% of 2012, but too many of the strikes Aumont threw this year were hittable ones. Despite his habitual issues with control, Aumont’s stuff has always been so good that he’s had a chance to pitch in the back end of a big league bullpen and maybe, just maybe, have a shot to close one day.  Why has Aumont’s control always been so bad? Well, mechanical variations in taller pitchers lead to more pronounced lapses in command. One degree of angle variation in a 5’11″ man’s arm is much less impactful than one degree of angle variation in a 6’7″ man’s arms, just as the ever present yet faint trembles in your hands are much more noticeable if you’re looking through a pair of binoculars. Hulking, small-forward-sized pitchers like Aumont have very little margin for error when it comes to repeating their delivery. Aumont is quite stiff, has anything but a clean and aesthetically pleasing, simple delivery and noticeably struggles to repeat his mechanics. That’s where his control issues stem from.

At times in 2013, Aumont also didn’t have the stuff he’s usually shown throughout his career. The fastball was down in the 91-93mph range late in the year (though it was back up in his last appearance, he touched 97mph) and the curveball lacked the hellacious vertical bite Dan Uggla is all too familiar with. Some of the stuff now gone, the control issues remained. The results were predictably bad during this time and August was sour for the Canadian righty. His season was bad enough that he didn’t received a call-up in September and Assistant GM Benny Looper went out of his way to tell Jeff Schuler at the Morning Call here in Allentown that Aumont, “didn’t deserve” one. He was right.

So where do the Phillies go from here? It seems that trading Aumont, who has been an outspoken malcontent in the past and outwardly showed frustration with himself and his situation on the field and audibly in the dugout in August, would be a criminally low sell. This is a young man who was once the #2 prospect in the Mariners system. There’s a heap of talent here. More than likely the Phillies will hope that whoever they hire to be their next pitching coach can work just enough magic with Aumont that he can be made into a viable big league bullpen contributor, if not an actual weapon has the howitzer on his right shoulder implies he should be. He wasn’t even close to either of those things in 2013.

My Grade: F

 

Michael Paul Bill Ryan
D D- F C-

Leave a Reply

*

12 comments

  1. MattWinks

    October 14, 2013 08:45 AM

    I find it hard to be rational about Aumont. All it takes is one look at the fastball movement and I cannot help but see dominant reliever. The problem is that pitch looks great but it ends up outside the zone too much and I wonder if it almost has too much movement for a guy who is often lucky to get it within a foot of the strikezone. It is hard enough to through a straight ball into the zone, but when it is breaking nearly a foot armside, that is a lot more aiming required.

    The one thing that will always give me hope with Aumont is that it is really hard to hit one out of the park against him. Even with walking as many batters as he does, he has kept the runs down because over the past 3 seasons (nearly 180 IP) he has allowed 5 HRs, none of which have occurred in his 34 major league innings. It just seems like there is so much down and movement to what he does that hitters have been able to leverage anything out of the ballpark. (this is why despite a 5.82 BB/9 in the majors his FIP is only 3.42, all SSS arguments apply)

  2. joecatz

    October 14, 2013 09:04 AM

    Aumont is a painful reminder to me of just how difficult it is to transition raw talent and pedigree to the majors. The guy is the definition of headcase. and that’s a term I hate using.

    And while I agree with the “sell low” concept, theres also the secondary factor here that his stock could actually go lower at some point.

    For me, he’s the kind of player that probably needs a change of scenery to be successful, and his “potential” likely makes him an interesting candidate to be included in a deal as a secondary or terciary piece this offseason.

  3. bubba0101

    October 14, 2013 09:47 AM

    You have to keep the guy just on potential alone. Combined with the fact that our bullpen is so pitiful, we need any help we can get. He needs to realize that he would be the heir apparent to the closer role being as Pap will be gone in two years. Gotta keep him to see if he can right the ship. Hes worth more to us than anyone else

  4. John Rocker

    October 14, 2013 11:06 AM

    I agree w/bubba. Gotta keep him and hope he works things out. I have a feeling he’ll be a jayson werth type player who will eventually figure it out and kill it. We’re most likley not competing next year anyway so why not just stash him and hope the new pitching coach connects with him?

  5. machonorris

    October 14, 2013 11:29 AM

    Hopefully, the new pitching coach will be the change of scenery it appears he needs, rather than selling for pennies on the dollar.

  6. Andrew Cleveland Alexander

    October 14, 2013 11:38 AM

    If some other team looks at Aumont’s inconsistent repertoire and thinks it can fix him, maybe he has some value as part of a larger trade package. Otherwise, I don’t see any reason to unload him just for the sake of subtraction. This isn’t a Michael Schwimer situation–letting him go for a bucket of balls could be the sort of thing that could come back to haunt the franchise if he just turns out to be a late bloomer, a la John Axford.

    Also, while it does sound like Aumont is a sorehead, I will point out that part of his complaints were focused on conflicting advice from the minor and major league pitching instructions, and shortly afterward, the Phillies fired the minor league pitching coordinator. That suggests to me that perhaps there might have been some substance to his complaints, even if he was stupid for voicing them in a whiny way to the press.

    www.csnphilly.com/baseball-philadelphia-phillies/changes-coming-phils%E2%80%99-player-development-system

  7. LTG

    October 14, 2013 11:48 AM

    Following up ACA’s 2nd paragraph, what does it mean that Aumont is a “head-case” and what is the evidence aside from poor performance and the public griping cited? (This is an honest question not a bad rhetorical move.)

    Also, how much variance is there in the movement of Aumont’s fastball? Is it greater than other pitchers with good movement on their fastballs? Is it perhaps too much even for someone with good mechanics to control?

  8. bubba0101

    October 14, 2013 11:53 AM

    LTG,

    He said sorehead, not headcase. Im not trying to stir anything up here, but I think sorehead in this case just means that hes a bit of a sore loser and vocally blaming things other than himself for his failure. The confilicting major/minor league advice may have contributed to him not fully working out the kinks with his comand issues. All this being said, the potential is most definitely there. 70 grades on 2 pitches! That screams 8th inning guy slash closer. Just get him comfortable and hammer out his mechanics. This guy could be the next ryan madson and solidify a serious weak spot and he wont cost hardly anything except for time.

  9. EricL

    October 14, 2013 12:21 PM

    Bubba, Joe called Aumont a headcase.

    Obviously I’m not in the clubhouse or anything so I can’t say that he isn’t a headcase, but I’m hesitant to use that term to describe players who are merely outspoken and/or demonstrative. Sure, there’s a point where an inability to control emotion is a warning signal for deeper psychological problems, but I’m not sure, exactly, where that line is and if Aumont is anywhere close to it.

  10. Ryan

    October 14, 2013 12:53 PM

    Just remember that tall pitchers are often late bloomers–see Randy Johnson who led the league in walks from 1990-1992 before harnessing his control and becoming RANDY JOHNSON. If Aumont could harness his control, he has better raw stuff than Billy Wagner and far better than Ryan Madson.

  11. TheBadgerine

    October 14, 2013 04:44 PM

    The .gif shouldn’t be Uggla, as he is not a Major League hitter. He is a beer league softball player.

Next ArticlePhillies Arizona Fall League Notes: Week 1