Phillies Demote Phillippe Aumont, Call Up Ethan Martin; Sign Jason Marquis

Some minor Phillies-related news from today:

Obviously, Phillippe Aumont’s brief time in the big leagues this season hasn’t gone well. The right-hander allowed a tie-breaking and eventual game-winning two-run home run to New York Mets first baseman Lucas Duda on June 1. Yesterday, he incinerated the Phillies’ chances of coming back by allowing a grand slam to shortstop Wilmer Flores, making the score 11-2. Overall, he faced nine batters. He walked two of them and allowed two home runs.

Aumont’s fall from grace has been rather tragic. We were so excited about his potential when he did this:

Aumont, one of the three players acquired in the Cliff Lee trade with the Seattle Mariners, simply hasn’t been able to find the strike zone whatsoever. At the big league level, he has walked 24 of the 169 batters he has faced (14.2%). At Triple-A, he has walked 107 of 586 (18.3%), including 59 of 279 between 2013-14 (21.1%). It wouldn’t be shocking if the Phillies designated him for assignment. It would be less surprising to see Aumont latch on with a new team and turn things around. The Phillies have shown themselves over the years to be completely inept at developing pitchers.

Ethan Martin missed the first month-plus of the season due to a sprain of the anterior capsule in his right shoulder. He rehabbed at Single-A from May 4-9, then returned to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 10 2/3 innings there, Martin has posted a 1.69 ERA with 11 strikeouts and four walks.

Martin, acquired in the Shane Victorino trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers at the trade deadline in 2012, initially contributed to the team out of the rotation last season but was moved to the bullpen after seven starts. Martin showed a diminished ability to get batters out as well as a prominent decline in velocity the longer he pitched.

Jason Marquis, 35, underwent Tommy John surgery last July after posting a 4.05 ERA in 117 2/3 innings with the San Diego Padres. He’ll report to extended spring training and serve as minor league starting pitching depth. As Matt Gelb notes here, the Phillies have had to resort to relief pitchers to make starts at the Triple-A level. Additionally, Gelb suggests that Marquis could join the rotation should the Phillies made some trades leading up to the July 31 deadline.

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  1. Jon Cheddar

    June 03, 2014 02:56 PM

    If the Phillies put their entire professional (minor league, scouting, big league, front office) staff in a space capsule, with the exception of Scott Freedman, shot said capsule into the sun, and then started completely from scratch, that would be the best possible outcome at this point.

    • Dan K.

      June 03, 2014 05:59 PM

      You don’t want to get rid of Sal Agonstinelli.

      • awh™

        June 04, 2014 02:56 PM

        He’s about the only one I would keep. The rest are fungible.

  2. Tony

    June 03, 2014 04:12 PM

    Well, no signs of good news on the personnel front, but at least Ryne has finally decided to drop Revere and his 0.300 on-base percentage to the 8-hole. Not that J-Roll is an idea leadoff hitter, but at least he occasionally takes a pitch. I had to double-check the stats to make sure Revere’s FOUR walks on the season wasn’t a misprint.

    • Bob

      June 03, 2014 04:41 PM

      Yet Dom Brown has a significantly lower OBP. I would put Dom at 8 because he’s one of the worst offensive players in the league. His wOBA is .033 lower than Revere’s and he is 172/174 in rank among qualified hitters. At least Chooch isn’t buried anymore.

  3. whatdoeitmean?

    June 03, 2014 06:14 PM

    Always hear the criticism of Philly having bad “player development.” It’s almost a meme and conveys the obvious message that the pipeline has been dry for some time.

    However, I was just wondering what exactly “player development” mean? Teaching methods, psychological training – what exactly does that mean? I’d venture to guess almost every minor league team is basically doing the same things – read the “cardinals way” manual – it’s about as basic as it gets.

    So if someone can meaningfully break down what exactly “player development” is and what Philly is not doing, I’ll be able to appreciate blog/forum complaints a lot more.

    • Bill Baer

      June 03, 2014 06:59 PM

      Just about every player that comes through the pipeline is flawed in some way. You might have an Aumont who is physically gifted but can’t find the strike zone. You might have a guy with a plus fastball but nothing else. It’s up to the team to recognize those flaws and address them so they’re not prominent by the time gets to the big leagues.

      Now think of every young pitcher to have passed through the Phillies’ system over the last five years, and tell me how many of those made progress? Aumont, Stutes, De Fratus, Bastardo, Schwimer, Rosenberg, Savery. I could go on. I’m not about to blame every single one of the 15 or 20 pitchers to have come up through the system only to sputter. A much more likely — and obvious — explanation is that the Phillies are bad at developing pitchers.

      If you want a comparison, look across the division at the Braves and how they have turned mediocre pitchers into some of the best relievers in baseball (and starters, too). They consistently churn out useful arms whether they’re taken early or late in the draft. The Cardinals are A’s are two more examples of teams that have no issue in this area.

      • edwin

        June 03, 2014 07:08 PM

        Bill I would say those teams seem to pick better prospects in the draft and do develop them better. I think there is only so much you can do when you are picking the right talent to begin with.

      • whatdoeitmean?

        June 03, 2014 08:23 PM

        Thanks for the response. So I guess you’re saying that the Cardinals and A’s have a “magic” (for lack of a better term) method of teaching? This is the part that confuses me – I don’t think any teams are coaching that much differently.Are there many exexamples of players struggling than being fixed up by the Cards/A’s/Braves….I mean ones that didn’t excel in the minors – seems like those teams have better luck at getting good AAAA players into productivemajor lleaguers if anything – that might just mean those teams are willing to give players big league opportunities or just better at trusting minor league stats.

        its just so hard to separate drafting from “development”, especially when the team is known for drafting unpolished toolsy high upside gambles.

        Just seems “player development” would magically improve by drafting more college seniors?

        I just question if the various minor league systems really do things that much different away from the margins.

      • awh™

        June 04, 2014 03:24 PM

        “A much more likely — and obvious — explanation is that the Phillies are bad at developing pitchers.”


        Assuming the Phillies were as good at developing pitchers as any other MLB team, random chance suggests that they should have had a lot more success than they have.

        Bill, the only other explanation – and this might be even more damning – is that they have not drafted guys who ultimately have the talent, ability to learn and adapt, and the makeup to be successful MLB pitchers.

        That would be a tremendous indictment of their amateur scouting prowess, despite their insistence to the contrary.

        I tend to agree with your explanation – that something is amiss in how they are developing these guys.

    • Carmine Spellane

      June 04, 2014 10:55 AM

      How hard is it to comprehend? If, as you say, the Cardinals way manual is so basic, why does it work for them and not other teams, like the Phillies? When you were in school, was every teacher equally great? Or were some better than others? So clearly, some organizations understand that — as Bill said — all players are flawed and raw. Some organizations place more value on hiring good instructors who can teach fundamentals and try to instill a good work ethic. Of course, good drafting helps, which means that scouts and analysts are important too. The Orioles did this very well throughout the 1960s and 70s. And these good organizations feed upon themselves because then retired players who have come through the system go back as instructors or coaches. Starting in 2009, the Phillies seemed to put all their eggs in the basket of trying to catch one more World Series title. I believe that Mike Arbuckle, who lost out to Amaro on the GM job, took some of the organizational talent with him. The result is what we have now.
      It also has to do with an organization’s approach. Oakland pioneered the use of stats to look at the game in an new way and help players utilize their talents. Boston and several others have followed. In 2014, the Phillies hired their first stat person. Talk about behind the times….

  4. edwin

    June 03, 2014 07:05 PM

    I thought I read Phillies demote Amaro…so much for wishful thinking.

  5. adam

    June 03, 2014 08:20 PM

    Wow great chart Bill. Phillies really need to scour the front offices of those teams who consistently turn out players and over pay their personnel to bring them to this organization and apply their development knowledge.

    on another note… Did you hear the latest Fox News report? they’re calling the recent Obama prisoner exchange the worst trade since the Phillies traded Cliff Lee to Seattle for the Aumont package.

  6. George Callanan

    June 04, 2014 06:58 AM

    One of the Phillies owners is an athlete named John Middleton. Like my brother he wrestled in high school. One year at the National Prep School tournament he ended up taking second out of about 120 plus schools. This was really good. During the awards ceremony as he stepped off the podium he took the award off and crushed it with his foot. John does not like losing. As an owner of the Phillies this has got to be killing him. He will lead the ownership to make changes in management and get this franchise back on the right path. For him it is not about making money it’s about winning.

    • Evan

      June 04, 2014 07:44 AM

      Problem is, if he is a minority owner then his words will go by the way side. I also heard that he has the money to become a majority owner, but there are some of the other owners out there that don’t want to sell their shares.

      • George Callanan

        June 05, 2014 07:00 AM

        He is one of many owners but he bought out one of them a few years ago. I believe John Middleton has the largest percentage of stock. He sold his business to Phillip Morris for approx. 3 billion. He knows how to be successful. Let’s hope he can influence the rest of the owners to start over with their management, scouts etc. and get this team on the right track. It will probably take 5 years or more. Their tv contract with Comcast should provide significant cash even though they have significant contracts with many over paid players. We as fans need Mr. Middleton to use his influence, I know as an athlete if he lost he was extremely tough on himself. He is our greatest hope.

  7. Chris S.

    June 04, 2014 09:01 AM

    This whole thing about how the Phillies can’t develop talent makes me think about Brandon Moss. He was in the Phillies organization in 2011 and had a pretty good year in AAA, then the Phillies didn’t bring him back and look who picked him up, the A’s. His career has taken off and he has been a very productive player the last 2 years. Or take Jason Grilli for example he was released by the Phillies also in 2011 and he has turned into a good pitcher for the Pirates. Why couldn’t the Phillies get the same results from these two players that these other teams did? Or maybe the real question is why didn’t they realize the talent they had? These two players would be real nice to have on the current Phillies team.

    • Chris S.

      June 04, 2014 09:07 AM

      Also in addition if we used Grilli as our closer as the Pirates have done we wouldn’t have needed to go get Papelbon for $11 Million a year and we wouldn’t have needed to spend $8 million a year on Byrd. By my calculations that saves us $19M – $5.6M(2014 salaries for Moss and Grilli) = $13.4M to spend else where to strengthen the team.

  8. Tom

    June 04, 2014 09:18 AM

    What’s the precedent for getting rid of guys with awful contracts? Take a guy like Paplebon. Is a guy like that tradeable if you pick up most of his salary? How about others on the team? If a guy is owed 20 mil and your team stinks…if you trade him for a minor leaguer and pay 18 mil…aren’t you saving 2 mil? I know that’s a tall order to ask a team to eat that much but has that been done before by teams? Honest question so please spare the smuggy answers.

  9. glovesdroppa

    June 04, 2014 10:02 AM

    It’s frustrating to see teams like the Braves and Cardinals seemingly churn out big league players left and right despite being in the playoff hunt every year. Yet even our best prospects arrive with extreme flaws (can’t throw strikes, throw home instead of the cutoff man, etc). I would like to see if and when they fire RAJ, they restructure their scouts and minor league instructors.

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