General Discussion – Week of 3-17-2014 – Green Jersey Edition

Yes, it’s that time of year, again. Last year they used Ryan O’Sullivan on St. Pat’s, and I was kinda hoping just for the sake of the brothers saying they pitched together in a big league-ish game that they’d use Sean and Ryan today, but alas, Sean is actually battling for a roster spot, (I guess), so he went on his regular turn yesterday. Maybe we’ll still see Ryan again today, but it’s less cool.

Also wondering what other MiLB guys we may get a look at here the last couple weeks. We’ve seen Hector Neris a couple times the last few years, wouldn’t be surprised to see someone similar, like a reliever-only A+/AA level kind of guy – maybe Neifi Ogando or Colt Murray or someone like that – hard throwers that could move up the system if they get results.

And lastly for our discussions, you may have seen from http://philliesinsider.mlblogs.com/2014/03/17/day-off-tomorrow/ that there were a couple more cuts – OFs Hilton Richardson, Johnathan Knight; RHPs Geoff Broussard, Karl Gelinas and LHP Braden Shull.

Bummed to see Knight go, if for no other reason than his mom, Kim, has been on the site regularly and seems like a nice person, (and a good photographer as well – her Flickr here http://www.flickr.com/photos/philliemom/), plus it’s easy to root for a 49th round pick. Shull is a name I have been waiting to see on a cut list for a while now. He’d barely seen the field in his nearly 3 years with the org. Shame.

Discuss.

47 thoughts on “General Discussion – Week of 3-17-2014 – Green Jersey Edition

  1. Didn’t even realize Gelinas was there (which basically means I probably read about it when it happened, saw his age, then filed it under “who cares”)

    Shame about Knight though – nice guy, and his mom does post some pretty good pictures and videos.

  2. I agree, good luck Kim to Jon, I hope he catches on somewhere else. But I knew that had to cut OFs because they have so many of them. You guys notice that Cozens played CF yesterday?

    1. Well leave it to Grantland for the contrarian take.

      Mind you, they aren’t wrong. But as the article says in conclusion “It says something that Amaro’s reputation is such that “he hasn’t actively made things worse” clears the bar of expectations, but he hasn’t, and it does.” That’s damning with faint praise. And:

      (1) At the end of the day, I still don’t trust his talent judgment, and
      (2) In today’s financial environment, a mediocre front office and top 5 financial resources aren’t enough.

      At the end of the day, mediocre is the best thing you can say about Amaro. I don’t think he rises to that level, but even if he does, that isn’t good enough.

      (Insert disclaimer here that one can apportion some of the blame to the ownership. At the end of the day, though, that just changes the focus of responsibility. It doesn’t make the future brighter. If anything, the opposite.)

      1. Of course it doesn’t make the future brighter. It makes it bleaker. Recognizing the impact of the ownership upon team philosophy and strategy does give the full picture, however. It explains why so many GMs have done dumb things and/or had problems here and why the team so often finds itself resorting to stupid explanations. Trying to justify the inexplicable will leave the best of us looking like asses.

        1. I hear you. You know that I think you go too far in blaming ownership though. That said, the BEST argument that you can make for ownership is that they make poor hiring decisions in terms of upper management. I’m not sure that that is terribly reassuring.

          I don’t put too much weight on the stupid things that management say – at least the KIND of stupid comments that you are referring to – for that very reason. Plenty of other evidence IMO of management’s deficiencies.

          Somewhat off topic, but I find the comments about Rollins coming from management a gray area. Taken at face value, certainly stupid. But if what’s going on is simply an attempt to either (a) justify sitting Rollins enough prevent his contract vesting, and/or (b) convince him to accept a trade .. well, that’s smart I guess from a rebuilding perspective, though still kind of a shabby way to treat the best shortstop in franchise history.

          But if they REALLY believe the lack of leadership crap … oy. That’s frightening. As Sandberg has conceded, he always shows up in great shape. THAT’S all I really need to see from him in terms of leadership. That and his generally positive attitude; he seems like a really good clubhouse guy.

    2. Bauman’s closing summary, ‘.If he continues to not make things worse, the Phillies will start to trend upward in a year or two. And if that happens, Amaro’s patience will likely save his job, which no longer sounds like the worst-case scenario it did two years ago.last two sentence ‘,……….I believe that will be a reach to get to 2016. If they fail miserably this year, Ruben will probably exit the GM office.

      1. I disagree. All the words coming from management/ownership suggest that they fully expect to fail miserably this season. Saying RAJ will be gone if the Phillies do poorly in 2014 is like saying the coach and GM of the Sixers will be gone if they don’t turn around the current season.

        1. Then you must believe they are in a ‘rebuild’ mode. All know what Hinkie’s motive is…he more or less laid out the plan at the trade deadline. As of now, t Amaro has not gone that route Come July that could change..
          Incidentally, in what way have you heard Monty or Amaro say or imply ‘that they fully expect to fail miserably this season’.
          From what I have witnessed, Monty and Amaro are the only two mngt/ownership execs who speak on any authoritative level about the Phillies at the major league level in a quasi ‘state of the union’ blurb.

          1. They are in ‘stealth rebuild’ mode. Not trading talent or spending big, hanging onto their draft picks, hoping the talent on the farm matures into something, while they wait for some big contracts to go away. They have tickets to sell in the first 2/3 of the season, so you won’t hear the R word, but that’s where we are.

            Monty speaks of fielding a team of recognizable players and hoping things eventually come together, not of winning in 2014. Just about everyone in the org repeats the line ‘the Phillies will contend if everything breaks right’. Well, contending isn’t winning and we already know that everything won’t break right — Hamels will miss at least a month, Papelbon is only throwing his FB 90-91 mph, and Stutes is still hurt. So, even if our hitters and the rest of the pitchers break right, we’ve taken some lumps already. This is all code for ‘we ain’t winning in 2014, but we still gotta’ sell tickets.’

            I think it has been clear to all that the team hasn’t exactly gone all out the past two winters and really has yet to replace the salary-dumped Pence and Victorino.

            In years not to long past, RAJ would have jumped at the chance to lose our second rounder to sign a comped FA. Nary a bite this winter. He wants to rebuild with the draft picks. The team is even spending more $ in Latin America the last two years. Management was apoplectic about Wexler not signing, because it was an important lost draft pick that could help the rebuild. Wouldn’t have fretted, certainly wouldn’t have ratted the guy out in years past.

    3. It seems largely like sarcasm. RAJ isn’t the worst because he isn’t actually trying to do anything at the moment. Hard to make severe blunders when you are just trying to sit in place and hope against hope that a subpar farm quickly disgorges enough talent to make a difference or that more fat contracts expire. He didn’t credit him for being anything more than a not-the-worst in do-little mode.

  3. Just look at the general discussion section here to realize how far and fast the Phils have fallen. Only 15 comments in 48 hours. There would have been 150 in that same span 2 yrs ago. Sad really. I love the Phils and I have no hope for this season. Maybe I will be presently surprised. Maybe they will have a turn back the clock night, every night…

    1. I was just thinking the same thing. I love Baseball and the Phils, but I have nothing but a sick feeling for this season. A real train wreck is brewing, and the steam to even complain has gone. I am hoping a Cozens or Pullin or anyone has a terrific season to provide something to be excited about besides the top 3 prospects.

  4. The criticism of RAJ that I find most unfair/ignorant is the plea to just “tear it down and rebuild.” This isn’t fantasy baseball. He is running a business. You all like to hate on RAJ/owners for this inconvenient truth. But they own a team and we don’t for a reason. And that reason is they know how to run a business. Keeping the team in contention every year while you restock minors is the ONLY option. A Red Sox style retool is not an option because Howard is not Gonzalez. Hindsight on the Howard deal is easy, but he was a top player at the time. So if your are going to be critical, I only ask that you frame your complaints with a basic understanding of the finances involved.

    1. Needless to say, despite being a critic of Amaro, I agree with most of this. But the Howard contract, even with facts available at the time, was indefensible. I agree that he fact that it looks even worse now than it did then isn’t ADDITIONAL reason to hate on Amaro – but most of the decline was entirely foreseeable.

    2. I think the best thing you can say about the Howard contract is that, given the marketplace, it may not matter THAT much. Where are they going to spend the money? In the FA market? That would mean either (a) overpaying for a “star” player that will/would have cost you a draft pick, or (b) signing a couple of lower priced vets without a draft pick attached. The latter option would of course make the team better, but not really change the long term picture.

      Still … I keep coming back to the fact that he’s signed through 2016. Oy.

    3. Except they haven’t kept the team in contention. The Phillies weren’t in contention the past two years and it is highly unlikely that they will be this season. I’ve never advocated ‘just rip it all down’, but really going with the two Youngs and Adams last season yielded no more wins than the team would have had going with our own kids and AAAA and other dumpster dives. With the easy bonuses to Delmon, neither Young was cheap and we gave up a promising relief pitcher. I’m an advocate of fill one hole well, with an eye to the future, if that’s all you can afford in a particular off-season. I think the RAJ approach to sort-of, kind-of filling every hole with an iffy vet is something that neither keeps the team in contention, conserves resources, or helps the future one whit. It is smoke and mirrors in an attempt to deceive some fans and sell some extra tickets. I don’t think this is the only way to sell tickets. If the Phillies were half as creative in conveying cause for hope in younger players as they were with the career-dead Youngs and the injured Adams, they would have had as good attendance as they actually achieved last season. The YOungs and Adams were hardly fan favorites and I don’t think many of us were fooled into thinking they would make the Phillies 2013 contenders. Adding two immobile defensive liabilities, while decrying the defensive shortcomings of Ruf, just left many of us shaking our heads. I’m not suggesting Ruf was a good, or even an adequate, defensive OF, but neither was Delmon.

      1. There is IMO a difference between last year’s moves and this year’s moves. Last year’s moves aren’t terribly defensible, this year’s are. Even last year’s moves are bad more for the light they shine on the team’s talent evaluation. At the end of the day, the Young’s didn’t cost much in terms of the team’s future.

        The elephant in the room is the dearth of talent in the upper minors. Preferring that they play replacement level young players over tired vets is an aesthetic preference only.

        1. To me, Boston is the basis of comparison. They had the 1 lousy year where they sold off contracts, then won the WS. Drafted low like the Phils, but have a significantly better farm system. Our economics are very similar. I am not a tear down/rebulid fan, but they needed to do a much better job of picking talent. And, when they had a financial advantage over most teams, they stuck to the Selig slot “suggestions”, which was inexcusable. And, their 1 big trade, Cliff Lee, yielded zilch, not the front line player/s a trade like that should have gotten us.

      2. I mean, it would be nice if they had an Oakland A’s level ability to find gems off the discard pile. But that’s a rare talent – really who else other than the A’s is consistently good at that?

        Really the strategy over the past two years is more than defensible, if the execution is sometimes lacking.

        It does, though, tie into what I wrote yesterday – even making the best case you can for the Phillie’s organization, what we have is mediocrity. What we should be shooting for is an edge – the kind of organizational edge that franchises like Oakland and Boston and Tampa Bay and St. Louis (among others) have.

          1. Why? Which part don’t you agree with?

            Look, the whole Moneyball thing has distorted and, to some extent, exaggerated, the success of the A’s. Goodness knows it isn’t a perfect organization. But, given severe financial constraints, what they have done over the past decade and a half is astonishing. I know I’ve argued elsewhere that the Phillies’ financial advantages have less salience these days, but (a) that wasn’t the case for much of the past decade and a half, and (b) for the few franchises with the lowest revenue, the constraints continue to be very significant. The playing field has been leveled for most franchises, but not for the truly low revenue franchises.

            As for the ability to pick up valuable players for essentially nothing, I think the A’s ability to do so is hardly in dispute. I don’t buy that that’s all luck.

            1. This is just my opinion but let’s take the A’s and the Ray’s. I cannot applaud those organizations just because they have financial constraints. I think those two teams are cowards and they hide behind that fact and use a woe is me ploy. Don’t get me wrong I acknowledge they have done a nice job of drafting but when it comes to their player signs those are low risk bottom feeder moves and not any type of an edge as is your opinion. It’s not like they are taking James Loney in Lieu of Prince Fielder. They do it because that is all they are willing to pay and in a no expectation city they don’t get hassled if it goes bad.

              The Red Sox I think are your model franchise. They have both resources and a widely held belief in advanced metrics hence having BJ on the payroll but again they are not without their warts. You can’t erase the history of a few years back.

              The Cardinals too have done a nice a job of late but again let’s not forget how the Angels and Arte Moreno came to their rescue with the Pujols signing. They were prepared to do with Pujols an equally bad contract and that is fact. So let’s just admit they got a lot lucky with what transpired there.

              There are a ton of moves that make sense on paper and are defendable until put into practice. I don’t think it matters if org philosophy weighs more on scouting or analytics. It’s a myth a unicorn.

              With regard to the Phillies I’ve said they have a problem with scouting no doubt and specifically I think it is whoever they are using to scout the North West region or that guy is on a bad run.

            2. DMAR, we’ll just need to agree to disagree on some of this. But your failure to give the A’s and (to a somewhat lesser extent) the Rays more credit is a head scratcher.

              Over the past 15 years the A’s have the fifth most wins in baseball. Given payroll constraints, that’s truly astonishing. Sample size is much too big for that to be anything other than a sign of great organizational strength.

              Tampa Bay’s record of success is shorter, so in that sense they have a weaker argument. Yet I am pretty sure that their financial constraints are even greater, and they really seem to have a Midas touch. Very, very few questionable moves over the past few years. Loney may not have been their first choice, but he ended up being a great signing. Luck? Viewed in isolation, you could argue that. But almost all of their moves end up working out. Just remarkable. They are second in wins over the past 6 years.

              And of course the Phillies’ are third in wins in that time frame, so I’m certainly not saying that wins are the only criteria. I would say this, in terms of explaining the Phillies’ success over that time frame:

              (1) Obviously it’s mostly irrelevant to Amaro, who took over after the WS year and inherited a team with a ton of prime age talent.

              (2) Financial resources over that time frame … I don’t have an easy way to check, but probably third, certainly top 5 – helped maintain the success past the WS win.

              (3) The fact that four of the farm system’s five best products over the past 30 years came up in a 6 year period is a big reason for the team’s success, and arguably should be put down at least partially to good luck.

              (4) The team had good success – luck or skill, hard to say which – in getting an unusual amount of free talent in the middle of the past decade (primarily Werth and Victorino).

            3. I do agree that there is too much weight placed on analytics versus traditional scouting (while still contending that the best organizations should use both).

              But IMO the problem with the Phillies is that they don’t do a very good job of traditional scouting/evaluation/development. At least not in recent years. I would agree that not all of the blame for that should be placed on Amaro.

    4. And to belabor the obvious — prior to the last two years, they also didn’t restock the minors.

  5. I should be taking care of my long to do list before my vacation next week, but one quick comment expanding upon my prior comments on the Rollins situation.

    IF the organization is sincere in the “leadership” comments, that’s a poor reflection on the organization. I know some disagree, but we’ve argued the point to death & there is no point revisiting it.

    The more interesting assumption is that the leadership comments are simply the organization positioning itself to trade Rollins or to bench him enough to avoid his contract vesting. Despite being a huge Rollins fan, I’m at least somewhat sympathetic to the goal here – not so much because I think they’ll get much for him or that replacing him with Galvis will help the team this year or in the future, but mainly because I don’t really want to see the contract vest for 2015.

    But it’s a shabby way to go about achieving the goal. Look, baseball is a business, and I wouldn’t blame the Phillies for trading him any more than I’d blame Rollins for vetoing a trade. But the “leadership” nonsense is just a shabby way to treat the best shortstop in franchise history.

      1. Jimmy this morning says:
        Rollins, who has a full no-trade clause, was relaxed when discussing the matter and didn’t seem irritated for one simple reason.
        “Because they can’t trade me,” he said. “It doesn’t matter. I don’t care which way it has tried to be twisted or said, if it is exactly how it was said or if it was said, I can’t be traded.”

        Amaro showed much greater anger when addressing the issues.
        “It’s absolutely silly, It’s absolute silliness. Jimmy Rollins is our shortstop,” Amaro said. “One of the ways we’re going to be able to win is with Jimmy being Jimmy. In fact, those are the kinds of articles that get thrown out there, not only are they a distraction, they’re dangerous and they’re untrue.”

  6. Those of you that follow my posts may consider me to be a RAJ apologist and I don’t consider that to be unfair. I know the family a little and I like them personally so having said there are moves that definitely went awry. But that happens all over. Pay close attention to what happens in Detroit this year. Big Dave took some big risks and has already seen some bad luck come out of it.

    I’m also not happy with the Rollins situation. Jimmy has always stayed true to himself and we all called it swagger when this team was just starting to make it’s presence felt Citing leadership is a veil IMO. Heck Utley has been criticized for not being the type of leader most envision a leader should be. Asking Jimmy to be a different person today is unfair to Jimmy.

    Ryne is in a tough spot. His managerial career has years ahead of him and I get that he doesn’t plan to hitch his wagon to Jimmy’s me style of play.

    My aim has always been to give context to what a GM is by pointing out the goings on around the league. The league is filled with GM’s with flawed strategy, flawed ownership, flawed markets, flawed scouting you name it. Most of all luck whether bad or good. As much as you want it to be analytics or genius it mostly boils down to being lucky or unlucky.

    If you choose to get out of the fish bowl of the Phillies you would clearly see this. There are many cities worse off than we are and when you consider we as fans only get to see a fraction of the information that is actually discussed and proposed the honest among you would have to admit to being foolish.

    Case in point is the Howard and Rollins contracts. Arguably these are two of the most prominent African American players to have ever put on the red pin stripes. If you know your history and you know your context the Phillies were much maligned for not fielding enough African American players. RAJ was in a no win situation with those contracts. He had to do them or risk a different type of backlash and even if he was comfortable with that I doubt the ownership group was.

    As a board we should strive to dig deeper and not flame the guy. Be critical and question yes but stop short of being personal. The guy knows the game and like any player or manager will mature into the role over time.

    1. DMAR, not to repeat old arguments, but let perhaps re-frame this:

      Yes, all GMs make mistakes, and luck is involved, but there ARE differences in front office quality. At the risk of over simplifying, I would divide front offices into 3 categories:

      5 to 10 top flight organizations
      10 to 20 “average” organizations
      5 to 10 below average organizations

      Because of the “luck” factor, there is a blurring between the three categories. There are probably 5 organizations which I’d put squarely in the top category. Several other maybe. (e.g., do the Rangers belong there? Plenty of arguments for, a few against). Also a couple organizations the data isn’t in yet. (e.g., will the Cubs and Astros be able to turn things around?)

      The best possible case one can make for Amaro and the Phillies organization is that they are :”average.” I don’t buy it, but I could be wrong. But no one can argue that they are in the Atlanta/St. Louis/Oakland/Tampa Bay/Boston category – and yes, those guys make mistakes too, but not many, and no one is as lucky as those guys would have to be to explain their success (especially considering the severe financial limitations of two of those franchises) otherwise.

      IMO mediocre isn’t good enough. I want them to hire the next John Mozeliak.

    2. And the Rollins contract is absolutely defensible(though I would bet that they could have gotten it done without the vesting year.

      Howard’s is not, even given the team’s history.

      On the vesting years generally, it is an annoying tick on Amaro’s part. Someone wrote a joking dialog about him trying to get Burnett to agree to a vesting second year. This was before he actually signed with the team. The joke, of course, was that Burnett was adamant that he only wanted to pitch one year.

      The real joke, of course, is that Burnett ended up with … a vesting second season. (okay, it isn’t a classic vesting second year, but structurally it is).

      (No, I don’t hold the Burnett deal up as a serious criticism of Amaro – I liked the signing – but it IS funny.)

    3. I don’t think he’s been a horrible GM, but there are a few things he’s done that just totally f**ked it up for me.

      The big complaint about the phillies before the recent run was a lack of spending, this has clearly been addressed atleast at the major league level, but let me give my top reasons for thinking poorly of ownership and the GM (hard to assign blame to just one since ownership is clearly, and inappropriately involved in the day to day operations).

      1. 2009-today – Phillies refused to significantly overspend (above slot/allocation) in the draft and international markets when that was there only way for them to properly replenish the farm. They lost sign of the long term view even as they traded away a significant portion of their top prospects in what resulted in a failed attempt at a second WS.

      2. The Ryan Howard contract, yes I know… it was the market rate, yes I know it turned out far worse then we could have imagined (and most people at the time thought it was an over-pay) but the bottom line is there were several reason to think that we’d already gotten the best of Ryan, and that anything going forward was going to be a misallocation of resources. I do get that it may not have mattered becuase there were no good free agents to replace him with, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was a poor contract.

      3. The phillies are one of the franchises most resistant to accepting the new age of statistics in baseball, this is further exemplified by the insistance on an “aggressive” approach to go with their apathy towards taking a walk. (There have been a number of quotes over the years where I’ve heard either Amaro or someone in phillies management spouting off some of the most uneducated crap to come from the mouths of a front office, stuff far more suited to the philly.com message boards.) The team should really do more to try and stay ahead of the curve. This point is less about their embrace of statistics and more a knock on their general inability to even attempt to be on the cutting edge and gain competitive advantages over other clubs.

      4. Outting the two NCAA prospects… big mistake, not that I think the two prospects weren’t violating the rules, they were, and i honestly don’t give a hoot about them or their future, but because it could potentially impact the ability of this franchise to recruit top talent in the future. Silly decision.

      Ok I’m done.

    4. I’m nor really down on RAJ, I think he did what he needed to do at the MLB level up to 2012 and built a very strong team. It’s on bad luck in a short series and Manuel and the players not rising to the occasion in post-season that we don’t have a second title. Each of RAJ’s teams, prior to 2012, was stronger than the 2008 team. That said, there are some really big dings on RAJ. The shorting of the farm prior to arguably the last two seasons is fairly inexcusable. Giving Howard that contract two years early is inexcusable. I think Adams and the Youngs are fairly close to inexcusable. I am not nearly as cheery as Larry is on what the Byrd signing will look like in 2015 or the Ruiz deal in 2016. I’ve bee on record saying both that the signings help the team in 2014 and that 2014 really isn’t the year management should be focusing on. To help 2014 at the expense of 2016 isn’t a tradeoff I would make.

      1. I’m finding this increasingly upsetting. Of course we don’t know who the source was – at least for the recent, anonymous comments, though Bowa and Sandberg have been depressingly on the record with comments that are not much better.

        In fairness to Amaro, his comments in support of Rollins were pretty strong, and IMO indicate that he was not the source of, or in the loop regarding, the anonymous quote.

        If anything, I think my various defenses of Rollins don’t go far enough. This isn’t a case of denying the importance of “intangibles.” That’s a subject for another debate. The problem here is that Rollins is a fantastic example of a good make up guy. Really he and Utley are a wonderful example of two different approaches that both work – and what they have in common is a great personal work ethic, and a strong desire to win.

        1. Rollins’ has not been very tactful in thngs he has said….from the prediction of ‘flat-out’winning the division years ago in the face of the Mets to ‘I want to stay to to get the records’ to yesterday’s comment s about ‘they cannot trade me’.and even the statement – though it is obvious- about not running out the infield pop-ups the past two years under Charlie.
          Sometimes this just fuels the fire. A little diplomacy could help his cause.

  7. Vanimal now available….perhaps Ruben needs to talk to his agent. Apparently MAG will be shut down for awhile with the shoulder ailment, joining the rest of the ‘shoulder club’.

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