The best result for the Philadelphia Phillies from spring training was the winner of the outfield competition: Domonic Brown. Looking ahead to 2014, the red pinstripes will count on his production.
From camp he was one of six athletes, promoted or acquired. How many of the other five players are in tomorrow’s picture?
This article represents the thinking of a baseball man in my opinion. Most fans do not consider the budget, prospects on the radar, the organization’s weaknesses, the track record, the competition and the other intangibles.
There will be a published storyline or two per week.
A number of the faithful have decided Ruben Amaro Jr. is the reason for this dismal year, but where were his obvious mistakes?
The offseason began with five holes to fill and $24 million before the competitive-balance threshold of $178 million, according to a self tally from Cot’s Baseball Contracts. The returning regulars were Carlos Ruiz, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins. The familiar arms were Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, Kyle Kendrick, Vance Worley, Jonathan Papelbon and Antonio Bastardo. The glaring openings were a eighth-inning setup man, a third baseman and three outfielders. $24 million–or approximately $5 million for each spot–does not buy much was the original thinking here.
Bob Ford of the Philadelphia Inquirer wrote that the front office did not provide a competent bullpen and bench to replace the disabled pros. However, it is an almost impossible task to have a backup plan for every major cog in the dugout.
December is usually a very active period for the head honcho, and the final month of 2012 was no exception. Amaro added Michael Young, Ben Revere, John Lannan and Mike Adams to the roster. He traded Josh Lindblom to the Rangers, while Worley and Trevor May went to the Twins. However, other than Young, the two inked hurlers and the center fielder provided only half a summer on the diamond.
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Waiting for Cody Asche’s arrival, the Phillies utilized the veteran third sacker as a stopgap for this campaign. That stated, Young’s days as a .300 hitter are over but he’s still a productive star. Meanwhile, Lindblom has spent most of his time at Triple-A Round Rock except for call-up starts.
The other options were Kevin Youkilis with 105 at-bats for the season and–now retired–Scott Rolen. The Phils paid $6 million of the remaining $7.6 million on Young’s deal, while Texas remains responsible for the deferred $15 million on that contract. The general manager got the better of this swap.
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Amaro also had the upper hand with the acquisition of Revere. After a slow April, the fleet-footed personality raised his average to .305 before his injury. Meanwhile, Worley worked his way back to Triple-A Rochester before June, and May has done nothing to earn a promotion. The other possibilities were Josh Willingham and Cody Ross, who each visited the DL for three months, while Ryan Ludwick just began his season. Meantime, BJ Upton has been a $15 million loss for ’13.
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Judging by the numbers, the signings of Lannon and Adams were not a total disaster. Although they were only healthy for half a tour, the alternatives weren’t the answer either. Brandon Lyon has been at Pawtucket since early July, and Wilton Lopez has been shaky in Colorado. Adams, on the other hand, will be a difference-maker in 2014 if he can stay on the field.
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In late January, Delmon Young joined the squad and produced statistics similar to his 162 for the Tigers. Considering the cost of $750,000 dollars plus incentives, Delmon was a bargain. Meanwhile, Chad Durbin was a bust at $1.35 million. On the other hand, the warning-track patrol yielded Brown’s All-Star year, and he should raise his average to .290 next summer.
The overwhelming theme is another injury-riddled campaign to key pieces that age makes more possible: Howard, Halladay and Adams missed significant time with less production because of their maladies. On the other hand, Lee, Utley, Rollins, 3B Young and Ruiz suffered only minimal setbacks.
Teams make stretch-run trades in July or August due to shortcomings, injuries, playoff chances and the personnel of their divisional or wild-card rivals.
The Phils wanted to keep stars who are under contract beyond this season, and their available talent had demand problems. Texas was looking for a right-handed outfielder, and their former fan favorite was only a secondary plan, which never resulted in a bid for him. The Yankees were on the edge of contention, only wanted an infielder on either corner, and Alex Rodriguez was about to return with a suspension appeal likely, which equaled an insignificant offer. Needing most of their minor league chips for pitching, Boston required help in the rotation and the relief corps, which meant a lesser proposal than New York’s.
After turning down his best July offer for Michael from the Yankees, Amaro realized his low-risk gamble would net a decent prospect for his versatile veteran when a contender developed a last-minute emergency or required protection from one.
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The pecking order for pitchers is starter, closer and reliever with few exceptions: Boston made Jonathan Papelbon their hammer out of need only. Teams turn rotation misses into bullpen arms: Ryan Madson excelled at Triple-A Lehigh Valley but did not for the parent club. Also, southpaws have a higher value than their right-handed teammates.
The Yankees’ offer was Tommy Kahnle, who has worked in relief his entire career and has 15 saves for Double-A Trenton. The Red Sox traded Nefi Ogando for John McDonald, and the youngster did not succeed as a starter even at the lowest rungs. For the Dodgers, Rob Rasmussen struggled at Triple-A Albuquerque before his demotion to his prior plateau, but he has flourished there again and will continue at that level for Double-A Reading. In other words, Amaro was willing to pay $1 million for the August services of infielder Young and receive a better prospect.
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