Ruben Amaro claims Phillies fans “don’t understand the game”

Posted by Brian Michael, Tue, May 26, 2015 11:29 AM Comments: 50

UPDATE at 6pm: Ruben Amaro apologizes to fans, via Ryan Lawrence at Philly.com

Ruben Amaro

Fans just don’t understand

In an interview with Jim Salisbury, Phillies GM, Ruben Amaro had some choice words for Phillies fans that don’t agree with the way he’s running the team.

“They don’t understand the game,” Amaro said. “They don’t understand the process. There’s a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don’t have a plan. There’s a plan in place and we’re sticking with the plan. We can’t do what’s best for the fan. We have to do what’s best for the organization so the fan can reap the benefit of it later on. That’s the truth.”

The quote was in reference to a question about the upcoming crop of Phillies prospects and why the team will be conservative with their promotions to the big leagues. Essentially, Ruben himself is bitching at people who second-guess his decision-making. And why shouldn’t fans second-guess as consumers? That is, after all, our role in this multi-billion dollar game of baseball.

If fans, as Ruben claims, don’t understand the Phillies “plan” or “process” that fault lies primarily with him. When has Ruben or the current patrons of the organization outlined a plan for the future? Unlike the Sixers, who have created something like a social contract with fans, the Phillies seem to have been shooting-from-the-hip the previous two seasons. The 2015 season begun with something of a plan in place; but I agree, it is rather opaque and hard to understand. The next two months leading up to the MLB trade deadline should give us another peek into the actual plan. Until then, though, I have to agree with Ruben – fans have no idea what he’s doing. Maybe he should enlighten us.


Phillies Nation: Episode 24 Season Wrap-Up

Posted by Brian Michael, Wed, October 08, 2014 01:22 PM Comments: 0

On the season finale of Phillies Nation, Pat and Corey wrap up the Phillies’ 2014 season. They pinpoint what went wrong in 2014 and offer opinions on who will stay, who will return, and what the Phillies need to do to return to relevance. The guys also draft their 2015 Phillies starting rotation and everyday lineup.

Tommy Greene returns for a final major league pitching tip with his On the Mound segment and Ryann crowns this season’s Batter Inbox champion – it comes down to the wire!

A big thank you goes out to Phillies Nation presenting sponsor BQ Basement Systems, location sponsor Field House Sports & Beer Hall and all this year’s sponsors. Also, a hat tip goes out to the Phillies Nation team and crew at 20/20 Visual Media for their excellent production of the show.
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Vesting Options Killing Phillies Trade Prospects

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Fri, July 18, 2014 12:00 PM Comments: 90

Outfielder Marlon Byrd has been perhaps the Phillies’ finest offensive contributor not named Chase Utley in 2014. Leading the Phillies in homers and slugging, Byrd, at age 36, has remained healthy for the entire season and is putting up numbers comparable to those he had in his turn-back-the-clock 2013 all while being signed at a reasonable contract. Byrd should be an easy flip to a contender even at age 36 because he has provided a powerful bat in a a corner outfield spot while contenders like the Mariners and Royals lack just that. But he’s not.

A report surfaced some time yesterday that the hold-up in Byrd headed to Seattle, which on Sunday, looked like as close to a done deal as you can get without being one, was the fact that Byrd was willing to waive his No Trade Clause to Seattle if the Mariners agreed to pick up his third year option. If you’re like me, you may be asking “Why would you sign a 35-year old player to a two-year contract and mucky it up with a third-year option?” The answer: it is a calling card of the organization. Continue reading Vesting Options Killing Phillies Trade Prospects


The Subtle Dominance of Cole Hamels

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Tue, June 17, 2014 10:30 AM Comments: 2

Last night, Cole Hamels was the victim of a few dinks and dunks in the ninth inning that cost him the win. Hamels, no longer on the mound, watched his teammate Jonathan Papelbon surrender a series of unusually consistent balls that found holes to knot the game up at 1-1. Despite the fact the Phillies eventually would win, the hard luck blown save would cost Hamels his third win of the season.

If last night wasn’t a case study for why the “win” stat should be thrown out the window, I don’t know what is.

In fact, Hamels’ whole season, if not career, has felt like this. Since sputtering out of the gate in his first three starts of 2014, Hamels has won only twice despite posting a 1.56 ERA, a .200 BAA, and 62 strikeouts in 57.2 IP in his last eight starts.

Yet, this is hardly anything new for Hamels. The low win total has led some fans to believe that Hamels isn’t the pitcher he used to be. The truth is, he may be even better.

Continue reading The Subtle Dominance of Cole Hamels


Why Burnett Works in CBP

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Thu, February 13, 2014 07:48 AM Comments: 29

When Phillies Nation posted the news of the Phillies signing of A.J. Burnett to our Facebook page yesterday, it was met with two responses: the wildly original and hilarious “another player to play in Senior Citizen’s Bank park!” response and the “why did the Phillies sign a pitcher when they have a horrible offense?” counter question. I have got no response for the first one other than that Burnett has had two of the best seasons of his career in 2012 and 2013 and that age probably won’t be a factor for him in 2014. The second question has some legitimate depth to it and it is worth exploring.

While everyone assumes the quickest route to fixing the Phillies is through its offense, the tricky part is what spot do you improve? Four-fifths of the Phillies infield is currently locked under some sort of long-ish contract (think Chase Utley, Ryan Howard, and Carlos Ruiz) or protected by no trade clauses (think Jimmy Rollins) and the fifth spot, third base, is the one spot in the infield where the Phillies have a young player worth giving a shot. In the outfield, Domonic Brown and Ben Revere are two young players worth giving a shot to develop and the other corner, right field, is occupied by Marlon Byrd for two years. So even though the Phillies had the 26th best offense in baseball last year, 14th in the National League,  there just isn’t a whole lot of spaces to add offensive production.

So the Phillies, presumably sensing an opportunity, or reacting to the news that Cole Hamels is behind schedule, added a pretty good pitcher to a suddenly barren rotation. Despite having Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels healthy for the entire season in 2013, the Phillies ranked 25th in ERA, 10th in FIP, and 13th in xFIP, while ranking 15th in K/9 IP and 13th in GB%. Burnett is an instant upgrade to all of those metrics.

Continue reading Why Burnett Works in CBP


Tender Frustration and Finding Upside

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, December 04, 2013 08:56 AM Comments: 33

The deadline for tendering contracts has passed and the Phillies have elected to bring back John Mayberry, Kevin Frandsen and Kyle Kendrick. Both Mayberry and Frandsen were solid bets to get non-tendered. Their salaries were likely to outweigh their contributions and there were better uses for Frandsen’s $900K and Mayberry’s $1-$1.5 million.

The Phillies should have non-tendered Mayberry.

That adds up to $2-$2.5 million for two 30+ year old reserves who hit something like .230/.285/.370 last season. Amaro defended his decision by citing their versatility and said there was never any thought to non-tendering either player. There should have been plenty of thought to that effect as Frandsen defined the replacement level while Mayberry fell below.

Mayberry was serviceable when he made the league minimum and showed flashes of being able to hold down a semi-regular role. Those days are gone. He has no upside. He is not going to break out a la Jayson Werth.

Frandsen had a terrific 2012 season driven by a .366 BABIP and he was worth bringing back last year to see if he really had improved. He ended up posting very similar walk, strikeout and isolated power rates but his BABIP fell closer to his career average. His offensive production predictably plummeted. He has no upside. His 2012 campaign was a fluke.

While both players may be versatile, there was absolutely no reason for the Phillies to bring them back. For a team with so much money concentrated in select spots, finding value players with upside is integral to short- and long-term success.

For this Phillies team, two of the spots to use on value players with upside are the ones that Mayberry and Frandsen will once again occupy.

Some have questioned the Marlon Byrd and Carlos Ruiz deals but this is the headscratching decision of the Phillies’ offseason so far.

By bringing back Mayberry and Frandsen the Phillies are exhibiting zero creativity and further illustrating their faulty means of evaluating talent. Whether to retain Kendrick is more complicated but committing to Mayberry and Frandsen is problematic.

Continue reading Tender Frustration and Finding Upside


Should the Phillies Consider Selling High On Brown?

Posted by Eric Seidman, Wed, September 18, 2013 08:00 AM Comments: 31

Domonic Brown entered the season with the promise of regular playing time and promptly delivered all-star caliber production. He hit a robust .290/.326/.613, with 18 homers, during May and June and had a .274/.321/.545 batting line at the end of that stretch. He was finally delivering on his potential and showing why he was untouchable in past deals.

He took major strides forward offensively this season and could have approached 35 home runs if not for a couple nagging injuries. He sacrificed some patience for power, walking just 6.4% of the time, compared to 11.9% in 2011 and 9.9% last season. However, that trade-off was very much necessary, as injuries depleted the Phillies lineup and left him the only serious power threat for much of the year.

Despite his offensive improvement, Brown has only produced 1.7 WAR this year. He has never rated positively in the field and his -7 fielding mark eats away at his bat’s value. Switching positions and lacking consistent playing time in the majors from 2010-12 plays a role, but it’s hard to attribute all of his fielding woes to those circumstances.

He figures to play 140 games this season at 2 WAR. That equates to league average performance over almost a full season, which has value, especially considering his meager salary. He’ll be 27 years old next year, which is the point that players typically begin their peak, so he’s no longer a young prospect finding his way. Aside from that torrid stretch in May and June, he has hit similarly to his batting lines in 2011-12. That isn’t bad, in and of itself, but it invites the question of Brown’s true talent level.

As the Phillies look to retool their roster, it’s interesting to wonder whether Brown might benefit them more as a trade chip than as a building block. He is young and cheap enough to attract suitors and is major league ready. Retooling teams don’t often trade talented and cost-controlled assets, but in Brown’s case it’s worth asking whether the team would be selling high by pursuing a trade this offseason. If the answer is yes, should the Phillies consider unloading Brown while the iron is hot?

Continue reading Should the Phillies Consider Selling High On Brown?


Revisiting Our Offseason Plans

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, September 13, 2013 09:00 AM Comments: 9

Last November, Pat Gallen, Corey Seidman, Ian Riccaboni and I separately presented our roster plans for the 2013 Phillies. None of us truly believed the Phillies were a contender, but with our suggested acquisitions and some positive breaks, they might have a shot. With only a few weeks left in the season it seems as good a time as any to review our plans.

It’s interesting to note that the four of us agreed on an awful lot – we collectively selected 17 of the 25 roster spots. This was indicative of the few areas the Phillies could toy with. On one hand, agreement on 68% of the roster could suggest that the Phillies didn’t need to alter chunks of the roster or dole out even more lucrative deals. On the other hand, several of those 17 players were already signed to lucrative deals that could have prevented the team from properly filling the remaining spots.

Our starting rotations were identical across the board: Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Cole Hamels, Kyle Kendrick and Vance Worley. These plans were published prior to Worley’s trade to Minnesota, but, at that time, we all felt the Phillies rotation was set. They didn’t need to go out and sign a Dan Haren or Ryan Dempster. If the big three were healthy, and Kendrick continued improving, the rotation was solid.

We also agreed on Carlos Ruiz as the primary catcher with Erik Kratz backing him up. Chooch was coming off of his best season and it was a no-brainer to exercise his meager club option. Kratz, while not that solid of a defender, had hit for enough power to merit the backup role. It didn’t make sense to have one of the prospects back Ruiz up since consistent playing time is integral to their development.

Though there were question marks surrounding the infield triumvirate’s ability to remain both healthy and effective, we all agreed on Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Jimmy Rollins at their respective positions. Freddy Galvis, Domonic Brown, Darin Ruf and John Mayberry all made our teams as well, with Brown as a clear starter and Ruf getting more playing time than Galvis and Mayberry. It was also abundantly clear that Jonathan Papelbon wasn’t going anywhere, and our bullpens all included Antonio Bastardo and Jeremy Horst.

Third base, however, was the first area in which we really presented different plans.

Continue reading Revisiting Our Offseason Plans


Chooch and the Qualifying Offer

Posted by Eric Seidman, Fri, September 06, 2013 11:14 AM Comments: 20

The Phillies have a multitude of roster-related problems to solve this offseason, as Ian Riccaboni pointed out, but the catching situation is perhaps the most interesting. Carlos Ruiz is set to become a free agent, and while his early struggles rendered his return less likely, his .330/.375/.536 line since August 1 makes him an attractive option. While prospects Tommy Joseph and Sebastian Valle have disappointed, Cameron Rupp earned a September call-up, Gabriel Lino posted decent context-neutral numbers in Low-A as a 20-year old, and the Phils are very high on second-round pick Andrew Knapp.

It’s possible that Rupp or Knapp seizes the catching reins as soon as 2015 but that still leaves next year as a question mark. While the Phillies have been major players in free agency in recent years, the upcoming catching crop is fairly thin, and is loaded with career backups. Trades for starting catchers are also fairly rare.

Everything considered, the ideal situation is to retain Carlos Ruiz on a short-term basis.

Continue reading Chooch and the Qualifying Offer


Them Cheatin’ Phillies

Posted by Ian Riccaboni, Mon, August 05, 2013 05:46 PM Comments: 6


As you all know, Phillies left-handed reliever Antonio Bastardo accepted a 50-game suspension today for his involvement with Biogenesis, a sports nutrition firm now known for producing and selling banned substances to Major League Baseball players. The series of suspensions are unprecedented: players were confronted with overwhelming evidence and accepted suspensions instead of being suspended for failing tests.

And as you all may also know, I went on record in the winter that the Phillies should have explored signing Alex Rodriguez in the event he would have had his contract with the New York Yankees voided and that I was very disappointed that no players from the supposed Steroid Era of baseball were elected to the Hall of Fame this year. I am not a steroid apologist or a defender of those who used steroids. I will never use the phrase “everyone was doing it” but I do believe the epidemic was and likely is too expansive to include or exclude players in the Hall of Fame.

Continue reading Them Cheatin’ Phillies

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