Evaluation from the Inside

The Phillies say they assess everything in the offseason from the 40-man roster to the Minor League system to the coaching staff.

Even the scouting department.

“Just like in any other part of our organization, everybody is being evaluated,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Everybody.”

Even himself?

“Oh, I would think so,” he said.

Every organization has hits and misses throughout the year: good and bad free agent signings, good and bad trades, a player released that should not have been released, a player that got promoted that surprised everybody, etc.

The trick is minimizing the misses.

The Phillies have had some misses lately. They released right-hander Jason Grilli in July 2011. He had a 1.93 ERA in Triple-A Lehigh Valley at the time. He signed with the Pirates, and had a 2.91 ERA in 64 appearances this season. They acquired outfielder John Bowker from the Pirates in Aug. 2011, considering him a better bench option than Lehigh Valley outfielder Brandon Moss. Bowker went hitless in 13 at-bats, while Moss, who had a fantastic season in Lehigh Valley, signed a contract with Oakland in December. He has hit .287 with 21 home runs, 47 RBIs and a .947 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in 258 at-bats this season. They signed Laynce Nix to a two-year, $2.5 million deal in December, despite the fact he had never signed a big-league contract before and had a lengthy history of injuries. They signed Chad Qualls in January, despite terrible splits away from PETCO Park. He stunk, and the Phillies traded him to the Yankees on July 1. And one wonders why they did not have legitimate interest in somebody like Josh Willingham, who looks like a steal with the three-year, $21 million contract he signed with the Twins.

Now, the Phillies signed Juan Pierre to a Minor League contract, which was a big bargain. He has hit .310 with 37 stolen bases and has been a positive presence in the clubhouse. They acquired left-hander Jeremy Horst from Cincinnati for Wilson Valdez in the offseason, which looks like an absolute steal. Horst is 2-0 with a 1.19 ERA in 31 appearances, while Valdez (but … but … but … he was the team MVP in 2010!) is hitting .203 with a .458 OPS with the Reds. Other Minor League free agent signings like Kevin Frandsen and Erik Kratz played well enough that they could be on next season’s Opening Day roster. The signings of Jonathan Papelbon and Jimmy Rollins also worked out well in their first seasons, although a contract can never truly be judged until the end. But Papelbon did his job, and Rollins will finish among the top third of shortstops in baseball in OPS.

“We evaluate all those things,” Amaro said of the good and bad moves. “We don’t hit on every single guy. At the same time I think we’ve done a very good job hitting on most. I have a great deal of trust in Mike Ondo, who heads up our pro scouting staff. He’s as thorough and as good as there is. I think Mike and his people did a great job at the Trade Deadline. We got some very, very good players. We came away with some players that we believe really helped our organization and are going to make some impact on our club pretty soon.

“Listen, we’re talking about human beings here. When you try to make moves that you think will work out and don’t for whatever reason, a lot of the stuff is not under your control. I feel pretty confident in the people that we employ to be the eyes and ears of our organization. I think we have as good a group of people in our baseball ops department as any club in baseball.”

One thing is certain: the Phillies need more hits this offseason. They need to find the next Willingham. They need to sign a relief pitcher or two where, unlike Qualls, they don’t have to cross their fingers and hope things break right for them to have good seasons. They need to find the right solution at third base, despite almost no attractive options.

12 Comments

Todd, you didn’t even mention Ruben trading Shane Victorino and the most productive player up to that point, Hunter Pence, at a critical time when the Phillies most needed them.

That may have cost the Phillies their pass into the playoffs this year, but excellent points on all of the other moves. Yes, Amaro should be examined very closely for the gaffs he’s done with this team this year.

Maybe he thought that by moving two of the guys who were producing and keeping Mayberry and Brown, the continuous tandem that the Phillies just don’t want to part with, he’d make the team better…

The Phillies are 10-11 in the 21 games Cliff Lee has allowed three runs or less this year. This also may have cost the Phillies their pass into the playoffs this year.

Mayberry and Brown were both more productive than Victorino and Pence after the trade.

Rating Ruin Tomorrow Junior on his tenor with the Phillies – F. The Phillies have experienced a steady descent during his tenure. He has taken a WS club down to just about a .500 club in 4 years. He should be the poster boy in every locker room of small market clubs as to why money is not everything. It has to be supplemented with baseball acumen in order to win. Baseball acumen is a commodity in short supply when it comes to Ruin.

Amaro is a tenor? Really? I wouldn’t know. Never heard him sing.

Apparently he sings in the key of “F”. I didn’t know either.

If you’ve listened to the Vatican Boy Choir, you’ve listened to Ruin sing.

The Phillies have to do everything in their power to make sure that Darren Ruff is in their starting lineup when they break spring training.
No more of this BS oh he’s not this or that nonsense .The man can rake and with power. o far he’s looked good where he has played.
Give him a shot .There’s not to loose.

It’s Darin Ruf. Learn to spell his name before you send him to the Hall of Fame.

I like what I’ve seen of Ruf so far. Interesting swing, reminds me a bit of Matt Holliday. But a really small sample so I’m not overly hyped.

I’ve been impressed with Ruf also. Wonder which position he might play. It would be nice if he could play third.

ruben amaro please leave philly, under your tenure the phils have gotten worse each year, while you did get some great pitchers, you hammered anyone who disagreed with you, you just thru cliff lee under a bus in 2010 and he gave you a 2nd chance in 2011, DO NOT TRADE HIM , HE DID HIS JOB, WHY COULDN’T YOU ?

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