The Phillies are two games away from the 50-game mark of the season and it gives us a decent sample size to start
bashing constructively criticizing Ruben Amaro's 2013 moves.
Ruben Amaro attempted to squeeze one last drop form the best era in Philadelphia Phillies history. Limited payroll flexibility and a barren farm system made that task a difficult one for Rub. As opposed to making high profile free agent acquisitions, he was forced to make several "low risk-high reward" moves. Let's take a look at those moves.
Ruben Amaro grabbed Michael Young from the Texas Rangers for one year at a total cost of $7.2 million. Young, who is a career .301 hitter and averaged 15 HR and 86 RBI per season throughout his career, hit just .270 with 8 homers and 67 RBI last season. The Phillies hoped he could save par in 2013 and he has done that with a .280 average, 1 HR, and 10 RBI for the Phils. Defensively, Young looks like an old man over at third. He has virtually no range and has been adequate at best on the balls he has been able to reach.
Here are Young's stats over the last two seasons.
Overall, Michael Young was a good acquisition. One reason why is that he is only a one year commitment, which is key considering the Phillies have Cody Asche hopefully ready to play in the bigs next season. Amaro also did not give up much in the deal, as Josh Lindblom (who was converted to a starter) has spent most of the season in the minors and allowed 4 runs in 4.2 innings in his one major league start.
Amaro spent relatively little, traded away nothing of value, only committed to one year, and has received a little offensive output in return - that's a good trade.
Ben Revere is easily Ruben Amaro's most disappointing move. On paper it seemed great - he hit .294 and stole 40 bases last year to go along with great defense in center. Ben Revere looked like a steal and a potential table setter for the franchise for several years. Although he had no power, hit an obscene amount of ground balls, and did not work walks, this was supposed to be the year where it all came together.
Or so we thought.
Revere is hitting .250 this season, has only drawn 8 walks, has continued his propensity for ground balls, has not been driving the ball, and has been suspect defensively. This is a black eye for Amaro and/or for the Phillies entire scouting department for making this deal. Anyone with an eye for baseball should have seen that Revere has probably already shown the best he has to offer.
Amaro made this move out of fear. He needed a centerfielder and with no legitimate options in the farm system and a bad crop of free agents, he turned to the trade market for Ben Revere. In so doing, he gave up too much for a player who projects as a number seven or eight hitter and a slightly above average defender.
Amaro does deserve some credit for what he traded away because he dealt Vance Worley at the right time - he has been hit around this season and was just sent to the minors. But Worley was still a tradeable piece that could have been used elsewhere, and the Phillies also surrendered one of their few top prospects in Trevor May. Revere can't be described as a terrible deal, but it does not upgrade the team now or in the future.
Here is a look at Revere's stats over the last two seasons and in his career.
For two starts the John Lannan signing made Ruben look like a certified genius. Lannan had a 2.77 ERA in those first two trips to the hill, but he pitched hurt in his third start and has been on the DL ever since. Lannan has no history of injuries and is only 28, so Amaro can't take the blame on this one.
This was Ruben's key offseason move, bringing in one of the game's best set up men for $6 million per season for two years (with an option for a third). He was a bit of a risk coming off surgery and unfortunately he has not been healthy to this point. Adams' velocity was down this season and he has already spent time on the DL.
Amaro deserves props for bringing in a pitcher with a solid resume and the potential for a dominant back end of the bullpen. But $6 million was a sizeable investment for one reliever and posed a risk for a pitcher with health concerns. It also prevented him from adding a couple more legitimate bullpen arms. As we have already seen, the cast of characters behind Adams leaves much to be desired. For evidence of that, look no further than the next guy on the list: Chad Durbin.
It is safe to say that Chad Durbin has been a disaster - he has been batting practice for NL hitters. In 13 games this season, Durbin has an 8.10 ERA, 1.875 WHIP, and he has allowed 9 of 15 inherited runners to score.
I have always gone with the "good one year-bad the next" approach with middle relievers because they seem to consistently follow up a good season with a clunker. Durbin over the past 4 seasons had ERA's of 3.80 in 2010, 5.53 in 2011, 3.10 in 2012, and now 8.10 in 2013. That's why I feel it is better to look for value from relievers coming off a bad season because they come cheaper and oftentimes don't require guaranteed contracts. Just look at Chad Qualls, who followed up a 5.33 ERA last year with a 3.05 ERA in 2013 with the Marlins.
Just for fun, here's a look at how Durbin compares to Qualls this season.
Let's face it, Delmon Young was a desperation move for a team with few good outfield options. Here was another one of those high risk-low reward decisions. It won't cost the Phillies much if he is a total flop and he offers more upside potential than exists on the current roster. It is still too early to determine what D-Young has to offer, so let's give it another month or so before making up our minds on this one.
Ruben Amaro has done an OK job with his offseason moves, but OK simply is not good enough. His winter theme of low risk-high reward has a nice ring to it, but with no pots of gold anywhere to be found, it seems like just another catch phrase.
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