Philadelphia Phillies: Grading Ruben Amaro Jr.'s Performance in 2013
With the Philadelphia Phillies' 2013 season mercifully winding down, different questions and conversations aside from the performances of players start to arise—most concerning the offseason ahead. Is Ryne Sandberg going to stick around as manager? Will the Phillies make any big moves this offseason? Do the Phillies have a shot at contending in 2014 with the roster they have right now?
Some of those questions can be answered more easily than others. However, there is a question that's just as important as the rest, yet it involves a reflection of what has happened already:
How has Ruben Amaro Jr. done as general manager of the Phillies in 2013?
While the average Phillies fan would likely want to jump to the conclusion of "horribly," there are many aspects by which Amaro's performance can be examined. Have his offseason contracts worked out in the Phillies' favor? Did he make any trades at the deadline, and if so, did they benefit the Phillies? Has he handled prospect promotions accordingly and maintained a competitive team throughout the process?
Those questions will all be answered in this slideshow. And since Amaro won't be fired this offseason, according to Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer, it's worthwhile to determine whether or not Amaro's decisions in 2013 will carry over into 2014.
Without further ado, it's time to slap a grade on Amaro for the 2013 season.
Amaro's Major Moves in the 2012-2013 Offseason
- Acquired center fielder Ben Revere from the Minnesota Twins for Vance Worley and Trevor May
- Acquired third baseman Michael Young from the Texas Rangers for Josh Lindblom and Lisalverto Bonilla
- Signed setup man Mike Adams to a two-year, $12 million contract
- Signed starting pitcher John Lannan to a one-year, $2.5 million contract
- Signed outfielder Delmon Young to a one-year, $750,000 contract
The above moves constitute the major transactions involving the Phillies last offseason. Two trades and three signings—none above $12 million—meant that Amaro had attempted to be creative in filling the roster holes by means of cheaper yet primarily underrated talent.
And he failed miserably.
Revere got off to a slow start in April yet turned on the burners in May and never looked back. However, after fouling a ball off his foot and fracturing it in mid-July, Revere hit the disabled list for what will turn out to be the remainder of the season. Fortunately for the Phillies, Worley quickly fell out of favor in Minnesota, while May was a mild disappointment in his first year up north.
Michael Young was acquired as a stop-gap until Cody Asche could be promoted to the majors, and he did a solid job of that. He hit for a middling batting average but had a decent on-base percentage, and while his defensive range was never spectacular, Young could make a flashy play every now and then. For what he was, Young could have turned out a whole lot worse.
Adams had been arguably baseball's top setup man going on three years until surgery to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome labeled him as a question mark in signing terms. Nevertheless, the Phillies took a chance, and it didn't work out so well. Adams' performance when on the field was shaky and inconsistent, and he's now dealing with a shoulder injury that could sideline him through spring training of next year.
Lannan was either hurt or ineffective—simple as that. And Delmon Young was just a mistake we all knew was coming. Out of Amaro's five major moves, only one truly made a difference, and that was Revere until he got hurt. He's the only guy holding me back from issuing Amaro a failing grade.
Offseason Grade: D+
July 31 Non-Waiver Trade Deadline Moves: none
August 31 Waiver Trade Deadline Moves:
- Traded infielder John McDonald to the Boston Red Sox for minor league pitcher Nefi Ogando
- Traded third baseman Michael Young to the Los Angeles Dodgers for minor league pitcher Rob Rasmussen
There's a glaring omission on this slide that needs to be addressed. No, it's not the fact that Young is wearing a Dodgers uniform over one for the Phillies. It's the fact that Amaro did not make a single impact trade when it mattered most: by July 31.
The Phillies had quite a few trade chips they could have used to their advantage in a weak trading market and a weak prospective free-agent market this coming offseason. Instead, Amaro stood pat, unwilling to make any moves unless other teams were willing to eat all remaining salary on contracts such as Cliff Lee's and Jonathan Papelbon's.
It's understandable that players like Lee and Papelbon weren't traded, as they do present value in some capacity and could be dealt later. But for goodness sake, if Young was a goner by August 31 anyway, why not trade him in July to get more value?
The simple answer is that Amaro overvalued his players and in such a market, he couldn't afford to be cheap. Instead, the Phillies farm system remained relatively barren until a month later, when Amaro traded away the two aforementioned aging infielders.
However, the two pitchers acquired for McDonald and Young are insignificant in a Phillies farm system that needed a top-prospect acquisition. In hindsight, it's not terrible that Lee and Carlos Ruiz stuck around. But seeing as Cody Asche and Young had to compete for playing time when the latter should have been gone, Amaro's trading season was mediocre at best. His making trade in August helps his cause, albeit not by much.
In-Season Trades Grade: C-
In-Season Waiver Claims
In-Season Waiver Claims and Waiver-Related Pickups:
- Claimed outfielder Ezequiel Carrera from Cleveland Indians on April 2
- Acquired John McDonald from Cleveland Indians on June 27 for PTBNL or cash considerations
- Claimed outfielder Casper Wells from Chicago White Sox on August 8
- Signed outfielder Roger Bernadina on August 21
This aspect of Amaro's season isn't one that we can grade as harshly, since players placed on waivers are put there for one reason: They aren't good enough to be on their previous team. Hence, players the Phillies claim are being given a chance more than anything.
However, when a move such as the one the Phillies made for Carrera is so short-lived, it's worth wondering why the move was made in the first place. Likewise, McDonald only provided a veteran presence—if the Phillies wanted a glove, they could have turned to Freddy Galvis.
Wells has occasional pop but didn't homer with the Phillies and has since hit the DL due to vision issues. Bernadina is the only name who's even somewhat worked out, yet he's also been more of a defensive asset than anything else, save for a game or two.
It's difficult to say that Amaro failed in his waiver endeavors since the players acquired aren't given the highest expectations. However, his logic behind some moves was flawed, so we'll settle somewhere in the middle on this one.
In-Season Waiver Claims and Pickups Grade: C
Prospect and Farm System Management
Phillies Prospects and Minor League Players Making MLB Debuts and Subsequent Playing Time:
- Jonathan Pettibone, April 22 (18 starts, 100.1 IP, 4.04 ERA)
- Cesar Hernandez, May 29 (24 games, .329 batting average)
- J.C. Ramirez, June 23 (15 appearances, 8.98 ERA)
- Luis Garcia, July 10 (22 appearances, 4.39 ERA)
- Steve Susdorf, July 25 (three games, .143 batting average)
- Cody Asche, July 30 (40 games, .263 batting average)
- Ethan Martin, August 2 (seven starts, 11 total appearances, 34.0 IP, 6.62 ERA)
- Mauricio Robles, September 3 (two appearances, 1.2 IP, 5.40 ERA)
- Cameron Rupp, September 10 (one game, .250 batting average)
Due to injuries and necessary depth on the big league roster, the Phillies have called up quite a few rookies to fill voids. Some, such as Pettibone, Hernandez and Asche, have done well. Players like Ramirez, Garcia and Martin have been lackluster. And the remainder, like Susdorf, Robles and Rupp, haven't gotten enough playing time to make a determination.
Of course, someone like Susdorf is more of minor league depth than anything, while Ramirez and Garcia had low expectations from the start. Someone like Rupp was expected to get an opportunity to play and make an impression, though he's only played in one game thus far.
Amaro's seen mixed reviews from the call-ups, but enough of them have potential that the Phillies can get by with them on the roster. This will surprisingly be Amaro's highest grade, though it's still not a flattering one.
Prospect and Minor League Promotion Management: C+
Amaro's offseason blew up in his face. His lack of trades in July will likely come back to haunt him, and they most certainly would have had he remained inactive at the end of August.
The in-season waiver moves Amaro made were insignificant, and while many of the prospects and minor leaguers Amaro has called up have done well, the others have either been given too much playing time (J.C. Ramirez, Luis Garcia) or not enough (Cameron Rupp, Mauricio Robles).
In all, Amaro has done an average job at best this year. He's been disappointing, but to label him an absolute failure despite peer pressure just isn't fitting. There are general managers who have been far worse than Amaro in 2013, so he gets an ever-so-slight benefit of the doubt.
Having said that, 2014 will be a make-or-break year for Amaro. He'll need to show that he can make the most out of crafty moves this offseason. And that certainly didn't go well for him this year.
I'm not happy with Amaro this season, especially at the trade deadline. But he's not failure-worthy, so a below-average grade will have to do.
Final Grade for 2013: C-
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