Over at CSNPhilly.com Jim Salisbury talks to Phillies GM Ruben Amaro about the Phillies’ potential trades this summer and about the development of some of the team’s prospects.
When asked about the timetable for pitching prospects Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin to make it to the bigs, Amaro said the plan was to be conservative. When it was pointed out that fans of losing teams tend not to like it when told that they need to be patient, Amaro had this to say:
“They don’t understand the game. 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.”
Want to talk truth? Here are two truths:
1. Ruben Amaro is not wrong about how fans behave. And he’s not wrong about how most fans don’t really have an understanding of what front offices do and why. And he’s not wrong to be conservative with pitching prospects given where the Phillies are now (i.e. not close to winning).
2. Ruben Amaro has done nothing in the past several years which entitles him to offer these kinds of truths in as undiplomatic and as snotty a fashion as he does here.
Results matter more than decorum. And when you win, you get to say all kinds of off-the-cuff things like this and you get lauded for your “candor” or “brashness.” But when your results suck, reporters, talk radio and the like are gonna jump all over you. Is it fair? Eh, probably not. But it’s a fact. And managers and executives have lost their jobs for these kinds of outbursts or for talking down to a frustrated fan base in the past. Again, maybe not fair, but organizations pay attention to this kind of thing.
Amaro was — or at least should be — on thin ice to begin with. Why he decided to talk down to fans like this, then, is something of a mystery.
Philadelphia’s outfield will be crowded whenever the Phillies decide to recall Cody Asche and Domonic Brown from Triple-A and Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com reports that scouts from other teams are “tracking” Ben Revere for a potential trade.
Revere was shifted to left field so the Phillies could use Odubel Herrera in center field and he simply doesn’t offer enough offensive upside to be a corner outfielder. Revere is a career .290 hitter with 50-steal speed, but his complete lack of power and walk-drawing ability have led to a .323 on-base percentage and .341 slugging percentage.
Tiny, slap-hitting corner outfielders who can’t crack a .700 OPS tend not to stick around long, but if teams view Revere as a plus defender in center field he could still have some value to them at age 27. He’s making $4.1 million this season and under team control via arbitration through 2017.
Philadelphia has called up third base prospect Maikel Franco from Triple-A, which was the assumed follow-up move to the Phillies demoting third baseman Cody Asche to Triple-A so he could make the switch to left field.
Franco is just 22 years old and his plate discipline needs work, but he hit .355 in 33 games at Triple-A to earn the call-up. He also finished last season on a major tear at Triple-A, although his overall numbers were underwhelming because of a brutal start.
Franco ranked as a consensus top-100 prospect this year and last year, typically being slotted into the 40-60 range for 2015. He’s shown good power in the minors, including 20 homers and 45 doubles in 166 total games at Triple-A, but he’s never drawn as many as 40 walks in a season.
Also of note: No doubt the Phillies will deny this was a factor, but by calling up Franco today he’ll finish precisely one day short of a full season’s worth of service time once combined with his September action last season. Coincidentally, of course. Funny how that works.
Cody Asche has been the Phillies’ starting third baseman since mid-2013, but now they’re sending him back to Triple-A to transition from third base to left field.
Asche hitting just .247 with a .686 OPS in 201 career games obviously played a part as well, because if he’d hit, say, .287 with a .786 OPS and they wanted him to shift to the outfield it likely wouldn’t involve a demotion to the minors.
Asche spent most of 2013 at Triple-A, hitting .295 with 15 homers and an .837 OPS in 104 games. He’s never seen game action in the outfield as a professional, minors or majors.
Maikel Franco, a 22-year-old prospect currently playing at Triple-A, is projected as the Phillies’ long-term third baseman and could be ready for a call-up soon.
It’s already vote of confidence time in Philadelphia, where general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. praised manager Ryne Sandberg before the Phillies fell to 11-22 with a loss to the Pirates.
I’m happy with the way Ryno has gone about it. He’s on the same page as we are. It’s about giving young players opportunities and teaching them how to win. And that’s what we’re looking for from him, and that’s all we can ask of him. Do whatever he can with his staff to put these players in a position to improve. And that’s what he’s been doing.
Obviously we don’t want to cultivate a culture of losing. We obviously want the very opposite. For me it’s about having guys understand what it takes to win, and trying to play winning baseball. We might be a little challenged as far as overall talent at the major league level right now, but that doesn’t mean we can’t play a winning-type of baseball.
Sandberg is now 104-133 since taking over as Phillies manager in mid-2013, but Amaro seems to realize it’d be awfully tough to put the blame on the manager considering his own decision-making over the years.
Also, it would probably be even tougher to find any Phillies fans who agree that the team has been playing “a winning-type of baseball.”