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Monday, April 22, 2013

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. questions Delmon Young’s defense

Phillies outfielder Delmon Young opened the year on the DL following offseason ankle surgery, but he moved closer to joining the team on Sunday by playing in his first official minor league rehab game. He went 1-for-4 with a sacrifice fly and a strikeout for the team’s High Class-A affiliate in Clearwater.

Defensively, the 27-year-old Young had seven balls hit to him in right field and he misplayed two of them, including turning a would-be single into a triple. Following the game, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. had some rather interesting comments about the outfielder’s glovework. Courtesy of Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer:

  “Obviously we want his bat, but if he can’t play defense he can’t play in the National League,” Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “He’s going to have to be adequate out there. Until today he hadn’t screwed up any balls, but today he did. ... He’s got to play adequate defense out there for us in right.”

The emphasis is mine.

Amaro has been running the Phillies since November 2008, so he’s not new to the job and he’s had a lot of success over the years. That said, he signed Young to a guaranteed one-year contract this offseason. The poor defense shouldn’t be a surprise to him.

Young has played in parts of seven big league seasons now, and the various defensive metrics all rate him as extremely poor in the field (career stats):

  Total Zone: -61
  UZR: -54.3
  FRAA: -41.7
  DRS: -39

Those stats measure runs saved on defense, or in Young’s case, runs he’s cost his teams over the years. Those are awful defensive scores; even the best one (DRS) is well-below-average. Yes, defensive statistics are a work-in-progress and not 100% accurate, but they work very well directionally over large sample sizes. Young is an awful defender, and chances are you’re well aware of that if you’ve seen him play at any point since he broke into the league.

Thanks to Butch.

Repoz Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:16 AM | 46 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: phillies

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   1. CFBF Is A Golden Spider Duck Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:35 AM (#4422040)
The Young contract was pretty small, right? One year, sub-$1 million? I suppose that's an easy enough cut if it turns out that Young really can't play defense.

But yeah, this is really odd. You needed a few minor league rehab games to realize Delmon Young can't handle right field?
   2. Dan Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:39 AM (#4422041)
But Amaro's scouting reports from when Delmon was 21 say he can handle RF! Wasn't there an article that said the Phillies signed Young based off scouting reports from when he was a prospect with the Devil Rays? And that they thought he was "more comfortable in right field"?
   3. The kids disappeared, now Der-K has too much candy Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:46 AM (#4422044)
One year, sub-$1 million?

There are significant bonuses on top of that, but yes.
   4. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:50 AM (#4422047)
I am waiting for the article when Ruben declares "He's shocked, shocked" that one of his hare-brained schemes doesn't work out.
   5. Shooty Is Disappointed With His Midstream Urine Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:51 AM (#4422049)
Ruben Amaro is kind of a dope.
   6. Depressoteric feels Royally blue these days Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:57 AM (#4422054)
Ruben Amaro swears he was specifically promised that THESE beans were magical.
   7. Arva Posted: April 22, 2013 at 10:58 AM (#4422056)
Uh, does Ruben Amaro actually evaluate talent before he signs them? Or does he just look at the names before he acquires a player.

"I can't believe they're not walking" after acquiring Ben Revere.

"I can't believe he can't play defense" after acquiring Delmon Young.

Pretty sure the only person surprised is Ruben Amaro.
   8. ColonelTom Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:01 AM (#4422058)
If this were a minor-league deal, I'd have been fine with it. But it's not, and the $750K (plus maintaining room to pay incentives) cut into the Phils' budget as they tried to fill their last few roster spots.

The slight silver lining here is that Amaro's (sort of) acknowledging the mistake and indicating that he might call Delmon's contract a sunk cost and cut him.
   9. Eric J can SABER all he wants to Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:03 AM (#4422060)
Ruben Amaro swears that he was specifically promised that THESE beans were magical.

You'd think he'd know better than to try magic beans again after failing to slay the Giants in 2010.
   10. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:09 AM (#4422063)
Ruben Amaro swears that he was specifically promised that THESE beans were magical.
You'd think he'd know better than to try magic beans again after failing to slay the Giants in 2010.


And then was excommunicated from the playoffs by the Cardinals in 2011.

(Eric, #9 was great)
   11. depletion Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:10 AM (#4422065)
My ZL-1 Camaro is going to have to get better gas mileage before I start using it for my daily commute.
   12. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:11 AM (#4422066)
Yes, AFTER you sign someone to a major league contract, you put multiple lucrative bonus opportunities in the contract none of which have to do with defense, and you keep him on the roster through the end of spring training despite a nagging injury, is the right time to start questioning his defense.
   13. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:12 AM (#4422067)
Ruben Amaro is kind of a dope.

How could the guy who got Cliff Lee for next to nothing and Roy Halladay for a mixed bag of prospects be so dopey? Beginners luck? Gillick still whispering in his ear? Of course when he got Halladay he traded Lee for less than he gave away, so there's that.
   14. Dale Sams Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:27 AM (#4422078)
Scorpion so far has not returned any of this writers calls.
   15. JJ1986 Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:30 AM (#4422084)
I think the package sent to Toronto was a pretty fair deal. I don't remember who the third guy was, but d'Arnaud has been a success and Drabek was a top prospect.
   16. ColonelTom Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:33 AM (#4422088)
RAJ's not a dope. He likes to think he's the smartest GM in the league, though, and continually tries to prove it by swimming against the current with unconventional moves: the Delmon Young signing, keeping Rule 5 picks (Mini-Mart) on the roster on a playoff team, trading for Michael Young to play a position he can't really field anymore, the Cliff Lee salary-dump trade, etc.

He also likes the spotlight and injects himself into it unnecessarily, as he did by trading for Hunter Pence in 2011 when the team was 66-39 and both corner OFs (Dom Brown and Raul Ibanez) were hitting their stride.

Finally, as a former player, RAJ thinks he has a unique insight into players' psyches. I'm convinced that's why he insisted on giving Howard his extension 2 years before his contract expired, and why he guaranteed J-Roll's 2011 option prior to the 2010 season.
   17. Dan Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:34 AM (#4422090)
Dumping Lee after trading for Halladay because Halladay was "replacing Lee's role as Ace starter" was pretty impressive.

I found the reference to the TB scouting reports:

Amaro said those words during an interview with 97.5 The Fanatic in response to his signing of outfielder Delmon Young. To evaluate him, the Phillies relied on seven-year-old scouting reports from the outfielder's days as a Tampa Bay farmhand. Two of Amaro's assistants, Scott Proefrock and Bart Braun, were members of the Rays organization when Young was selected first overall in the 2003 draft. They vouched for Young's ability.

The risk in adding Young, who was guaranteed $775,000, was minimal. The vitriol it prompted was ferocious. At its core, the Young contract represented how the Phillies evaluate players under Amaro.


In an article by old friend Matt Gelb
   18. JJ1986 Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:37 AM (#4422095)
Dumping Lee after trading for Halladay because Halladay was "replacing Lee's role as Ace starter" was pretty impressive.


IIRC, they could have traded either Blanton or Lee to save the money, but gave up Lee because they wanted to get real prospects back.
   19. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:38 AM (#4422096)
Michael Taylor, who was highly rated but has been a bust.

D'Arnaud remains a big-time prospect but you can't call him a success yet. They were all shiny at one point, only D'Arnaud has any luster remaining. Mixed bag is an understatement of their standing at the time, I'll stand corrected.

EDIT: Actually Amaro's best achievement in that deal was the team-friendliness of the contract.
   20. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:41 AM (#4422099)
RAJ's not a dope. He likes to think he's the smartest GM in the league

I'll argue that point. :) I call a guy a dope if he overrates his own intelligence.
   21. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:42 AM (#4422103)
This makes two players in the last two years that Amaro has signed to major-league deals despite admitting that they cannot play defense well enough to be useful to a National League team.

I have to presume that the total number of such conscious decisions made by all NL GMs in the last 40 years is also two.
   22. JJ1986 Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4422105)
Michael Taylor, who was highly rated but has been a bust.


Oh, right. That started a weird round of trading. Taylor went for Brett Wallace, who I forgot was ever a Blue Jay, who went for Anthony Gose (who had also been traded by the Phillies). All prospect-for-prospect trades, which are pretty rare these days.
   23. ColonelTom Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:43 AM (#4422106)
RAJ's biggest strength has been not overestimating the value of his own prospects. He recognizes better than most GMs that the majority of prospects don't make it as major-league regulars, and thus he's done pretty well on most of his big prospect-for-veteran deals. Sadly, he fell into overvaluing others' prospects in the Lee-to-Seattle deal, which really set the franchise back. I suspect the Gillick-Seattle connection had something to do with overvaluing those particular players.
   24. ColonelTom Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:45 AM (#4422108)
I call a guy a dope if he overrates his own intelligence.


Fair point. In the wise words of Dirty Harry, "A man's got to know his limitations."
   25. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:52 AM (#4422113)
I love this from the article:

This was true; Young had 74 RBIs, and the Phillies' leader was a tie between Jimmy Rollins and Carlos Ruiz at 68.

But that is misleading. Young batted with 415 runners on base in 2012, the 20th highest amount in all of baseball. He drove in 13.5 percent of those runners, which ranked 100th among hitters with at least 500 plate appearances. Using a formula for expected RBI totals given Young's opportunities, just a major-league average player should have amassed four more RBIs than Young did. If Ruiz batted with the same opportunities as Young, he would have had 31 more RBIs.


Did they really rely on 7 year old scouting reports and the opinions of people who have not watched Delmon play in 7 years in determining that he could play RF?

It's not like they are paying him a ton of money, but aside from 2010 he's been about as useless as a MLB player can be

One thing I've noticed WRT guys like Delmon and Frenchy (to be fair to Frenchy he can/could play the OF competently), it seems like many of the scouts who followed such a player back in the day, are incapable of watching the player as he is NOW and seeing the player as he is NOW,

instead you have someone who scouted Delmon back when Delmon was an uber-prospect, and he saw a vision of the player he thought Delmon could have become- and that same scout years later will watch Delmon and the memory of that vision seems to prevent the scout from objectively re-evaluating Delmon.

OTOH a scout who never really scouted uber-prospect Delmon, may look at 2013 Delomon and say, "Jesus Christ! WTF thought this guy could play right field, left field, any damn field?"
   26. DA Baracus Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:54 AM (#4422114)
Obviously we want his bat


Yeah that career 742 OPS is a must have. Amaro has been hilarious this season. I hope he keeps it up.
   27. Textbook Editor Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:57 AM (#4422119)
No, the real hilarity is Amaro will never, ever get fired. He's greased the owners such that THEY think he's amazing. Frankly I don't know who is a bigger idiot--Amaro or the owners that think he's done a great job.
   28. ColonelTom Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4422120)
One thing I've noticed WRT guys like Delmon and Frenchy (to be fair to Frenchy he can/could play the OF competently), it seems like many of the scouts who followed such a player back in the day, are incapable of watching the player as he is NOW and seeing the player as he is NOW


Yup. Scouts and front-office folks love to be right about a guy and can't give up the ghost when a player they touted flops. That's the case with Dayton Moore regarding former Braves (Francoeur, Kyle Davies, Tony Pena Jr., etc.) and with the Phils' front-office guys from the Rays' organization about Delmon Young.
   29. Johnny Sycophant-Laden Fora Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:58 AM (#4422121)
Michael Taylor, who was highly rated but has been a bust.


Just stopped hitting in the A's organization...
In fact he dropped so low that despite his AAA performance improving every year since, its' still way below what he hit in A/AA for the Phillies

Domonic Brown is still reasonably young, but...


   30. Harveys Wallbangers Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:13 PM (#4422135)
listening to amaro talk about young's defense spurs these types of imagined reactions from the past:

'this luzinski guy, he's a bit stocky', roland hemond

'this allen character, he seems kind of moody', bing devine

'what the h8ll? gray only has one arm??', Richard muckerman
   31. PreservedFish Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:29 PM (#4422151)
Let us go now you and I
While Delmon Young plays that pop fly
Like a patient etherized upon a table
   32. Jesse Barfield's Right Arm Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:43 PM (#4422175)
A related bit to this whole stupid story is that Young's presumed ability to play RF (gleaned from 7-year old reports) is the reason that Dom Brown has moved to LF. This is despite the fact that a) Brown is much better suited with his arm to play RF, b) had mostly played RF in ST and in his minor and MLB career, c) is a bit of a defensive liability, and d) the Nixonberry platoon and or Darren Ruf is better suited to left.

I basically keep forgetting how much I hate this guy and then remind myself when I hear the complaints about OBVIOUS things like the team not walking and D. Young's inability to play D.
   33. Crispix reaches boiling point with lackluster play Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:46 PM (#4422180)
And as a result of Brown now having a minor injury, we had 3 games last week of Freddy Galvis playing LF. I guess that's better than Freddy Galvis playing RF.

At least Halladay is showing signs he can adjust to the aging process.
   34. DL from MN Posted: April 22, 2013 at 12:57 PM (#4422200)
Does Amaro watch the baseball playoffs? This is one of those cases where he doesn't need to ask his scouts, just trust his lying eyes.
   35. BDC Posted: April 22, 2013 at 01:02 PM (#4422207)
Delmon Young is one of those guys I think must be a superstar because every time I see him he hits a 3-run HR into the back of the visitors' bullpen. Perhaps some scouts have the same experience. In fact, I'm amazed to learn that Young has a career line in Arlington of .263/.283/.430. He does have 20 RBI in 28 games there. I swear I've seen all 20 of them. I have seen him play some rotten defense, though, I must say.
   36. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 22, 2013 at 01:22 PM (#4422233)
And as a result of Brown now having a minor injury, we had 3 games last week of Freddy Galvis playing LF.

In Galvis' defense, he looked terrific out there. He may be one of the 7 best non-catchers on the team.

The guy is a ball player -- it's just a question about whether he can hit enough (the jury is still out of course)
   37. DA Baracus Posted: April 22, 2013 at 01:23 PM (#4422237)
Delmon Young is one of those guys I think must be a superstar because every time I see him he hits a 3-run HR into the back of the visitors' bullpen. Perhaps some scouts have the same experience. In fact, I'm amazed to learn that Young has a career line in Arlington of .263/.283/.430. He does have 20 RBI in 28 games there. I swear I've seen all 20 of them. I have seen him play some rotten defense, though, I must say.


Hey, Ruben Amaro Jr. posts here.
   38. AROM Posted: April 22, 2013 at 01:27 PM (#4422241)
Delmon Young is one of those guys I think must be a superstar because every time I see him he hits a 3-run HR into the back of the visitors' bullpen. Perhaps some scouts have the same experience.


I know what you mean. Part of that is the postseason exposure, where Delmon did come up big last year. He's played against the Yankees in each of the last 4 postseasons.
   39. PreservedFish Posted: April 22, 2013 at 02:06 PM (#4422314)
I've said this before, but he resembles Willie Randolph. The Willie Randolph of today. Except in worse shape.
   40. Tim D Posted: April 22, 2013 at 03:24 PM (#4422384)
Shifting Cabrera to 3B, playing Fielder at 1B and relegating Young to DH actually IMPROVED the Tigers defense last year. A lot. But with Delmon hitting fifth instead of say eighth, he killed them just the same. Playoffs notwithstanding this guy is useless. When Ruben said he was going to be Philly's starting RF I emailed Dave Dombrowski and suggested he start looking over the Phillies assets and make some deals with them. Fast.
   41. Ulysses S. Fairsmith Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:10 PM (#4422432)
When he was with the Tigers, I always thought the most costly part of his defense was that he had to play so deep in left (because he can't go back on the ball) that a lot of balls that should have been caught would drop in front of him for hits.
   42. Mike A Posted: April 22, 2013 at 04:49 PM (#4422471)
I know someone who went to school and is good friends with Amaro, and he says he's amazingly smart, one of the smartest people he's known.

Which makes his recent GMing a bit...puzzling.
   43. Walt Davis Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:06 PM (#4422494)
I call a guy a dope if he overrates his own intelligence.

Dope Think Factory!

Man, it took until #26 for someone to point out that Delmon can't hit.
   44. snapper (history's 42nd greatest monster) Posted: April 22, 2013 at 05:12 PM (#4422504)
I know someone who went to school and is good friends with Amaro, and he says he's amazingly smart, one of the smartest people he's known.

Which makes his recent GMing a bit...puzzling.


I've known lots of smart people who were still idiots. You can have all the intelligence in the world and still lack judgement and common sense.
   45. Edmundo got dem ol' Kozma blues again mama Posted: April 22, 2013 at 07:44 PM (#4422640)
Man, it took until #26 for someone to point out that Delmon can't hit.

We Phillies fans can be excused because we've been ######## about that ever since RAJ signed him. We're tired of it already and the guy hasn't even played yet.
   46. Howie Menckel Posted: April 22, 2013 at 11:00 PM (#4422912)

Amaro to Mrs. Amaro about their new house pet, Pepe Le Pew:

"Obviously we want him here, but if he can’t stop stinking up the joint, he can’t be here"

who knew a skunk could be so malodorous?

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