Baseball fans in Philadelphia would like to see general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. exiled to the same lonely island as Pete Rose. If anything, a one-for-one swap of Rose for Amaro Jr. would be more encouraging. After all, the doom-and-gloomers of Phillies baseball lore were right—things are bad for Philly, and it's only going to get worse.
Months ago I wrote that it's "time to change course" with Amaro Jr. and the Phillies organization. The personnel decisions have become highly questionable. This past season, the Phillies were second in declining attendance. While revenue jumped by $30 million from 2012, its operating income settled in at $600,000 for 2013, down from $14.5 million in 2010. Simply put, the Phillies are heading in the wrong direction financially and on the field.
Much has been ballyhooed about the lack of offensive production in the Phillies lineup. Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard have become shells of their former selves. Ben Revere has never had a Major League home run. The now departed Carlos Ruiz had one bombastic season, but he was using performance enhancing drugs.
While Chase Utley continues to stay the course, many are wondering how much longer he can perform at his current rate.
Domonic Brown emerged as an offensive threat, but some are wondering if he can match or exceed his 2013 numbers in 2014. Additionally, fans in Philly are inflamed with Brown over his actions off the field, including when he tweeted "Philly doesn't love me."
The question marks on offense are not the most important factors in the demise of the Phillies though. On defense, they are one of the worst units in baseball.
In 2013, the Phillies were dead last in defensive runs saved with -103. To put this in perspective, the Kansas City Royals were tops with 92. The San Diego Padres and San Francisco Giants split the median with 10 and 6, respectively. The next worse after the Phillies were the Seattle Mariners with -97. After that a huge drop-off occurs. The Detroit Tigers ranked 28th in Major League Baseball with -63.
How is it that the Phillies, ranked 30th in MLB, were 40 defensive runs saved worse than the 28th worst in baseball? Let's take a look at each position individually.
Since he only started 74 games due to injury, first baseman Ryan Howard doesn't qualify as a regular first baseman in the final tally for runs saved. However, his statistics indicate that he would have fallen below the median set by Royals' 1B Eric Hosmer (3). Howard sat at -1 in defensive runs saved. This was worse than Mark Trumbo and Todd Helton. Only four qualifying 1B regulars fared worse than Howard.
Chase Utley finished with -4 in defensive runs saved. This tally puts him at sixth worst among regular second basemen. Marco Scutaro, Rickie Weeks and Dan Uggla were all worse than Utley while Gordon Beckham, Howie Kendrick and Brian Dozier finished better.
While he only played with the Phillies for 126 games before being traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers, Michael Young accumulated the worst defensive runs saved mark among all third basemen in MLB. At -20, a 55 run difference existed between him and 3B leader Manny Machado. Even Todd Frazier, who is not known to be a phenom defensively, finished with a rating of 25 points better than Young.
At shortstop, Jimmy Rollins was third worst in all of baseball with -15. Only better than Asdrubal Cabrera and Jed Lowrie, Rollins was seven points worse than the player in front of him (Omar Quintanilla). Starlin Castro, who made headlines with his horrifying defense, scored seven points better than Rollins as well.
In left field, Domonic Brown finished with -7. This was 23 points worse than the leader Starling Marte. Only three qualifying left fielders finished worse than the breakout star of the Phillies. Known as "the Tank" for his size and lack of speed, Dayan Viciedo finished two runs better than Brown in defensive runs saved for '13.
Known for having only warning track power and a little league arm, Ben Revere finished with a -5 in center field. Revere didn't qualify as a regular in CF due to a season-ending injury, but if he had, Revere would have better than just five qualifying regulars at the position. Dexter Fowler, Adam Jones and B.J. Upton all performed better.
Among right fielders, Delmon Young was tied for third worst in defensive runs saved (-19). That is a 58 run swing from the MLB leader Gerardo Parra. We all know how Young's season ended in Philadelphia but that isn't the point. The point is that he was brought in and everyone knew what to expect—everyone but Amaro Jr.
Essentially, Amaro Jr. put together a collection of defensive misfits. There is no sure-fire way to assume what an improved win total would look like had the Phillies not tallied a -103 defensive runs saved mark. One can assume though, had the Phillies cut that total in half, the likelihood of finishing with more than 73 wins increases dramatically.