Philadelphia Phillies: Grading Ruben Amaro Jr.'s Last 25 Roster Additions
When a ship starts to sink, the first thing that everyone on board starts to do is find the holes. It's common sense. If you can find the holes, plug them and bail some of the water over the sides, then you can keep the ship afloat. You can even sail back home if you do a good enough job.
Well, if the Philadelphia Phillies were the ship in this analogy, they'd be sinking fast. The time has come where everyone knows that the ship is sinking and now, it's up to the front office to find the right plugs.
But long after the ship is either sunken or fixed, the time will come when the people on board will look back and want answers. Why did the ship sink? Why was the ship even in that predicament? Could it have been prevented? Why wasn't it?
It's a pretty common question for the Phillies this season: "Why?"
This isn't a team that was built, despite all of its injuries, to play in last place. It is the job of the general manager, Ruben Amaro Jr., to ensure that his team has the best shot at the postseason.
So naturally, when the ship starts to sink, Amaro is the guy that gets the blame.
This slideshow is going to analyze the last 25 roster additions that Amaro made to the MLB roster in an effort to improve the product in some way, shape or form. The roster additions extend over the last two seasons and include a number of various transactions.
That includes free-agent signings, trades, minor league call-ups (not September call-ups), etc.
25. B.J. Rosenberg Purchased from Minors
The Phillies have waited a long time for B.J. Rosenberg to figure things out in the minor leagues. After posting a 1.61 ERA at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season, it seemed as though he finally did.
With the MLB club in desperate need of right-handed pitching, Rosenberg was called up to the Phillies and given a shot to prove that his name belongs alongside of some of the club's other high-profile relief prospects.
Well, he failed.
Rosenberg was shelled for four runs in 1.2 innings. He was on his way back to Lehigh Valley before he could unpack his suitcase.
With that being said, however, this was just an average move. No harm, no foul. In fact, I think it was worth calling up Rosenberg just to see what he could do at this level.
24. Michael Martinez Purchased from Minors
Now this is a move that I'm strongly opposed to.
After completing his minor league rehab assignment following a broken foot that he suffered in spring training, the Phillies optioned Michael Martinez to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. There was just no room on the MLB roster for another mediocre middle infielder.
Then Freddy Galvis was injured, and the Phillies found themselves in a conundrum: Do they recall Martinez or find a way to add Pete Orr back on to the 40-man roster?
Obviously, Ruben Amaro Jr. and company chose the former.
Martinez is back with the Phillies and right back to showing us why he should be playing for the IronPigs. He's been well below average both at the plate and in the field.
There's no shame in admitting that you swung and missed on a Rule 5 draft pick. It's time.
23. Erik Kratz Purchased from Minors
To be quite honest, I'm not sure how to put an accurate grade on Erik Kratz's presence this season.
On one hand, given the injuries to the Phillies' bench, you would think that Kratz could provide a left-handed bat with some pop later in ball games, but the Phillies haven't given him a chance to show what he could provide in that role.
Kratz has just four plate appearances this season with one hit. He's played 1.2 innings in the field.
More often than not, Ruben Amaro Jr. has called on Kratz to be nothing more than a warm body that's taking up a roster spot. If a player isn't playing, how do you grade him?
22. Michael Schwimer Called Up from Minors
The results haven't been great for Mike Schwimer when you look at this season as a whole, but having him on the MLB roster is without a doubt the right decision.
There's just nothing left for him to learn at Triple-A. The Phillies are in desperate need of right-handed relievers, and with Justin De Fratus on the disabled list and Phillippe Aumont struggling to get on track, Schwimer is the man of the hour.
In recent appearances, he has located his fastball much better and has improved his secondary offerings by proxy. There's an adjustment period for any young reliever, and it finally looks as though Schwimer has figured something out.
21. Mike Fontenot Signed as Free Agent, Purchased from Minors
It's hard not to like a minor league deal, and the Phillies made a good one when they inked infielder Mike Fontenot to a contract.
Fontenot, who was released by the San Francisco Giants right before the season started, signed a minor league deal with the Phillies shortly thereafter and reported to Triple-A Lehigh Valley to get some repetitions in.
It wasn't long before he found his way on to the MLB roster. Fontenot has been very solid for the Phillies as a bench player. He's played good defense at two positions and has collected 16 hits in 50 at-bats.
20. Hector Luna Purchased from Minors
Hector Luna opened a few eyes in spring training after he collected a few clutch hits to put the Phillies' Grapefruit League club into the win column on a couple of different occasions, but I can't imagine that many people expected to see him with the MLB club this season.
And yet, here we are. That's the 2012 season in a nutshell for the Phillies.
Luna has made the most of his opportunity. He has played mostly first base for the Phillies this season and has provided a right-handed bat off of the bench with some pop. He's collected 13 hits in 43 at-bats, one of which was a huge grand slam.
Not bad for a player that didn't have much of a chance of seeing the MLB this season when he signed.
19. Raul Valdes Purchased from Minors
I'm still trying to figure out why the Phillies sent Raul Valdes back to Triple-A. It couldn't really be because he's left-handed, right?
But that's the best answer I have for you right now. The Phillies were in desperate need of some right-handed pitching, so they sent Valdes back to the IronPigs in exchange for B.J. Rosenberg.
Before being sent down, Valdes was a great addition. In 12.2 innings, he had punched out 13 batters and allowed just seven hits. His WHIP was 0.632 and his ERA was 2.12.
18. Jake Diekman Called Up from Minors
I'm all for calling up prospects when you're out of a race, but that wasn't the Phillies' intention when they called up Jake Diekman. No, they thought that he could seriously help their bullpen, and they were right.
Diekman was tearing up Triple-A hitters early in the season before the Phillies promoted him to the MLB. Since then, he's become a strikeout machine, ringing up 16 batters in just 10.2 innings.
There's no doubt that Diekman, a power lefty, is still going to need some work, but it is easy to see the finished product being a dominant setup man that can retire hitters from both sides of the plate.
17. Brian Sanches Purchased from Minors
After rejoining the Phillies on a minor league deal over the winter, Brian Sanches was called up to the MLB as part of a minor bullpen shakeup early on in the season. His Triple-A numbers certainly warranted the call, but Sanches isn't the type of guy that's going to make a huge difference.
He was shelled in just four innings of work, surrendering nine hits, including two home runs, two walks and two home runs. He struck out just three batters and was on the shuttle back to Lehigh Valley in no time.
16. Juan Pierre Signed to Minor League Deal, Purchased from Minors
When the Phillies signed Juan Pierre over the winter to a minor league deal, it seemed as though all of the baseball pundits could agree that it was a pretty solid sign. Many believed that Pierre's best days were behind him, but he could still contribute, and there was no harm on a non-guaranteed contract.
In the month of June, in hindsight, it was a great deal.
Pierre has been one of the Phillies' most consistent hitters this season and has maintained a batting average north of .300 for the majority of the year.
15. Chad Qualls Signed as Free Agent
Once upon a time, I was a believer in Chad Qualls.
The Phillies picked him up off of the scrap heap for pennies on the dollar just before spring training began, and it seemed as though he'd be a solid addition.
Sure, the the results from his 2011 campaign as a member of the San Diego Padres weren't great, but Phillies scouts had clocked his sinker in the mid 90s with some consistency. That could help in the middle innings.
But we were all fooled. Qualls has been shaky, to say the least. He fell from the role of Phillies' setup man quickly and has made Charlie Manuel and Rich Dubee think twice before using him lately.
I think it's safe to say that signing Qualls wasn't a wise use of resources.
14. Jimmy Rollins Signed as Free Agent
This is one that a lot of Phillies fans are going to wrestle with for a long time, especially after Jimmy Rollins' slow start to the season. Was it worth bringing him back into the organization on a three-year deal?
At the time the contract was signed, it was a necessity. Rollins was the vocal leader in the clubhouse and the alternative at shortstop was a rookie whose defense far outweighed his offensive potential.
The Phillies knew that they needed Rollins, at least for the 2012 season. So Ruben Amaro Jr. signed off on a three-year deal with an option that easily vests for a fourth year, and therein lies the problem.
Four years is entirely too long for a player like Rollins, who was obviously on the decline before he signed his new deal.
13. Laynce Nix Signed as Free Agent
Laynce Nix was a great signing for the Phillies, even on a two-year deal.
The Phillies desperately need to upgrade their bench over the offseason, and Nix was a part of that rebuilding effort. He provides a power left-handed bat in a pinch or a spot starter who can give a right-handed pitcher fits.
He was one of the club's best hitters before he suffered a pretty severe calf strain. The only thing keeping me from giving Ruben Amaro Jr. a grade of "A" on this one is the simple fact that he probably could have landed Nix on a one-year deal, if not a minor league contract.
12. Ty Wigginton Acquired Via Trade
This is a perfect example of a "buy low" trade.
While the Phillies looked for ways to upgrade their bench this winter, the Colorado Rockies were giving their clubhouse a facelift and trying to change the club's attitude. That made a few guys expendable. Among them was utility infielder Ty Wigginton.
The Phillies acquired Wigginton for cash or a player to be named later, and the Rockies pitched in half of Wigginton's contract.
That gave the Phillies a reliable right-handed bat off of the bench with some pop—or, at least, that's what they thought they were getting.
Instead, Wigginton has stepped up to play more of a regular role for the Phillies in light of all of their injuries, and he has held down the fort nicely.
11. Jim Thome Signed as Free Agent
I thought this was a great deal over the winter, and while my opinion has changed a bit since then, it's really hard to fault the logic behind this deal.
The Phillies were in desperate need of some left-handed power over the winter, and who fits that role better than Jim Thome?
The club took it a step further by suggesting that Thome could play first base a couple of times a week. That would make the deal, which was for just one year and pennies on the dollar for a future Hall of Famer, all the better.
But alas, Thome couldn't actually handle the strain of playing first base even semi-regularly and was forced to the disabled list with a balky back. He also flopped as a pinch-hitter, and people were calling for the Phillies to pull the plug.
But there was hope. There was still interleague play.
Thome responded as the club's designated hitter by mashing four home runs in just over a week's time.
It's still to be determined whether or not he can be a successful pinch-hitter, but it was a low-risk signing for the Phillies, and again, it's hard for me to fault that logic.
10. Brian Schneider Signed as Free Agent
The Phillies had a chance to "upgrade" their backup backstop last winter, but instead they decided to go the familiar route and re-sign catcher Brian Schneider to a one-year deal.
At its core, this really is a harmless deal. Schneider won't even make $1 million this season, and his familiarity with the pitching staff made his return a no-brainer for certain members of the Phillies' front office.
The real drama would begin if Carlos Ruiz were forced to miss an extended period of time. Then, this grade wouldn't even be quantifiable as an "F." It would be more like "T" for terrible.
9. Jonathan Papelbon Signed as Free Agent
The last time the Phillies handed out big money to a closer, they had made a three-year commitment to Brad Lidge, and he was coming off of a perfect season. We all know the story; it didn't turn out so well.
By the final year of Lidge's deal, Jose Contreras had been given a shot at the job and Ryan Madson had become a bona fide closer.
You would think that the Phillies would think twice before offering huge money to a closer again, but Ruben Amaro Jr. laughs at your naivety.
Instead of thinking twice, he went out and made Jonathan Papelbon the highest-paid reliever of all time, signing him to a four-year, $50 million contract.
In Amaro's defense, the Papelbon signing has worked out extraordinarily well for the Phillies this season. He's been a rock for the Phillies bullpen that has seen a major turnover, and he's one of the only legitimately reliable relievers they have to offer.
With that being said, it is nothing short of foolish to hand out that kind of money to a reliever. He'll need to pitch this well over the course of his contract for me to give this transaction an "A," and what are the chances of that happening?
8. Freddy Galvis Purchased from Minors
When the Phillies first reported for spring camp this year, I didn't give Freddy Galvis much of a shot at making the roster.
That sounds kind of funny now, but think back for a moment. Both Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley were reportedly healthy heading into team workouts, and there was no place on the roster for Galvis.
The slick-fielding shortstop had spent just 33 games in Triple-A, and while his bat certainly showed signs of improvement, he needed more seasoning. That much was clear.
But Utley's chronic knee condition changed everything. Galvis was playing incredibly well during the spring and the Phillies were forced to make a decision. They could go with Pete Orr at second base, a man who was struggling at the plate, or they could go with the hot hand—the rookie.
Obviously, they went with Galvis, and while he played quite well for the Phillies before suffering a Pars fracture, there is no doubt that he could have used some more seasoning offensively.
With that being said, I believe that, given the circumstances, adding Galvis to the roster was the correct decision. He will have gained some invaluable experience at the MLB level should the Phillies need him again.
7. John Bowker Acquired Via Trade; Purchased from Minors
Few moves reek of desperation quite like this one—the time that Ruben Amaro Jr. actually made a trade with the Pittsburgh Pirates for minor league outfielder John Bowker back in 2011.
When the Phillies made the deal, they were in desperate need of help off of the bench. It had been their Achilles' heel all season long and they'd take a little offense, especially a left-handed bat, from anywhere they could get it.
So the Phillies struck a deal with the Pirates to acquire Bowker, who had posted an OPS of .830 and hit 15 home runs with their Triple-A club.
Well, he must have left his bat in Indianapolis, because it never showed up in Philly. Bowker went 0-for-13 before the Phillies had seen enough, and he was never heard from again.
He was released by the Phillies in January to pursue an opportunity with the Yomiuri Giants, where his bat is still lost.
6. Scott Mathieson Called Up from Minors
Remember Scott Mathieson?
Once upon a time, he was supposed to be the next big thing. A talented pitching prospect, Mathieson's fastball sat comfortably in the mid 90s and he had the potential to be a big-time power reliever, even without a dominant secondary pitch.
But he could never stay healthy. The injury bug followed Mathieson around like rain cloud, and he just never had the opportunity to put it all together.
Regardless, the Phillies gave him a couple of shots at the MLB, including a stint during the 2011 season when it was believed that he could provide a spark for a slumping bullpen.
He didn't. In just five innings, he walked three batters and allowed nine hits, posting a WHIP of 2.400.
After the season, the Phillies would release Mathieson from his contract so that he could pursue an opportunity in Japan. He's now pitching for the Yomiuri Giants as John Bowker's teammate and is pitching quite well.
In 24.1 innings, Mathieson has punched out 29 batters and posted an ERA of 1.85.
5. Hunter Pence Acquired Via Trade
When the Phillies first acquired Hunter Pence, given the situation they were in, I liked the deal a lot. Now well into the 2012 season, I've looked at this trade with a different perspective.
When the deal was finalized in 2011, Pence became an excellent complementary piece to a team with a struggling offense. He fit right into the lineup behind Chase Utley and Ryan Howard and gave the Phillies a very strong heart of the order.
In 2012, his role changed. He was forced to become a star in the absence of guys like Howard and Utley, and he struggled in that role.
When they return, he could become a very nice complementary piece again—a complementary piece that is well above average, for that matter.
But the Phillies traded away their top pitching and positional prospects for his services, and when you make that kind of deal, I think you expect a star in return. So while Pence has been great for the Phillies, I'm not sure he was worth the price, in terms of both dollars and prospects.
4. Andrew Carpenter Called Up from Minors
Perhaps a name more forgettable than Scott Mathieson is Andrew Carpenter.
The Phillies gave the right-handed pitcher a couple chances to show that he could help out their MLB club, either as a starting pitcher or as a reliever. He failed in both roles.
After pitching very well for Triple-A Lehigh Valley, the Phillies recalled Carpenter to help the bullpen, but no dice. In 9.1 innings, he allowed 13 hits, eight runs, two home runs and four walks.
The Phillies would later designate him for assignment, and the San Diego Padres claimed him off of waivers.
3. Pete Orr Called Up from Minors
After spending a couple of seasons being a thorn in the Phillies' side, Pete Orr signed a minor league deal prior to the 2011 season. It was a depth signing at its core. Orr was a player with MLB experience that could be a role player in a pinch.
So naturally, when Phillies infielders started dropping like flies, Orr was added to the 40-man roster and called up to the MLB.
He was a solid bench player for the Phillies, but nothing to write home about. Ditto for the 2012 season.
2. John Mayberry Jr. Called Up from Minors
Prior to the 2011 season, a lot of people thought that John Mayberry Jr. was toast.
The Phillies acquired him a few years back from the Texas Rangers and the outfielder/first baseman never showed real signs of potential at the MLB level. More often than not, he looked lost at the plate. He was a project when the Phillies acquired him, and some were ready to give up.
But with fleeting depth at the MLB level, Ruben Amaro Jr. decided to recall Mayberry from Triple-A after sending him packing a few weeks before that to be a bench player.
As Raul Ibanez struggled, Mayberry, who had made a few adjustments to his swing, was stealing away playing time. He finished the year with an OPS of .854 and 16 home runs.
Heading into the offseason, Mayberry had give the Phillies' front office a reason to believe that they could spend their funds on areas other than left field—for example, they could go out and get a shiny, new closer.
While the project has been much of a success in 2012, I credit Amaro for sticking with Mayberry when a lot of people were ready to give up. The same props go to Charlie Manuel.
However, I think it is time for that experiment to finally end.
1. Vance Worley Called Up from Minors
Vance Worley was a roster addition that came out of nowhere to surprise a lot of people.
After making his MLB debut in 2010, Worley impressed all of the right people. That carried right over into spring training, where he continued to open all the right eyes. Despite being sent to Triple-A to start the season, the resounding opinion was that he would be back.
And he was.
Worley returned as a starting pitcher, and despite being sent back to Triple-A to stretch out his arm, the Phillies' front office knew that they had something special.
The right-handed pitcher had a phenomenal rookie season, finishing third in Rookie of the Year voting, and he has picked up right where he left off in 2012.