The Philadelphia Phillies are two games under .500 and eight games out of first place, and roster architect Ruben Amaro recently talked to CSNPhilly.com about what's gone wrong:
"Listen, we got what we thought would be good complementary players, especially in center field," Amaro said. "We wanted to make sure we had someone who could defend and stabilize the position. It’s so important to have that in the middle of the field.
"Ben has been OK. I was hoping that he'd be playing better. He hasn’t played up to expectations yet. He’s still a young guy. He’s still adjusting to a new club and he wasn’t an everyday centerfielder in Minnesota. Unfortunately people expect a lot from a guy when you trade for him. We still need to be patient. Hopefully he’ll be the player we think he can be, but you always run a risk with a young player.
"Look at Domonic. People said, ‘What’s with? He’s never going to be a player. Trade him.’ I see that stuff. The fact of the matter is it takes time for guys to develop..."
Ben Revere hasn't been okay. Revere's OPS+ (54) is the second-lowest in the majors among qualifying outfielders. That's pretty fucking far from okay. I'm not saying that Amaro shouldn't have traded for Revere, or that Amaro should be completely honest about Revere now, or that Revere shouldn't just keep playing. But he hasn't been okay. And he's not really so young, having turned 25 last month.
As for Domonic Brown, he's an interesting comparison, just eight months older than Revere and now busting out in a big way. But Brown was always regarded as a better prospect than Revere, and some of his struggles these last few years were due to injuries. Revere's a better player than he's showed, but he's also got zero power and draws few walks, while playing just decently in the outfield. How do those skills add up to an every-day player?
More from Amaro:
"We added complementary players this winter because we thought our veterans would play at a higher level," Amaro said. "Part of our problem is we’re not getting the production from our veteran guys. Howard hasn’t produced like we thought he would, Jimmy has done some things lately. Chase hasn’t been on the field. Ruiz has been hurt.
"That’s four guys we were counting on [who are] not producing, and that puts heat on the complementary guys. Once we get guys back I think we’ll be OK because our starting pitching has kept us in a lot of games."
This is delusional thinking, but common in the game: You give a veteran a bunch of money, and then spend most of the contract thinking he'll somehow become the player he was before you gave him the money.
Ryan Howard is producing exactly as much as he did last year. Jimmy Rollins has produced exactly as much as he did last year. Chase Utley's been good, but has been limited by injuries. Just as he was last year. And Carlos Ruiz ... okay, we'll give Amaro that one, with the caveat that Ruiz missed the first 25 games of this season because he got busted last year for using amphetamines.
You can win with veterans. It's just hard to win with injury-prone veterans who weren't much good last year. But the Phillies are giving it a hell of a shot. Payroll-wise, anyway.
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