Amaro Unhappy With Offensive Approach – Phillies Nation

Amaro Unhappy With Offensive Approach

“I think it’s ridiculous that we’ve had no walks in three days. I cannot believe it. More importantly, it’s about not just walks, but producing, and we haven’t done that. We haven’t gotten hits, period. We haven’t gotten hits with runners in scoring position, we haven’t gotten hits to lead off innings. We need more people on base and more offensive production. You’ve got to give some credit to the pitchers, but not all of it. We just need to be better. It’s as simple as that. Right now we’re not.”

Truer words were never spoken. That was Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., before the Phillies/Cardinals series opener on Thursday addressing the lack of plate discipline the team has shown recently. During Thursday’s game, the Phillies did manage – walks, but one game hardly says slumpbuster.

Amaro’s frustration is shared by many who have asked that this team take more walks, or at the very least, more pitches. That was the calling card of the mid-2000’s Phillies, led by Pat Burrell.

In 2007, at the height of the Phillies offensive output, their on-base percentage was a robust .354. Burrell was third in the major leagues with 114 walks, Ryan Howard fifth with 107. As a team, they led the NL in both categories that season. And it’s no surprise that in 2007, five of the top six teams in bases on balls made the postseason.

Fast forward to this season, and the Phillies are doing their best to stay off the base paths. They’re getting on base at a lousy .291 clip, just ahead of bottom feeders like the Cubs and Marlins in the National League.

Certainly, it’s not all about drawing walks – you must be able to hit. The Phils can’t manage that either. Their 126 strikeouts are fifth worst in baseball, and they rank in the bottom third in the majors in several major offensive categories.

And when you can’t hit for power or get on base, it’s a disaster waiting to happen. The Braves have struck out a league-high 121 times, slightly more than the Phillies. However, they also lead the NL in home runs, which more than makes up for their high swing and miss rate.

In the American League, the A’s are in the same boat. Lots of strikeouts, but lots of homers and walks. They’re filled with no-named players, yet lead the AL West because of this approach.

So, how did we get here? Aging veterans means slower bat speed, resulting in the need to guess a little earlier. Those veterans are in place because Amaro felt they represented the best fit for his ball club, some of them on long-term contracts, others as a stopgap. Free-swingers like John Mayberry Jr, Laynce Nix, and Erik Kratz have compounded the issues as role players that lack plate discipline.

And don’t look for Charlie Manuel to ask his guys to sit there and wait for ball four. Prior to Thursday’s game, Manuel admitted he never preached walks, that he’d like to see the team put balls in play. But he did admit that something has to give. Even Manuel understands that to get guys home, you’ve gotta put guys on.

Aging, high-priced players and Amaro’s inability to execute on the lesser, role players has this team searching for a way to score runs. Can it change?

Delmon Young is the epitome of a free-swinging slugger. If healthy, he’ll help the power numbers, but has a career .317 OBP. Young is also a negative threat once he’s on base. Darin Ruf might give this lineup a shot of life, but can’t play the outfield. Does it make sense to trade for another veteran bat to add to an already-aging roster? Would Ruben attempt to overhaul the roster, clear out some of the vets, and attempt to start anew?

There are no easy answers right now, as the team you see is the team you get. Changes must come from within. But that’s part of the problem. Can this group of players become disciplined, when recent history shows a major decline in that department?



  1. JMills

    April 19, 2013 at 8:58 am

    That is what happens when you keep signing players with low career OBP. We really should have resigned Werth.

  2. begatts6174

    April 19, 2013 at 9:14 am

    Why should Amaro expect anything less? This is the exact team he’s assemble. The Phillies are the anti-Moneyball. I find it offensive that RAJ would even voice his displeasure about not getting a BB in 3 games, while it was he who assemble this debacle of a offense. These guys a doing exactly what their respective career numbers have dictated. RAJ should be a the hot seat!

  3. schmenkman

    April 19, 2013 at 9:47 am

    Amaro is right about not hitting to lead off an inning — they’re last in the NL, with a horrible .162/.203/.257 line.

    Hitting with runners in scoring position is actually a different story. There have been ups and downs, but overall so far they have the 6th best OPS (out of 15) and 7th best batting average in the NL with RISP.

    Overall, of course, he’s right, they’re near the bottom in most key categories, and it’s not all his fault — Revere, Howard, Brown, Rollins, and Kratz should all be expected to be doing better than they are. The same is true with taking walks. Amaro hasn’t done the team’s patience any favors by acquiring Young and Revere, but Rollins, Howard, Utley, and Brown are all being too aggressive and impatient and walking less than they have in the past.

    • George

      April 19, 2013 at 10:11 am

      It’s the fan’s patience Amaro needs to worry about right now. Rollins, Howard, Brown, etc. need to improve, of course, and they probably will. But that isn’t usually done overnight, especially when there are two new hitting coaches to get used to.

      One can only hope that by putting pressure on the hitters, Amaro and all the Phils fans don’t put so much pressure on them that they press even harder and regress even more. Sometimes, particularly early on, in a situation where the team’s personnel has changed (new players like Brown, M.Young, and Revere, and new coaches) patience is what’s called for.

      • c schreiber

        April 20, 2013 at 7:18 pm

        Please George do you really think that these pampered, overpaid and big headed players listen to batting coaches???

  4. Ken Bland

    April 19, 2013 at 10:31 am

    One really needs to put all this in perspective. After the first game of the year, there was an article on the site pointing to patience at the plate as a positive from an Opening Day loss. Some 2 weeks later, there was an article about the starters needed to straighten up. Nobody’s complaining about the starting now. Even with many same players, and younger at the time, the Phils didn’t start hitting the ball til the weather warmed up (I forget what year, maybe 2011.

    You’re in a cycle right now. And to a degree, not by coincidence, one that includes against some good pitching. Under any circumstance, things should be moderately better, but the timing of the peak of complaint is typical of the public sentiment being optimistic at the top, pessimistic at the bottom.

    The Phils have now expanded the difference between their OBP and league average to close to 30 points. It’s hard to believe that by June 1st it’s a much smaller difference. Unfortunately, there appear to be restrictions on how high they can max out, but that’s a start.

  5. Lefty

    April 19, 2013 at 11:55 am

    Kratz OBP is lower than his batting average. Don’t know what that means, I just happened to see it this morning. I don’t recall that too often, but have seen it before and might have even discussed it with someone right here.

    I don’t even know how it happens. Did he get credit for a hit, but didn’t actually get on base?
    Can someone help me understand how the OBP formula allows for this?

    • hk

      April 19, 2013 at 12:07 pm

      Sacrifice flies hurt a player’s OBP, but not his BA.

      • Lefty

        April 19, 2013 at 12:47 pm

        I just looked and he has an SF, thanks.

  6. TheDipsy

    April 19, 2013 at 12:59 pm

    This is the guy that said he didn’t care about walks just a couple of days ago. Why would you expect a team to walk at an acceptable rate when YOU SIR have comprised a team of players that don’t walk? And you employ a manager that doesn’t really care about walking either? Its YOUR fault AMARO – not theirs. Jimmy Rollins doesn’t walk? Heyyy, what the hell, he does so many other things, blah blah. Revere? Oh he’s so fast and he makes good contact blah blah. Ruben – just shut up. Fire your manager. Trade for players that get on base. DO – don’t SAY.

    We are really close to having to break up the band.

    The Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      April 19, 2013 at 1:08 pm

      Again, Rollins and several others are walking less so far this year than they have in the past.

      For example, Rollins last year:

      1) Walked the 2nd most out of 18 qualifying shortstops
      2) Walked the 3rd most out of all NL leadoff hitters

    • Lefty

      April 19, 2013 at 1:44 pm

      Hey Dipsy, I think that interview was from a while back- maybe the winter meetings, or early ST?
      It was posted here by Ian a couple days ago. But it doesn’t matter when, he still said it. If I was part of the ownership group, he’d have some serious explaining to do.

  7. TheDipsy

    April 19, 2013 at 1:54 pm

    Schmenk – a little research reveals that only five guys in the NL played over 100 games at the leadoff position so I think that stat you mentioned is a little misleading. In any event, while Jimmy is a SS, IMO his offensive production should not be measured against other SS, this being a traditional non hitting position. Since Jimmy is purported to be the “guy that makes things go” for the Phils – one of the threats in the lineup – he is counted on for offensive production. When viewed in this context – his 68 walks is not so hot. Need more.

    The Dipsy

    • schmenkman

      April 19, 2013 at 2:11 pm

      Dipsy, it’s not misleading at all — I was not comparing to those 5.

      When you compare Rollins’ 8.9% walk rate to each team’s overall walk rate out of the leadoff spot, only two teams’ leadoff hitters walked more often than Rollins.

      Also, if the Phillies didn’t have Rollins, they would need to replace him in the lineup with another shortstop. That’s why the comparison to other shortstops is also relevant.

  8. schmenkman

    April 19, 2013 at 2:19 pm

    If every Phillie walked as often as they did last year (including Young, JMJ, and Galvis, for whom that would mean walking less often than they actually have this year), the team’s walks would go from 15th/last in the NL, to 11th. That’s still not great, but does highlight that some of the issue is players just not walking as much as we, including Amaro, would expect that they would.

    Are they pressing and trying to do too much? Maybe. Are they being told to be more aggressive? I don’t know.

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