Fightins

2014 is Year to Play Young Talent

http://1.bp.blogspot.com/-lDB0N3Tnyok/UeLN5mhsG3I/AAAAAAAAJ74/1bBnpjg1RFY/s1600/MaikelFranco5.bmp

Martin says it is time to play the young talent. Including 21-year old Maikel Franco (pictured). Photo by: Jay Floyd

When Ruben Amaro Jr. became the Phillies general manager in November of 2008, the confetti on Broad Street was still fresh on the ground from the World Championship parade. Phillies fans were still celebrating the team’s first World Series in 28 years.

Fast forward 5 years later and those same fans have grown restless. With an aging roster filling up the starting positions and coming off the second consecutive season without a playoff appearance the moral of Phillies fans is as low as it has been in nearly 10 years.

It is clearly time to rebuild. Cody Asche should without question be the everyday third baseman this season. Maikel Franco should see major league time this season splitting first base with Ryan Howard. Darin Ruf finally deserves a full season starting in the major leagues in the outfield. Unfortunately, 35-year-old Jimmy Rollins is blocking a position that Freddy Galvis should be starting at for the majority of the 162 game season.

It is time to see what these young prospects have to offer for the future of this team. The Phillies are stuck playing in a tough division that includes last year’s division champions the Atlanta Braves, a young and hungry Washington Nationals team, and an up and coming New York Mets team filled with young talent. All those teams have previously taken their lumps and have rebuilt with young talent across the board to become contenders according to the oddsmakers at MyTopSportsbooks.com

However, Ruben Amaro isn’t ready to pick up that confetti off the ground. He refuses to accept that the core of the 2008 World Series team have all aged out of their prime (except for Cole Hamels) and can no longer perform at a championship level. Amaro continues to hold on to the past that he didn’t even build. How else can you explain signing Marlon Byrd for $8 million a year? Or better yet signing former Phillies all-star Bobby Abreu, who will be 40 years old by the time the season starts, to a contract and expecting him to be a contributing bench player.

Previous contracts given out by Amaro though has hindered him from being able to be very active in the free agent market this offseason. The team has $111.5 million committed to just six players alone in 2014. Those six players are Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Hamels, Cliff Lee, and Jonathon Papelbon. To put that into perspective, that is more than the entire team payroll for 18 other MLB teams.

The Phillies seem to be stuck with what they have. The only thing worse than paying these aging players all this money to play poorly would be to pay them to do nothing at all. So what do the Phillies do then? Obviously, exploring any and all trade options would be a start. However, it seems unlikely they will be able to do that until the trade deadline when teams are looking for veteran players to fill out their rosters as they make a championship run.

Could someone like Jimmy Rollins be a player that playoff teams are interested in? I don’t see why not. He is a former MVP with playoff and World Series experience. These are the kind of moves the Phillies are going to have to look for throughout this season. Injuries happen also and a team could become desperate for a player with the past of Jimmy Rollins. It is essential that this team looks into getting rid of some of these older players and allowing the previously mentioned young prospects a chance to play and figure out how the major leagues work. Standing still and doing nothing, however, and standing pat with the team at hand is not the way to go about this.

Ruben Amaro seemed to decide a few years ago that he wanted the Phillies to run almost like the Yankees. However, it was quickly realized that no matter how many sellouts or new TV deals they get they will never have the resources to spend like the Yankees do. The Phillies would be wise to take a similar approach to the Yankees hated rivals the Boston Red Sox. There is talent in this farm system. Guys like Franco, Jesse Biddle, Asche, and Ruf are close to making an impact in the majors.

On top of that the Phillies still have a #1 starter in Hamels on the roster in his prime, a young Ben Revere that was ready to explode last year before an unlikely injury derailed his season, and Domonic Brown who just had a breakout season in 2013. If the Phillies just play it smart, use their farm system, and make a few calculated cheap veteran signings then they will be back in the playoffs in a matter of a couple of years. The bigger concern is whether or not Amaro is capable of doing that.

It is time for Amaro to put the checkbook away and to pay more attention to his farm system. It is time for the Phillies to try and grow their own talent instead of attempting to act like a poor man’s New York Yankees and buying it. After all, Ryan Howard, Jimmy Rollins, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, and Hamels were all home grown talent. It is time to find some more home grown talent to replace them. Maybe, it might be time for Amaro to be replaced.

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Cole

    February 12, 2014 at 8:44 am

    A few things…

    One, no it is not time to give Darin Ruf a starting job. He batted piss poor down the end and his defense matches it. What he does deserve is a couple hundred at bats giving Howard days off and occasionally an outfielder, also being the right handed power bat off the bench. Continuing, you are making more of the Abreu signing than necessary. He is there to be one of the last bats off the bench, guy can take a walk and maybe even pop one. Abreu absolutely smashed winterball, so there might be a little something left in his tank.

    Secondly, of course he is going to try and fill the holes to let this team compete again, Howard is finally entering the year healthy, and if they can get it together this team will be in it. The important aspects about signing Byrd, and Chooch is that he didn’t and isn’t going to drop 10+ on players like Cruz or Beltran, which also would cause us to lose a pretty high 2nd round pick. Also Ruben hasn’t touched the farm system in 2 years except to acquire Revere, he is already paying attention to it, especially with the addition of too international free agents last year.

    I’m not saying Ruben is a magnificent GM, but he certainly is not deserving of the bullshit that people are saying these days. He is learning, the whole organization is learning, its quite obvious they are headed in a better direction. If they are out of it come deadline time, you bet your ass a couple of these players are too

    • Vinlo

      February 12, 2014 at 9:10 am

      Thanks for making those points. The writer of this article is about a year late.

      Plus, I keep seeing trade Rollins. YOU CAN’T!!! He won’t leave. If he agreed to waive his 10-5 rights, he would have been gone at last years deadline.

      Ruf is not an OF. He is a first baseman. Play him twice a week at 1st base against LH starters.

      There is no reason and place to play Franco at MLB level. The kid can’t be platooned at 21. He needs to play everyday at Lehigh. If he is what he looks to be, a decision will have to be made about Asche and Franco.

      I agree with “Cole” with the Abreu thing. Writers have to quit with the “isn’t Abreu too old?” They gave him a minor league invite for $800,000. He can draw a walk and pop a home run coming off the bench. And need I remind everyone, that we did a similar thing with Thome and flipped him for minor league prospects Lino and Simon.

      So to recap: The ONLY young player Ruben is “refusing” to give a starting job to is Darin Ruf. Why because he is not an OF. Last years team D was poor. Byrd will automatically improve that.

      A case could also be made that Ruiz could have left and Ruben let Rupp start, but in my opinion Rupp is not a starting caliber catcher.

      • Cole

        February 12, 2014 at 11:04 am

        Agreed with Rupp not being a starter on this team. The players coming to replace most of these guys on the team now are at A ball, most in the upper tiers of the farm system are the guys that were left over after the many trades made following the World Series, just because they are left over doesn’t make them the next crop of stars.

      • schmenkman

        February 12, 2014 at 12:06 pm

        Cole and Vinlo — well said.

  2. Ken

    February 12, 2014 at 9:22 am

    IF i were sitting in Ruben’s chair..Byrd and Abreu would only be in Philadelphia for a hall of fame induction. Howard and Rollins gone at any cost. Utley to First to keep his leadership on the field while taking some pressure off his knees, and the kids would be every where else.except Ruiz to work with a BUNCH of young pitchers…

    • Vinlo

      February 12, 2014 at 11:19 am

      Did you read any of the comments?

      YOU CAN’T TRADE HOWARD OR ROLLINS. They are IMMOVABLE.

      Rollins has 10-5 rights and when asked by management to waive it last year, he would not.

      Howard is owed $85 million still. IF you paid another team $70 million of it, PERHAPS you could make a trade…. and what point would that be?

      • Gavvy Cravath

        February 12, 2014 at 12:00 pm

        Players have changed their minds regarding their no-trade clauses…it’s not really uncommon. If Jimmy gets a cash incentive or a chance to play for a contending team, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him change his stance.

        I agree with others that Ruff is not an everyday player. He hurts you in the field whether he’s at 1B or in the OF and his bat is far from good enough to make up for his defense. He hit about .230 the last two months of the season with 68 strikeouts in 187 ABs, which is probably indicative of what he is as a major leaguer.

      • wbramh

        February 12, 2014 at 12:48 pm

        You’re right, Howard and Rollins are not going anywhere.

        So here are some idle thoughts:

        Turn Howard into the game’s most expensive pinch hitter and put Franco on 1st base.
        Or put Franco on 3rd, Asche on 2nd and Utley on 1st.

        Time to be realists.

        Asking Ryan Howard to do more than he’s physically capable of handling for the sake of justifying his contract only harms the team AND the player. It’s just stupid begetting stupid to make his salary the deciding factor on how often and where he plays.
        Taking it to an extreme, If the Phillies were dumb enough to put me on their payroll at $25 mil a year it would be insane to actually allow me to suit up. Better to drop me into the Phanatic’s costume and send me out to kid’s birthday parties (I’m actually available for under $25 mil). At least a healthy Howard remains a viable weapon against right-handed pitching – or so we pray, so there’s no need (yet) to send him off to entertain at birthday parties – or handle the color commentary in the broadcast booth should Matt Stairs falter. But check back in June.

        If Rollins resumes his now 4-year long slide at the plate, put Galvis at SS. While Freddy may not be the SS of the future, he’s already close to Rollins’ equal at bat and in the field and at 24, Galvis can only improve with opportunity. Better to bring in Jimmy off the bench… or appoint him Ambassador to Lichtenstein. Either would make more sense than continuing to use him as an unintentional fungo hitter to warm up opposing infielders.

      • schmenkman

        February 12, 2014 at 1:06 pm

        w, a couple of points:

        – vs. RHPs, I don’t see Howard as an “option”, since he’s still well above average against them.

        – I’m also not sure what you mean by a “4 year-long slide at the plate” for Rollins. Look at his wRC+ (overall hitting relative to the league) since 2007 (100=league average):

        119, 104, 85, 88, 103, 100, 84

        That looks like a two-year slide, followed by two good years (for a shortstop), followed by a 1-year slide.

      • wbramh

        February 12, 2014 at 1:38 pm

        Schmenk,

        I didn’t refer to Howard as an”option” against righties. I referred to him as a “viable weapon” against righties.
        As long as Ryan can still walk or hobble his way around the bases, he’ll remain a valuable commodity to the team. Leaving him in the lineup against Lefty relievers when the team need runs, not so much – but that’s not the player’s fault. IMO, JMJ has been the victim of similar misuse against right-handed pitching. I’m sure having a weak bench hasn’t helped in either case.

        But yes, I stand corrected on Rollins. It was inaccurate to say he’s suffered through an uninterrupted 4-year slide. Still, I think his drop off is plenty reason for concern. Through all his struggles, Jimmy has certainly maintained his fielding skills, albeit with some expected reduction in range. Considering the industry bar at the position, it would be tough to dismiss either Jimmy or Freddy as starters based solely on their offensive woes. But allowing me to play the role of Nate Silver for a moment, the clock is ticking on Jimmy and the odds of a significant bounce back only get longer.

      • schmenkman

        February 12, 2014 at 1:54 pm

        Apologies w, I misread the Howard piece. And agree on Rollins, although I expect some small bounce back this year.

      • lefty

        February 15, 2014 at 2:12 pm

        Wbramh, I’d do the birthday parties for 23.5, no less.

      • wbramh

        February 15, 2014 at 3:31 pm

        Lefty:
        Is that a straight 1-year deal or with an option?

  3. upandaway

    February 12, 2014 at 9:58 am

    Can people stop referring to Ruf as “young”, and as a “prospect”?
    He’s neither. The guy will be 28 years old in July, and was NEVER considered a prospect. He’s a classic “AAAA” player: Good success at AAA, but can’t cut it as a regular in MLB.

  4. upandaway

    February 12, 2014 at 10:14 am

    Galvis isn’t the answer at SS. Aside from Franco, the high minors are very weak for the Phillies. The best talent is still years away (Crawford, Knapp, Tosca, Altherr).
    NO way this team rebuilds and then contends within 2 years. That’s absurd.
    The window is almost closed. Amaro has driven this team into a ditch, and refuses to add the veteran pieces necessary to realistically contend.
    The best we can hope for is to get some real prospects and young MLB-ready talent by dealing Lee, Utley, Pap, Ruiz, et al at the deadline this summer.

  5. wbramh

    February 12, 2014 at 11:47 am

    Galvis may not be the answer at SS but Jimmy has become Galvis at the plate while Galvis can only get better. In fact, Freddy is already hitting for more power, having 6 HRs in 70 games to Jimmy’s 6 HRs in 162 games.

    And while Jimmy is still an above average fielder, he’s no longer Freddy’s clear superior on defense, either.

    But I agree with your basic premise that this team is not going to be a contender in 2 years.
    Unlike the Cards, Nats or even the Astros, the Phillies have little to build on, nor do they have the Yankees’ or Dodgers’ wallet or the Mariners’ desire to futilely attempt to spend their way into contention with the big boys in LA, Boston and New York. I suspect the Phils are looking at a lost decade and maybe worse if the new TV contract assures them high revenue no matter the quality of the team they field.

    I guess we should be grateful for our boys’ brief run of glory. The last time the Cubs enjoyed that kind of run, Cap Anson was standing on 1st base… but now, even the Cubs have a brighter looking future than the Phillies. But not to worry, the goat is sure to get the Cubbies, again.

  6. DaveWeaver

    February 12, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    I know the author is new to Phillies Nation, so a little bit of slack gets cut for him. But seriously, only a very little slack, as this piece is ridiculous. Also, proofread or edit to prevent mistakes which make readers think that not only do you not know what you are talking about, you do not write well either. It is morale, not moral. Contracts given out by RAJ have hindered, not has hindered. As noted by other posters, Jimmy Rollins will not leave and cannot be traded. RAJ could have let him go when his contract was up and did not, so he is not going to replace him now. They could pay $60M-$70M of Howard’s contract, and either they are out the same money for nothing in return (and do not have a viable replacement) or they are out the same money for nothing in return AND he turns it around somewhere else. RAJ then has to watch Howard hit 30 HRs a year for another team for free (and the Phillies do not have a viable replacement). Darin Ruf is not the answer at 1B and is not even a young prospect. He is a journeyman at this point. The Phillies signed Marlon Byrd and brought back Carlos Ruiz and Chase Utley and are giving Bobby Abreu a shot in Spring Training. They say he is a young 40. They may even still chase Burnett. This will NOT be a rebuilding year for RAJ, and it will not be a year to let the young kids taste the majors. Asche will get a chance to play third. Revere will play 150 games in center if he stays healthy. A few young pitchers will have a shot to make the last few spots in the bullpen and maybe the 5th spot in the rotation, just like every season. The only way any of the kids come up from the minors to play significant time is to cover injuries. And even then, if injuries occur and the Phillies are somehow in contention, RAJ has enough cash saved this year to go out and make a trade to fill the spot with a proven veteran. RAJ has gone all-in. This team is almost fully signed for 2015 as well. It is incredibly rare for a GM to rebuild his own team. They usually play their hand until the last, get fired, and a new GM comes in and rebuilds. Oddly, the new guy usually does that with the pieces the previous GM drafted. If the Phillies ownership thinks the farm system is deep enough, and that the lean years were not all his fault, RAJ may get a shot to start swapping in some of the younger kids as the most recently signed contact extensions expire and retooling slowly, a few positions per year. That would be 2016 or 2017 at the earliest.

    • FTS

      February 12, 2014 at 2:57 pm

      Two mistakes does not mean the author can’t write first of all. Second of all, just because you have a different opinion than him does not mean he “doesn’t know what he is talking about.”

      Quite frankly he brings up good points and the general point of his article is correct…Ruben Amaro has been a terrible GM. He took what Pat Gillick built and has made a mess of it. Howard was not much younger than Ruf when he started really playing in MLB either. Ruf still has more upside to him.

      However, that is not even the point of the article…His point that Amaro tried treating the Phillies like a NL Yankees isn’t too far off. This team has not been run the correct way and it starts with the GM. There’s a reason we have gotten worse and worse every year since we won the World Series meanwhile teams like the Cardinals are able to stay consistently good YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT. The Phillies had the means to do that and instead gave out bad contracts and tore the farm system apart. Maybe you don’t know what you are talking about..

  7. Keith

    February 12, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    The author has points though. I said three years ago that the Rollins contract was terrible. No one else would offer more than 2 years at $15M total. Amaro gave him 3 years at $11M each with a pretty easy vesting option for a fourth year. Since then, the Phillies have likely lost Pence and/or Victorino because of it. How much better would the Phillies lineup be with either of them still in it and Galvis at SS?

    Howard is essentially untradeable. The only way to get rid of him now is to eat at least half the contract. The only trade commodities the Phils have are Lee and Hamels. No matter what, I don’t see Amaro trading either to rebuild. Then again, I don’t even want to see Amaro around for a rebuild.

    • George

      February 15, 2014 at 11:17 am

      I doubt seriously that the Rollins contract had anything whatsoever to do with losing Pence or Victorino, particularly Vic, who had shown signs of decline and was at the end of his contract anyway. Pence wasn’t going to re-up for anything reasonable, either. You trade guys like that whether or not a SS gets in the way.

      People talk about rebuilding, but when an aging veteran like Victorino is traded for a young pitcher with loads of upside, they complain, too. Pretty stupid, if you ask me.

  8. Eric Hines

    February 15, 2014 at 10:59 am

    Again: the Phillies commodities everyone wants to get rid of are essentially untradable. Just because you think you want to “rebuild” doesn’t mean that someone is going to trade you good young rebuild material for your refuse.

    Ruf will probably be good for something in the MLB, but I think it’ll probably be in the other league where there’s more places to stick him.

    Franco . . . why in the world do we want to rush Franco to the majors? He was at AA last year. Next year let him come up as needed and as his performance justifies. It’d be bad for the team and bad for him to commit to him at 1B on the basis of wet fan dreams.

    Frankly, I don’t see the raw material around for a successful youth movement this year. Better to let the young guys move up and succeed in the minors and keep options open in the majors.

    The Phillies are kind of in a worse 1979 kind of situation: they have some good players, some of them who have struggled with injuries, some of whom seem to be at the tail ends of their careers and they have some fairly promising youngsters. They nought to use everyone more or less like the 1980 Phillies used all those folks–as performance justified–and see where they get to.

    Keep your options open–lay in guys on short commitments who might help you win this year if (Rollins Utley and Howard) collectively produce. Get rid of folks as you can and get what you can for them if they don’t.

    That way if you DO start turning to guys like Franco, the stakes are low and expectations are already dashed. It’s pretty elementary.

  9. wbramh

    February 15, 2014 at 3:27 pm

    To play Devil’s advocate, there is a school of thought which suggests that talent, both physical and mental, will always perform up to the level they’re placed at. For example, colleges have discovered that (statistically) an A student from a poor high school will probably outperform a C student from a top high school. While empirical evidence of same may be harder to quantify in baseball, I think it’s a reasonable hypothesis to consider.

    MLB is currently brimming over with 21-year-old stars. While Schmenk and others would rightly point out that most of those young stars had exceptional (A++) statistics at every level of instructional ball, there’s Dom Brown, a player was left to languish in the minors year after year, ostensibly in need of additional coaching. Yet, Dom only approached his pre-billed potential after instruction from his major league hitting coach. I would posit that “the kid” would still be languishing in AAA or AA (or gone) had somebody in the front office not made the do or die decision to bring him north last year and supply him with on-the-job training from the right tutor. Or as crouching tiger Stan Lopata must have thought well into his successful but once foundering big league career, “thank God for that giant small tip from Rogers Hornsby.”

    If the Phillies want to give Maikel Franco time to hone his natural talents in a new position – say 1st base, before bring him north, then fine. But how much time should that transition take for a guy who may be naturally suited for the position in the first place? And when your star pitchers are losing games by 3-2 scores, how do you not find space for Franco on a team that just finished one notch from the cellar?

    I’m of the opinion that baseball is just not all that complicated. It sure ain’t brain surgery.
    If a 21-year-old kid whose been playing the game since he was five can’t grasp the concepts then he probably has no chance to become a successful professional. Unless they’ve been playing in the jungles of Borneo, 26+ rookie sensations are usually found in Malamud novels.

    Of course, there’s always the possibility that the Phillies’ minor league coaching system sucks as much or more than their current talent pool.More probable is the historical effect on the franchise of being late to embrace change, from integration to sabermetrics. And sometimes you have to take chances. Will a fast-tracked Maikel Franco prevent the Phils from rising in their division or will a team full of veterans like Michael Martinez sooner keep them out of contention? Franco may be 21-years-old but he’s also a grown man – and a rather large one with natural skill and power. If the team could put their trust in a 25-year-old center fielder boasting a pop gun bat and arm and a bad habit of running in the wrong direction, why not give a guy who already has so much more upside a chance to play on the same level?

    Yeah, he may totally bomb out in the Bronx, er, South Philly and need a month in Kansas City, er, Lehigh Valley, to get his rhythm back (and stink there, too). Or maybe he’ll go 0 for 12 before blasting one off of Warren Spahn, er, Stephen Strasburg.

    Or maybe, like another Phillies 3rd baseman, he’ll bat .196 with 136 strikeouts in his rookie season. What would this management crew do with a young player like that???

    • Lefty

      February 15, 2014 at 5:18 pm

      wb- I think the Schmidt example is a little unfair in that he clearly showed that special capability to become a superstar, despite a rough rookie campaign. If Makiel Franco has THAT type of potential, then they certainly should bring him north.

      And, I’d argue that they actually brought Dom Brown up too soon, and that as much as anything, delayed his development. There are simply some young 21 year old stars that are ready, and some that are not. Whether the Phillies officials have the ability to determine who is in one category or another is certainly in question, but….

      In my humble opinion-
      The problem comes when a person decides that they all belong to one side or another, no matter who they are. It really has to be a decision based on each individual, and more than just stats with youngsters, the decision has a lot to do with make-up and maturity level as well. They’re just kids- and sure they’ve learned know how to play the game, but have they the maturity to utilize all that given knowledge and talent yet? Do they know how to live out of a suitcase in 3 different cities in 9 days several times a season? Do they understand that they simply can’t miss the bus or plane in Chicago? That they can’t overdo when drinking, as many kids their age do? Despite being “adults” they’re still just kids to me.

      We know some of these guys can play, but we know nothing about the human stuff- and that’s my real problem with this otherwise well written piece by Mr Shnayder.

      • hk

        February 15, 2014 at 5:50 pm

        I’m with Lefty. I see no reason why they should rush Franco unless he’s ready…and I doubt he’ll be ready. Franco played 1/2 a season at AA in his age 20 season. Schmidt played almost a full season at AAA (September call-up) in his age 22 season. If Franco is going to be what we all hope he is, they have to develop him properly and give him at least 1/2 a season and probably a full season at AAA.

      • wbramh

        February 15, 2014 at 6:37 pm

        Lefty,
        All good counter arguments,.

        Of course, while making the comparison to Schmidt you could also argue that Franco need only be half the player Schmidt turned out to be in order to earn his position (wherever that might be).

        As for maturity, Puig was barely a mental adolescent went the Dodgers brought him up and he made endless mistakes in the field. Still, it would be a losing case to argue he needed time in the minors – and only to obtain the same mental discipline that he could have received in the majors. After all, major league teams allegedly have hitting and batting coaches for a reason (although I’m not always sure that’s the case).

        As for dealing with packing bags, Puig managed to defect from Cuba so I assume he came into the league knowing how to travel light and fast. In fact, he never had the luxury of being coddled from Little League days on. Many domestically raised athletes these days have never had to learn how to tie their own shoes – but they all have roommates to help them make busses and planes.

        I’m not debating the probability that young players may take more risks, but then, Mick, Whitey and Billy were still closing bars at the end of their careers – and I doubt the Babe learned how to drink and womanize from Brother Mathias back at St. Mary’s. Seems you’re a party guy or not (and you can handle it or not) and I would venture to guess that there are less victims of immaturity in baseball today than there were 50 years ago when money was less a factor and it still took a second job for a none superstar to survive.

        But I totally agree that being “ready” should be a judgment made on both a talent level and on psychological makeup. Unless I don’t know something, players like Brown, Ruf , Revere, Stutes and JMJ all seem like decent kids (a 30-year-old is still a kid to me). If trouble, you can bet their agents will make sure they’re tucked in by 10:00 PM. Johnny Callison didn’t make enough money to afford an agent.

      • George

        February 15, 2014 at 7:08 pm

        wbramh:

        In case you’ve forgotten, some of those immature guys of the past weren’t what you claim they were. Mickey Mantle, for instance, was farmed out after being called up, and Ruth famouisly served a long suspension for his bad habits. Had someone taken some time to allow some of these players to find themselves, perhaps, in the case of Mantle, he wouldn’t have had so many physical problems throughout his career, nor passed away at a rather early age due to liver problems.

        The ones you’ve mentioned were HOFers, and I’m certain that there were way more who never made it art al, or had very short careers due to mismanagement during their rookie and sophomore seasons. You just don’t read about them, because they were rushed onto the field and crashed there.

        I’m with Lefty and hk here. Give these kids a chance to learn as many nuances as possible before throwing them into a game full of veterans who have 10-15 years of major league tricks to fool them with.

      • Lefty

        February 16, 2014 at 8:01 am

        wb, I could be wrong about some of the details I listed as reasons. I sometimes over- elaborate. You could be right about the kids’ training and ability to handle these things. But I think that’s also part of my point- we don’t know these things for certain, and therefore Mr Shanyder’s argument that it should be a blanket policy to just play all the young players in 2014 is incorrect. Rebuilding isn’t a bad idea, it’s a damn good one. But IMO- but you have to start from the bottom up. You can’t rebuild like the Red Sox, because we don’t have the horses on the farm like they have been building up for many years- it takes years. As much as I dislike Mike Rizzo of the Nationals, he walked into his job and stated the first order of business would be to build up the system, and he did. (yes he had high draft picks, etc- that’s a different topic)

        I think what I was doing was drawing on my own experience in my first comment. I have two kids that were once 19-21 year olds, they are older now. I couldn’t be more proud of them, they’re my true heroes. But I know what they were like during those ages. Both were responsible 4.0 students who were also working jobs while undergrads. They were certainly grown up enough to be adults, but…. I can’t think of a better way to explain it, except to say that they just were not quite “there” yet. Maybe I can blame the coddling my wife and I gave them for that. Maybe todays ballplayers have had different type of parenting allowing for faster maturity. I just think we don’t know who is ready and who is not, that’s all.

  10. George

    February 15, 2014 at 7:18 pm

    A correction and a further comment, wbramh:

    “art al” should be “at all.”

    Puig isn’t a good comparison. You can’t possibly compare a one time trip across the ocean to living out of a suitcase for weeks and months at a time. And I doubt whether you have any insight whatsoever about whether he was coddled or not growing up, or whether a player such as Franco, also from a different country and culture, has been coddled or not, either.

    If you’re going to debate, at least base your arguments on something you can actually substantiate.

    • wbramh

      February 16, 2014 at 12:52 am

      Hmm, well that was a bit of an unnecessary put-down at the tail end of your otherwise reasonable counter argument.

      First of all, I specifically said that Mantle was sent down to the farm during his rookie season. (at age 19!). He was back in the Bronx the same season, in time to receive his most serious injury which didn’t come as a result of carousing. but from getting his foot caught in an exposed drain pipe while trying to avoid crashing into DiMaggio during the ’51 series. He never fully recovered from any of his early injuries dating back to high school. My mention of Mantle, Ford, Ruth etc was to point out that players of all ages caroused back then. In fact, the veterans tended to be the ones doing the most carousing. And yes, I can substantiate that because I used to drink alongside those players six decades ago when they were home in New York. Opposing team veterans often joined them over a few pitchers (of beer, that is). Rookies weren’t liked very much back then and probably still aren’t. My right leg was numb for a week after sharing a packed bench seat when the Orioles were in town. Boog Powell was sitting on my leg all evening and we were both too drunk to move – and yes, he had to play a game the next afternoon while I had the luxury of sleeping it off and waiting for circulation to return enough to make a cup of coffee for myself.

      While I can’t substantiate what Yasiel Puig’s childhood in Cuba was like (since he has never shared that part of his story with anyone), I can only tell you for sure that he tried to escape Cuba by boat… not once but many times by his own accounting, only to be caught by Cuban authorities and dragged back. That much Puig has confirmed and we know he was banned from playing ball in Cuba due to his attempted defections.

      We also have more than an inkling as to what life in Cuba was/is like for other top Cuban baseball players since some 30 players have defected and many have told their stories. Yoenis Cespedes claims the government allowed him just barely enough to survive and not a peso more even after he reached a measure of stardom. He remained too dirt poor to even buy a used bicycle. Cespedes left his family behind, including the 2-year-old son he loves, hoping that someday in the not too distant future he can return to Cuba and offer his family a chance at a better life. He even knows where he wants to build his house. That window of possibility would never have existed had he stayed in Cuba for the remainder of his career (CESPEDES words – not mine).

      Perhaps the other 28 lived liked kings. I could probably do the research and offer still more substantiation but I won’t bother; the answer should be obvious. Private jets, 3-star hotels and millions of dollars in your bank account probably differs from life in Cuba… even if they do make you repack your own suitcase in MLB. I’m guessing the Dodgers handle the uniform laundering and Puig doesn’t have to soak his jock strap in hotel sinks. What does screw up Cuban players (at any age) is (like Cespedes) leaving their family and friends and not being allowed back to visit or bring them to the U.S.. That much I have researched and the pain appears to be shared by all who have talked openly about their previous lives. In that regard, they are a uniquely suffering group. But again, that comment should not require substantiation. It’s self-evident, isn’t it?

      All that said, my comment wasn’t about the pain and suffering of sports travel on young players. No doubt they are less accustomed to it than older players but then again, spending two or three or five years traveling 80 times a year from one crappy town to another by bus and staying in Motel 6s is a pretty good warm-up to the Bigs. My comment was about the need, or lack thereof, of keeping a kid in the minors until he’s 23 or 25 years old.
      far longer than other major sports – and MLB is the only sport which can retain players for relative peanuts until a position opens for their services (or they can be bait in a trade) and the big money clock starts ticking. The fact that MLB teams occasionally “red shirt” budding careers is no secret.

      But money considerations aside, my contention is that minor league training offers diminishing returns, that major league “coaches” should be able to complete the process – and first and foremost, that talent rises to the level it competes at. That’s all! Agree or disagree.

      I’m not denying that my theory could be totally wrong concerning the worth of extended minor league playing time. I also happen to believe that baseball spent it’s first 125 years measuring a player’s worth by 19th century metrics and that sacrifice bunts are more often a waste of an out. Hence, my hypothesis on extended minor league training may be worth ignoring – or you could make intelligent and reasonable counter arguments as Lefty and HK managed to do without adding uncalled for insults. We’re sharing opinions about a GAME and not overrunning Belgium!

      I appreciate the translation of “at al” but I assumed you meant “at all” and it was a simple typo. But that reminds me of something I’ve wanted to get off my chest and is honestly unrelated to your comments. A little wave of nastiness appears to have permeated the general discussion of late, from people in the meanest of spirits informing PN writers that they don’t know what they’re talking about to belittling writers and commenters alike for inconsequential spelling, grammar and even typographical errors. There are civilized and less than civilized ways to challenge someone’s comments even if you believe they’re a total fool. I hope the personal attacks stop soon because nothing will kill dialogue faster than angry people devoid of any sense of common decency.

      • George

        February 16, 2014 at 10:56 am

        Personally, I don’t really care if you think I put you down; that’s your opinion, and I respect that y7our opinion may differ than mine.

        But getting back to your comments, I still don’t see in your earlier posts where you’ve said Mantle was sent down. It was only this last post that you came oput with that. It’s also irrelevent whether you can back up claims of carousing by olt time players because that6’s not whaty I mentioned as being unsubstantiated. My argument was that you can’t substantiate anything in your comparison of Puig to other players, and particularly another player from a different culture, such as Franco. I also don’t give a crap about what Puig might claim; he’s a flamboyant character and I wouldn’t particularly trust his word. Maybe he was treated like crap; can you HONESTLY claim that other players haven’t been?

        And while I do agree with your last paragraph for the most part, I can’t go along with it fully. I try not to insult people, but many times, that seems the only way to get through to some types, because I certainly can’t send a two by four over the internet to whack a stubborn, overly sensitive, beligerant, highly defensive and offensive person upside the head when that person needs it. (I’m not aiming that comment at you, in particular because most of your debate points have some basis in reality. But sometimes even the best of us go a little over the top.)

      • George

        February 16, 2014 at 11:21 am

        Some other things stand out to me: if you aren’t commenting about “pain and suffering of travel,” why did you even bring it up? Or if someone else did, why try to argue about it?

        As I offered before, your opinion may be different, but in my mind, asking a person to submit something he can actually substantiate is not an insult. It’s a critique, which sometimes, I’ll admit, feels like an attack. You must have felt it somewhat a valid issue, or you wouldn’t have tried to substantiate your Puig remarks, or those other remarks I hadn’t really questioned.

        You are welcome to your thoughts on minor league coaching. My thoughts are that you may be right to an extent, but that a major league team can usually ill-afford “on the job training” and that’s why some guys don’t get called up as soon as fans might like. A player can certainly learn from ML coaches and ML situations, but a AAA type of mistake can cost a team a game, which can ultimately cost them a playoff spot, which can in turn cost them millions in fan support.

      • wbramh

        February 16, 2014 at 12:32 pm

        George:
        Let’s take this step by step… again.

        1. You stated, “Personally, I don’t really care if you think I put you down.”

        Well, that’s a fundamental difference between you and me. When I make an counter-argument I try to be polite and not be personal or accusatory (the latter was your tone). If any part of my rebuttal would be interpreted as a put-down, I would instantly apologize.

        2. You stated, “I still don’t see in your earlier posts where you’ve said Mantle was sent down. It was only this last post that you came oput with that.”

        My reference to Mantle’s history can found in my original post above that started this particular thread. I said, ” Yeah, he may totally bomb out in the Bronx, er, South Philly and need a month in Kansas City, er, Lehigh Valley, to get his rhythm back (and stink there, too).”
        I was (playfully) referencing the Dom Brown’s of the Phillies against Mickey Mantle’s brief demotion to Kansas City at the same time.

        You said, “if you aren’t commenting about “pain and suffering of travel,why did you even bring it up?”

        I didn’t. Another poster did.

        You continued . “Or if someone else did, why try to argue about it?”

        I obviously responded because I had another view. I was making a counter-point and not being argumentative.

        You said, “I also don’t give a crap about what Puig might claim; he’s a flamboyant character and I wouldn’t particularly trust his word.”

        Again, read my response to your accusation that I throw out “unsubstantiated” claims.

        I specifically said that Puig doesn’t talk about his time in Cuba. What we know for sure about Puig comes from Cuban authorities who banished him from baseball BEFORE his final and successful attempt to flee the island. Must I now obtain a notarized oath from Cuban authorities to satisfy you on the Puig non-issue?
        To substantiate my claims, I instead, and very specifically in CAPs referenced Cespedes’ report of his experiences in Cuba.

        You said, “You are welcome to your thoughts on minor league coaching. My thoughts are that you may be right to an extent, but that a major league team can usually ill-afford “on the job training” and that’s why some guys don’t get called up as soon as fans might like. A player can certainly learn from ML coaches and ML situations, but a AAA type of mistake can cost a team a game, which can ultimately cost them a playoff spot, which can in turn cost them millions in fan support..”

        A total rational response. I would only suggest that the team is already losing millions due to a major drop in attendance to match the drop in on-field performance – and I wouldn’t be surprised if their final deal with Comcast was affected by the drop in play. That last part is speculation.

        Or if someone else did, why try to argue about it?”

  11. hk

    February 16, 2014 at 6:58 am

    wb-

    Great post. While I actually agree with your “minor league training offers diminishing returns” in many cases, I think there are two points that you should consider. One is that I don’t think you can make that claim in all cases. Keeping players for a 2nd and 3rd year of AAA because there’s not a spot on the big league roster may produce diminishing returns. Having a 21 year old like Franco get at least 1/2 a season and maybe even get 1 season plus a few months before promoting him in June 2015 may in fact produce significant returns. The other is the financial considerations of rushing players’ eligibility for arbitration, then free agency. With the considerable salaries available to players in their 4th years and beyond, teams have to be sure to get maximum production out of those players in their first 3 years when they play for a pittance (by MLB standards). As I said, great post and we agree on a lot, but I think it would be counter-productive to rush Franco in his age 21 season after only 1/2 season at AA.

    • wbramh

      February 16, 2014 at 8:42 pm

      Thanks HK,

      Okay, her’s my 2014 lineup.
      It should be easy to put together, at least in my fantasy world.

      But first the Phillies will need trade Asche along with Brown to the Dodgers for Matt Kemp and a prospect and/or partial payment of Kemp’s current contract.

      The Dodgers still have their 3 studs in the outfield plus the lefty utility guy in Brown to rotate or come off the bench. a lower payroll plus an upgrade at 3rd in Asche.

      The Phillies would end up with a more balanced lineup, better defense and 5 guys in a row who will hit between 20 and 30 HRs, apiece – and big right-handed bats on both sides of Howard which should raise his potential, immensely.

      Uribe had a good bounce back year but he’s 34 and a free agent next year and Kemp doesn’t want to be the 4th Dodger outfielder. I’m sure the Dodgers would be happy to move his salary. If Kemp is healthy again, he’s still just 29-years-old (younger than Ethier and Crawford) and has high potential to be all star caliber again. Put him in CF and move Revere to LF.

      Here’s my dream (or just dreaming) lineup:

      Revere
      Utley
      Kemp
      Howard
      Franco
      Byrd
      Rollins
      Ruiz

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