Amaro after yet another Phils loss: 'We're not perfect'

Chase Utley was the only bright spot for the Phillies' anemic offense against the Nats:He was 2 for 4, and drove in a run and scored another in the 9-2 loss.
Chase Utley was the only bright spot for the Phillies' anemic offense against the Nats:He was 2 for 4, and drove in a run and scored another in the 9-2 loss. (Associated Press)
Posted: August 11, 2013

WASHINGTON - When Ruben Amaro Jr. signed Delmon Young to play a position he had not played in six years, the general manager stood in the middle of the Phillies clubhouse on a Tuesday afternoon in January and proclaimed: "Ideally, he'd be playing right field every day."

The experiment ended in the afternoon before the team's 115th game, a 9-2 loss to the Nationals, when Young was designated for assignment to clear space for Casper Wells, who joined his fifth team in six months. The transaction was an indictment of how Amaro failed in constructing one of his corner outfield spots.

Amaro delivered Young's eulogy in 23 words: "I don't think he performed consistently enough to warrant being on the club and taking at-bats away from Darin Ruf and Domonic Brown."

The future does not include Young, nor does it include Laynce Nix, similarly jettisoned earlier in the week. Amaro conceded his mistakes in those two transactions. The Phillies did not tender Nate Schierholtz a contract because of Nix's presence. They shifted Brown to left field in spring training to accommodate Young's eventual arrival. That reduced Ruf's opportunity.

Phillies rightfielders possess the 11th best OPS (.727) in the National League with 13 homers in 423 at-bats. Schierholtz has 15 home runs in 315 at-bats for the Cubs. Ruf had 19 home runs in 38 career major-league games before Friday.

"We're not perfect," Amaro said, "and we probably made a mistake on Schierholtz."

The equation contains many variables. Schierholtz is thriving in a relaxed environment on a mediocre club.

Manager Charlie Manuel noted Schierholtz made adjustments to his swing. A broken toe prevented the Phillies from evaluating him at the end of last season. Still, their scouts recommended his inclusion in a major trade for Hunter Pence.

Ruf stumbled to a poor spring training, a time when every action was magnified. The Phillies did not feel his fielding was adequate enough. They waited until July 6 to promote him.

"I wasn't worried about his bat," Manuel said.

"It wasn't fair to stick him out there," Amaro said, "and expect him to play out there."

Hindsight allows for a new assessment.

Young was not productive, save a two-week stretch at the end of June when the Phillies were said to be contemplating his release. He batted .260 with eight home runs in 80 games. His .699 OPS would rank 116th among all major-league hitters if he had enough plate appearances to qualify.

The Phillies will pay Young $1.75 million for his services so long as another team does not claim him on waivers. Amaro said he had "very little discussion" with other teams regarding a possible trade.

Young was due another $150,000 bonus for reaching 300 plate appearances; he finished with 291. His contract was worth a maximum of $3.5 million.

"He tried to do too much," Manuel said. "He chased a lot of breaking balls down, and that comes from trying too hard or not being sharp."

Both Amaro and Manuel said it was time to learn more about the team's younger talent. Young is but 10 months older than Ruf.

"We have to move forward," Amaro said. "If we don't take chances on guys or do things to improve our club, what's the point of doing this job?"

Young was summoned Friday afternoon to the ballpark by Manuel and later retreated to the team hotel for a conversation with Amaro. The former No. 1 overall pick, just 27 years old, faces a precarious future. His contributions to the Phillies were infinitesimal.


Contact Matt Gelb at mgelb@phillynews.com.

Follow on Twitter @magelb.

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