As bad as Jeff Manship has been this season, I actually felt bad for him Saturday when he came up lame running out a ground ball in the 13th inning after pitching 4 scoreless innings. His injury kind of epitomized the Phillies season, even at their best something always goes wrong or doesn’t work out. The Phillies decided to call up two relievers, LHP Cesar Jimenez and RHP Phillippe Aumont, and send down Darin Ruf to “Get more at bats.”
Coming off back to back 14 inning games Friday and Saturday Jimenez and Aumont would be needed Sunday against the Mets in a close game after Cole Hamels pitched fantastic, leaving the game after 7 IP tied 2-2. Jimenez pitched a scoreless eighth and looked great, 10 of his last 11 appearances at Citizens Bank Park have been scoreless. Aumont appeared in the top of the 11th, got the first two batters he faced out, then walked Travis d’Arnaud and gave up a two run home run to Lucas Duda. The Phillies would eventually lose the game 4-3.
The Phillippe Aumont experiment is an experiment I wish the Phillies would give up on. Sure, Aumont has some electric stuff and has the ability to rack up the Ks but he’s never been able to put it together at ANY level of professional baseball. Phillippe Aumont’s career numbers are not impressive; 15-30 with a 4.19ERA in 220 Minor League games and 1-5 with a 4.37 ERA in 41 MLB games. Aumont was just 1-1 with a 4.13 ERA, racking up 21 walks in 24 innings. The Phillies reasoning for bringing Aumont up was that six out of his last seven appearances have been scoreless, but clearly Aumont has control issues that lead to him making mistake pitches like he did yesterday.
The sequence of batters faced for Aumont in the top of the 11th went as follows. He started off strong, striking out Curtis Granderson in 5 pitches and getting Ruben Tejada to fly out to center field on two pitches. Could this be a new Phillippe Aumont? NOPE! He walks Travis d’Arnaud on 5 pitches, prompting Phillies pitching coach Bob McClure to come out for a conference. Whatever he said didn’t work. Aumont starts off Lucas Duda with a curveball (what?) for a ball, and then throws a “sinker” right down the middle that Duda CRUSHES to the deepest part of the ballpark for a two run home run.
In a way, Aumont’s top of the 11th was like a microcosm of his career, let’s break it down…
Aumont was acquired via trade from Seattle (with Tyson Gillies and J.C. Ramirez for Cliff Lee) on December 16, 2009; one of the many dumb moves Ruben Amaro has made as Phillies General Manager.
He was drafted by the Seattle Mariners 11th overall in the 2007 Major League Baseball Draft. He is the third earliest Canadian pick (after Adam Loewen and Jeff Francis, both picked in 2002) and the first Quebec player to be picked in the first round in MLB draft history. Aumont signed for a slightly above slot $1.9MM, which represented the 12th largest bonus in the ’07 draft. He signed too late to pitch, but Seattle did put him on a five-day rotation schedule in the instructional league that fall.
In 2008, Aumont appeared in 15 games; starting eight, for the Seattle Mariners A level affiliate, posting a 2.75 era over 552⁄3 innings with 50 strikeouts versus 19 walks. He also began his professional career by not allowing a run in his first six appearances over 172⁄3 innings pitched. He was placed on the disabled list on June 10 and again on August 21, where he remained for the rest of the season.
Aumont began the 2009 baseball season with the High Desert Mavericks, the Seattle Mariners Advanced A affiliate. Because he continued not to produce as hoped, the Seattle organization decided to begin converting Aumont into a reliever. In 29 appearances he posted a 3.24 ERA with 12 saves as the Mavericks closer, earning a promotion to the Mariners AA affiliate in mid-July. AA ball proved too hard for the Canadian, as he posted a 5.09 ERA and compiled a 1-4 record with 11 BB’s in 18 innings. The following season he was sent back down to single A.
On December 16, Seattle cut their ties with him and he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies along with Tyson Gillies and J. C. Ramírez for Cliff Lee.
Then came the 2009 World Baseball Classic:
Phillippe Aumont pitched for team Canada in the 2009 WBC, appearing in the 7th inning against team U.S.A. on March 7. He struggled early, giving up two hits and a walk, before settling down. He then proceeded to retire MLB all-stars David Wright, Kevin Youkilis, and Curtis Granderson in order; the last two by strikeout, to escape the inning with no runs surrendered. This gained him national exposure as he looked very impressive, many scouts thought he could be a big time closer.
However, at the start of 2010, the Phillies decided to move Aumont back to a starter role. This move proved to be a disaster as he pitched to a 7.43 ERA in 11 starts. Again, walks were a major culprit as he issued 38 free passes in just 49.2 innings. Of equal concern, his strikeout rate plummeted from roughly 10 K / 9 IP during the previous two seasons to under 7 K / 9 IP, and his K/BB ratio was even, falling from better than 2.5 over his first two seasons. Phillies Assistant GM Chuck Lamar admitted the aggressive move to AA while converting him to a starter was “a mistake” and Aumont was demoted to Clearwater in early June. He pitched better there, both starting and relieving, as his K rate rose back up to over 9 and his K / BB ratio moved back up towards 2.
Aumont had his best season with the Phillies organization in 2011, posting a 2.32 ERA with the AA Reading Phillies and finishing the year with AAA Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs. In 2012, Aumont made his made his Major League debut on August 23, 2012, pitching a scoreless inning against the Cincinnati Reds. He didn’t pitch badly, going 0-1 with a 3.68 ERA in 14 K’s in 14.2 IP and 9 BB.
2013 got off to an ideal start for Phillippe Aumont, making his first Major League opening day roster. He even got off to a great start and had a six game scoreless streak. However, after allowing three runs on five hits in his final two appearances (1.0 IP) , his ERA went from 2.25 to 4.15 and he was sent back down to Lehigh Valley. Aumont was called up again one more time in late June before finally being sent down for good on July 6, 2013. Aumont was recently called up yesterday, control problems have always been the issue.
Another issue is Aumont’s confidence and attitude. Several articles I’ve come across he’s been quoted as disagreeing with the organization. In an article from The Express-Times by Michael LoRe dated June 2, 2013, quoting Aumont on being sent down by the organization he said:
“It’s very, very confusing,” a frustrated Aumont said after batting practice on Saturday. “Baseball is a very confusing thing because you have so many people who have so many different perspectives on how to do things. At the major league level, (bullpen coach) Rod (Nichols) is telling me something, then I come down here and can hear different stuff. Which way do I go? Do I want to please the people while I’m down here right now or do I do the things the big league wants me to do even if I’m not doing the stuff they want me to do here?
“I’m the one who’s caught in the middle and I have to make a decision. We don’t always make the best decisions, nobody does, but I have to find a medium of where I can get to where I want to be and at the same time, try to do some of the things they want me to do. The bottom line is I’m going to do what’s good for me and whatever anybody else says goes in and out for me.”
“Obviously, they caught me off-guard when they told me they were going to send me down.”
In an article by Matt Gelb in The Inquirer dated July 9, 2013, after the Phillies sent Aumont down for the last time, former Phillies pitching coach Rich Dubee was critical of Aumont:
“I don’t know if he’s understanding of the move,” Dubee said. “Nobody is.”
He added: “He believes in what he’s doing is going to work. You need belief in what you’re doing, but at the same time I think there’s more upside if he gets lengthened out a little bit. I don’t mind headstrong guys. If you don’t believe in what you’re doing, you’re not going to be successful. On the other hand, you have to have some self evaluation to see what’s working and what isn’t working.”
Earlier in the article Gelb mentions:
The Phillies saw no advantage in Aumont being here. The 24-year-old righty appeared in six games since his recall. His ERA was 4.26 with four strikeouts, three walks and a hit batter in 6 1/3 innings. Consistency is an issue that has dogged Aumont, a former first-round pick, ever since his acquisition from Seattle.
Further concerning is a drop in Aumont’s velocity, which Dubee attributed to mechanical flaws. Aumont’s fastball averaged 96 m.p.h. in 2012. He threw it at 94 m.p.h. in 2013. The pitching coach lamented the lack of groundball outs, too.
It became clear then that Aumont had some mechanical issues. Would he fix them? According to a Daily News article by David Murphy back in February, Aumont said he was confident he fixed his flawed mechanics:
“What happened last year was really a question mark,” Aumont said. “Like, ‘Why is this happening?’ All of that stuff. But if you look back on video, I’m not sound mechanically, I was not sound mentally, that’s for sure.”
“The events just kept repeating, repeating,” Aumont said. “I’ve brushed off 2013, like it never happen. Obviously, you learn from it. A bad experience, you can grow from that. But in terms of memory and all of that stuff, it’s all behind me, and right now I’m just thinking about making this club.”
Despite this confidence, the numbers this year show no change from the same old Phillippe Aumont. He went 1-1 with a 4.12 ERA and 21 BB’s in 24 innings. What’s most frustrating is that he’s struck out 26 batters in those same amount of innings. He keeps feeding us and the organization that he’s changed and willing to fine tune his mechanics, but is he really? Is the Phillippe Aumont Experiment worth it? Probably not.