Amaro's Off-Season Acquisitions Doing Well So Far

Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

So far, just about everyone Ruben Amaro picked up this off-season has worked out through the season's first month.

That's it. Give all the Phillies pitchers all the hernias you can. In fact, why limit it to just pitchers?

HERNIAS FOR EVERYONE!!!

On Sunday, A.J. Burnett pitched eight shutout innings in the Phils' 2-0 win over the Diamondbacks in Arizona, finishing off a series win against the Snakes and a 6-4 west coast road trip that put the Phils over .500 at 12-11. And since being diagnosed with a hernia, Burnett, the Phils' top off-season acquisition, has been brilliant.

In fact, Burnett has been solid all year for the Phillies, as has just about every other off-season acquisition made by Ruben Amaro.

In five starts so far this year, Burnett has pitched 29 2/3 innings and has a 2.73 ERA. Although his walk rate is high (5.16 BB/9) and his FIP is high (4.10), but his FB% is the lowest of his career so far (18.9%) and his HR/FB rate is also the lowest of his career (5.9%).

Burnett's strikeout rate is not as high as it has been the last few years, but he is still generating ground balls at his usual rate, and he's keeping the ball in the park. And judging by his last three starts, it certainly looks as if that hernia has magically helped make Burnett virtually unhittable. Crashburn Alley's Bill Baer did a great job in breaking down the changes in Burnett since the hernia diagnosis.

Whatever, give everybody a hernia.

Marlon Byrd, the Phillies' top offensive acquisition, has been solid, but not spectacular. In 102 plate appearances, Byrd has just two home runs and has posted a slash line of .278/.314/.402. And while he's striking out way too much in the early going (nearly one out of every three plate appearances), he has done a decent job as a run producer in the middle of the lineup, leading the Phils in RBIs with 16.

Byrd has also helped stabilize a position defensively that was a terrible weakness last year, manned by Delmon Young and Darin Ruf. The defensive upgrade has been large and noticeable. And the hope is as the weather warms, Byrd will find his power stroke and start driving the ball more and hitting the ball out of the ballpark.

Either way, for two years and $16 million, Byrd has been worth the price.

Carlos Ruiz wasn't necessarily a NEW acquisition, but he was a free agent, so he counts. All Chooch has done is lead virtually all catchers in everything this year.

That's far better than the .235/.279/.370 slash line put up by Brian McCann so far, or the .261/.312/.377 line by A.J. Pierzynski, or the .309/.333/.395 line put up by Dioner Navarro, and even slightly better than Jarrod Saltalamacchia's .257/.388/.486.

Ruiz' fWAR is already at 0.9 and has played solid defense behind the plate as well. And while that third year on Ruiz' contract was a bit of an overpay, the Phils didn't have to give up a draft pick to re-sign him. Chooch certainly appears to be worth every bit of the $8.5 million the Phils will be paying him this season.

Ruiz' back-up, Wil Nieves, replaced turkey bacon magnate Erik Kratz and, so far, the move has paid off. Nieves hasn't done a lot at the plate yet, but does have five hits in 20 PAs so far. Nieves' real value has come on the defensive side of things.

Oh, "the Tinder thing." You know about "the Tinder thing," right?

Anywhooooo, A.J. certainly seemed to enjoy pitching to him on Sunday.

Wil Nieves, shutout machine and lookin' for love. That's a solid off-season pickup, y'all.

As for Roberto Hernandez, the jury is still out on him. He has yet to last more than six innings in any of his five starts so far, and in those five starts he's given up 2, 3, 2, 6 and 4 earned runs. His ERA of 5.81 is high, although his FIP is a bit lower at 4.53. His xFIP of 3.41 would indicate he's given up a high number of home runs per fly ball, which he has, at 23.5%. Unfortunately, that number is right in line with his career number, although it is high when compared to other pitchers league-wide.

The good news is Hernandez is striking out hitters at a much higher rate (8.54 K/9) than he has throughout his career, and his GB% of 51.8% is right in line with his career numbers. Hernandez has to keep the ball down, because when he doesn't, those balls leave the ballpark.

Hey, he's the #5 starter on a one-year, $4.5 million deal. If you were expecting a whole lot more out of your #5 starter, then you must think it's 2011 and the Phour Aces are still here.

The lone bullpen pick-up this offseason came in the trade of Erik Kratz to Toronto that brought Brad Lincoln to Philly. He didn't get a chance to do much in the 'pen this year, pitching only 2 1/3 innings, giving up three earned runs and five hits.

Of course, these are all just very early returns. There is a lot of season to go and we'll see how these older players hold up as the season wears on.

But, so far, Amaro's off-season targets are helping the team win, and are doing so at a relatively low cost, without mortgaging the future.

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