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Dr. Strangeglove: On Not Characterizing One’s Negotiations

Posted by Michael Baumann, Fri, November 11, 2011 06:43 AM | Comments: 20
Dr. Strangeglove, Opinion, Posts

Apparently the rules of the world now include a moratorium on all sports discussion on the internet that doesn’t involve some sort of anger at Joe Paterno and Penn State. I apologize for violating that moratorium.

The good folks over at The Good Phight have a device called the Ruben Amaro, Jr. Smug Advisory System, a machine that does exactly what the name would suggest. I bring this up because on Monday Rube produced possibly the most smug, self-satisfied utterance ever attributed to a major league general manager. Asked about his pursuit of a closer, Amaro said the following:

“I do not characterize my negotiations.”

Oh, snap.

I imagine Amaro sitting around a long table with reporters and other Phillies brass while making this statement. In fact, I’ve illustrated my mental image of the scene for you:

But when that statement was followed by rumors of a four-year, $44 million contract extension for Ryan Madson, I had an idea. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with RAJ refusing to characterize his negotiations. He’s doing his level best to construct a winning team and it really shouldn’t matter to him what we think. I actually kinda like the arrogance. I’m actually looking forward to the day when this happens at a press conference. In fact, I am so inspired by his refusal to characterize his negotiations that I’m thinking about doing the same.

I’ve been playing a lot of FIFA 12 recently, mostly in Manager Mode. I have a Manager Mode going with Arsenal, and three years in I found myself winning the league title but having constructed a team with a lot of redundancies and a few weaknesses. In soccer, as you may or may not know, players generally aren’t traded man-for-man, but their contracts are sold. So when Real Madrid acquired Cristiano Ronaldo from Manchester United in 2009, they didn’t send players in the other direction, they agreed with Man U on a price and cut them a check–a $132 million check–to purchase Ronaldo’s contract.

Well, because I couldn’t trade, say, Aaron Ramsey and Kieran Gibbs, for draft picks, I sold them. Other teams offered me ridiculous sums of money for players I would have otherwise kept, and I sold them too. So I wound up approaching the transfer deadline with a team I was mostly comfortable with, and $350 million to spend on players. So I bought. Without regard for how good a deal I was getting or how my new purchases might fit in with my team. Or a regard for the possibility that the money might I did this because it’s a video game and if my team blows up I can just start over.

This, I’ve come to realize, is how Ruben Amaro conducts his business. Let’s give an eight-figure contract to an aging utilityman. Let’s give one of the richest contracts in major league history to the third-best first baseman in his free agent class. Two and a half years before he hits free agency. Let’s develop one of the top pitchers in the league from the minors. Then trade for another. Then trade him, and bring in another top pitcher. Then trade for another top pitcher. Then sign the first pitcher you traded for but traded away as a free agent. Let’s let a power-hitting outfielder walk, then sign an older, worse player to a longer, more expensive contract.

Let’s develop a great young relief pitcher, but then sign an older relief pitcher to a contract the length and value of which send Braves fans into fits of laughter. Let’s develop a great young outfielder, then bench him in favor of Pittsburgh Pirates castoffs. Because we can.

Now, not all of those moves turned out badly. But it’s become evident to me that Ruben Amaro is working with only slightly more foresight and introspection than a two-year-old looking for something to brace himself against while he soils his diaper.

So my response is to follow our fearless leader’s example and refuse to characterize his negotiations. From now on, I’ll evaluate only, after the fact, rather than trying to predict or offer alternatives, because, frankly, trying to predict the actions of a general manager with a video game mentality is driving me slowly to distraction.

Avatar of Michael Baumann

About Michael Baumann

Michael Baumann has written 229 articles on Phillies Nation.

Michael is a graduate student at Temple University who lost his childlike innocence when, at the age of 6, his dad let him stay up for the end of Game 6 of the 1993 World Series. Unsettled by the Phillies' recent success, he has threatened over the years to leave the team he loves if they don't start losing again, but has so far been unable to follow through. Michael spent 4 years as an undercover agent in Braves territory at the University of South Carolina, where he covered football and soccer for The Daily Gamecock before moving back up north. He began writing for The Phrontiersman in June 2009 before moving to Phillies Nation in January 2010.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Kevin Doran

    I get the point, but let’s scale back the revisionist history here. Raul Ibanez was not worse than Pat Burrell.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Pat Burrell had an eight year career with the Phillies in which he hit .257/.367/.485 (119 OPS+) and played really bad defense. Raul Ibanez had a 3 year career in which he hit .264/.329/.469 (111 OPS+) and played really bad defense. Burrell had a great career here. Ibanez effectively had one good half-season.

     
    • Posts: 549 Brian Sr. of CO

      Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

      “Ibanez effectively had one good half-season.” Huh? Seriously, he only had one good half-season? Did you not watch him at all? That half-season was better than “good”, and Raul’s problem was that he was VERY streaky. One month he would hit over .310, and the next month he would hit .220. I am not sure I would put him at “really bad defense”. I watched way to many games with decent catches. Would I say he played good defense? No, I would say mediocre, but “really bad defense” and “one good half-season”? I am guessing you are basing this on the “metrics” which I still think is complete BS, and certain posts on here? Look, Raul is not a HOFer, but seriously, he was not that bad. He did save several games with his fielding, and did win a few with his 30+ doubles, which he has had 30+ doubles every year for the last 10 years. Only one of two active players to do that BTW. Also hitting at least 20 Homers in 7 of those seasons. Feast or famine with Raul, without a doubt, but not quite “really bad”.

       
      • Posts: 0 Phylan

        I’m not basing it on the metrics, I’m basing it on my own two godd**n eyes, and it’s really absurd the way people want to whitewash Raul’s defense because he’s a nice guy. His defense was really bad, there is no gray area. And I don’t particularly care how good he was when he was on a streak, or how bad he was when he wasn’t (Burrell also had a rep for streakiness by the way), the overall outcome was the same. He had 3 seasons here, one was quite good, another was league average, and the last was well below league average. Only the first of those really holds up for a corner outfielder with poor defense.

        I get it, he’s a great guy, and one wants to like him. Let’s not glaze over his performance for no reason.

         
      • Posts: 5449 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        When both the Metrics and the eye test tell you the same thing, it’s a pretty sure bet. Raul was not a good fielder.

        That said, it would be unfair for me to get on Raul too much, despite his noodle arm. I complain about players that don’t play the game right, and Raul is not in that category. He did do a good job of keeping balls in front of him, in many cases because he couldn’t get to them, but it’s okay to know your limitations. And he played balls off the left field wall very well, just didn’t have the arm to get the assists. He’s a good guy that played hard, not his fault he was overpaid/over-length for his age when injuries should have been expected.

         
      • Posts: 549 Brian Sr. of CO

        Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

        Phylan relax dude. Your second post actually had more in there beyond “really bad”. I never said he had good defense. I said mediocre. There is a difference. I am not whitewashing anything. But which is it? Is he “really bad”, or did he go from “quite good”, to “League Average” to “below league average”? I agree with your second post. I never said he was on par with Pence, or Vic in the outfield, or for LFer’s, on par with Matt Holliday, my point was simple. Your first post of “really bad” was a bit of a stretch, but your 2nd post summed it up.

         
  • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Raul Ibanez also got hurt midway through his first season, went on the DL, had off-season surgery before season #2, and was recovering for the first half of season #2…..and then helped CARRY the Phillies….when there were multiple injuries (J-Roll, Howard, Vic, Polanco…) past the Braves and into the 2010 postseason.

     
  • Posts: 5449 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I just thank god for a posting that violates the moratorium.

     
  • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Phylan, your “own two godd**n eyes apparantely didn’t take into consideration what I said above at 8:38 AM.

     
  • Posts: 0 Phylan

    Yes, he had a pretty good late 2010 (.810 OPS from August to October), but pitching is what really carried the Phillies into the postseason. It’s not like they were a bad team to begin with. Still doesn’t change the final assessment. Let’s remember that this started by someone saying he wasn’t worse than Burrell, which is demonstrably false.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Burrell may have been better at one time, but not over the past few years. Amaro was right to let him walk.

       
    • Posts: 549 Brian Sr. of CO

      Avatar of Brian Sr. of CO

      We really can not say that Burrell or Ibanez was better in the last 3 years since Burrell left, because he BARELY played. Tampa Bay didn’t want him. San Fran picked him up, and he finished that season ok, and this season he barely played. Maybe it is telling that he didn’t play anymore?

       
    • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

      Avatar of Chuck A.

      They were 7 games out in August and overcame that to win by 7 games. Yes, pitching was key but you can’t overlook the contribution of Raul and his .810 OPS in helping this team get to the postseason.

      And, yeah….Burrell should NOT have been re-signed after 2008 and Raul was the best available player for the position at the time. And….his signing really didn’t prevent the Phillies from amking other moves that they needed to make.

       
    • Posts: 0 Kevin Doran

      If we’re talking about their whole careers, sure, but we’re not.

       
  • Posts: 0 George

    Bauman, your prejudices are showing. You’ve emphasized the possibly bad at the expense of the good.

    To point out a few flaws:
    The “utility player” has yet to be signed.
    The “top pitchers in the league”–I’m assuming you mean Carrasco–recently had TJ surgery.
    Where the “power hitting outfielder is concerned, for the three years involved, Ibanez had better stats than Burrell.
    And developing relief pitchers and outfielders, but not using them is predicated largely on what the scouts are telling him.

    It seems to me that because you yourself have no clue to Amaro’s dealings you’ve chosen to trash everything he does, and trash them with questionable examples with no facts to back them. Your comment about his foresight is particularly indicative of your hatred: “a two-year-old looking for something to brace himself against while he soils his diaper. ”

    If this is what you schoose to rant about, I’ll go read about Paterno, even though I have absolutely zero interest in college football.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Two errors here: somehow a quotation mark crept in in front of “power hitting outfielder,” and I hit the “s” key by accident in front of choose. Sorry, but I was too disgusted to be careful.

       
  • Posts: 5449 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    I have to add that characterizing negotiations for the media, can sometimes jeopardize those same negotiations. I’d rather he didn’t discuss them.

    Of course I’d also rather that Jon Heyman, Ken Rosenthal and the like be banned from any type of media outlet “for serving no other purpose but to whip up frenzies” , but that’s illegal under the first amendment.

    His smugness doesn’t have to talk if he doesn’t want to, and un-sourced media shouldn’t talk as if they are.

     
    • Posts: 2897 Chuck A.

      Avatar of Chuck A.

      And he probably won’t talk.

       
  • Posts: 0 Frank Riccard

    “Real G’s move in silence, like lasagna.” – Lil Wayne

     
  • Posts: 0 Bob in Bucks

    Michael –

    I found your post very strange. You start by referring to Amaro’s comment ““I do not characterize my negotiations.” as SMUG. I don’t take that comment as anything like smug. As a former negotiator I know, and I think most people undertand, that any public comment regarding private negotiations is not helpful in any way. And especially counterproductive before the negotiations have been completed. If you consider this smug you will have to explain it further.

    You then try to say you will take his refusal to discuss negotiations into your fantasy games. But somehow not discussing negotiations was equated with spending lots of money. I just don’t understand how these things became related.

    Then you have an epiphany that Amaro thinks he is playing a video game and start to reel off examples of what you feel are questionable moves. I think he has made some good and some bad moves but I don’t thing RA believes he is playing a video game.

    A really strange post.

     
 
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