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Amaro’s Failures Were Easy to Predict

Posted by Alex Lee, Tue, August 13, 2013 11:00 AM | Comments: 85
Analysis, Opinion, Posts

Avoidable mistakes by Ruben Amaro and the Phillies front office have the future looking bleak (AP Photo).

Avoidable mistakes by Ruben Amaro and the Phillies’ front office have the team’s future looking bleak (AP Photo).

The Phillies finally designated Delmon Young for assignment on Friday, months (if not years) after most of the Delaware Valley realized that he was not only useless in the short term, but was also hurting the club’s long-term prospects by delaying the audition of players that may actually matter to the future of this team, like Darin Ruf.

Three days before that, it was Laynce Nix that was jettisoned from the roster, only 20 months after the Phillies curiously gave the journeyman outfielder a two-year contract.  Nix was a reasonable addition at the time – he was coming off three straight seasons of .700+ OPS as a lefty bat off the bench – but inking a career bench player to a two-year deal in December, regardless of the player, screamed impatience and, to a certain extent, irresponsibility.

The implication here is something David Murphy of the Daily News effectively tackled yesterday: that many of these moves have failed in an unsurprising fashion.  That is, that Young performed like Young was projected to perform and that Nix’s premature exit from Philly simply exemplified why middling bench players don’t typically get two-year deals.  It is this notion that is perhaps the most damning evidence that Ruben Amaro Jr.’s tenure as general manager of the Phillies has taken a turn towards disaster.  And it is painfully clear that Young and Nix represent only the most recent examples.

A month before Amaro inked Nix, he gave Jonathan Papelbon a four-year deal worth more than $50 million, more than anyone had ever given a closer.  With a gaping hole in left field and a struggling offense that was to be without Ryan Howard, Amaro tied up a ridiculous amount of payroll at one of baseball’s most overvalued and unpredictable positions, forfeiting a first round pick in the process.  The reactions to the signing were mixed, albeit with a negative tilt – while most agreed the money was overwhelming, advocates pointed to Papelbon’s track record as evidence that if any closer was worth it, it was Papelbon.

Almost two years later, Papelbon’s numbers in Philadelphia have been respectable despite a decline in his velocity.  His ERA of 2.57 and WHIP of 1.05 are only slightly worse than his stellar career marks (2.38 and 1.03) and he’s blown only 14.7 percent of his save opportunities (10 of 68) compared to 13.2 percent during his career in Boston (29 of 219).  That the Phillies still got next to no sniffs on him leading up to July 31 is testament to the prevailing stance on closers around major league baseball (which Amaro ignored): with 24 other roster spots to fill, making a sizeable financial commitment to someone who pitches only 60 innings per season is almost never worth it.

That brings us to Amaro’s most egregious move to date: the signing of Ryan Howard to a five-year, $125 million contract that was consummated almost two full seasons before he was scheduled to be a free agent (and didn’t kick in until 2012).  While this atrocity hardly needs more negative coverage, it is important to note that it was a laugher from the start – not only was Howard’s body a walking red flag, but the first baseman’s production was already declining.  At the very least, Amaro could have waited another season (preferably two) before he considered committing nine figures to a player already on the wrong side of 30.  Yes, the Achilles tear was the worst-case scenario, but it was also exactly why pulling the trigger two seasons in advance on anyone, much less a big-bodied first baseman, was so foolish.

Barring a monumental turnaround by Howard, his contract ($85 million left through 2016) may just have the Phillies’ offense stuck in the mud for the foreseeable future.  Consider this: the Phillies offense ranks 23rd in baseball in runs, and it is very possible that their 2014 opening day lineup is already on this team (with the emergence of Ruf and signing of Utley, where can they add an impact player?).  I am optimistic on Ruf and Cody Asche (but less so than Ruf) and liked what I saw once Ben Revere got going, but is a full season of that trio plus Howard going to propel their offense from 24th into the top half of baseball?  I don’t see it.  Such is life with a $25 million albatross at first base.

The common thread here, as Murphy established in his story, is that the Phillies seem to be operating absent any form of conventional baseball wisdom, and it is no longer only obvious to those that prefer advanced statistics to traditional scouting.  They are being lapped by their rivals – the Mets have passed them, for now and probably for the future.  Even the best front offices make mistakes – see Upton, B.J. – but making avoidable ones has derailed this Phillies team.  The trade that sent Cliff Lee to Seattle, while disastrous on all accounts, was more of an error in judgement (and a fixable one, it turned out) than a blatant failure to recognize some of the more established-for-a-reason principles in today’s game.  The Young, Nix, Papelbon and Howard scenarios, while varied in impact, were far more egregious in theory considering the writing on the wall at the time.

It is important to note these predictable failures because the Phillies are again mired in a situation where everything is pointing in one direction and they are motoring along in the other.  They are in a free fall – only the Giants, Cubs, White Sox, Marlins, Astros and Brewers are worse by record – yet they sold off no assets before the trade deadline and just inked their 34-year-old second baseman to an extension (which was actually reasonable, but still counterintuitive considering their roster).  On top of his revealing Young-centric quotes from Murphy’s piece, Amaro said over the weekend that he expects Howard’s performance in 2014, when he will be 34, to more resemble that of 2010 Howard (then 30, pre Achilles tear) than 2012 Howard (32, post Achilles tear).  Some of that is undoubtedly lip service, but it is nevertheless concerning.  The Phillies have an imposing mountain to climb to get back to respectability.  It is impossible to believe they can scale it, particularly when they refuse to learn from the self-inflicted mistakes that put it there in the first place.

Avatar of Alex Lee

About Alex Lee

Alex Lee has written 43 articles on Phillies Nation.

Alex is a freelance journalist from Philadelphia whose work has appeared in the Daily News, the Inquirer, USA Today as well as several other publications and blogs. Now based in Baltimore, he is MLB.TV's most satisfied customer.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

    If you want a case study on the outcome of the Ryan Howard saga please refer to the Mo Vaughn saga which has already played out.

     
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Well….I guess all that needed to be said.

    RE: Howard. At the time of his extension, he was a year away from FA. The Phils were the “gold standard” of the NL. Naturally, a GM would feel a push to keep that going. So, when contemplating giving Howard an extension Amaro is faced with this:

    DON’T sign him and have no one to play first base, lose a Philly icon who was still performing at a high level, and absolutely ignite the fan base into a lather of ill will and outrage.

    SIGN him and keep the core together even though you know that Howard was probably on the decline (but maybe he was just having an off year?) and keep the circus in town for another two to three years. There was hope involved and thats never good.

    It was a very hard decision to make because if Howard would have walked, Amaro would have been burned at the stake.

    So he signed him…hoping against hope that Howard wouldn’t fall off a cliff. And he did.

    I am a firm believer that you don’t outrageously overpay someone because there is no susbstitute readily available or because of bad publicity. I was against the signing and said so at the time. If you don’t Howard to the $25m then you can use that $25m to shore the offense up in other places. I thought that’s what he should have done given Howard’s age and body type and how he was starting to show chinks in the amour. If I was Amaro, I would have pulled a St. Louis ands let Howard play out his contract and then tell him to walk if his contract demands got nuts. But Amaro thought that Howard was gonna get 35m a year if he hit FA. Ruben’s bad.

    In hindsight, it was a bad sign. In foresight it was a bad sign. But Amaro was under great pressure to make it. Does that make it right? – No. And he is being judged by it. He screwed it up. But like a guy on this blog once said “If you ain’t got a at least one bad contract on your team, you just aren’t trying”.

    The Dipsy

     
    • Posts: 32 joycedaffodil

      Avatar of joycedaffodil

      Your response is a well thought out reality check. Howard, Rollins, our closer all spell some difficult years ahead. Are we saying that at the time he signed Howard there was NO other first baseman in the entire system. Nah.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Amaro signed a 29 year old first baseman who had just hit 58, The farm system did not have an alternative at first base at that point, but there

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Let me start again: Amaro signed a 30 year old first baseman who had just hit 58, 47, 48, and 45 home runs, and driven in 149, 136, 146, and 141 RBIs. There was nothing remotely close in the farm system. For a team that wanted to compete for WS, the alternative was letting him become a free agent and hope that Pujols or Fielder or someone else would be available (or that Howard wouldn’t get a better offer somewhere else).

        Yes, even if he didn’t want him to become a FA, he signed him more than a year earlier than he needed to, and he did that, supposedly, to get cost certainty around what a slugging first baseman was going to cost, so that ownership would then give him the budget to go get another ace (who became Lee).

        Rollins’ deal is fine. The Papelbon deal makes sense in traditional terms (higher the best closer you can for big $), but that kiind of deal never made sense, and it’s becoming the exception rather than the rule.

         
      • Posts: 0 Iatethebones

        1 bad contract?? 1?! The arguement can be made that Ruben Amaro has made poor additions to this team from the 1st day he took over for Pat Gillick!!! And every year he get worse with guys like John Lannan who didnt play much in the big leagues last year fir the Nats at all!!! Nix, D Young, Lannan, Papelbon, Durbin, Rollins and on and on, year after year!! I think we all know how the Utley deal is gonna work out, I love the guy but he isnt gonna do anything by hisself!! Signing the Howard deal because he was under pressure?!? DONT INTERVIEW TO BE AN MLB GM, ESPECIALLY IN PHILLY IF YOU CANT DEAL WITH PRESSURE!!!! He ran a “world f#€£in champion” into the dirt!!! Get rid of him already!!!!

         
  • Posts: 0 Bart Shart

    Pressure is what a general manager faces every day. It’s part of professional baseball. The fact that Amaro caves in to pressure speaks volumes. He needs to go and he needs to go soon if this team has a future as a winning organization. He rode the wave of Gillick’s brilliance and now he needs to be swept away with the tide.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Gillick stayed on a while as a consultant, and he also made such dubious moves (even at the time they were made) by signing Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins, and trading two good prospects for a bad-shouldered Freddy Garcia.

      Perhaps that “wave of brillians” wasn’t so brilliant after all, and perhaps Gillick still had or maybe still has some influence in the continued “brilliance” of the front office.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Gillick is still a “special assistant to the team”.

         
    • Posts: 0 George

      I can certainly agree that Amaro seems to cave to pressure, though.

       
    • Posts: 0 hathajay

      Agreed that a GM needs to sometimes make unpopular (with the fanbase) decisions in order to build a team fans can really get behind in the future. Here in Detroit, Tigers GM Dave Dombrowski made a decision to trade Curtis Granderson away, at a time when Grandy was probably the most popular man on the roster, and a point of pride in the city. DD likely knew that he would hear lots of criticism from the fans for making the trade, especially since the return was prospects and no superstars, but he’s good at what he does, and he made the trade anyway. Well, a few years later, we have Max Scherzer and Austin Jackson as a result of that trade, and just about everyone has gotten over not having Grandy.

       
    • Posts: 32 joycedaffodil

      Avatar of joycedaffodil

      I do believe that Amaro is the speaking head for the group at large, so it isn’t as though he made any of these decisions by himself. I agree he needs to go sooner than later.

       
  • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

    There is almost zero hope in this Howard situation, nobody is dumb enough to take on that contract without the Phillies paying a decent chunk but the Phillies are too stubborn to pay for anyone to take him so we’ll be stuck with him unfortunately…

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Being stuck with him isn’t that bad, if he can stay on the field. It’s expensive, but you will get some production from him, at least vs. righties (which is true of many good LH hitters).

       
      • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

        Some production if he stays on the field… I would much rather get rid of Howard and move Utley over to first, maybe take some wear and tear off him and make room at second for Hernandez or asche or someone else…

        I think its getting tough to see Howard being healthy, his body is breaking down.. his numbers showed he was productive before he went to the dl, and I know you have those stats schmenkman lol.. but Idk if we can rely on him…

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Hogey, as long as Utley and manage his knees, Utley+Howard gives you more offense than Utley+Hernandez (and I don’t think Hernandez comes close to making up the difference with speed).

        Utley is also still a very good fielder at second, so you would not be gaining much defensively. If there comes a time when Utley can no longer play second, that’s worth exploring.

         
      • Posts: 0 Mike B.

        Hogey, moving Utley to 1B kills his value and basically means you have Hernandez at 2B next to a below-average 1B. You lose all of Utley’s defensive value and his offensive numbers, while among the all-time greats at 2B, don’t compare nearly as well to first basemen.

         
  • Posts: 2 DerekW1224

    Avatar of DerekW1224

    I never hear this mentioned, but I wonder if it plays a part in Amaro’s recent decisions: he’s a former player. While not a good one, he’s still a former athlete, and athletes always think they can “get it back”. They are always the last ones to know when they are cooked. So maybe Ruben thinks too much like an athlete and not enough like an executive. For him to put so much faith in older guys with injury histories returning to form, that sounds like an athlete talking, not a GM. Just a thought, because I need something besides, “Ruben is an idiot!” to explain the mess the Phils are in.

     
    • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

      Billy beane doesn’t have that problem

       
      • Posts: 0 Ryan H

        yea. Billy Beane’s only problem is his severe lack of world series rings

         
      • Posts: 0 Hogey's Role

        Yeah cause Ruben has how many as gm?…
        Billy beane works with 1/5 the payroll that the Phillies do,I think he does a damn good job with what he’s given

         
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      @DerekW, that’s an interesting theory, but who are you talking about exactly?

      Rollins didn’t have to return to 2007-08 form to be worth his contract.
      Utley doesn’t need to return to 2005-09 to earn his contract.

      You can say that about Howard, but it’s also very difficult to move that contract, so he might as well say you expect him to return to at least 2010-11 form and hope he can stay healthy and do that.

       
      • Posts: 0 billkirk

        Schenkman, remember my post on the trade deadline thread a couple weeks ago? This article was pretty much it, verbatim. RAJ is as qualified to be a baseball GM as I’m qualified to be a NASA engineer. Get him out, and get someone in there who can start cleaning up his mess.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        @billkirk, that’s fine, but I expect the owners to hire someone similar. I.e. Someone who thinks like they do.

         
      • Posts: 0 billkirk

        Good ownership hires good people and lets them make the baseball decisions. I don’t get the vibe that Phils ownership is meddling, and they hired the best in the biz in Pat Gillick once upon a time. But it doesn’t take a genius to conclude that RAJ isn’t up to this (or probably any) baseball job.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        I don’t think ownership would agree with your assessment. They appear to think he’s the guy to execute the rebuild, and it’s been going on for over a year now:

        - they haven’t traded a single prospect worth anything since the first Pence trade 2 years ago
        - they had their strongest draft in a decade
        - there are currently (if you count Revere who is hurt) 4 regulars 1 starter and all but Papelbon in the bullpen with less than two years major league experience on the roster. the other guys are Chooch, Jimmy, Hamels, Chase and Howard, and two guys who are one year placeholders instead of long term free agents
        - they haven’t spent more than $8mm per year on anyone in free agency since December of 2011
        - MAG was the first foray into a big internatonal signing (we’ll see if that goes through, but either way it’s encouraging to see them using that avenue, along with the Encarnacion signing)
        - they’ve added through draft or trade: Morgan, Martin, Revere, Joseph, Simon, Lino, JP Crawford
        - guys they DEVELOPED are playing in Philly with Franco on the way
        (h/t to joecatz here: http://www.thegoodphight.com/2013/8/1/4577438/whos-to-blame-on-the-phillies-dead-deadline-thoughts-on-a-changing)

         
    • Posts: 32 joycedaffodil

      Avatar of joycedaffodil

      I don’t think Amaro is an idiot, he is a giant ego. Do you remember Davey Lopes. Davey made a statement about one of the players, immediately Amaro comes running out to say “Davey doesn’t speak for the management on the health of the players.” When time for his contract renewal it got nasty, Davey is with the Dodgers and seems happy. This guy is a vengeful associate and pretty convinced he is safe and secure in his current role.

       
  • Posts: 0 Alex M.

    The key here is Amaro is not a patient person when he truly needs to be and he does not act when the time calls for it. Looking back at the Howard situation, he made a huge mistake. With a player that had two years left before unrestricted free agency he should have let him play out those years unless Howard was going to take a team friendly contract. The Phillies had all the cards in that situation and just gave them away by offering him so much money. No other first baseman had signed a contract of that magnitude so there was no precedent for giving away that much money.

    Amaro has only made one good move since becoming the GM of the Phillies and that was the original Cliff Lee deal, the Halladay deal was decent but he gave up a lot in return. The Hunter Pence situation to me is the biggest stain on the career of RAJ next to the Howard contract. Adding Pence was great for the playoff push, however giving up a kings ransom for him was insane. Singleton, Cosart, Zeid and Santana for Pence. I understand Singleton he is a 1B and at that time we were committed to Howard. But the other three made zero sense to just give away. Then to make matters worse, Amaro trades Pence to the Giants for NOTHING…..Joseph is having injury issues and likely will never be a major leaguer, Rosin may have a future out of the pen but he is not a starter and Schierholtz was the one Amaro got rid of to keep Nix. So essentially we traded an at worst a good 1st baseman, an ace in the making, a reliever that could become a decent setup man and a future outfielder for a catcher with concussion issues that missed this entire season and a potential long reliever.

    Amaro has made some major mistakes throughout his time as GM, he has no idea how to make trades or sign players. Im pretty sure that those are the two main functions of a GM, it is time for him to go and everyone knows it.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Alex, if you haven’t seen it you might be interested in this take by Joecatz: http://www.thegoodphight.com/2013/8/12/4613710/catz-corner-rebranding-the-message-donthireanotherruben

       
      • Posts: 4390 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        @Schmenkman, I don’t want this to sound like a slight to you or any of your fellow scribes at the Good Phight, as I enjoy reading your Stat Notes and other pieces you and the folks put up.

        But this guy joecatz, is IMO one of THE BEST Phillies bloggers going right now. He’s as good or better than the best in the area, and I read most of them. I don’t comment over there as I have only so much time, but please let him know of my appreciation for his work if you get a chance to communicate with him. Thanks, Lefty.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Not a slight at all, Lefty, I agree, and I and my co-bloggers would agree with you.

         
      • Posts: 0 hk

        schmenkman,

        Getting away from what you think ownership will do, what do you think they should do about RAJ? Do you agree with joecatz that RAJ should be fired and replaced by someone with a completely different approach than RAJ’s?

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        I have more hope for him than some others do, but a reluctance to make better use of all the tools at his disposal is going to put him at a disadvantage relative to his peers. So sure, I’d like to see a young GM who can utlize analytical tools as well as scouts, I just don’t think it’s in the cards.

         
      • Posts: 0 joecatz

        Schmenk, thanks for the Plug.

        and Lefty, thank you for the kind words. Coming from you, (and so you understand what I’m saying here, when I read a piece here, I look for your comments and read them.) that’s akin to Babe Ruth telling some slugger he done good kid.

        This season I’ve tried to do three things with every piece I’ve written.

        1. base it in reality, meaning the reality of the organization, and their projected path, not fantasy.
        2. curb personal opinion, and layer with hard truth.
        3. look for the optimism, not the pessimism.

        number three has been the most important part for me. It’s easy to go out and write negative stuff about the team cause theres a lot of negative. But when so much goes wrong its really hard to see whats gone right. thats kind of backfired a bit, in that a lot of people have labeled me an Amaro apologist, or what not, but the facts are the facts.

        my favorite piece that I’ve written this year is this.
        http://www.thegoodphight.com/2013/6/4/4393902/catz-corner-a-reluctant-thank-you-to-ruben-amaro

        My guess is you got the point, as opposed to others who only wanted to point out how the organization ran the kid into the ground.

        anyway, thanks again.

         
      • Posts: 4390 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        Wow, somehow I missed this. What a cool thing to say joecatz. I’m not as confident as you that I have any idea what I’m talking about most of the time, but it’s much appreciated just the same. Hope you see this.

         
    • Posts: 0 Joecatz

      Name another general manager in baseball that over the course of two calendar years could deal for cliff lee, roy Halladay, roy Oswalt and hunter pence without giving up their top prospect. He literally dealt Jason Donald to a team than had Carlos Santana in their system.

      The only two minor league players that Ruben has traded in over two years are Bonilla and Trevor may. Both expendable replaceable pieces that netted Ben revere and Michael young.

      And there have been 180 players drafted since 2010 by the phillies. They’ve traded zero.

      Think about that for a second.

      Is time to start forgetting about the hunter pence trade. That’s the last (and only) big move Ruben made, trade wise, that was a mistake.

      Where Ruben fails is in the small deals. A non tender of schierholtz here, a signing of chad Durbin there… That’s where he stinks, and that’s where his quick trigger decisiveness bites him. That’s all gut vs statistics.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Marson, not Donald (as you know)

         
      • Posts: 0 smitty

        @joecatz…read your favorite written article above. Kudos to you – interesting perspective and your presentation is very well done. Thank you. I guess a similar point of view might be thank heaven for Dom or this entire year is completely and totally forgettable. Sad to see such a wonderful team reduced to a weak bumbling and confused nine.

         
      • Posts: 0 hk

        Are you saying the Lee to Seattle trade wasn’t a mistake?

         
  • Posts: 0 The Dipsy

    Ryan – just gimme 30-100-.260. Please. And be prepared to bat sixth against lefties.

    The Dipsy

     
  • Posts: 0 GTown_Dave

    I for one am shocked — shocked! — that the hiring of a failed MLB player with absolutely no experience in scouting or talent evaluation by a former PR intern who also lacked any relevant experience hasn’t panned out. It’s almost as if the Phillies’ incestuous, promote-only-from-within FO policy doesn’t work! :-o

     
    • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

      I’m no RAJ fan but MLB darling Theo Epstein had none of the aforementioned experience that you cite Amaro for lacking and managed to win two rings. Billy Beane was by no means a successful major leaguer but has enjoyed success as a GM so I’m not sure what your point is. Are success as a MLB player or time as a scout pre-requisites to being a successful GM?

       
  • Posts: 18 Nah.Roots

    Avatar of Nah.Roots

    Amaro’s Failures Were Easy to Predict…In Hindsight.

    But seriously, how many more times do we have to pound the “RAJ SUX!!! OMG” drum. We get it. The Phillies aren’t good right now so you need someone to blame. We’re all so very proud of ya.

    Stop talking about the Howard contract. Yeah, we all know it’s a horrible contract. We knew this the day it was signed and it will continue to be horrible. You’re not saying anything new, just rehashing a point that has already been beaten to death 1000 times over.

    And stop marginalizing RAJ’s attempt to get us more championships when our offense was in its prime. Surrounding the core with elite pitching was OK with me, and dammit, we almost had back-to-back titles.

    Oh, ant its very easy to say “Fire RAJ”. That’s great and all, but someone needs to be the GM. Who is replacing him? Are you suggesting that simply removing RAJ will magically turn things around? “Fire RAJ” is completely short-sighted.

    Maybe put together a piece on the type of GM the team needs NOW, as opposed to 5 years ago. Yeah? That’d be something interesting to read. Maybe we can break away from the mouth-breathing primitive consensus of firing our GM and actually SAY SOMETHING NEW. I’m sure you have all the answers, right? Because it was so obvious back then, like you said.

     
    • Posts: 62 Alex Lee

      Avatar of Alex Lee

      Been doing it all year bro. Check out the archives. He didn’t sell like everyone told him to, and it’s going to cost this team. I could write the same article in three years about how he failed to capitalize on the few assets he had when he could, and it prolonged the downturn of this team. You don’t need hindsight with RAJ, which is the whole point.

       
      • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

        What was the return on any so-called assets going to be? Nothing he could have acquired in June or July would have fetched another team’s top prospects, just the oft mentioned minor league “organizational filler.” I mean, really what names were connected with any potential trade…zero of note.

         
    • Posts: 0 George

      Alex, I think you missed Nah’s point. WE ALL KNOW Ruben isn’t showing any real skills, and we’ve known it since at least last year or longer. Beating a dead horse won’t make it run.

      What Nah’sRoots is saying is that someone here should make suggestions as to how to replace Amaro and who to replace him with. I, too, would find that far more worthwhile reading than the same-old-same-old diatribes about Ruben’s shortcomings.

      What kind of GM is needed? Who might that be? How should the owners go about hiring such a person?

      Please look into that. Negativity and criticism doesn’t help if there’s no CONSTRUCTIVE thoughts along with that criticism.

       
      • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

        For me telling them to trade Howard for Bryce Harper and Strasburg isn’t my style.

        Or to hire Theo Epstein to GM.

        Its not my job. The “powers that be” need to make the right moves.

        All I can do is comment on the things presented to me. Which is all I have ever done.

        Speculating on trading Jimmy Rollins for Verlander isn’t my thing.

        Watch Halladay pitch well this last month and Ruben get ina bidding war for him.
        Which some fans here I am sure want.

        Not me. But its par for the course of what he does.
        He will covet Halladay.
        Like a fan on a blog would do.

         
      • Posts: 62 Alex Lee

        Avatar of Alex Lee

        Fair enough, but do you think RAJ is going anywhere? I don’t. The Phils are intensely loyal and he has been with them for a longgggg time. Look how long it took them to fire Ed Wade. And with how delusional and behind the times their front office seems, the issues likely go way deeper than RAJ. I actually don’t think you can point to the problems enough. Whatever it takes to get it fixed.

        As for who to replace him with, it is hard to say without knowing who is out there. All I know is that it shouldn’t be an internal hire b/c of the concerns I shared above. We have a large financial advantage over our competitors that is about to get larger with the TV deal. The Yanks and Red Sox of the early to mid 2000s showed just how dominant a team can become when you combine that advantage with creative and forward-thinking team building. I’m not only a numbers guy, but the notions like “walks don’t matter” have to be removed from their thinking… it’s ridiculous. So I guess I’m saying I want someone innovative from outside the organization in here ASAP.

        But again, I don’t think RAJ is going anywhere so that type of talk is less constructive than you think…

         
      • Posts: 0 Joecatz

        Ruben has skills. He’s not a nincompoop. Every decision isn’t a bad one. The problem with this statement is that people actually hitting that he’s completely incompetent. He’s not. He’s got strengths and flaws, but he’s at a severe disadvantage in his inability to grasp the advantages of analytics in roster construction. That goes for signings, free agents, extensions, trades, everything.

        But the farm system is better, he’s drafted better, he’s exploring the international markets, he didn’t go out and sign nick swisher for five years and give up a draft pick to put up the same offensive numbers Michael young did for half the cost and no commitment past 2013…

         
    • Posts: 0 George

      Alex:

      I’m glad you commented finally about what type of GM the Phils probably need, and I must agree that it should be someone outside the organization, because a lot needs changing besides Amaro himself. The scouting staff makes mistakes, they don’t rely enough on advanced metrics, etc.

      Although it may not be as constructive as I or anyone else might like, it’s still better perhaps to offer up some ideas rather than rehash what’s been going wrong. If, as you feel, Amaro won’t be replaced, damning him repeatedly becomes even less constructive, too. Either way it becomes a moot point if the Phils don’t can Ruben, but at least names and qualifications would open an entire new line of debate, which today’s post doesn’t. maybe it’s just me, but I’ve grown tired of the constant Amaro bashing. If he’s truly sticking around, we should all maybe bite the bullet and discuss something else, if only for a break in the monotony of RAJ every day. I’ve considered many times not bothering to read PN because it’s so often the same old negativity.

       
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Ive been pointing out the long term damage he was doing for years.

    How the line up was so easily defended.

    How the organization didn’t like being patient or taking walks at the plate.

    I think he spends too much time in the clubhouse and is too friendly with the players.

    He has a disconnect. Where he GMs like some of the bloggers on here would blog.
    I understand that hypotheticly having all his “favorites” here could also make the fans happy.
    But when your team is one of the very worst in MLB fans tend to start not like the sacred cows so much.

    Anyway Ive been saying this for years. When it wasn’t cool to be bad mouthing the Phillies or Ruben and his favorite players.

    Ill tell you point blank right now.

    Until he is gone the team can never move forward or contend to win a WS. Which is really what its all about.

    Now if hes here next year I will still hope and root for the team and hope I am wrong.
    But normally in these common sense situations I am not wrong.
    Just like I hope Howard wins the next 3 MVPs. But it seems unlikely.

    Well they cut the Mets lead from 3 to 2 last night.
    So I am happy.

    GO Phils!

     
  • Posts: 83 Dr. Dave

    Avatar of Dr. Dave

    I have been railing about the Howard contract since day one. I agree, the signings of D. Young and Nix were awful from the start. Lee trade to Seattle, ouch.

    Sure would love to have Cozart, but again, Pence was a move to go for it.

    Jenkins, no problem. NEVER forget the pinch hit double after the 2 day rain delay!

     
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    Jimmy Rollins and his .309 on base percentage is hitting first again tonight.

    Maybe he is worth his contract and he can still field pretty good ( not debating that) but its unacceptable.

    The organization needs an over haul where common sense things like this are addressed.

    First I would have never re signed him. But if I did part of it would be telling him he is no longer hitting in the top half of the line up.

    The dysfunction of having Howard hit vs a leftie and bat 4th no matter if hes 0 for 36 against him.

    I don’t know where it all comes from.

    But the very first step is to get rid of Ruben.
    Then Charlie needs to retire.

    Bring in a manager and GM who will do things the right way.
    Like hitting Rollins 8th.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      You claim to be a fan, so I thought you’d at least notice that the Phils’ only other realistic leadoff option is on the DL with a broken foot.

       
  • Posts: 0 Jeff

    It’s very easy to Monday morning quarterback and challenging to actually live in the moment. Where were these easy predictions at the time they occurred? Sadly, you may have missed the biggest error. Resigning Jimmy Rollins with the understanding that he has the 10-5 no trade rule. Howard may be able to provide enough power if protected by other pieces (Dom, Chase). Utley will die giving extra effort and at the least is a positive role model for younger players. What value does an older Rollins with diminishing speed and power provide?

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      The answer is: more value than other options. Whether skills are less than they used to be is really irrelevant, I think. The question is does he provide more value than other available options over the life of the contract, and I think the answer is yes.

       
      • Posts: 0 Jeff

        Fair point, but when do the trade-offs begin? Also, how do you determine future value if you are locked into a bad deal with a declining player who is a marginal clubhouse influence at best? A good GM understands which players to take risks on and when to cut bait on others. Will the same point be made if they resign Ruiz?

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Not sure what you mean by trade-offs, or why you think it’s a bad deal. It’s not a bad deal.

        On Ruiz, it depends on what he signs for, if he signs here.

         
  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    Tread lightly, now. Didn’t nobody force you to rehash the rehash, you voluntarily got dragged in, and if you get so far as the send button and click it, oh well…..

    Good article. Seriously. More of a City Paper or Philly Mag piece addressed to the casual less than frequent follower of the trials and tribs of RAJ Jr., but so be it.

    Brought out the negative from a fair spread of negative types who while Rube has undeniably made some boobalous decisions, have no doubt taken stock of his gig and decided they could do better. Without probably having done anything close to it, but what’s that gots to do with it.

    My only comment on Rube is one that will lead to a stoppage of reading within a sentence or so because the know it alls cain’t stand differing views, but while it might have shown the flaw of impatience and bidding against his damned self, the inking of Raul Ibanez wasn’t too bad a deal when all was saided and doned. Firstly, you can’t underestimate Rauuuul’s carrying the club in his first of 6 halves with the club, and while I sat there during year 3 and seriously wondered if he was contemplating retirement at 0-35, the patience exerted by those with more visibility than the fans resulted in a player of the month June. Could Rube have done better? Very possibly. Show me a GM who hasn’t encountered that result. Same crap on Polanco. Darned good for a year and a half or so, so he broke down. On the whole, considering his plus as a people that I surmise was the case, not too bad a deal.

    Maybe it is time for a change on reasons of philosophy. Not total ineptitude. Nix and Scuerholtz, yuk. Especially Qualls and nearly as especially Durbin, pretty yucky. Wigginton maybe not so good a move, but amplified in arrears. Delmon Young? Not a great risk move, but these yahoos would be complaining anyway had Rube spent millions on a choice of available selections who wouldn’t have been great. The Young bashers were within semi reason to bash his offense, but he wasn’t close to being the defensive calamity he was expected to be. I’d describe it as quasi acceptable. Mike Young? Maybe the money (6 mil) was better spent elsewhere, but he probably draws respect from those on the field for the year he’s had even though the fans know more than them.

    For all his E-GM moves, the funny thing is the man is 7.5 times smarter than a lot of people who criticize his ass. THAT is the funniest part of this funny season. Funny is such a wide ranging word in its definition. And worst yet, not a one of them tend to blame the players. Just the GM.

    To send, or not to send. We’ll know soon.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      I didn’t stop reading, Ken, and I have to agree with much of what you’ve said. (But not all of it).

      I think it’s really easy to cast aspersions when one isn’t familiar with all the parameters of being in a particular position. I can’t say, because I don’t know, what kind of forces are at work in any baseball front office, and especially not the ones at work in an office that’s as closed-mouthed as Montgomery and all those “silent partners.”

       
    • Posts: 0 George

      One of the things I disagree on is D. Young’s defence. He was every bit as bad as everyone thought he’d be. You must have seen mostly games when nothing was hit to right field. In those cases, I guess he was quasi acceptable. I saw one when he barely caught a ball because he misjudged it so badly, and in the same game made a throwing error. In another, I watched Utley run his shaky knees off to catch a fly ball that even Wes Covington (if he ever got put in right) would have had in his back pocket. Young was nowhere close.

       
  • Posts: 0 DavidE

    A huge mistake was the trade for Hunter Pence. They gave up some very good prospects including Zach Cossart to obtain an above-average outfielder who really couldn’t be considered a superstar. The Phillies could have platooned Mayberry and Brown in right field. No matter how many good players you have, a World Series cannot be guaranteed by adding good players.

    The signing of Laynce Nix was not a bad move. Remember, Howard was out for the first half of 2012. The bad move was getting rid of Schierhlotz, a younger player who was better defensively (and offensively as it turns out) to keep Nix. And, keeping Nix on the roster no matter how poorly he was playing.

    Bad signings for big bucks are what happens whenever free agents are signed. Look at how much payroll the Yankees have spent this year for disabled players. And, look at the Dodgers with Crawford, Beckett and Matt Kemp.

     
    • Posts: 0 joecatz

      You mean Jarred Cosart, not Zack Cosart.

      Signing Nix wasn’t a bad move. Signing him for two years was, and adding Ty Wiggington to complement him didnt help either.

       
  • Posts: 0 Strugz

    whoever said Amaro was under pressure to sign Howard is fooling themselves. Howard was at least a year away from FA, could’ve kept going to arbitration and after they saw some consistency (instead of decline) then paid him favorably. It’s like the pressure he felt to trade away Lee that you wasn’t there. Eventually he needs to be the GM he’s paid to be instead of the Phillies fan he was prior to being a front office employee like he is now…. I, for one, will cheer when he’s gone because in 4 yrs time, he’s taken this team from the class of MLB to a laughing stock and it sickens me.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      The pressure in that case wasn’t from the contract expiring, clearly. It was internal — that ownership wanted certainty as to what Howard was going to cost past 2011, so they could move forward with increasing the budget to acquire another big pitcher, who turned out to be Lee.

       
    • Posts: 0 Phil Ease

      So you know for a fact that ownership didn’t demand that the Howard signing and the Lee trade were to happen? If so, please share your sources with the rest of us.

       
  • Posts: 0 Adam

    Re-signing Chase Utley was a short sighted move for a team that has absolutely no short term aspirations of success.

     
    • Posts: 0 devin

      No, it wasn’t, and that’s a dumb comment. How does resigning Utley hurt the team, exactly?

      The answer is that it doesn’t.

      Let’s talk about how it helps the team:

      Provides the best available player at the position.

      Does not take a roster spot from a decent prospect (we don’t have a decent second base prospect anywhere in the system, much less at a high enough level to be bothered by this deal).

      Provides Brown, Ruf, Asche, Franco, and any other young players who make it to the squad with the BEST possible role model to learn from.

      Keeps one of the most popular players on the team, helping merchandise and ticket sales which in turn will allow the team to stay competitive.

      Helps keep the teams popularity from plummeting (this team is going to suck for a couple of years, having a beloved world series winner on the squad will help) which in turn will help us from getting completely screwed on the new TV deal, the numbers for which are (unfortunately) going to be directly tied to ratings and ticket sales during a very ugly period.

      Allows one of the greatest players in franchise history to retire with the squad.

      Helps expose who does and does not know what the hell they are talking about (re: You).

       
  • Posts: 0 Andrew from Waldorf

    In a cocoon of a normal team without a GM who hoarded all old players and was a legitimate GM the Utley signing is OK.

    Thrown on top of his hoarding of all the relics and as Kruk called them a few weeks ago “elderly” its a bad move.

    The 60-80 games he plays for a team losing 190-200 games the next few years wont really matter a lot.

    Problem is with all the other bad moves it really just is piling on.

    At this point I am for any old player not being signed.
    Regardless.

     
  • Posts: 0 Dave C

    That was extremely lazy writing. Sure it is all true but this article is basically a rehash of what David Murphy did.

     
  • Posts: 0 Carlos Danger

    RAJ has shown absolutely no ability to project a player’s future performance, which is a huge part of his job description. He’ll continue here with his “back of the baseball card” methodology until ownership gets tired of the shrinking season ticket holder base and declining revenues. The guy has no plan. He’s in way over his head.

     
  • Posts: 0 baldy

    When RAJ traded for Lee and Halladay, he gave up 7 or 8 prospects. I cannot name one who has had any significant major league impact….and we are three years out, which is how long conventional wisdom says you need to evaluate a trade. For that reason, I am not outraged that he did not pull a major sell…especially with Lee. Look at all the aces who were traded recently….Lee (all three trades), Halladay, Yohan Santana, Sabathia to Milwaukee….which prospects have become stars…none. And Cosart was sent back to the minors after his one great start…..and God knows the Astros need help now. Pence cost a lot…no doubt, but, when he came hear and hit 5th and protect Howard, he hit .310. When he hit 3rd and 4th in 2012, he didnt produce in that slot. The problem isnt so much what we gave up for him , but what we didnt get back. Everyone was on board when those moves were made, and since we didnt get another ring, we all pan it. If this team hit even a little in 2010 and 2011, and Charlie managed the rotation better in 2009, we had the potential to at leat go to 4 WS in a row and possibly win 2 or 3. If that were the case, we wouldnt be having this conversation, because Ruben would have been a genius for making those same moves. I still say this teams offensive woes go back to the May 2009series in Colorado when the bullpen coach was caught with binoculars. Im not saying Ruben has done a great job, but the reality is that he put the pieces in place to have a dominant 4 or 5 year WS run, but the bottom line is the players didnt get it done.

     
    • Posts: 0 hk

      baldy,

      1. 3 years is not always nearly enough to assess a trade, especially if the trade involved 18 and 19 year olds. That being said, it does look like Travis D’ Arnaud is the only player from those trades with a chance to have impact – unless you want to consider that he was traded again for the reigning Cy Young winner as him already having impact.

      2. When you looked at all of the aces who were traded recently, you overlooked Greinke, for whom MIL received Jean Segura (.311 / .346 / .462 as a 23 year old) and Shields, for whom TB received Wil Myers (.325 / .376 / .509) in the small sample size of his first 189 MLB PA’s.

      3. No, everyone was not on board with what the Phils gave up for Pence. Maybe the talk show hosts in the city were on board, but if you read the Phillies-centric blogs at the time, you would know that many bloggers and fans thought they overpaid.

      4. Cosart was sent down after his first start, but not because of anything he did wrong. Houston initially just needed him for a spot start. However, how is that relevant any way considering that he only missed one start and is now in the rotation and has a 1.36 ERA – granting that he’s been a bit luck so far – in 5 starts in his age 23 season?

      5. No. Ruben did not put together the pieces for a dominant 4 or 5 year WS run. Wade, Arbuckle and Gillick put together most of those pieces. Ruben, unfortunately, kept some of them around too long and made other bad signings that expedited the decline and shortened the run.

       
      • Posts: 0 baldy

        HK
        1. Just a barometer of when you should start to gauge a trade. Can be longer or shorter, but the point is I think its safe to say those deals clearly were failures for the teams trading the ace. D’Arnaud has the most upside, but I meant impact player at major league level performance
        2. Ok…correct… so thats two players out of all the prospects traded for those sven deals for aces.
        3. When the pence deal was rumored, most callers said “do whatever it takes fto get pence here”. Did acknowledge that he cost a lot i.e. cosart and singleton.
        5. Let me re-phrase it then…subsequent to becoming gm, he added to the core that wade gillick and arbuckle assembled…i.e. lee hallady and pence, which should have yielded more world series appearances and POTENTIALLY more rings.

         
    • Posts: 0 Scooter

      I’ll never understand the “if imaginary things that I wish had happened had happened instead of what obviously happened having had happened, you feel differently about what happened than you do right now about what happened” argument. History is what it is: we didn’t almost win back to back World Series. The Yankees outclassed us in that series in every way. We didn’t almost win 3 or 4 rings. The actual outcome in this universe that we all live in is a team that has regressed every year under his leadership. If you judge his moves based on the actual results, rrather than what might have happened in some quantum alternative universe, verdict on the effectiveness of his moves is self evident.

       
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        @Scooter, I think the regular season is much more controllable by Amaro than a short series is. And so I don’t think there is much debate that he improved the team in 2009, 2010, and 2011. If you want to blame him for 2012-13, that’s understandable.

         
      • Posts: 0 Scooter

        I don’t think I agree, Shmenkman. The barometer of the regular season doesn’t tell you much about your front office when your being playoff bound is a foregone conclusion. The only question in ’09-’11 seasons was whether they were going coast in with 90 wins or work hard and get 100. When you have a world championship team and you’re beating up on the Mets and Marlins all season long, the only way to really judge effective management is when you have serious competition in the playoffs. And what did we do in the playoffs in ’09-’11? Regressed every year. The barometer changed last year, of course, when we had to face real competitor in the east in Washington (and this year in the Braves, as well). And, of course, the results speak for themselves.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        There’s a lot of hindsight being used there — being playoff bound was by no means a foregone conclusion.

        from the Arbuckle thread:

        In 2009 they won the division by 6 games — do they still win it without Lee? maybe. WIthout Lee and Ibanez? I don’t know.

        In 2010 they also won by 6 games — do they still win it without Oswalt? maybe. Without Oswalt and Halladay? doubtful

        In 2011 they won by 13 games — do they still win it without Lee and Halladay and Pence? maybe.

         
      • Posts: 0 baldy

        Never said we almost won 3 or 4 world series…what i said was he assembled the additional talent to make deep runs to POTENTIALLY win more WS and they didnt get it done. Do you disagree that the roster improved in 2009-2011 (lee, halladay, pence, oswalt)? Its not imaginary to say that the players didnt get it done when they needed to. You’re right, the results are the results, but the assembled talent should have achieved more.

         
  • Posts: 0 Fritz

    It’s easy for me to blame Amaro, I just look at the standings.If he is not the responsible party then who is? Karma, the front office, Charlie,Ryan Howard? Amaro gets paid to put the team together it’s really that simple. If the Phillies start winning next year then Amaro is great, if they finish where they are now then he’s not.

     
  • Posts: 0 schmenkman

    Alex, I disagree with this: “Barring a monumental turnaround by Howard, his contract ($85 million left through 2016) may just have the Phillies’ offense stuck in the mud for the foreseeable future.”

    What would they have instead of Howard at $25M? Howard at $20M or $15M? Is it that extra $5-10M (out of a $189M luxury tax threshold) that is the issue?

    Or are you also assuming that extra $5-10M comes with below average production, meaning that the production that must be generated by other positions is that much greater?

    Even so, while the Howard contract is way too expensive, it doesn’t seem like it should prevent them from spending on other positions. If you have math that shows differently, it would be good to see.

     
    • Posts: 0 George

      Scmenkman: I think you are one of very few people with a sensible outlook on the Howard signing. Howard seems to be the bad guy in most comments about Amaro’s alleged stupidity. He rushed the extension, for sure, but those who believe it’s somehow caused everyone else not to hit or that the team can not afford real offensive players because of it, I think are a little bit damp, if not all wet. I only need to point out that numerous big contracts were given out since that error in judgement, including the huge payout to Cole Hamels. Howard might have them close to the tax threshhold, but even with Howard around, the Phils have managed to keep going after some big names. This year, they didn’t sign any of the Uptons and Bourns of the world, but it wasn’t because they didn’t talk to any of them, and the rumored deal for that Cuban pitcher, Gonzalez also involved a lot of money.

       
      • Posts: 0 joecatz

        I think Schmenks point (and I agree with it) is that people tend to discuss Howards contract as something that is stopping this team from making additional moves. It’s not.

        Howards contract is whats making the BUDGET 175mm as opposed to 165mm or 150mm, but its not impeding, nor has it impeded them from paying for anyone they wanted to pay for.

        The problem with Howard is on the field. His contract is irelevant to everything save his trade value.

         
  • Posts: 0 George

    Sorry I misspelled your name. It wasn’t intentional. My internet service is very slow today, and I have to wait too long to even see whether I’ve hit all the right keys.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      George, not necessary at all – 9 out of 10 ain’t bad

       
 
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