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A Phillies Fan Clears His Mind

Posted by Don M, Mon, December 30, 2013 03:30 PM | Comments: 55
Analysis, News, Opinion, Posts

AP Photo).

AP Photo).

I’m going be honest with you; I think I’m depressed. I’m sad, dejected, beaten down and feeling empty inside when it comes to the Phillies. This is what Ruben Amaro Jr. – and the Phillies as a whole – has done to me. I’d like to imagine that I was ever the optimist when it came to the Phillies – posting such wise things as the quote below. I said this after a September 2008 loss left the Phillies 4-games back of the Wild Card leading Brewers just as the Brewers came to town for a 4-game series.

“What if they sweep the Brewers this weekend?? That gives us crazy momentum with two weeks to go.”

I believed in this team, I argued for this team, spent my time, money, and a ton of emotion on them –and they rewarded me with a championship in 2008. Those were the glory days, but this feels like rock bottom. They aren’t contenders, but they aren’t rebuilding. “Cross your fingers and hope for the best” seems to be the GM’s plan for 2014.

When it was clear to most fans that the 2013 Phillies couldn’t contend, the wise move was to start the rebuilding process. That roster had an aging core, and the attempted patch of Michael Young, Delmon Young, etc, just didn’t work. Did Ruben Amaro Jr. learn his lesson? No.

The Phillies brass simply continues to add older players that aren’t anything like the pieces needed to put a winner on the field. Marlon Byrd and a healthy Ryan Howard aren’t the key difference between a 73-win team, and the 90-ish wins it takes to win a Wild Card spot, let alone the NL East title. This team is nowhere near contending, and it doesn’t matter which other moves they make.

Because paying attention to the Phillies was so depressing in September, I don’t know if many people remember that this club actually finished 4th in the division, just behind the New York Mets. The only teams in the National League that the Phillies bested in the standings were the Miami Marlins and Chicago Cubs. That’s it. But somehow Ruben Amaro Jr. believes this team is built to contend in 2014.

Day after day I keep thinking about this quote in a Jayson Stark article from a few weeks back, when he talked to an unnamed American League executive about the current state of the Phillies:

“I just don’t understand exactly what they’re doing, “ said one AL exec. “If you’re seriously trying to win, you don’t do it this way. And if you’re trying to get younger, you don’t do it this way. At some point, they’ve got to pick a direction and go with it.”

If that isn’t depressing to read, I don’t know what is. It’s like a punch in the gut. And what makes it hurt the most is that it’s 100 percent accurate. This organization has no plan. When they kept Chase Utley, and resigned Carlos Ruiz, I thought for certain that they’d go after some of the big name free agents on the market – if you’re trying to win, you should go all in. But in keeping with the poker terms, Ruben Amaro Jr. keeps checking and checking and will soon be out of chips, having never really played a solid hand.

Sorry to bring you down, but hopefully Phillies fans can still have a Happy New Year!

Avatar of Don M

About Don M

Don M has written 20 articles on Phillies Nation.

 
 
  • Posts: 0 Ken Bland

    It’s fascinating to compare the letdown of Phillies baseball that is and the emotional attachment it carries in each fan. Different personalities, backgrounds, and a number of other factors that make the attitudes that are.

    But maybe the one separating factor is age. Not that even younger Phillie fans didn’t experience the drudgery of the 90′s, but what’s happened over the past however many months (27?) is something each person must deal with. For myself, this is all too familiar dating back to the post perils of 1964. Perhaps a matter of fortunate conditioning based my introduction to the Phils are in your blood with indoctrination to this crap with at least a consciousness of the dreadful 1961 season. Personally, I see a lot of humor in the frequent patheticness that permeates club history.

    But I still think the funniest is yet to come. That’ll be when some yahoo searches their mind for a pre season guess on what fate 2014 has in store, and looks across the street, and thinks if it can happen there, why not here? I’m not insensitive to the human frailty of delusion, but it is a rather humorous commodity.

    It’s a tough cycle when you care, but at the same time don’t. Don’t let nobody kid you when they say it’s just a game.

     
  • Posts: 0 CS

    Pat,

    I couldn’t even read your Tanaka story because it sounded like the depressed elephant from Poo wrote it. Let’s try and look at the bright side here if you were the Braves right now and watched Hudsonn and McCann walk with no real replacement I’d be worried.

     
    • Posts: 0 HotelBar

      I want to find reasons to be optimistic too, but the Hudson/McCann thing aren’t good reasons. Evan Gattis seems like a decent replacement for McCann to me. Plus McCann would be an overpriced risk moving forward anyway. And Hudson wasn’t a major part of ATL last year and they did fine. The Braves only real concern to me is can BJ Upton bounce back and perhaps 2B. They are loaded with young talent, including young pitching. Like we used to be.

       
    • Posts: 0 Justin McElroy

      Christian Bethancourt will eventually replace McCann. Gattis is fine as a one season stopgap. The Braves would have made a huge mistake if they had tried to bring McCann back – especially in the NL with no DH.

       
  • Posts: 0 beyondinfinity

    Lie down. Try not to cry. Cry a lot

     
  • Posts: 0 Fat Joe

    A lot of fans seemed to be fine with the moronic emotional extension of Utley and even Hamels. Instead Amaro shouldve traded Utley this summer when his value was up. The following players should’ve all been traded hadnt Amaro been like a childish fan boy.

    Hamels
    Rollins
    Lee
    Papelbon
    Ruiz
    Halladay
    Howard
    Utley
    Admittedly, some of these players would need Phillies to eat part of their contrzcts in order to get anything in return.

    But Phillies aint getting into ghe playoffs anytime soon anyway.

    So the bigger overhaul the better.

     
    • Posts: 0 beyondinfinity

      But he couldnt trade Howard and halladay because of the DL and no way rollins accepts a trade i agree though, but since they didnt trade away utley i’m glad he’s still a phillie

       
  • Posts: 0 Tornado

    What a major letdown. After feeling like we would finally spend like the big boys in 2009 and stay in contention for years to come,something crazy happened and we’re back to 1999. So now it’s time for raj to make something crazy happen and being us back to contender status……

     
  • Posts: 0 Justin McElroy

    You’ll get used to it Pat – most of us old timers already are. It could easily be another decade before this team contends again. The scary thing is that if the average fan could see how detrimental the Howard & Papelbon contracts would turn out to be and the lunacy of the Cliff Lee to Seattle trade, how can the clown in charge be oblivious to it all?

    As this team is presently constructed, we’re looking at 68-72 wins in 2014.

     
  • Posts: 0 joel

    Well….all I can say is “GO EAGLES”

     
  • Posts: 1435 Pat Gallen

    Avatar of Pat Gallen

    Guys, my bad. Don McGettigan actually wrote this article. The name on the header was incorrect. I’m not that depressed I promise!

     
    • Posts: 0 Justin McElroy

      Check back with us on Memorial Day then…

       
  • Posts: 0 Phil Ease

    To stick with the poker metaphor a bit longer, the Phillies are limping into the upcoming season with seven deuce off suit.

     
  • Posts: 4390 Lefty

    Avatar of Lefty

    Sorry you feel this way Don, I don’t.

    I feel that for the past two off seasons there is a plan in place to correct past mistakes. It’s true they haven’t been able to let go of their now declining heroes. But maybe it’s not so easy, maybe they found that out in the Pence and Victorino trades- where it doesn’t appear that they got close to equal value for them.

    They remind me a lot of the the Yankees the last few years, who have had to allow ballplayers to walk, curb spending, and clear space to re-tool. They don’t have any spectacular new young players either, but they had the ability this off season to make moves that appear to make them serious contenders again.

    I’m not holding any pie in the sky visions that this year’s Phillies club will contend, but I think they are doing some good things in attempting to rid themselves of past mistakes. We heard all fall that they are at least trying to unload the Papelbon contract. And they do have some young players in the system that may contribute soon starting with Asche, Franco, Hernandez, and some young pitchers that may be just about to blossom.

    As for the comments of the un-named “AL Exec” source from Jayson Stark, how do we know it’s not the GM of a team that also doesn’t contend on a regular basis? It’s easy to talk about what someone else is doing, no so easy to put your own solid ball club together every year.

    I give this off-season a Meh, but am I depressed, sad and dejected?? No way. Whatever lies ahead for next season, – bring it on- and the sooner the better.

     
    • Posts: 0 hk

      I agree with Lefty. The times to be depressed were when RAJ extended Howard, signed Papelbon and overpaid for Pence. It was at those times that a clueless front office made short-sighted moves that cut short the greatest (or 2nd best) era in the team’s history. They (and we as fans) must now pay for their sins of 2010 and 2011, lest they extend the misery even further. The idea is to try to catch lightening in a bottle with the aging core over the next few years without doing any damage to 2017 and beyond.

      In a weird way, the Phillies got younger this off-season by getting older. While that sounds oxy-moronic, the Howard extension, the seemingly unmovable Papelbon contract and the Lee contract have made the team pot committed (to take the poker analogy further) for the next few seasons. If they had gone all in and signed Ellsbury, McCann and Garza instead of Byrd, Chooch and Hernandez, they would have increased their chances at the post-season in 2014 (and probably even 2015 and 2016), but how much so? I don’t think enough to be considered a top 5 team in MLB. In addition, signing those three players would have most likely left them with a new group of overpaid, declining players in 2017 and beyond at the same time that Lee, Papelbon, Howard, Rollins and probably Utley are gone and hopefully Biddle, Franco, Asche, Crawford and a few others are starting to emerge into productive players.

      To me, it was a good off-season in that I think they finally realized that bad moves in 2010 and 2011 led the team into the current abyss and they’re no longer throwing good money after bad chasing something (contention) that seems unlikely, but not impossible. If they do catch lightening in a bottle and everything goes right – a healthy Howard returns to his 2010 form, Utley stays healthy, Rollins rebounds, Asche’s defense saves runs that Michael Young gave away, Cliff and Cole pitch like Cliff and Cole, MAG is a legit #3 starter, Papelbon maintains his velocity and the young bullpen supporting bullpen is strong – maybe then they’ll spend money and assets to go for it, but otherwise, it looks like they’ll continue building towards the day when their albatross contracts will be gone and their improving system will hopefully be producing players who make meaningful contributions.

       
      • Posts: 4390 Lefty

        Avatar of Lefty

        hk, Your poker analogy is spot on IMO.

         
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Lefty and hk — very well said.

       
      • Posts: 0 Justin McElroy

        So we’re depending on “catching lightening in a bottle”, a lot of “ifs”, and a lot of “hoping” this year. Maybe throw in a dash of guys “playing to the back of their baseball cards”. Just like the past two seasons. It’s a great plan I guess.

        Just for fun, how do you think a guy like Andrew Friedman would have guided this franchise if he had been the one to take over in 2009 instead of Ruben Amaro Jr.?

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Much better, no doubt, as would probably a handful of other top GMs. But to me the pertinent question at hand is how would the best GMs have handled this particular off-season better, given the same constraints (even if some of those constraints were a result of past mistakes)?

         
      • Posts: 0 Don M

        @schmenkman

        in my view, his biggest PAST MISTAKE.. was not trading guys this year at the deadline. He should have accepted whatever value they had, and decided to make the move to rebuild. You wouldn’t contend in 2014 had you made that move, but we likely won’t contend in 2014 anyway…

        What would you have done as GM over the past 6 months?

        I feel like they haven’t chosen a direction and that’s their biggest problem. If you were going to rebuild, do it. If you were going to try to put together a contender in 2014, do it … they haven’t done either, and it’s going to waste a season,

         
      • Posts: 0 hk

        @ Justin McElroy,

        Yes, hoping to catch lightening in a bottle is unfortunately where the team finds itself now. I blame RAJ (and Montgomery) for mishandling the team over the past 5 years and leading it into the current bleak-looking situation and I wish he (they) had been replaced at the halfway point, or the end, of last season. However, I do give him (them) credit for avoiding the temptation to sell out more of the future – 2017 and beyond – to incrementally increase their slim chances at contention in 2014 through 2016 by signing the likes of Ellsbury, McCann and Garza. I do think that Tanaka is different and I hope that they make a legitimate play for him. Tanaka is 25 and may be reaching his peak in 2017, so I have no problem with them paying big money for him.

         
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Obviously my post was largely for dramatic effect, but the point was that I’m simply not excited for next season – that’s ridiculously rare for me. This actually came about as I was talking to a coworker yesterday, saying how exciting it was that the Eagles are where they are, the Flyers have rebounded, and that the Sixers, while terrible, are actually following a plan to rebuild. I wanted to then say how there was only 6-8 weeks until Spring Training and that I was excited, but the truth is that I’m not.

    I agree that NOT spending all that money on Free Agents was the right move, but the problem is that now we’re stuck in mediocrity. I’ve read comments that say “if everything goes right” …and… “they’ll continue building.” … I don’t think that hoping everything goes right should be the organizations only hope, when you have a payroll of $165 M, you need to put a solid contender on the filed, and I don’t see that with this roster. Also, why aren’t they maxing-out the payroll to $189 M?

    My problem with the Phillies is that I already consider 2014 a lost season, a year of average-at-best, but because they didn’t trade anything last year, they also haven’t actually started the rebuilding process. I would LOVE for the 2014 season motto to be “continue to rebuild” – to at least be excited about the future – but by not trading any pieces at the deadline last year, they didn’t bring any prospects (even if they aren’t “TOP PROSPECTS”) back in return. So the organization is stuck in this no-mans-land of not contending, but not really rebuilding.
    As they’re praying everything goes right, I’m praying I’m completely wrong about the 2014 season. I’ll give them credit for some smart moves and cheap options to improve the bullpen, but outside of that, I don’t see any way this team makes up the 17 games between the 73 they won last year, and the 90 it takes to make the playoffs.

     
  • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

    I’m not depressed. I’m disappointed. I expected more from Ruben. I thought he had a plan. It seems he does but not what I envisioned anyway. I agree with a lot that you’ve said Don. Personally I think there is a chance we could contend for a wildcard. But to do so there’s so many question marks that it seems improbable. When so many things have to go right for his plan to work? That usually means it’s not going to happen. I’ll watch and root for them as always but I can foresee an awful lot of cursing the TV out. Along with the pom pom boys Wheeler and the mouth that never quits.

     
  • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

    I have no problem with the off-season moves to date and agree with Lefty, Schmenk and hk. I can’t feel that this season is lost until I see how Howard performs. A healthy and effective Howard changes the dynamic of the everyday lineup. Also, having watched the Red Sox struggle with the Matsuzaka contract I really would prefer that the Phillies shy away from Tanaka and what could be another gigantic albatross. In fact their experience with Gonzalez should have shown them that already.

     
    • Posts: 0 hk

      DTD,

      The only issue on which we disagree is that I would have no problem if they sign Tanaka for 5 or maybe even 6 years. He’s 25 years old and, with no potential #2 starter projected to be coming up from the system any time soon, he may be the only chance that the Phils have at securing a young #2 in the foreseeable future. In that regard, I think he’s worth the risk. If they take a shot and it doesn’t work out, I would not criticize the move in hindsight because, unlike the Howard extension and the Papelbon signing, I agree with the thought process behind the signing.

       
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I’ll still watch, and root for them to win … this is just the least excited i’ve been before a season since probably 1998/1999 …

    I just don’t see how we’re going to magically get better with the same core group that’s been declining. And like the Sixers, I think we should’ve said that if our best case scenario is mediocrity and an outside chance at the playoffs – that’s not the right path to be on … and so they switched course. I don’t even like the NBA, but I respect the hell out of that logic. They traded their best player, knowing that they wouldn’t contend with or without him ( = Utley).

    Ryne probably said it best, i’m just disappointed … I want to have a team I feel like is either contending, or rebuilding/improving, and I really don’t see how any can say that this team is doing either of those things next season.

     
    • Posts: 0 Ryne Duren

      Hey Don the only thing positive this off season was watching the Eagles gel into a playoff team with all that young talent. I’m shocked actually, in fact the game against the cowgirls when the girl got the ball back with 2 min. left I walked out of the room still in a Phillies don’t come back mode from the baseball season and I heard my sons screaming when Boykin intercepted the ball. hopefully they can ride this a lot further. It’ll make waiting for spring training much more enjoyable and shorter. And I don’t watch the Sixers or the Flyers! Not because I don’t like them, it’s because being an Eagles and a big Phillies fan I’m kind of drained, you know? But I do read the papers about those two and root for them, I just don’t watch.

       
      • Posts: 0 Jay

        That’s just not the phillies….I feel that way about Every team from Philly…always watching and waiting for them to choke…but always watching nonetheless

         
      • Posts: 0 Jay

        And you are so right tis draining…but when they succeed man it’s worth it…although I’m probably only feeling this way because the Eagles made the playoffs

         
  • Posts: 0 George

    I’m not depressed because of the Phils. I’m depressed because of the constant negative comments and Amaro bashing on this site. The team won for five straight years. Now that they’ve had one losing season in a row, everbody is complaining?

    I think if a person asked any GM in the business how long it would take to regroup, he’d tell that person so0mething like, “Well, you can’t do it overnight.”

    And for those who are griping that Amaro didn’t make any deadline trades in 2013, I say “Who should he have traded?” Howard and Papelbon were untradeable, Rollins and Utley have 5-10 no trade priveleges, Mayberry or M Young might have brought back a low level quasi-prospect, D. Youngs wasn’t worth even a low grade prospect, the bullpen had no one to speak of, Brown is young and possibly someone to build around, Revere, also a kid, was injured, Lannan was out. That leaves maybe Lee and Hamels, who are both nearly irreplaceable, and Ruiz, who could have been replaced with…whoopee…Kratz.

     
  • Posts: 0 schmenkman

    Two thoughts for the Phillies to start 2014 on a positive note:

    1. Except for the 30 years 1919-1948, before most of us were born, the Phillies franchise has a winning record in its other 101 years of existence.

    2. Current projections for 2014 show about a 75 win team on paper as the most likely scenario (Steamer projections add up to 72, Oliver projections to 78). However it’s good to keep in mind that 15 game errors are not unusual on those projections. So while pessimists should plan on as few as 60 wins, the other end is not out of the question either.

     
  • Posts: 0 malcolm

    My disappointment is with RAJ but also the entire ownership group. This team is obviously being run on a cap. The reason why we can’t be compared to the Yankees of last year,or the last couple years, is that ownership will not allow this team to go over the cap. That being said what is the teams plan going forward? Playing for now? We did nothing to upgrade a rotation with Kendrick ( ineffective and injured at end of season) MAG ( total unknown) and Petttibone ( injured and partial season makes him a question mark). Bullpen is going to again rely on youth and a closer who was either hurt or ineffective when playing for a non-contender. So we aren’t really going for it this year. How about rebuilding? Well we kept Utley, Chooch and Lee. Trading all three could have freed up enough cap space and brought in enough talent to cut the rebuild time to maybe this year alone. There are no openings for Galvis or Hernandez and Brown was put up for trade. This is why so many are down on this team in my opinion. The problem is this isn’t poker where you can bluff and win. At some point you will put your cards on the field and your hand will be exposed. I would be happy with either path if they would just choose. This being said I’m ready for the season to start. GO PHILS!!

     
  • Posts: 118 photoFred

    Avatar of photoFred

    Most of you don’t know me.

    While I’m fairly new to this site, I’ve been a Phillies fan since the only things to be proud of were Ashburn, Curt Simmons, and an aging Robin Roberts. I remember being glued to the old GE television in the basement watching the last game of 1958 when Whitey was fighting it out with Mays for the batting title. When he got that third hit (just inside the 3rd base bag if memory serves—but I could be wrong) I had tears in my eyes. I just checked and the Phightins had 69 wins that season, but on *that* day I was a happy fan. I made do.

    The older among us all had moments like this; we had to make do with them because we were too young to remember 1950. And for a long time, until 1964, we had no idea what it was like to even think about going to the World Series. That season, while ultimately gutting and depressing, gave us a taste of what fans in other cities experienced.

    And we liked it.

    Then in the 70s we kinda got used to winning. And in the 80s we learned about winning, rebuilding, and winning again and we did that again and again. And by now we all were used not just to winning but to playing deep into the fall. And boy did we like it. We were hooked.

    So now we’re in a down phase of one of the cycles. While it was bound to happen, I think we can all agree that part of the downward momentum is the result of a truly extraordinary string of injuries to key players. If those injuries don’t happen then some the “crazy” contracts don’t look quite so crazy. Desperate moves like the Youngs don’t happen. In short, we had some bad luck and, yes, maybe that wasn’t managed ideally.

    We all have 20-20 hindsight. I like to think that RAJ is not to blame for everything. He’s not perfect but who among us is. I’m giving him another season including the next offseason and FA crop. I’ve got my fingers crossed. I don’t think he’s an idiot; I do realize that you don’t win every year. Even the Yankees know that.

    Happy New Year to you all!

     
  • Posts: 2952 Chuck A.

    Avatar of Chuck A.

    Great post, Don! It’s good to see you on here again!

    I agree that the CONSTANT “Amaro” bashing on this (and probably every other site) is over-the-top at times. And, up to recently, I’ve been one of the man’s biggest supporters and defenders (probably too much so).

    HOWEVER…. when Ruben said very recently…maybe at the Winter Meetings?… that the Phillies were “built to contend” I just about lost it. Really?? There is NO WAY … unless, as schmenk points out, that 15 game margin of error comes into play. And while I am certainly no expert, I have a feeling that the chances of that happening are fairly slim.

    Am I depressed about it? No. Cause it’s baseball and it’s the Phillies. I’ll watch most of the games and go to a few…just like I always do. But I will say that I’m not super excited or confident at all that they will have a good year.

     
    • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

      Chuck, I really don’t know what he’s supposed to say under the circumstances. From a PR and managerial standpoint he can’t just say the upcoming season is going to be a bust. On a positive note, there were no “unmanageable” contracts handed out this year. I for one look forward to positive return for Ryan Howard and perhaps a more open-minded use of platooning him when appropriate. I look forward to positive performances from Asche, Ruf Revere and Brown. I like a return to form for Hamels and Lee and perhaps the addition of another starter. If it all breaks down then you can sell off some pieces if need be.

       
      • Posts: 2952 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        DTD – What is he supposed to say?? Maybe the better question is “What SHOULD’T he say?” And for starters that answer shouldn’t have the words “built to contend” in it. I mean, seriously, I get the fact that he has a PR image or stance to make. But we as fans aren’t fools. I’m not buying into this man’s bullish!t anymore.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Chuck, to be honest I don’t have a problem with what he said either. Things he could have said but didn’t:

        “built to win a championship”
        “built to go deep in the playoffs”
        “built to win a division”
        “built to get to the postseason”

        “built to contend” is frankly not a very high bar. Any team that winds up with 80 wins, give or take, is probably contending in September, and 80 wins is not a far-fetched scenario even as they’re currently constructed. It’s not the most likely scenario, but not far-fetched either.

         
  • Posts: 0 eric hines

    I don’t think you’ve come to grips with a few realities:

    1.The Phillies probably won’t be particularly good for a while.

    2. Amaro’s mistakes have already been made, and unless some fortuitous sucker appears, he and we will have to live with the consequences of those mistakes.

    3. Those mistakes were made largely because he was trying to keep the fanbase happy. Philly likes having folks around for a while. We grow attached to players. He took some gambles on some familiar, well-liked faces and lost. You can’t wish that away now.

    4. There aren’t many fortuitous suckers around any more. No one is offering very much for those big contracts. At this point trading *all* the tradable pieces probably wouldn’t reap any future stars or even many future solid starters. The idea that we can become the 09 Braves by trading away all these contracts is as illusory as the idea that the current team can contend with the 14 Braves.

    5. So at this point, why dump guys if you’ll get little in return by way of “prospects” or payroll relief? Because it’s a ritual? Because some AL GM would really like to pick up Cliff Lee for a couple of B- prospects or a couple guys he (and we) don’t want anyhow?

    6. and why the hell make a bunch more big signings at this point?

    7. so what do you do? sign the catcher you’d like to bring your next catcher forward, fill obvious holes on the cheap and wait to see if someone else’s situation forces them to be a sucker for you. right now I’d say amaro is playing his losing hand about how it should be played. do I wish someone else had his job? someone more likely to see undervalued prospects out there? yes. but do i think he needs to make a bunch more big dumb moves to appease our reality-denying tendencies? No, i think he’s done enough.

     
    • Posts: 4390 Lefty

      Avatar of Lefty

      I like your comment Eric Hines. For the most part, I agree.

       
    • Posts: 0 Double Trouble Del

      You can try to predict with metrics but you really don’t know how this season will play out. If we were sure about how a team would perform we would have seen the Nats run away with the division last year because that’s what the pundits predicted. Really,why play the games?

      The real gambles were taken in 2010 and 2011 when this team was assembled to win “then.” They just didn’t however.

      As far as recent mistakes go Papelbon was the most glaring. Maybe you’re referring to Rollins or Utley. But really who was out there, available and better than those two?Every other move since 2011 has been relatively short term and low cost omitting the Hamels deal.

       
    • Avatar of Tom in South Philly

      I don’t comment too often, but I have to chime in and agree with Eric and Del.

      While I am not terribly excited about the Phillies moves this off-season, I don’t see the point in bashing Ruben Amaro for not making any major moves. They are a team that will be competitive if their “core four” (Howard, Rollins, Utley and Ruiz) can stay healthy and productive. If not, any added players won’t make a difference. Besides do we really need to sign another high-dollar value, older player? I think we have enough as it is.

      Like Del mentioned earlier, moves were made in 2010 and 2011 to “win now”. The fact that they didn’t was more due to players under-achieving, rather than anything Amaro did or didn’t do.

      A lot of folks seem to overlook this, but the main reason the Phillies didn’t do well in 2012 and 2013 wasn’t anything the front office did, but rather injuries to your best players. Your best pitcher (Halladay) and your most productive power hitter (Howard) were lost for most of the past two seasons. When they were in, they seemed to be shells of their former selves.
      Take away the best pitcher and power hitter from any team and see how well they do. (Example; imagine the Tigers without Verlander and Caberea; the Dodgers without Kershaw and Gonzales; Boston without Lester and Ortiz)

      Admittedly with Halladay and Howard you are dealing with older players, and injuries are a possibility, but no one could have predicted they would fall so far, so fast. Howard had completed another 30+ HR and 100+ RBI season in 2011 (then he blew out his tendon) and Hallday was 1 year removed from a Cy Young season.

      Having said all that, I’m not sure there is much that the front office can do right now. Amaro is playing a losing hand (or at least not a very strong one) and about the only thing you can do is wait for a new deal of cards and see what the new season brings.

      In 2014, if key players can stay healthy the Phillies will be competitive. I admit it’s a small chance, but that’s why I’m a fan. If the Philies don’t get off to a good start and are not in a play-off postion by the All-Star break, then its time for a fire-sale and start the rebuild then. Exactly what that entails, well that’s another post for another time.

       
      • Posts: 0 Rags Faircloth

        Nobody is overlooking injuries. In fact, it’s just the opposite. Most people are saying that by continually going into a season with an aging lineup, Amaro is foolish in his hopes to get one more contending season out of this “core” group. Common sense and history tells us that older players get injured more often and take more time to recover from those injuries. Plenty of people predicted Howard would decline quickly. As an example, just go back and look at Keith Law’s analysis on the day that the contract extension was announced. He examined, point by point, a laundry list of red flags in Howard’s metrics.

        To say that the team’s failures over the past two seasons are “surprising” or the result of “bad luck” is just not true. In fact, given the way that the 25 man roster has been constructed, this downfall was predictable.

         
      • Posts: 0 George

        Rags, you are confusing “decline” with “injury,” at least in the case of Howard. Even the diety keith Law didn’t predict that Howard would miss nearly two seasons, and if he’d only declined, he would still most likely have been productive.

        I’d also point out to you that there are plenty of older players on every team, including the World series champs, who had as key players Ortiz, who’s even older than Howard, and Victorino, who nearing his mid-thirties, is certainly a candidate for decline and even showed decline in his last season in Philadelphia. It also didn’t seem to bother them to sign a player with degenerative hips.

        It’s probably true that in many cases older players are injured more, and they certainly recover more slowly, but that doesn’t really explain the Phils’ problems. Revere, Brown, Galvis, Lannan, Pettibone, Stutes, Horst, etc. have all suffered injuries in the past two seasons, and every one of those players is under thirty.

         
  • [...] Phillies Nation – A Phillies fan clears his mind. [...]

     
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    I wasn’t bashing Amaro for not making major moves … I was bashing Amaro for having no plan … either contend, or rebuild, and he’s doing neither with this roster.

    IF you want to go for it, go for it ..
    IF you want to rebuild, rebuild..
    IF you want to have .500 team, with an aging core, and no real prospects to get excited about, do exactly what the Phillies have done for the past year.

    Tom from South Philly said, “If the Philies don’t get off to a good start and are not in a play-off postion by the All-Star break, then its time for a fire-sale and start the rebuild then.”

    …… That’s exactly what they should have done at the break LAST season. They entered the month of July 9.5 games back in NL East … July 31st, they were 12.5 games behind.

    The time for the fire-sale was last year, and now they’ll waste another season instead of starting down the road to rebuilding.

     
    • Posts: 0 schmenkman

      Don, I think they started down the road to rebuilding in July 2012. You can try to rebuild quickly and endure a few terrible seasons (with no guarantee whatsoever that there will be a winning team on the other side), or you can rebuild more slowly while trying to remain competitive.

      I believe there is a plan, and it’s the latter one. It’s just a plan that some fans aren’t satisfied with. The 2013 team was slightly younger than in 2008 and with Halladay and M.Young replaced by Gonzalez and Asche that trend will likely continue (despite Byrd replacing DY).

      They have contracts that are difficult to unload, and they know that veterans-for-prospects deals are a roll of the dice that may or may not get anything of value in the return.

       
      • Posts: 0 George

        I have to agree with Schmenkman. The Phils ARE rebuilding, whether anybody wants to acknowledge it or not. They now have youth in center field and third base, the bullpen, and the bench. It might be argued that they should have traded Utley or Lee, but there were no clear upgrades at either spot, and who knows what would have been the return?

        A rebuild can be done quickly, and sometimes it actually works quickly, but usually doesn’t because with haste comes the inevitible waste or the inevitible jumping to erroneous conclusions about an available player’s value. Better to do it more carefully, filling holes where one can, and waiting for big contracts to come off the books and a better free agent crop than the overpriced and aging players that have been available the last two years.

         
      • Posts: 0 Scotty Ingerton

        Schmenkman – Doesn’t 73 wins qualify as a “terrible” season? How much worse would they be if they tried to rebuild “quickly”? I don’t think the fans will differentiate much between a 65 win team and a 70 win team, any rebuild that includes signing a 37 year old outfielder and a 35 year old catcher to multi-year deals is flawed, no matter what rationale you try to concoct.

        George – You wouldn’t trade Lee or Utley looking for an immediate “clear upgrade” at those positions (or any current 25 man roster slot for that matter). You’re looking for three or four years down the road. You know that as well as anyone. If you’re doubting that RAJ has the ability to pull off a trade of that sort, then you’re probably right. That’s part of how they’ve reached this point – their inability to project the future performance of players (at any and every level).

        No fan cares if this is a 65 win team, a 70 win team, or a 75 win team. They only care about fielding a contending team. Right now, they have an extremely expensive 70 win team. Teams like Tampa Bay are contending with a payroll of under $60 million in a much tougher league and division. I admire you guys and your need to defend Amaro every step of the way. I do hope to live to see the day when you can admit that he’s an awful GM though.

         
      • Posts: 0 schmenkman

        Scotty, I’ve never claimed that Amaro is good GM. Or, more accurately, that it’s a good front office, since we don’t know to what extent Amaro’s hand has been forced, and it’s been reported that it’s been quite a bit, such as in extending Howard early.

        But the comparisons to the Rays or the A’s are not that cogent, IMO. The Rays and A’s never could have signed expensive long term contracts even if they wanted to, and so they operate in a completely different mode. Comparing to the other top-5 payrolls in the game is much more meaningful, and frankly not much more flattering for the Phils at the moment (they looked much better in 2009, 2010, and 2011).

        BTW, their being an awful FO doesn’t change my opinion that they’ve had a pretty good off-season.

        Just curious, instead of Byrd, who would you have play RF in 2014? Instead of Ruiz, who would you have catch? And how would those different choices position them better for 3-4 years down the road?

         
      • Posts: 2952 Chuck A.

        Avatar of Chuck A.

        I’m sort of questioning the Byrd signing (not sure who I would have play RF and i hope to have my questions positively answered)….

        …but I TOTALLY defend the Ruiz signing. NO to McCann (lefty bat, too expensive and will be better suited to do 1B/DH duties at some point). NO to Salty (again, too expensive and overrated in my opinion). NO to Navarro (just not enough there). NO to Pierzynski (he’s older, too, and not the catcher that Chooh is). Ruiz is needed RIGHT NOW for this staff, especially when you have $25ish MM pitchers in the rotation.

        As for Ruben Amaro, I don’t think he’s a particularly good GM, either. I have defended a lot of his moves (some i probably shouldn’t have) but he has made some that have been completely senseless. If we’re even comparing the situation to the A’s, I wonder how Billy Beane would fare with this payroll???

         
      • Posts: 0 George

        Mr. Ingerton, please realize that although fans don’t care much whether it’s 73 wins or only 65 wins, they DO care when that lack of winning continues over several yeras, which in many cases it does when a team dumps all it’s tradaeble assets for prospects. Prospects don’t always develop, or sometimes take years to do so. I really doubt if those fans would wish to wait while the four prsopects the team might get for Lee finally turned into something usable. I’ll also point out that in EVERY Lee trade so far, the return has been underwhelming. Ther’s just NO GUARANTEE that selling off Lee, Utley, or anyone on the 25 man roster will make for a quality team 3-4 years hence. A prospect or three is not always a clear upgrade.

        Also, I was not complaining about Amaro when I mentioned “erroneus conclusions.”That’s something that has occured in every front office in baseball, going back to the very beginnings of the sport. Bad trades are made every year right along with the good ones, and it’s usually hindsight, not foresight, which tells us which ones are which.

         
  • Posts: 0 Don M

    Not trying to force people into saying Amaro is good or bad as a GM …

    I just think that when you’re team has gone from among the best in baseball, to among the worst in baseball over a two year period – it’s clear to me that the current pieces aren’t working … some people blame injuries and that’s fine, but even when fully healthy I don’t see how this team can compete .

    And because I don’t see how they can compete (unless they would’ve added Granderson, Garza, Jimenez, etc..) … then I think to expedite a rebuild was the smarter move. Someone pointed out that there isn’t much difference between a 73 win season and a 60 win season, while I won’t go that far, I think the point is valid … if you aren’t going to really contend (and I don’t think the 2014 Phillies will, just as EARLY into last season we knew the 2013 Phillies wouldn’t) .. then it would’ve made sense to trade Lee, Utley, etc for whatever you can get..

    From all I’ve read, it’s the Phillies targeting “MLB-ready talent” that made teams balk at any trades with them – if the Phillies were better at identifying low-level prospects, we could go the route of acquiring 3-4 players that were a few years away … sure you’d suck in 2014, 2015 … but from what I can see, we’re going to suck these next two seasons anyway.

    And I know this is a 180 from my usual stance on the Phillies – I’m just really frustrated by the way the organization is operating… because it hasn’t been working, but they don’t seem to changing the course. ….Again – the 76ers are more exciting, because at least you can see what the plan is .. I really think the Phillies plan is “hope Howard and Utley stay healthy and play well enough to keep us around .500, and keep putting butts in the seats.” … as a fan, that doesn’t excite me in any way

     
    • Posts: 2952 Chuck A.

      Avatar of Chuck A.

      Don, it’s a 180 because the organization has done a 180 in the past few short years. I blasted Amaro last week for making the recent comment “we are built to contend”. NO we are not. Maybe he’s saying that because he has a lot of “hope”…like you say… but I’m just not buying that way of thinking. There is too much to have to “hope” for right now…too much has to go right…for them to be a competitive team.

       
    • Avatar of Tom in South Philly

      First off all, I have to admit I like the discussions here on Phillies Nation, even the opinions I may not agree with. Unlike some other sites, “you can disagree without being disagreeable.” I just wish the folks in Washington could adhere to that. And I don’t mean the Nationals.

      That being said, I don’t think we are all that far apart. Eventually every team needs to go through a rebuild. The differences we have seem to lie in the timing and degree. I tend to agree with schmenkman/George in that the Phillies have done some rebuilding and sometimes making moves for the sake of making moves can be counter-productive.

      Since 2008, there has been a lot of turn-over in the team. You have the “core four” (Rollins, Howard, Utley and Ruiz) you add Hamels and Kendrick (?) and that’s all that is left from the World Series team. In 2014, the Phillies fortunes will rise or fall with this group. For better or worse, these are the cards we are holding. Adding more chips to the pot in the form of adding an older, high-price free agent probably will not make a difference. I would like to play one more (last) round with this group. Can the Phillies be competitive with the team as it is? I think (hope) so; that’s why we’re fans. Would I bet my child’s college fund on it? Well, probably not.

      I still want to give it one last chance, and then go for the full-blown rebuild. As Dean Wormer put it, “I’m going to put these guys on DOUBLE-SECRET PROBATION. This means one more slip-up… one more mistake, and this fraternity of yours has had it at Faber!”

       
  • Avatar of The Original Chuck P

    Not sure if anyone saw my other comment… there’s an ESPN Insider article that names the Phillies as “in” on Tanaka.

     
 
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