Closely Reading Ruben Amaro’s Statements
It seemed like Philles GM Ruben Amaro might have finally gotten a clue, but those thoughts were erased after comments to CSN Philly
Written by Jake Elman
Because Memorial Day unofficially marks the completion of the first third of the baseball season — something I pointed out on SportsBlog — now is when we start hearing from team executives and higher ups about topics such as top prospects, aging veterans, and job security. Most of the time, we’ll hear from the general manager or team president, who will also touch base on how the first part of the season has gone and what’s next.
Philadelphia general manager Ruben Amaro, apparently aware of this ‘baseball tradition’, stepped up to the plate and spoke with CSN Philly’s Jim Sailsbury about several things relating to the rebuilding Phillies, most notably the trade market and prospects. If you’re a fan of the Phillies or you want to hear about what’s going on with the organization, I definitely would reccomend checking out the interview, because it’s an interesting look at a rebuilding team.
As with any rebuilding teams that has prospects on the horizon, it’s almost a requirement to inquire about those in an interview with the general manager or another higher up. Normally, we’ll get some kind of answer about how the prospects are making strides and the team wants to not rush them and it’ll be left at that; Amaro, however, took it one step further, as Sailsbury reports:
‘When asked about the timetable for pitching prospects Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin to make it to the bigs, Amaro said the plan was to be conservative. When it was pointed out that fans of losing teams tend not to like it when told that they need to be patient, Amaro had this to say:
“They don’t understand the game. They don’t understand the process. There’s a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don’t have a plan. There’s a plan in place and we’re sticking with the plan. We can’t do what’s best for the fan. We have to do what’s best for the organization so the fan can reap the benefit of it later on. That’s the truth.”’
In the few hours since this article was posted on CSN Philly’s website, many have been quick to call Amaro out and say that he’s why the Phillies are in the situation they are now or that the organization should just cut him loose. But, as a way of being fair, let’s closely read this statement and not only see what Amaro really meant, but also if he’s right or not.
“They don’t understand the game.”
Ah, the good old ‘you don’t understand what’s going on’ cliche. That’s always a nice way to start talking about the fans that are stuck putting up with your incompetence, Ruben.
“They don’t understand the process. There’s a process.”
That’s a very valid point and, believe it or not, I actually do agree with it becuase there are plenty of fans that think that just adding a top prospect into the mix will immediately solve things. A few years ago, every Mets fan in sight wanted the team to just promote Fernando Martinez already because they thought he’d save the day, but Martinez would only hit .180/.250/.290 in three seasons with the Mets.
“And then they bitch and complain because we don’t have a plan. There’s a plan in place and we’re sticking with the plan. We can’t do what’s best for the fan. We have to do what’s best for the organization so the fan can reap the benefit of it later on.”
The fans bitch and moan because the Phillies don’t have a plan? Damn, that’s rough, Ruben. I though they bitch and moaned because you took a perfectly built roster by Pat Gillick and the previous regime and turned into a win-now roster that made one World Series in your six plus years as general manager.
Not only did you give Ryan Howard a massive contract that became nearly untradeable in the final years of it, but you also got not even a full season from Hunter Pence (the Phillies acquired him in July 2011 and then dealt him in July 2012; he played a total of 155 games for them) in exchange for starter Jarred Cosart, reliever Josh Zeid, first baseman/outfielder Jonathan Singleton, and outfielder Domingo Santana. I’m still not entirely sure why the Phillies made that move, especially when you remember they just could have benched the struggling Raul Ibanez (more on him in a second).
Then, when Amaro decided to trade Pence to San Francisco in 2012, it’s not like the Phillies got back a massive haul featuring some of the team’s best prospects, including infielder Joe Panik who would have been a fine fit as a long-term replacement for Chase Utley or Jimmy Rollins. Instead, all they received was Nate Schierholtz, Seth Rosin and Tommy Joseph, and they non-tendered Schierholtz following the season. Yes, they cut loose a player that hit .273/.319/.379 and would have been a fine fourth outfielder for the future.
What exactly does that mean? It means that for a player that’s become an essential part of two World Series runs for the Giants and was actually pretty solid with the Phillies, all Ruben Amaro was able to get back was a veteran outfielder that he non-tendered, a starter that became an ineffective reliever, and a top catching prospect that has suffered from concussion issues and may not be a long-term catcher. Nice haul, Ruben.
Let’s see what else Amaro has done that would make fans want to bitch and moan…hmmm…oh, Amaro gave up a draft pick that would later become catcher Steven Baron to sign the aged outfielder Raul Ibanez to a three year deal; while Ibanez was quite good in his first year with the Phillies, hitting .272 and smacking 34 balls out of the park in his first National League season, the veteran outfielder, brought in for power, dropped down to 16 and 20 home runs in the next two seasons. It’s easy to say that Ibanez was instrumental in getting the Phillies to the playoffs in all three of his seasons there, but Ibanez only had two postseason series under Charlie Manuel where he hit over .250, and both of those came in 2009.
Part of why I’m so critical on the Ibanez move, even though I admit to being a huge fan of the All-Star, is because it was a three year deal that hurt the development of top prospect Dominic Brown and came back to bite the Phillies badly. Why would you give a three year deal to an older hitter that would have been a perfect designated hitter? Wouldn’t it have made more sense to either see if he’d take a one year deal or go after another outfielder in the market, like Eric Hinske or Bobby Abreu?
Now, do I think that Ruben Amaro is making the right choice by giving his top prospects time to develop in the minor leagues without throwing them into the fire just yet? Yes, I do, but attacking your fanbase and calling them out for bitching and moaning is uncalled for. What they’re really bitching about, to tell you the truth, is that you going into win now mode has left the team in a rebuild that I don’t see them getting out of until 2018 at the earliest and the reminders of the win now era (Howard, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, Cole Hamels, Jonathan Paplebon, and Cliff Lee) are all either injured or taking up space on the roster.
Look, Ruben, I get that you really want to make this team into a contender again and I respect that, but it’s not worth it to attack the fans that are sticking by you and the Phillies throughout the rebuild; it’s also not fair, and that’s the truth.
Do you think Ruben Amaro’s comments attacking the fans were out of line? Make sure to chime in on the conversation by tweeting me at @JakeElman