- Updated: January 21, 2014
Ruben Amaro, Jr. took over as general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009. He inherited a squad chock full of minor league talent, a core of players just hitting their prime and a boat load of cash.
He has presided over three National League East titles as G.M., which included a season in which the Phillies won a team record 102 games.
However, in just four short years, Amaro has steadily managed to run this team into the ground. One might akin it to the novel, turned Oscar nominated film “Moneyball” by Michael Lewis. Except, this would be called “Money-PIT”.
Amaro began this off-season with the task of adding some right-handed power in the outfield, a stronger back end to the bullpen, and youth in any way possible. That core group of players mentioned earlier are no longer in their prime. They are banged up, older and not nearly as focused as they once were.
Amaro’s answer to the outfield bat was one time Phillie Marlon Byrd, 36. Byrd signed a two year deal with the Phillies, worth $16 million. He had a respectable 2013, hitting .291 with 24 home runs and 88 runs batted in with both Pittsburgh and the New York Mets. Oh by the way, let’s not forget he was found guilty of using performance enhancing drugs in the past.
The fact is, Byrd is much older than he was the last time he played here. What range does he still have in the outfield? And to boot, if Amaro wants protection for the injury riddled Ryan Howard, Byrd is not the answer. He struck out 144 times last season.
As if that were not enough, the Phillies have reportedly agreed to a minor league deal with another former Phillie outfielder, one Bobby Abreu. On paper, this move makes sense. Abreu has torn up the Venezuelan league this winter, hitting over .464 with eight home runs in 56 at-bats.
While Abreu may have earned himself one last shot in the big leagues, this move is little more than a shot in the dark. Abreu will be 40 in March and is left-handed. His range in right field was never great. Add 10 years to the defense he played before leaving Philadelphia. Still, Abreu’s bat off the bench could be worth at least a spring training invite.
As far as the bullpen, Amaro deviated from former Phillies and acquired former number one pick Brad Lincoln from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for fan favorite Erik Kratz and minor league lefty Rob Rasmussen. Lincoln posted an earned run average just below four in 2013 to go along with a career ERA of 4.66. He will be called upon to help sure up the back end of the bullpen, but with a mediocre four seasons under his belt, what does he really add to the team?
Speaking of relievers, the Phillies also signed relief pitcher Chad Gaudin to a minor league deal today with an invite to spring training. Gaudin, 30, spent last season in San Francisco where he split time between the bullpen and rotation. He finished with a 5-2 record and an ERA of 3.06. The 11 year veteran figures to make the big league squad and could be counted on as the long man in the pen or, potentially, the setup man.
The move to sign Gaudin makes more sense than the one for Lincoln, however, note that Gaudin was arrested last January for public lewdness when he allegedly groped a woman laying on a gurney in a Las Vegas hospital while drunk. Couple that with Byrd’s suspension for PEDs and you have some questionable character traits in Amaro’s 2014 body of work so far.
With the retirement of Roy Halladay this past fall, the Phillies were left with a hole in the pitching rotation. Amaro patched that up, if one could call it that, by inking Kyle Kendrick to a one year deal worth over $7 million. This coming after Kendrick went 10-13 with a 4.70 ERA in 2013.
Do those numbers constitute a raise? If he wanted to spend money, why didn’t he just throw some cash Matt Garza or Ervin Santana’s way? And why is it that this team insists on keeping Kendrick in red pinstripes? He has a career ERA of 4.38.
To add depth to the rotation, Amaro also signed former Cleveland Indian and Tampa Bay Ray Roberto Hernandez. Hernandez is the right handed hurler’s given name, after he first came up to the big leagues under the name Fausto Carmona. After a 19-8 2007 campaign in Cleveland, he has limped to a 4.67 career ERA and a record of 59-82.
Oh by the way you can add falsifying identity to PED use and public lewdness
Finally, a few weeks back, Amaro signed utility infielder/outfielder Ronny Cedeno and catcher Wil Nieves to provide depth in spring training. At least, let’s hope that’s why he signed them. With prospect Cameron Rupp playing in September last year and fan favorite Freddy Galvis healthy and steroid free, these are the two players you hope fill those needs. Not the latter, who provide very little offense, and mediocre defense.
To be fair, Amaro did not have the bank account to go after names like Ellsbury, Choo, Granderson or Cano. However, he also did not have the wherewithal to make the decision to rebuild this team. While one can admire his determination to win, the moves he has made have gotten the Phillies no closer to winning. In fact, he may have put them even further behind.
2014 certainly is not looking bright for the Phillies, and if it ends the same way 2012 and 2013 did, Amaro might be someone else’s problem next offseason.
Stats Courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com
Photo Courtesy of ZooWithRoy.com