First, the Phillies made no trades at the deadline. Then Cliff Lee went on the DL. All hope is not lost — there’s still another trade deadline at the end of August for players who clear waivers — but it’s fair to say baseball fans in Philadelphia are a might grumpy this morning.
They’re as raw and sore as Cliff Lee’s elbow, one might say.
The 700 Level points out “#FireRuben quickly became a trending hashtag on Twitter in the Philadelphia area” on Thursday afternoon.
Crossing Broad, meanwhile, notices this Tweet…
CONTINUE. The Phillies will CONTINUE to compete? The Phillies are on pace for a 70-win season. Four closers in the National League have more saves than Papelbon has save opportunities. And not only am I supposed to believe Ruben said these things to Papelbon, but I’m supposed to believe he was cool with it and totally didn’t flip his shit? That’s the second most ridiculous thing to happen with the Phillies today. The first, of course, is that nothing happened.
The national press? Befuddled:
Phillies' situation reminds me of the great Shawshank Redemption line: "Get busy living or get busy dying." The status quo is inexplicable.
— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) August 1, 2014
Beloved veterans? Befuddled:
Former Phillie turned ESPN analyst, John Kruk, focused on the age of the team when discussing the lack of trades.
“I would rather see them be young and lose than old and lose because when you’re old and lose it’s ugly. Young and lose, you can live it, because you can see what the future might be,” Kruk said.
Kruk then asked a question that is probably on the minds of most Phillies fans, “What’s the future now?”
Angry bloggers? Well, you know:
You will no doubt come up with the same squishy possible defenses of Amaro that others have. He didn’t ruin the team with trades yesterday. It’s been years since he’s saddled the team with a true loser of a contract. The recent drafts have been better. The minor league system is improving.
All possibly true, but none of them give us any indication that Amaro knows what he’s doing. As anyone with any baseball sense knows, under his guidance, this team has one of the highest payrolls in baseball and one of the worst records. He has taken a champion and driven it into the ground. He has created a roster that is a baffling mess to fix and a minor league system with most of its best prospects derailed or years away.
There is no obvious plan. There is no ability to value or evaluate baseball talent. There is no creativity. There is no long-term vision. There is no sophistication in understanding the modern game.
The highlight of Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr.’s forgettable playing career was early into the 1992 season when he had a great first big-league start subbing in center field for injured star Lenny Dykstra.
A 27-year-old rookie at the time, Amaro was 3-for-4 with two doubles, a homer and three RBIs in an 11-3 win over the Chicago Cubs at Veterans Stadium.
Then very confident in his ability Amaro told reporters that he was “the total package.”
That became a nickname that stuck even though Amaro was anything but a five-tool player hitting .235 in 485 major-league games for three clubs from 1991-98.
We’re pretty sure that current Phils’ fans could find creative ways to used the terms “five tool player” and “total package” to describe the GM.
And the Daily News’ David Murphy offers a long-term appraisal of the situation:
The whole situation serves as a microcosm of why the Phillies currently find themselves in such dire straits. At no point over the last five years has the current regime offered any proof that they have a good feel for projecting players or markets, or for limiting their exposure to risk. They drastically overpaid for Papelbon. They fooled themselves into thinking they could compete this season, prompting them to hold onto Cliff Lee instead of moving aggressively to deal him in the offseason (or at last year’s trade deadline). They guaranteed A.J. Burnett more money than the Braves ended up guaranteeing Ervin Santana. The latter has a 3.63 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9 in 131 1/3 innings over 20 starts. Think he may have drawn some interest on the trade market (albeit as a two-month rental)?
No organization can get every decision right. But it should get some of them right. The Philies’ big weakness isn’t the evaluation of talent. It is the valuation of talent. And that’s why they are where we find them today, realizing the mess they’ve created well past the point where it could have been fixed.
At the Inquirer, though, Bob Brookover has faith — if not in Amaro, necessarily, then in the power of the Phillies’ riches: “Money isn’t everything, but it is one advantage the Phillies have over a lot of other teams, and you have to believe that Comcast, the company spending the bulk of it, wants a considerably better product to televise as soon as possible.”
It’s been about a year since Amaro reacted to losing by firing World Series-winning skipper Charlie Manuel. The question now is: How long can he hold onto his job?