Ruben Amaro Jr.: Jimmy Rollins Isn’t Going Anywhere

Ruben Amaro

Ruben Amaro Jr.

Sitting in “Whale Beach,” an outdoor section of stands at Bright House Field reserved for media and VIPs, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr., talks to Philadelphia magazine about the Jimmy Rollins controversy, Freddy Galvis’s health scare, and whether he is feeling the heat going into his sixth year at the helm after two straight seasons without reaching the playoffs.

Philadelphia magazine: Given super-sub Freddy Galvis’s bout with MRSA and the ceaseless chatter about the need to dump Jimmy Rollins and the team being too old, is this spring crazier than usual?

Ruben Amaro Jr.: No. Every year is a challenge. We always have to deal with DLs and issues that pop up. Like (former GM) Dallas Green told me from the very beginning, we are firemen. We have to try and put out fires and this is just another set of them, and we have to deal and go from there.

Philadelphia magazine: How is Galvis (who contracted Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus after suffering a scrape on his left knee)?

Ruben Amaro Jr.: Galvis is doing just fine. We were concerned about the severity of the infection. I don’t know how long it is going to take him to be ready but I’m more concerned about his overall health and so far he’s doing a lot better.

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Six Pain Points the Phillies Must Address in the Off-Season

Phillies-offseason-discontent

If the Phillies had their way, each person in the Philadelphia area would have the ring tone on his or her phone changed to a sales pitch from broadcaster Tom McCarthy promising that things will be a lot better in 2014. That way, the team’s relentlessly positive message would have six months to sledgehammer its way into the collective consciousness, and average attendance next season wouldn’t dip below 30,000 a game.

About the only way the Phillies can possibly convince anybody that the 73-89 disaster that ended mercifully Sunday in Atlanta with–what else?–a loss is not a harbinger of worse things to come next year is with a full-on, all-out Soviet-style propaganda blitz designed to obscure this team’s substantial shortcomings.

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The List: 5 Terrible Philadelphia Sports Contracts, Chase Utley Edition

With Chase Utley close to signing an extension for the Phillies, a contract for two years and — wait for it — $27 million, many Phillies fans are wondering the obvious: Will the rest of the underachieving 2013 lineup be wearing red pinstripes next season, too? But here’s a reminder that things could be worse — and have been worse. Here are five of the worst Philadelphia sports contracts.

5. Adam Eaton

Although he got a 2008 World Series ring, pitcher Adam Eaton did little to earn it — let alone his $24.5 million, three-year contract. In 2007, Eaton gave up 30 (yep, 3-0) home runs, finishing the season with an ERA of 6.29. The next year produced similar results, with Eaton being optioned to the minor leagues after the acquisition of Joe Blanton. As for the rest of his contract? Well, he was released during the off-season, meaning the Phillies literally paid him $8 million to go away.

4. Ilya Bryzgalov

If his job was cracking jokes or getting into fights with the media, maybe we could make sense of Ilya Bryzgalov‘s 9-year, $51 million  ontract with the Flyers in 2011. But seeing as he was being paid to stop the puck from going into the goal, it’s a bit harder to justify. Given he’s taking up 10 percent of the Flyers payroll, Bryzgalov has been largely unimpressive (save single-handedly winning against the Red Wings with 37 saves out of 39 shots back in March 2012.) The Flyers bought out his contract in June, meaning that, under NHL rules, they’ll have to pay him $23 million, two thirds of the remaining $34.5 million, over the next 14 years.

3. Nnamdi Asomugha

Nnamdi Asomuga arrived in Philadelphia in 2011 as an All-Pro and an All-Decade cornerback from Oakland. Though he’s had some good games, his okayish-to-awful Eagles career makes it hard to imagine a time when he was ever a consistently useful professional football player. Of course, we discover this only after he’s signed a 5-year, 60 million dollar contract. At least “only” $25 million of it was guaranteed.

2. Shawn Bradley

For being 7’6″, second overall pick Shawn Bradley sure did manage to disappear on the Sixers team. While he did register eight blocks in his 1993 Sixers debut, getting all of our hopes as high as, well, him on tippy-toes, he managed to dash them quickly. After signing an 8-year, $44 million contract (the richest in Philadelphia history at the time) he was relative nonfactor in two-plus unsuccessful seasons here. Two years later, Bradley was traded to the Nets for Derrick Coleman, which is another kind of ignominy. We’ll forever remember The Stormin’ Mormon as the guy our opponents loved to dunk on.

1. Ryan Howard

Utley’s $27 million seems like Monopoly money when we compare it to Ryan Howard‘s 2010 five-year, $125 million extension for the Phillies — signed when he still had two years left on his existing contract. Mere months before his extension began, Howard suffered a career-altering injury to his Achilles tendon. Now, Howard is out six to eight weeks with a torn meniscus. Come 2016, one of the Phillies’ highest-paid players will be a 37-year-old, declining first baseman.

Why Don’t We Hate Ryan Howard?

The biggest local sports news of the week — other than, you know, the latest chapter in the never-ending “did Donovan throw up?” saga — is another injury to Ryan Howard. The Phillies first baseman was diagnosed with a torn meniscus in his knee, which will keep him out for 6-to-8 weeks.

The injury is the latest setback for one of the key players in the Phillies’ recent run of success, one whose production and ability to stay healthy have gradually declined over the last several years. Sure, Howard’s not exactly a scrub at this point, but he’s certainly not playing up to his $25 million-per-year salary, one he’ll be collecting through 2016.

But what I’m interested in is the fan reaction. Read more »

Ryan Howard Needs Surgery, Out for Up to Eight Weeks

The most recently injured Phillie is in for a long road of recovery, as confirmed by his scheduled MRI yesterday. Ryan Howard will be out of commission for six to eight weeks following a surgery for a torn meniscus in his left knee. The MRI yesterday confirmed the tear, but no surgery date has yet been set. Phils GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. appeared cautious but optimistic about Howard’s injury, saying that there  “could have been much more significant damage.” And, hey, at least Roy Halladay will have someone to keep him company on the disabled list besides Erik Kratz. [ESPN]

Ryan Howard on Disabled List; MRI Scheduled for Today

Ryan Howard is out of play for the next two weeks, having been placed on the disabled list on Saturday following problems with his left knee. An MRI is scheduled for today, with Ryan telling the AP that he “want[s] to be smart about it” and not cause any further injury. However, Howard did play through the pain Saturday because he thought he “could go out and play and try to give it a go.” With all this trouble for the Phils this season, perhaps the city should just send the whole team a card: “Get Better. Soon.” [ESPN]

Watch Ryan Howard on “The Office”

Last night, while live Ryan Howard was going 1-4 against the Braves, taped Ryan Howard was on The Office. Synopsis: Howard, playing himself, shows up to a sports marketing firm run by Jim and Darryl, ostensibly to work out a deal. Instead, he takes the meeting in a different direction, pitching an idea for a Hollywood movie: The Big Piece. The conceit: Howard, mild-mannered ball player, smacks a homer so far it gathers a coating of space dust. When it falls back into orbit, it smacks Howard right back, turning him into: The Big Piece (Howard’s nickname). As Howard puts it in a well-acted performance, it’ll be “half-biopic, half-superhero movie.” Kudos to the costume people too–Howard’s three-piece, fat necktie getup is quintessential dressy athlete.

Howard appears three times, at 5:40, 7:00, and 17:20.

Ryan Howard (the Baseball Player, not the Character) to Appear on The Office

NBC is struggling. So is Ryan Howard’s career. But two wrongs make a right, so The Office is bringing on the Phillies slugger for an episode to air in late-March. And as Philly Post contributor Steven Silver notes, there’s more than a little serendipity to this pairing.

For as long as I can remember, there have been two Ryan Howards in the Eastern half of Pennsylvania: The Philadelphia Phillies first baseman, and the Scranton-based character onThe Office, played by B.J. Novak. They’ve been around for about the same amount of time, too-  Howard the baseball player was a rookie in 2005, while Howard the character made his debut when The Office started that same year.

Howard will be worked in (presumably as himself) when the John Krasinski character tries to start a Philly-based sports marketing firm. [TechnologyTell]

Philly Teams Are Paying More Than $50 Million for Bad Knees

The most remarkable thing about the new list of the 25 highest-paid athletes in Philadelphia that it’s an orthopedist’s dream. Phillies pitchers Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay lead the list at $21.5 million and $2o million apiece—deals that made sense when they were signed, even if 2012 was a bit of a bummer for them. But get the next three names on the list:

• Ryan Howard: $20 million.

• Andrew Bynum: $16.889 million.

• Chase Utley: $15.285 million.

So much money. So few healthy knees.

Now, Howard and Utley brought us a World Series championship back in 2008, so Philadelphians are inclined to be patient. Bynum’s another matter—he still hasn’t played his first game for the 76ers, since a trade that many observers hoped would transform Doug Collins’ crew into championship contenders.

Still: What that means is that three of the top-five most expensive athletes spent a huge chunk of 2012 sidelined with knee injuries of various sorts. And come to think of it: The entirety of that top five served up mediocre performances during the year. The worst part? We can’t blame Andy Reid for any of it. [Philadelphia Business Journal]

Ryan Howard, Krystle Campbell Get Married in Hawaii

If you don’t care about Britain’s monarchs, maybe you’ll be interested in Philly royalty: Phillies first baseman Ryan Howard married Krystle Campbell over the weekend in Maui. Current and former teammates at the wedding included Shane Victorino and Ben Francisco. Campbell, a former teacher and Eagles cheerleader, was engaged to Howard in April 2011. It’s such a joyous occasion that there’s no reason to lament that Howard can’t hit left-handed pitching. Oops. [Dan Gross]

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