Built it up to Tear it Down

Posted: June 1, 2013 in Uncategorized
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Since he was named General Manager in the winter of 2008, Ruben Amaro Jr. has spent a majority of his tenure with Philadelphia sacrificing prospects for veteran impact performers. A penchant for overspending on pitching whilst sacrificing the team’s once powerful offense has left the franchise at a crossroads. After half-a-decade of success, it is time for the Phillies to blow it up and start over.

The only question that remains is whether or not Amaro is the right man for the job. After all, his past efforts to acquire prospects for veterans have not materialized the way he, or most Philadelphians would have imagined. The December, 2009 trade of Cliff Lee to Seattle and last summer’s sales of Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence have left the Phillies with Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies, J.C. Ramirez, Tommy Joseph, Ethan Martin, and Seth Rosin. Of that crop, only Aumont has appeared in the majors, and few would suggest that he has lived up to the hype that made him the centerpiece of a deal for a former Cy Young winner.

Granted, most of these players are still very young, and Martin has performed admirably recently in Lehigh Valley. Joseph, meanwhile, has plenty of potential. He has, however, missed over a month with a concussion, the second he has suffered since his professional career began. Rosin has looked good this season. But, proficiency in the low-minors is a far cry from professional success.

Meanwhile, the crop of prospects acquired from Seattle have drastically underwhelmed. The erosion of Aumont’s command has left him toiling in AAA, where he went just 0.2 IP in his last appearance, surrendering 4 BB and 2 wild pitches. Ramirez, whilst talented, is as inconsistent as any Phillies prospect. One game, he will resemble the live-armed phenom they envisioned four years ago. The next, he will spend most of his time looking towards the sky wondering what went wrong. Gillies, the speedy outfielder once perceived as the heir apparent to Shane Victorino, has battled injuries and inconsistency throughout his Phillies career. After beginning the season in Lehigh Valley, the 24-year old was demoted to AA-Reading for more seasoning. 

The most profound candidates for sale are Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, and Jonathan Papelbon. The latter still has 2 years and $26 million remaining on his contract with a vesting option for 2016. He has also performed as well as anyone on the roster. Therefore, a deal of the Philadelphia closer seems unlikely. The rest are either upcoming free agents or, in Rollins’ case, have a manageable contract in the future. Many still believe that Utley should be a Phillie for life. But, it is that type of mentality that can cripple a franchise for a generation. After all, if Amaro had taken a more conservative stance with Ryan Howard or Cole Hamels, perhaps the team would not be in this current mess. 

Utley has not played a full season since 2008. His knees have eroded, and now the former All-Star’s oblique is keeping him out for extended time this season. If the Phillies can get value for Utley, they would be remiss to not listen. As much as it may hurt fans to see Utley in an Athletics or Tigers uniform, it would hurt the franchise even more to commit millions of dollars over multiple-seasons to a player who cannot stay on the field. 

One thing is for sure, the Philadelphia Phillies’ dominance of the NL East is over. It will take some time, but, the only chance Philadelphia has of once again parading down Broad St. is a yard sale of epic proportions this July. Is Ruben Amaro the right man for the job? We had better hope so. 

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