The Fall of Ruben Amaro

Posted: August 5, 2014 in Uncategorized
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ruben-amaro.p1Ruben Amaro Jr. has wasted his final trade deadline as General Manager of the Philadelphia Phillies. There’s no ifs, ands, or buts about it.

By now, the writing is more than on the wall. It’s splattered and strewn across the canvas like a Monet masterpiece. By failing to deal a single overpaid and under-performing asset at last month’s deadline, Amaro cemented his status as the most hated man in the City of Brotherly Love. He also likely set his fate in stone. By this time next year, the Phillies will have a new GM, and red pinstripe wearing fans everywhere will rejoice the demise of a once celebrated figure in this franchise’s often tumultuous history.

How did it come to this? Where did he go wrong? For all the vitriol targeted at Amaro, he has had his moments during his 6-year tenure as the team’s GM. Trading for Roy Halladay was one of them, as the move for Doc put the Phillies firmly in the center of Major League Baseball’s spotlight. Amaro’s re-signing of Cliff Lee was also considered, at the time, to be one of the most shrewd and unexpectedly brilliant transactions in team history. The contract he levied to Cole Hamels in 2012 is also considered a solid deal considering what hurlers like Max Scherzer and Jon Lester are expected to get this offseason.

Not all of Amaro’s moves were pitiful. But, it’s the failure of the Phillies’ executive to capitalize on opportunities that will ultimately lead to his demise. When the team originally traded Lee in December, 2009, their rationale was that they needed to replenish the team’s dwindling farm system following their acquisition of Halladay. In exchange for the Cy Young winner, Amaro landed the baseball equivalent of a pocket full of syphilis coated thumbtacks; Tyson Gillies (released), J.C. Ramirez (released), and Phillippe Aumont (most Phillies fans wish he would be released). A haul like that isn’t exactly replenishing anything; unless you’re referring to replenishing the unemployment line.

Two-and-a-half years later, Amaro’s ill-fated sale of Hunter Pence to San Francisco produced Tommy Joseph, Seth Rosin, and Nate Schierholtz; none of whom have produced anything at the major league level in Philadelphia. The move was made even worse by the fact that Amaro dealt future franchise cornerstones in Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, and Domingo Santana to land Pence just one year prior. Since he was shipped to the Golden Coast, Pence boasts a line of .275-49-193 in 334 games. Oh, and he’s got that 2012 World Series ring to serve as a reminder of what Amaro has yet to, and likely never will deliver, to Philadelphia.

It’s moves like these that scared Amaro away from making a deal last month; and it’s moves like these that will spell the end of his tenure as GM of the team. Did Amaro fail miserably as the team’s figurehead? No, he didn’t. But, only so many bad contracts can be charitably donated to player’s with bad knees or ruptured achilles before the fanbase’s patience is stretched beyond its limits. Like the knee ligaments of Chase Utley (another aging player awarded a massive contract), Amaro’s support has all but eroded and dissolved.

No one knows what direction team ownership will go in to find a replacement for Amaro. They’ve had a penchant for staying in-house with their executives over the years. Whether it be Amaro or Ed Wade, David Montgomery and co. haven’t been too keen on reaching beyond Citizens’ Bank Way to find decision makers. The one time they did scour the countryside for a GM was in 2005, when the team replaced Wade with Pat Gillick. Three years and many brilliant, under the radar moves later, the Phillies were world f’n champions.

Surely, they can do it again with the right puppeteer pulling the strings. Whether or not ownership is wise enough to realize this is a tale for another day.

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