Writer’s Roundtable: Grading Ruben Amaro Jr. – Phillies Nation

Writer’s Roundtable: Grading Ruben Amaro Jr.

Amaro gets his guys. But at what cost? (Photo: SI.com)

Right now is a critical time in the Ruben Amaro Jr. era in Philadelphia. His team is underachieving and in last place, the injuries are piling up and the best player on the Phillies’ roster will be absent for the next 6-to-8 weeks.

When grading his time here as the Phillies GM, we made sure we didn’t fall into the trap of factoring in things that weren’t under his control and looked at the complete picture. So here’s how we at Phillies Nation grade Amaro:

Corey Seidman: I’d give Amaro a B-.

He’s done a lot, but he’s had a ton of resources that every GM would give a kidney to have. He’s put himself in a position where there just aren’t too many fixes to make. You have to hope Howard, Utley and Halladay all get through their current conditions and age relatively well. Its tough.

Amaro took risks and was aggressive. He built a team that had enormous success from 2007-11. I’ll let the others break down each move, but Amaro’s done mostly well with trades and not too well with contracts.

Pat Gallen: I won’t put a letter grade on Ruben Amaro’s tenure a GM of the Phillies, but I will say this – it has been a ride. He acquires the best pitcher in baseball (Roy Halladay) and gets his “white whale” but deals Cliff Lee in the process.

He gets Hunter Pence from Houston, but gives up a ton of minor league talent in the process.

Amaro also gave odd contracts to Joe Blanton, Ryan Howard, and Jonathan Papelbon. (Yes, I know Papelbon has been lights out, but that’s still a ton of money for a 3-out guy, no matter how you look at it).

On the other hand, the Roy Oswalt trade was an absolute coup. He signed Shane Victorino to a team-friendly deal and ultimately brought back Lee.

However, other smaller moves have really made it a tough go for Amaro. Danys Baez, Jose Contreras, and Placido Polanco got one too many years on their deal, as did Raul Ibanez.

The previous few seasons have been easier on Amaro because the Phillies have been winning. The real work starts now with an aging roster with a bloated payroll. If he can make some moves and keep the team at or near the top of the NL over the next few seasons, we’ll look back at him as above average. But if he and the team both sink, we’ll look back saying, that wasn’t pretty.

Ian Riccaboni: For me, Amaro gets a solid B+. And to be honest, if it weren’t for the Ryan Howard contract, it would be an A.

Amaro made some tough decisions right out of the gate, including telling $15 million in payroll to stay home (Adam Eaton and Geoff Jenkins). Amaro’s first move, swapping the speedy Greg Golson to Texas for John Mayberry Jr., was a move that has shown some great benefits a few years removed from the trade.

Amaro inherited Carlos Ruiz behind the dish who hit .219/.320/.300 in 2008. He had the wherewithal to stick with the Panamanian. Amaro also inherited .249/.302/.402 and $5 million worth of Pedro Feliz at third from Pat Gillick that he let walk after 2009. Amaro had the cajones to let Pat Burrell walk and replace him with a player a few years his senior who had one of the most captivating first halves of any Phillie in recent memory.

He inherited a starting rotation of Hamels, Brett Myers, Kyle Kendrick, Jamie Moyer, and Joe Blanton that turned into Hamels, Blanton, Moyer, Cliff Lee, and, one of the best outside-the-box moves of all time, Pedro Martinez. The 2009 team would not have got to the World Series if those moves were not made, including but not limited to giving nothing the Phillies could have or would have used anyways to obtain Lee.

Donald McGettigan: I’m going to give Ruben Amaro Jr. a B+ grade.  No, he hasn’t won the World Series, but the streak of NL East titles has remained, we made one World Series appearances, and entered the postseason in 2010 and 2011 as the favorites to win it all …the Paper-Champions… to me, that’s what you ask of your GM, to put together a roster that can win… after that it’s up to players and coaches to perform on the field.

Amaro doesn’t play it safe. Leading a franchise that has only 2 titles, he has gone out and obtained the best available talent at trade deadlines and in free agency – to try to capture that elusive 3rd World Series trophy.

Acquiring players the caliber of Lee, Halladay, Oswalt and Pence — All-Stars, Cy-Youngs, and Hall of Famers — to put around your own homegrown talent, was risky. But it was, in my opinion, a risk worth taking.

Amaro’s trades for Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence haven’t hurt the Phillies. Yet. If Anthony Gose becomes the superstar he is suddenly on track to become, this grade goes a little lower. If any of the following happens: Jarred Cosart becomes an ace, Jonathan Singleton becomes a major masher, or Pence falls off a cliff somewhere between now and 2013, this grade goes way lower.

With all things considered, Amaro has done a great job assessing needs and I feel comfortable putting him at a B+, almost an A-, even with the Howard contract. The real test will be the results from this year, how Cosart, Singleton, and Jonathan Villar pan out, and how Amaro retools for 2013 – with double the payroll from 2007, it will be a major disappointment, injuries included in the thought process, if they miss the playoffs.

Ryan Dinger: For the job he’s done in his first three-plus seasons with the Phillies, Amaro deserves a C+. I arrived at that grade through the very scientific method of rating each of the moves during his tenure as GM on a scale of 1-to-5 (1 representing an F and 5 representing an A), and figuring out the average, which came out to be 3.07.

Amaro has kept the team very competitive, putting a team capable of winning a championship on the field in each of his full seasons. But, in doing so, he’s driven the Phillies’ payroll up to levels thought impossible just a half decade ago–an issue that could handcuff the Phillies regarding future moves if they stay adamant about not crossing the luxury tax threshold.

This coming off-season has all the potential to be the defining moment in Amaro’s time as GM in Philadelphia. He’s got a lot of holes to fill in the field, and how he decides to handle the Cole Hamels contract situation could go down as one of the best or worst moves in Philadelphia sports history. It will be interesting to see how he navigates through these issues, especially considering the aging roster and the bloating payroll. This winter could easily push Amaro’s grade to an A or drop it down to an F.



  1. TheDipsy

    May 31, 2012 at 7:09 am

    Wow. Talk about opening a can of worms.

    The Dipsy

  2. bacardipr05

    May 31, 2012 at 8:20 am

    Dipsy you beat me to it….Just opened up a can of worms on the Howard thing alone….

  3. George

    May 31, 2012 at 8:46 am

    These ratings, to me, are surprisingly fair. I may just be used to all the Amaro bashing I’ve read here in the past, and I expect that there will be comments trashing RAJ and also trashing those who’s give him any marks above “C.”

    As Dipsy said, “Talk about opening a can of worms.” Of all the Phils’ people, Amaro, I think, generates more debate than anyone, both emotional and otherwise.

    My thoughts are that he should be given a little more slack than he sometimes receives here. The game has changed in the last few years. There’s the new collective bargaining agreement. Players are demanding and getting ridiculous and lengthy contracts. Budgets are being squeezed. I doubt that GMs in general, and not just Amaro, have completely adapted to all of that. Contract mistakes are going to be made in every front office in the game. Putting together a championship team these days is extremely difficult without losing some prospects and aggravating some fans.

    • George

      May 31, 2012 at 8:49 am

      “who’s” should read “who’d” I wish the “s” and the “d” weren’t so blasted close together. It makes it too difficult to type for those of us with ten thumbs.

  4. schmenkman

    May 31, 2012 at 8:48 am

    Jonathan Singleton is one of only 3 position players in the Texas League (AA) who are not yet of drinking age. Yet he’s 5th in OPS at .981 (.317/.418/.563).

    • EricL

      May 31, 2012 at 11:19 am

      That trade was a huge mistake.

  5. Chuck A.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:58 am

    Can of worms or a freaking giant ant farm. WOW

  6. schmenkman

    May 31, 2012 at 8:59 am

    Also in the Pence trade, not mentioned above: at 19, Domingo Santana is the 2nd youngest player in the California League (A+), ten days older than the youngest one. He’s 11th in the league in OPS (.283/.350/.560).

  7. Brian Michael

    May 31, 2012 at 9:00 am

    I’m going with a solid B. I agree with Pat, it sure has been a ride. I almost think Ruben likes the added drama he creates.

  8. Jonathan Nisula

    May 31, 2012 at 9:29 am

    One thing to think about…

    How well has RAJ done at doing the goal of his job (creating revenue)?

    He’s made fans excited with the moves he makes, and while those moves may not always be the best for the team, he did his job which is create a buzz in the fanbase and generate income.

    Baseball wise, I’d give him around a C+/B-, but on GM wise, he definitely gets an A.

  9. Chuck A.

    May 31, 2012 at 9:41 am

    I’ve been one of Ruben’s biggest supporters on this blog. Probably to a fault. But I think, for me, what he does with this Cole Hamels thing will really help define him as a GM. I’ve maintained all along that allowing a 27 year old, home-grown, dominant lefty starting pitcher get away would almost be grounds for his dismissal. While I acknowledge that it takes two sides to create a deal, I really have to wonder if Ruben hasn’t somehow pissed off Hamels to the point where it will be very difficult to get something done. We probably won’t know for sure, at least for awhile, so I will hold my judgement until it all comes out and is resolved.

    • Pat Gallen

      May 31, 2012 at 9:47 am

      Chuck, that’s exactly why I didn’t grade him. It’s easy to give him an A or B because they’ve been winning. But the moves he’s made wont be gradable for another year or two. And the Hamels deal will play into it, for sure.

  10. Manny

    May 31, 2012 at 10:50 am

    I tried looking at all the deals Amaro has made and graded them from — to ++ (range is –, -, =, +, ++) with the all the info we have as of today.

    Lee trade #1 ++
    Halladay trade (including extension) ++
    Lee trade #2 —
    Mayberry trade +
    Oswalt trade +
    Pence trade – (potential to be –)

    Polanco signing +
    Raul signing =
    Blanton extension —
    Howard extension —
    Papelbon signing –
    Kendrick extension –
    Pedro Martinez signing +
    Moyer extension –
    Madson extension ++
    Durbin extension –
    Lee signing +
    Contreras signing =
    Danys Baez signing —
    Victorino extension ++
    Chooch extension ++
    Hamels extension ++
    Werth extension +
    J-roll extension + (team-friendly enough)

    Charlie extension =
    Schneider signings =
    Herndon (rule 5) =
    Mini-Mart (rule 5) —
    Wilson Valdez signing (and not resigning) +

    These ones can change easily:

    Nix signing –
    Thome signing –
    Qualls signing = (team-friendly, proven guy but poor results)
    Pierre signing +
    Fontenot signing +
    Valdes (pitcher) signing =
    Wigginton trade +

    Non-contract stuff:

    Handling of Dom Brown —
    Letting Burrell walk +
    Not picking Feliz’ option +
    Not picking Oswalt option + (easy call, tho)
    Letting Jenkins sit +
    Letting Eaton sit ++

    And these are pending:

    Hamels pending FA
    Shane pending FA
    Pence extension ?

    All in all, a very mixed record. Some very smart extensions (Madson, Shane, Chooch, Hamels, Werth) and some terrible/WTF contracts/extensions (Howard, Blanton, Papelbon –it’s 5 years remember…). Some fantastic (original Lee) and head-scratching (second Lee) trades. He filled in the holes just fine with guys like Polanco, Ibanez, Pedro without hurting our flexibility, so that’s good. I suspect his record will remain mixed, purely because he’s made splashy moves that have been really good AND really bad. (Got to add: Whatever happens to Hamels will be a big factor in the end. Not extending him already is a big — in my eyes.) Put a gun to my head and I’ll have to go with a B-.

  11. barry m

    May 31, 2012 at 12:11 pm

    About the future Hamels outcome being “one of the best or worse moves in Phillies history”: The thing is, there’s what people (here and everywhere else) will say when the move happens–and what they will say 3 or 5 years later. It’s going to take quite awhile to know how to rate that, however it goes.

  12. Chuck A.

    May 31, 2012 at 12:22 pm

    Manny – how the eff long did it take you to make that list with all those symbols???!!! Wow!! Good work by you! Agree with some. Disagree with others. It’s really hard to put a grade on this. So much rides on this year, frankly.

    • Manny

      May 31, 2012 at 12:26 pm

      Boss is out this week haha. And I always wanted to do this honestly. Now I feel better armed to argue with all the Amaro haters AND lovers.

      • George

        May 31, 2012 at 2:42 pm

        What will you do with people like me? I’m basically an “Amaro neutral.”

      • Manny

        May 31, 2012 at 3:38 pm

        I would agree with you. I think I’m an “Amaro neutral” as well.

  13. Jeff Dowder

    May 31, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    A team with one of the top payrolls in the sport is measured by 11 wins in October, not what happens in the regular season. And whether or not people like to admit it, the core of this 2007-2012 run was put together by Ed Wade. Gillick and then RAJ came into their positions with Rollins, Utley, Howard, Hamels, and Victorino already on the roster. There’s no playoff run without those players around in their prime seasons.

    The Howard contract is well documented.

    The Cliff Lee musical chairs game directly led to losing even more prospects because RAJ was forced to go out and get Oswalt in the summer of 2010. If Gose is as good as scouts think he is I don’t think those 36 Oswalt starts were worth the price.

    I don’t think RAJ is one of the better GMs, but I don’t think he’s one of the worst either. He’s in the middle of the pack somewhere. To George, that’s “bashing” Amaro.

    • George

      May 31, 2012 at 2:58 pm

      In no way would I consider your comments “Amaro bashing,” and I agree that he’s probably somewher in the middle; probably a little above exact middle. I was referring to those here who can’t see the good for the bad. I’m pretty sure you’ve seen the “Ruin Tommorrow,” and “Ruben sucks,” and “fire RAJ, fire Manuel,” diatribes yourself. That’s what I was referring to.

      A couple of comments I would like to make though are:
      1. It’s a little unfair to say that it’s only the last eleven days that count. Injuries and luck figure in no matter how good a team’s personnel might be. The Braves were considered a great team because they won 13 straight division titles, and yet they won exactly ONE world championship.
      2. I doubt the phils would have continued to win without the further tweaking done by Gillick and Amaro. It was pretty obvious in 2008 that the Phils could hit. But Feliz wasn’t much at third, Burrell was close to done, and the pitching was mostly Hamels, Lidge, and luck.

  14. Don M

    May 31, 2012 at 12:48 pm

    I agree there is no playoff run without the core of Rollins, Vic, Utley, Howard . . . . . . . . . but I don’t think we would have remainined on top without the additions of Lee . . . . Halladay ….. Oswalt (who was great when we landed him), and Hunter Pence last year

    Also… Ibanez may have been paid a ton, but was the best avaialable LF when we decided to let Burrell go (which was the right move) …

    Polanco was the best available 3b (after Beltre turned down more years and dollars from the Phillies to sign a 1-year-deal with Boston) …. They all have a part in this, and I think the 2011 team was better than 2008 …. but the 2008 team won it all, and last year’s team didn’t ……..

    • EricL

      May 31, 2012 at 1:11 pm

      I think Jeff’s point is that if he hadn’t stupidly traded Cliff Lee away in the winter of 2009 he wouldn’t have needed to trade for Oswalt in the summer of 2010, because Lee would have been on the staff the whole year.

      The Phils were in first place by 6 games without Hunter Pence last year, so to think that they wouldn’t have won the division without him is kind of silly since they were already winning the division without him. The Hunter Pence trade is up there with the Ryan Howard contract in terms of awful Amaro moves.

      • Don M

        May 31, 2012 at 2:16 pm

        For whatever reason (I think it came from those above Amaro) they “couldn’t” keep both pitchers… and like he said (and was in Todd Zolecki’s book THE ROTATION), they didn’t want to temp fans with both pitchers on the roster for a few days -so as soon as the Halladay deal was completed, the Lee trade went down . . . .

        This was after the Phillies had offered Lee the same extension that Halladay agreed to… why they couldn’t have kept both pitchers for ONLY 2010, I do not know (don’t recall what the payroll was, or what the payroll limits were that year) .. but the payroll has since expanded, making Amaro’s job easier. .

        I do not believe that he wanted to trade Cliff Lee … I think that he was told he could have one or the other, and opted for Halladay …….

        …. I didn’t mean that if not for Pence we wouldn’t have made the postseason.. but without those players we got in trades, Halladay, Lee, Oswalt…we don’t have the same strong team down the stretch each season (when we just so happened to play our best baseball each time)
        but as for Pence – on July 15th, we were 3.5 up on ATL…a week later it was 4 games, and on July 29th it was 5 games ……..meanwhile, that was with a banged-up Polanco, and little production from RF … we had an unproven bullpen with Madson, Stutes, Bastardo all pitching well, but no track records to show they would def continue …. They thought they need to improve their offense to have a better chance in the postseason (and they were right!!!)… maybe Pence wasn’t the right player (I wanted Beltran), and maybe we gave up too much to get him (generally what happens to buyers at the deadline) …..

      • schmenkman

        May 31, 2012 at 2:21 pm

        Agree on Lee — he would not have acquired Halladay if there wasn’t a plan to trade Lee at the same time.

      • schmenkman

        May 31, 2012 at 2:26 pm

        (agree with Don, that is)

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 3:03 pm

        Don – I don’t buy that the organization couldn’t afford to keep Lee for $9 million in 2010. I know that’s what the front office implied, but it’s hard to believe a team coming off back to back WS appearances couldn’t make that work. If we do accept that as fact, then we need to question why the hell they got stuck paying Jamie Moyer $8 million that season.

        Don’t forget, Lee and his agent claim they had barely begun to negotiate with the Phillies at the time he was dealt. You can choose not to believe that, but I don’t see what they would have gained by lying about the situation.


        Which brings to mind one of RAJ’s biggest flaws – his lack of patience and willingness to allow a market to develop. It’s hurt him quite a few times so far in his tenure.

      • GM

        May 31, 2012 at 3:48 pm

        I think Don’s statement was that ownership gave RAJ the choice of Halladay or Lee, and he chose to trade for Halladay. Amaro doesn’t have the authority to make deals without ownership approval.

        As for Moyer, he was already signed to a 2 year extension in December 2008, the money was guaranteed, and there most likely was not a big trade market for a 46 year old pitcher making $6.5 million.

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 4:18 pm

        GM – I know the logistics as to why Moyer was on the 2010 team. It was a rhetorical question pointing to the poor decision made in extending Moyer, leading to a poor decision in trading Lee, leading to a poor decision in trading for Oswalt. There are many cause and effect situations tied to these moves and we’ve yet to see the final outcome to the trades that included highly touted prospects. That’s why they’ve always called the moves mortgaging the future. Well, the future is just about here.

  15. Lefty

    May 31, 2012 at 1:15 pm

    Stewardship of a franchise is a huge responsibility. Having to think about what’s best now and for the future takes more than a little planning. I won’t grade him yet either, time will tell.

    However, I could name several GM’s that I would rather see running the Phillies-

    1. Andrew Freidman- Tampa Bay Rays- He makes Billy Beane look like an amateur when it comes to money ball.

    2. Jon Daniels- Texas Rangers- His team looks poised to capture their first title and go to the championship series for the third straight year.

    3. Mike RIzzo- Washington Nationals- He hasn’t proved himself yet in the Majors, but they have a slew of talent in the system, and a slim chance to win the division this year.

    Others that I think would do the job better in no particular order- Kevin Towers,-Diamondabcks, Dayton Moore-Royals, Doug Melvin-Brewers, Dave Dombrowski-Tigers, Jerry Dipoto-Angels, Alex Anthopolous-Blue Jays, Neil Huntington-Pirates, and maybe even Ned Coletti- Dodgers too.

    • Chuck A.

      May 31, 2012 at 1:42 pm

      When the general manager of a major league baseball team refers to one of the best pitchers in baseball as chickensh!t (or what he did as chickensh!t) then I don’t think I would want him as a GM of the team that I root for. His words and actions were unbefitting of a baseball executive.

      • Lefty

        May 31, 2012 at 2:39 pm

        You know what, I forgot about that. I was just thinking about his body of work, you are right.

      • George

        May 31, 2012 at 3:10 pm

        I don’t think I’d go with Rizzo, either, and not just because of the Hamels thing. He’s had the benefit of top draft pick positions pretty much since the team became the Nats. You can’t call that a particularly shrewd stockpiling of talent. (Well, I suppose he could have been really stupid and drafted one-armed infielders instead of the obvious-to-every-scout Strasburg and Harper. It’s too early to tell.

      • Lefty

        May 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm

        As I said to Schmenkman, I would pull Rizzo off the list due to lack of professionalism, but I do think there was more to it than having the best draft positions, although certainly that did not hurt. Check this out George- a little insight into where the Nationals were (worst organization) when he took over and his four step plan to build the organization. I still think he’s a pretty sharp baseball man.


  16. Christian

    May 31, 2012 at 1:32 pm

    Andrew Friedman?????? Seriously????? Anyone of us could have done the job of Andrew Friedman when his team was annually sitting at the bottom of the AL East with the worst record in baseball and all the while accumulating #1 overall draft picks….Andrew Friedman??? Throw Ed Wade in there too with all the high picks the Phillies used on players like Hamels, Myers, Utley and Burrell. Friedman hasn’t done crap…Billy Beane was drafting bargains and players nobody else wanted with low draft positions every year in the amateur draft….


    May 31, 2012 at 1:36 pm

    Pat Gallen —- you have no balls whatsoever. Your inability to give Amaro a grade tells me you are afraid this will negatively affect your ability to get interviews and possibly hinder your chances to climb the sports ladder in Philly. We don’t need wimps, Pat. We need guys with guts and integrity. Grow some !!!!

    • Pat Gallen

      May 31, 2012 at 2:38 pm

      I’ll be right back – gonna try to find my sack. (That rhymes).


    May 31, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    I give Amaro a c+ at this point in time

    • Don M

      May 31, 2012 at 1:59 pm

      a C+ ??? Grow some balls. go “D” or “B” grades…

      Did you read any of Pat’s points, or just the first sentence? He basically says he’s made good moves and bad moves …. I wouldn’t say that he’s afraid of saying anything . . . and his job with 97.5 FM (ESPN) gets him access and interviews regardless of his stance …. a little harsh on your part, no ?

  19. schmenkman

    May 31, 2012 at 2:08 pm

    Lefty, disagree with many on your list but completely agree on Friedman, Daniels, and Anthopoulos.

    • Lefty

      May 31, 2012 at 2:44 pm

      After Chuck A. reminded me above of Rizzo’s remarks regarding Hamels, I would have to remove him from my top three, that wasn’t professional at all. And Anthopoulis could easily slide right into that spot.

  20. TheDipsy

    May 31, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Dispy RAJ Scorecard:

    Strengths: Balls, Creativity
    Weaknesses: Jumping at Free Agents, overpaying players

    Addressing the first Lee trade: I believe ownership keep both Halladay AND Lee’s salaries. So he picked Halladay and traded Lee. If I was under the mandate I would have done the same thing.

    He overpaid Polanco, Moyer, Papelbon, Ibanez in egregious fashion. NO. we did not HAVE TO have any of those four guys. “What if we hadn’t have signed them” you chirp. You…just…would…have…done…something….else.

    I forgive him for Ryan Howard. At the time of the extension he was still an elite offensive force. To let him walk would have been PR suicide. As it turns out, his skills have eroded, no unpredictably, and the signing looks bad. It didn’t work out – bit it wasn’t stupid at its inception like the four cited up top.

    If Chase and Howard were still playing at 80% of 2009b levels, Amaro would be a prince. They were young enough. They weren’t broken down.

    You gotta pay players if you wanna try and win the World Series every year. I think Ruben is just fine.

    The Dipsy

    • George

      May 31, 2012 at 4:46 pm

      I’m not sure I’d rate the Polanco signing as an “egregious” overpay. He did well in his first year, and is doing pretty well in his third. I’ll also give the Papelbon signing some time before I’ll call it “egregious.” The Moyer deal, however, makes up in egregiousness for even some of the meh contracts.

      • schmenkman

        May 31, 2012 at 6:43 pm

        And Polanco overall was in the middle of the pack among starting third basemen in year 2. Far from egregious.

    • Mark

      May 31, 2012 at 5:10 pm

      Howard was clearly showing signs of declining as a player at the time of the extension. Don’t forget this extension was given more than a year before his contract was set to expire. So they extended well before they needed to at an above market price. What benefit did the team receive for the early extension?? This contract was rightfully criticized by several analysts at the time of the extension. Add in the fact that Pujols and Fielder were due to be free agents at the same time as Howard, why the rush to extend him? He’s nowhere near those two as a player even at the time of the extension.

  21. TheDipsy

    May 31, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    *insert “ownership would not let RAJ keep both Halladay and Lee”.

    The Dipsy

    • Jeff Dowder

      May 31, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      But they did allow it 365 days later?!

      By the way the “?!” (or “!?”) symbol is called an interrobang.

    • GM

      May 31, 2012 at 3:50 pm

      Yes, obviously they did allow it 365 days later.

      If your boss tells you to do something, you do it, or you find a new job.

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 4:23 pm

        GM – There’s no proof that Amaro was ordered to do anything. It’s just pure speculation. Spend some time on Google and find me some information on this edict that was handed down from ownership. Neither ownership nor Amaro has ever said it, yet it’s somehow become part of the folklore surrounding that sequence of events.

      • GM

        May 31, 2012 at 4:32 pm


        We could argue this all day, but obviously management/ownership was aware of the trade and approved. To place all the blame on Ruben is foolish. He publicly stated that the trades were to restock the farm system, just like he said that he couldn’t increase the payroll prior to re-signing Lee in December 2010. I’m not sure about you, but I wouldn’t come out and throw my boss under the bus after making a move as unpopular as trading Lee.

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 5:01 pm

        GM – Of course they were aware of the deal, but there’s no proof that he was “ordered” to trade Lee. There really wasn’t a need for Amaro to throw anyone under the bus.

        Just for fun, assume that ownership “did” give him that command. Wouldn’t it have been better to just let Joe Blanton walk instead of extending him with that ridiculous three year deal? I’m not even using the benefit of hindsight there. It made much more sense at the time. That was $7 million for 2010 right there, so there were certainly ways to clear that $9 million.

        The Cliff Lee soap opera was not one of RAJ’s shining moments. When you tie the Oswalt deal to it (which is a logical progression) it looks even worse.

      • GM

        May 31, 2012 at 5:27 pm

        Neither of us was in the room the day those trades happened, but lets use a little common sense and deductive reasoning.

        If you look at Amaro’s track record, and it’s well documented in this post, he hasn’t been conservative, and he hasn’t planned much for the future. His agenda has clearly been WIN NOW! Just because there isn’t a news release or a press conference where he went on record saying, “David Montgomery made me do it.” doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. Whether they explicitly told him to do it or not, they didn’t stop it, which means they supported it.

        As for Blanton, he was offered arbitration prior to the Halladay & Lee trades, he was coming back, for $7.5 or $10.25 million.

      • George

        May 31, 2012 at 5:29 pm

        One could also say, “Spend some time on Google and find me some information that this edict was NOT handed down.”

        I won’t say it, though. I’ll just say that this was a debacle all around, and probably the doings of everybody in charge. Amaro certainly didn’t seem too keen on asking the owners to free up more cash, so even if ownership might have balked, Amaro wasn’t completely blameless. I’ll also agree with whoever said that the Moyer contract tied up too much money, making it virtually impossible to keep Lee, given the top to bottom stubbornness concerning the budget that year.

  22. Chuck A.

    May 31, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    I think ownership finally woke up a year or 2 ago and realized just what they have here. A big market sports franchise. For years the Phillies were thought of and actually were a small to mid market team….and that’s how ownership thought. Things started to change with the first Thome signing in the early 2000s and REALLY changed with the Howard contract and the second Lee signing. If ownership tied Ruben’s hands I can’t fault him for anything related to that.

    • George

      May 31, 2012 at 5:02 pm

      I’d go one further. For years ownership not only behaved like they were running a small market franchise, but also acted like they had to pass one brain back and forth to each other in order to function at all. Some of the moves made in Phils history make even the recent Baez signing look like pure genius. Fergie Jenkins for two washed up middling pitchers? Sandburg for whoever (or whatever) it was they got in return?

  23. TheDipsy

    May 31, 2012 at 7:10 pm

    Whoa. RAJ finds out he can get the best pitcher and baseball, Roy Halladay. Ownership told him, hell yes, TOLD him, “go get him RAJ but you can’t keep Lee, too”. And Amaro made the deal for Halladay. Hence the mad rush to trade Lee. No looking for other teams. No looking for better deals. Boom. Gone. To Seatlle. Why the hell else, when you’re trying to win a WS, would you trade the SECOND best pitcher in baseball? To restock a farm system? Puh-lease.

    But then, as Chuck so astutely pointed out, ownership opened up the throttle and we got Lee back. If you wanna know exactly what happened, self promotion here, go back to MY article on PN. It resonates today as much, if not more, than the day it was written.

    It’s what happened.

    The Dipsy

    • Lefty

      May 31, 2012 at 7:44 pm

      Dipsy, I remember that article. I’d love to see it again, but I don’t know how to access old postings on PN. Can you link it for us?


    May 31, 2012 at 7:25 pm

    Movingf forward, I believe that Amaro will be a train wreck for this team. He has no patience and has proven that he cannot offer intelligent financial deals. If we lose Hamels, then management should tell Amaro to pack his bags and get the hell out of town. He is no hero. He paid way too much for too many players and bankrupted our farm system. The truth is plain as the nose on his face. He is bad news as a leader and way, way too impulsive. I can only give him a C+, and for a general manager and organization leader, that is a failing grade.
    Amaro will never be a Pat Gillick, now way, now how.

    He is very good a gamling with ownership’s wallet and does show some courage in that department, And he does want to win awfully bad. And I do give him credit for those traits. He aslo showed management that a good teeam in Philly will fill the seats.


    May 31, 2012 at 7:31 pm

    Don M…. I stand by what I said. Pat Gallen is a decent fellow who has done some very good things. I appreciate that. But the object of this was to grade Amaro as a GM after over three years. That is enough time for that. I hope you can see my point, If not, then Oh well !!!
    No hard feelings toward you on my part. GO PHILS !!1

    • George

      June 1, 2012 at 2:27 am

      Not giving a letter grade does not mean that Pat didn’t do some rating. I think he pretty thoroughly gave his impressions of Amaro’s performance. He also stated that the real test for Ruben hasn’t come up yet, and that’s why he couldn’t go further in his rating. His comparisons of good moves and bad moves seem a pretty fair and debate stimulating assessment to me, and just because he has attached no stupid letter grade (which are, in themselves, open to some interpretation) it’s an assessment far from lacking guts.

  26. TheDipsy

    May 31, 2012 at 7:55 pm

    I would appreciate if you could – I don’t know how to do it. If you google it – It was called “The Dip: Business Is Business”. Thanks.

  27. Don M

    May 31, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    The Phillies trade prospects for all stars, and spend money to keep and sign talent… Everything we asked of them for years and years…. And somehow that’s not enough

    Gotta love Philly

    • schmenkman

      May 31, 2012 at 8:23 pm

      We can appreciate that they spend the money while still wishing they used the money and prospects more wisely.

      • c schreiber

        May 31, 2012 at 8:43 pm

        Speaking of prospects, how’s “Middlin” Middlebrooks doing??

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm


      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 9:10 pm

        The Phillies passed on Middlebrooks seven times in the 2007 draft before he was selected. They also passed on Giancarlo Stanton twice (in favor of Joe Savery & Travis d’Arnaud). Yikes.

      • schmenkman

        May 31, 2012 at 9:26 pm

        c s – Middlebrooks is still looking very good. His mediocre minor league OBP stil makes me suspicious, but he has certainly hit MLB pitching well in his first month.

      • schmenkman

        May 31, 2012 at 9:38 pm

        Jeff, d’Arnaud is looking pretty good himself, and there’s still a very good chance he’ll be the better player.

        Also, you can do the “selected instead” thing about every one of the 100s of mid-to-late round picks that made it to the majors. The Red Sox passed on Ryan Howard 4 times in 2001 to draft Kelly Shoppach, Matt Chico, Jon Devries, and Stefan Bailie.

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 9:49 pm

        I realize that but who is the last significant player produced by the farm system? A starting player in the big leagues. Ruiz (undrafted) became a regular in 2007 and Bourn in 2008 (for Houston). Have there been any since then?

      • schmenkman

        May 31, 2012 at 10:06 pm

        No – just pitchers:

        Kyle Drabek (2012)
        Vance Worley (2011)
        Antonio Bastardo (2011)
        Michael Stutes (2011)
        J.A. Happ (2009)

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 10:08 pm

        From what I can see Michael Bourn (2003 draft) is the last starting position player to come up through the Phillies system.

      • Jeff Dowder

        May 31, 2012 at 10:10 pm

        Maybe player evaluation is an issue to worry about?

      • George

        June 1, 2012 at 2:29 am

        You should blame draft picks more on the scouts than on Amaro.

    • George

      June 1, 2012 at 3:17 am

      My last comment on this thread, maybe:

      It’s my last because now I think people are going beyond the limits of Amaro’s responsibilities. For instance, he doesn’t make the final decisions on a lot of financial issues; he doesn’t do the scouting of prospects, he doesn’t control player performances and player injuries, and he doesn’t control the collective bargaining agreement.

      Basically, he’s middle management, somewhere between the peons he relies on for player assessment and the bigwigs clenching their fists around the company purse. But middle management traditionally takes the brunt of everything, because they’re usually the most visible. I feel for Amaro, even if I’m neutral on his performance, and I just can’t engage in expanding his role to include the sink in the canteen’s kitchen.

  28. Chuck A.

    May 31, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    I just googled the article from Dipsy. Here it is:


    Fascinating stuff. I want to really read over it again later when I have more time.

    • Jeff Dowder

      May 31, 2012 at 8:47 pm


    • Lefty

      May 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm

      Thanks, Chuck

  29. Lefty

    May 31, 2012 at 8:52 pm

    That was a classic piece Dipsy.

  30. brooks

    June 1, 2012 at 1:12 am

    Good write up Dipsy
    What did RAJ do this year? His negative was getting rid of Oswalt in my opinion, then not aggressively going after him of recent. Other than that, brought on Wiggington, Thome, Nix, got rid of Raul, the pickup of Qualls did not look bad on paper (and his first few outings were just fine), and he picked up the #1 closer in baseball today in Papelbon. Howard, Utley, Doc and Worley – their trip to the DL had nothing to do with Ruben. He signed Jimmy at a reasonable contract.
    I’m not unhappy – I’d rate him just fine. A

  31. TheDipsy

    June 1, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Oswalt doesn’t really wanna pitch anymore in my opinion. IMO. He’s got a bad back. He would have been a nice pick up for 4m, though. I think a lot of the reason that he didn’t make bolder moves was that he didn’t know that Utley was gonna go down like he did nor did he foresee this infection Howard that supposedly set him back. Personally, I’m not counting on either one of them for any real contribution this year. I would not be surprised to see Utley retire before its all said and done. Of course, he’s due 15m next year so, obviously anyone would milk the “rehab” process thru then. Injuries. Happens to everyone sooner or later.

    The Dipsy

  32. Chuck A.

    June 1, 2012 at 8:36 am

    Yeah, Utley is basically done. He’ll attempt to come back… a few times, maybe….he definitely doesn’t want ot leave $15M on the table. He might even go to the AL after next season and try his hand a DHing. But….as the Utley that we’ve come to appreciate and love…he’s done. The Phillies should definitely try him in left. I mean, could it hurt??

    Howard….he’ll produce nothing of real value this season. Maybe hit few jacks, hopefully some meaningful that helps the Phillies. But he won’t be fully ready til 2013. The day the season ends…whether it’s in September or October…the Phillies’ brass needs to tell him that his off-season training regimen begins. In earnest. He needs to start the 2013 in THE BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE.

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