Did Amaro Take Shot at Howard? – Phillies Nation

Did Amaro Take Shot at Howard?


AP Photo.

Prior to Monday’s Phillies/Nationals tilt at Citizens Bank Park, GM Ruben Amaro Jr. spent nearly 20 minutes discussing various topics including the health of Chase Utley and Carlos Ruiz, the return of John Lannan, and the comments made by Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels over the past week or so. It felt as though no stone had been unturned.

The most poignant remarks came when discussing the possibility of trades and if the Phillies could to the model the Boston Red Sox. If you remember last season, the Sox were able to unload three high-priced veterans to the Los Angeles Dodgers; Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett.

When asked if they could follow that path, Amaro said this:

“It’s a little different in their case. They had players at the major league level with large contracts that people still wanted. That may not be the case for us.”

With so much talk of Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon being two likely candidates to move at or near the trade deadline, this quotation stands out.

Clearly, he could not mean Lee and Papelbon. Although Lee makes $25 million per season through 2015 with an buyout $12.5 million, most teams would line up to acquire him. The same holds true with Papelbon, even at $13 million per through 2015.

Chase Utley, Michael Young, and Roy Halladay each make upwards of $15 million this season, but are free agents after the year. You wouldn’t necessarily move them, but they aren’t killing you long term either.

Jimmy Rollins makes a paltry $11 million this year and next and has an option for 2015 that maxes out at $8 million. Surely, Ruben didn’t mean J-Roll.

That leaves one person who fits the bill of a large contract another team would not want: Ryan Howard.

If we’re reading between the lines, Amaro is saying Howard’s contract is a mess and basically an immovable object. At $20 million this year, $25 million from 2014-16, and a $10 million buyout in 2017, he’s right.

With the comments made by Lee and Hamels about the Phillies lack of success – and the lacking playoff hopes that come with it –  this adds to an already tumultuous first half of 2013. Perhaps Amaro viewed it as a chance to light a fire under his underachieving first baseman. Maybe he does include others in that category that he views as hard-to-move players.

Whatever the case, it clearly points to Howard as the man behind the quote.





  1. pamikedc

    June 17, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    Lite ignited in HOWARD

    • DavidE

      June 18, 2013 at 8:20 pm

      As bad as Howard’s contract seems, it may be a better deal than the Angels have with Pujols and Hamilton. The Giants have Tim Lincecum and he has really declined. The Giants had Zito to a 6-year deal and it was basically a disaster for 5½ years. The important point for the Phillies to learn from is that once a player reaches 27 years old (if he isn’t taken steroids), he will generally start to decline. Look at the ages of the Oakland Athletics and you will see why they have been successful even though they don’t spend much. It’s because they have players in their prime or entering their prime.

      Sometimes a player will develop late (Eric Kratz, Raul Ibanez, Jay Johnston) but age is really an important factor in this business. Two years ago, Michael Young probably doesn’t get thrown out as he has been three times in the past week. A time of .2 seconds to run 90 feet might not seem like much but that can make the difference between being out and safe.

  2. Davy The greek

    June 17, 2013 at 9:30 pm

    Good bye Howard.

  3. Lefty

    June 17, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    If Howard has a large contract that no one wants, who is to blame for that?
    He’s taking shots at himself. 🙂

    Anyway, it worked tonight, let’s hope there will be many more nights like this over the next 4 years.

    • hogey's role

      June 17, 2013 at 11:10 pm

      Agree with ya lefty.. lol good job rube

  4. Dr. Dave

    June 17, 2013 at 11:18 pm

    We’re stuck with Howard. The WORST contract Rube has agreed to, and I have been saying that since day one!

    WHO would take him at that price? NO ONE!!!!!

    • schmenkman

      June 17, 2013 at 11:37 pm

      …and that’s OK, if he hits somewhere between current 2013 and 2011 levels, which I think he will. And there may come a time in the next couple of years when the amount still owed is low enough to be palatable for a playoff contender (probably in the AL) looking for another bat.

      Still, agreed — terrible contract.

      • Brooks

        June 18, 2013 at 7:11 am

        You know, we should really put the ‘terrible contract’ issue to bed. Enough already.
        Howard was coming off a stretch of 4 seasons where he averaged over 140 rbi, nearly 50 hrs a season – this is after winning the ROY award – what else could be expected other than a superstar contract?

        Of course there have been problems since – but there has to be better ways to address the problems than what they have been doing. We all know if the Phils did not offer mega money to him, someone else would have and the Phils headaches would be focused elsewhere.

        Jason Werth? Terrible contract. Only 1 year did he perform at an above average level and he was given the keys to the city. Idiots… He really has yet to prove himself.

      • hk

        June 18, 2013 at 7:33 am

        “Howard was coming off a stretch of 4 seasons where he averaged over 140 rbi, nearly 50 hrs a season – this is after winning the ROY award – what else could be expected other than a superstar contract?”

        Here’s the problem with that analysis:

        1. The 4 years that you reference were his age 26 to 29 seasons.
        2. He was under contract for his age 30 and 31 seasons.
        3. The extension was signed at the beginning of his age 30 season, but it was for his age 32 to 36 seasons.

        The contract paid him like they expected him to produce in his age 32 to 36 seasons like he did in his age 26 to 29 seasons. That’s an unreasonable expectation. To me, the Howard deal is worse than Jayson Werth’s because (a) it’s for an AAV of $7M more and (b) the Phillies contract situation is worse because they’re closer to the luxury tax limit than Washington.

    • George

      June 18, 2013 at 9:07 am

      While I agree with everything you’ve said about tghe Howard contract, hk, I also side with Brooks when he says “put it to rest.” It can’t be undone, and talking about it like it shouldn’t be is a bit like beating one’s head against a wall thinking it’s not there.

      Had Amaro waited another year or two, it may have been more obvious that Howard was slipping. It’s also possible that he may not have been injured and slipped as much as he has and still would have commanded a huge contract with a different team.

      If one is to question the Howard contract, one also has to question the ARod, Pujols, and Hamilton deals, maybe the Adrian Gonzales deal, and also any contract given to a pitcher for anything more than three years. Nearly every GM makes huge commitments these days and a lot of them don’t work out very well. It’s just part of the game.

      • Chuck A.

        June 18, 2013 at 10:35 am

        I agree with you 100%, George. What’s done is done. Ruben did what he thought was the right thing at the time and now it certainly looks now like it wasn’t the right thing. But it’s over and done with and we all just need to move on. Geez…if I ruminated and wrangled over all the decisions I either made or didn’t make in the past I swear I’d probably be in the looney bin by now.

      • hk

        June 18, 2013 at 10:51 am


        I agree that it is time to put it to rest. It was a bad contract when it was signed and it is a bad contract now. All we can do is move forward and see how the front office can salvage the next few years by working around that contract. However, my objection to Brook’s comment was not his suggestion that we put the issue to rest, it was to his attempt to give the GM a pass for his blunder.

        One other aspect of the contract that I think is important to mention before we put it to rest is that I believe Howard gets a significant amount of undue “hate” because of it from too many fans. What was Howard supposed to do, negotiate a worse contract? Although I wasn’t there, I assume he didn’t hold a gun to Amaro’s head. If fans have a need to hate, they should hate the contract, but not Howard for signing it or for declining as a player and becoming more injury prone as he has aged into his 30’s.

      • Lefty

        June 18, 2013 at 11:45 am

        Agreed hk, There is not one of us that wouldn’t have signed that contract. That’s why I thought it was a funny “shot” by Amaro. (assuming Pat is right and that’s what it was)

        It’s kind of like a mother calling her son an SOB right?

      • George

        June 18, 2013 at 5:01 pm

        I’m glad someone has actually addressed that “undue hate” issue with his contract. I’ve been aware of that and should have commented on it myself. I think that even if Howard were to miraculously get back to his former self, many people would still blame him and him alone for ruining the Phils’ chances to reach the postseason. I can’t help wondering what Ryan himself thinks about the hatemail he probably receives, and if that could be a contributor to pressure to perform, and subsequent dismal at-bats.

        It’s not only time to put the contract to rest, but to leave Howard alone so he might rest, too.

  5. George

    June 17, 2013 at 11:28 pm

    Nothing that Amaro says “clearly points” to anything. Just looking at some of his other quotes, it should be pretty clear that the man never says what he really means. I doubt it’s an attempt at obfuscation or flat out lies to deliberately cause speculation, but more a problem with his foot being next to his tongue. He’s a lousy speaker, answers questions stupidly, holds press conferences when they aren’t needed, and can’t say anything in a straightforward manner. If all this was deliberate, he’d be running for elected office somewhere.

    • G7

      June 18, 2013 at 7:19 am

      A GM can never tip his hand…all of his players are terrific and no one is going to be traded.

      • George

        June 18, 2013 at 9:18 am

        That, of course, is true. But I always get the impression that Amaro won’t even tip his hand to himself. When he speaks, it’s like he asks for eights when his Go Fish cards are twos and threes.

      • schmenkman

        June 18, 2013 at 9:32 am

        I don’t envy a GM’s job in these situations. He’s speaking to multiple audiences:

        – the fans who buy the tickets
        – the media who report on the team’s every move
        – his bosses who want to make sure he’s representing the team well
        – the players who are interested in the future of the team and how they fit in those plans
        – other GMs, who see him as a potential trade partner or someone competing for the same players
        – there are probably others I haven’t thought of

        Given all this, I’m actually surprised when we actually get anything honest our concrete.

      • George

        June 18, 2013 at 4:47 pm

        I won’t argue with the fact that it’s quite difficult to speak to such a diverse audience, but I do think that with the analysis he’s under he’d be a little more prepared. His thoughts come out badly on too many occassions, and I don’t think he’s ever impressed the fanbase and certainly not the press with his comments.

        I would hope he does a lot better with his players and staff, or that they at least know him well enough to overlook some of his thinking-out-loud statements.

  6. bacardipr

    June 18, 2013 at 2:56 am

    Add Adams to the last i think he might be a bust.

    • Double Trouble Del

      June 18, 2013 at 4:31 pm

      I think Adams is still not 100% but will improve as the season moves along. I could see him being traded for squat and then performing well in September and October for a true contender.

  7. Scott

    June 18, 2013 at 12:04 pm

    Regarding the Howard contract-if your employer offered you a huge raise even though your most productive days may be behind you, would you sign or say “I’d rather take half”. Thought so

    • George

      June 18, 2013 at 5:09 pm

      I can’t remember the name, but I believe it was Lyman Bostock, who actually did tell the Angels’ front office that he was making too much for his poor performance. They couldn’t renegotiate mid-contract, so instead a lot of his pay was given to charities.

      Because no good deed goes unpunished, the man was, of course, shot and killed the following year.

  8. "Big Ed" Delahanty

    June 18, 2013 at 3:50 pm

    In just five at-bats, he makes around 200k. How can you decline that? Is there an easier way to make 200k?

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