Analysis

Writer’s Roundtable: Who Should We Blame For This Mess?

As you’ve probably heard by now Ruben Amaro Jr. was on 97.5 The Fanatic a few days ago with Mike Missanelli and said of the team’s struggles –

“We’re all in this thing together. We all share our equal blame for what’s going on.”

Do you agree with Amaro? If not, who do you think deserves most of the blame for the state of the Phillies organization: Amaro, Dave Montgomery, Ryne Sandberg, Scouts/Development, the players?

Ian Riccaboni: I used to play a lot of cards, which I, thankfully, have put behind me. In gambling, however, one thing I learned was that if you are going to make a bet, put your money on the most likely scenario and avoid betting long shots. In some regards, Amaro did this well, turning prospects into Cliff Lee and Roy Halladay. With the benefit of hindsight, these trades are remarkable and show a knack for knowing that prospects don’t always pan out. Amaro was able to do this while replenishing his system through the draft and making smart international signings. But where Amaro got caught was when he let the candle burn at both ends: while he bet on his prospects to not pan out and won, and won big mind you, he cleared the war chest dry and now the Astros are enjoying the fruits of his staff’s labor while simultaneously betting on long shots like Raul Ibanez remaining a productive player through age 40, giving Placido Polanco a three-year deal, and giving extensions to aging core pieces.

Really, I believe that the blood is on Amaro’s hands, even if the moves were made at the directive and with the blessing of David Montgomery. In September 2011, Chuck LaMarr quietly stepped away from the team. There is no coincidence there: all of the top-notch talent he developed had just been traded away. Who signed off on those moves? Amaro. Whether it is right to assign the blame there or not, Montgomery isn’t going anywhere.

Patrick J. Egan: I think Amaro’s statement is a cop out. You can’t blame Ryan Howard because YOU gave him the contract and his ankle/Achilles blew out. You can’t blame scouting because they found good players, you just traded them away (*cough Hunter Pence cough*). And you can’t blame anyone for the fact that when forced to trade talent like Shane Victorino, Pence, & Cliff Lee you got nothing in return. Ruben Amaro has done a masterful job of turning a once proud organization into a black hole of hope for the future. But then again he has managed to turn the Houston Astros into a “team to watch” in the next few years so what the hell do I know.

Jon Nisula: Overall, I think Amaro deserves the majority of the blame. You could argue that he was dealt a difficult hand with injuries to Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, and a career ending one to Roy Halladay, along with a suspension for catcher Carlos Ruiz, and a severely underperforming Domonic Brown. But what he didn’t do was make necessary moves to compensate for these and other things. It’s like he was in denial, not seeing what was happening right in front of him. I think most of us saw the decline coming, and with the lack of moves to avoid it, RAJ simply let it happen, which is why he should take most of the blame.

Robert Cowie: I find it preposterous that Ruben Amaro Jr. surmises that the oft-injured, declining production, core group of players coming into this season are somehow performing at such a low caliber as a surprise to him. Ryan Howard will continue to be a payroll albatross whilst in Philadelphia. When Amaro decided he wanted to keep Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley in Philadelphia well past their prime playing years, the supporting cast he continually surrounds them with has been disappointing. It’s hard to argue against any player, i.e. employee, when management offers you above market value for what you’ve accomplished in the past and not what you’re capable of producing in the present and future. For Amaro, he needed to identify this and provide the aging core with player who can pick up their slack offensively. There is no other reason to explain extending Jimmy Rollins or Chase Utley if that wasn’t going to be the plan to begin with. When the contributors at Phillies Nation looked at the 2014 Phillies coming home from Clearwater they predicted an average win total of 76 games. Currently, they are projected to win only 69.

Alex Lee: It’s hard to blame anyone but Ruben without knowing the inner workings of the Phillies front office. I laughed to myself on Monday when the stories were written about how disappointed he is with the offense. Really? Who has performed below expectations on offense? Domonic Brown and…? Dom’s performance has stung, but it hasn’t been close to the difference between contention and their current state. Anyone who thinks Ryan Howard has underperformed this season hasn’t been watching him the past three years. The truth is that they’ve gotten healthy and predictable seasons from most of the lineup and they still rank in the bottom five in the league in all of the meaningful categories. This all goes back to the idea that this Phillies front office has no idea what produces runs. Or wins. That is the problem in South Philadelphia.

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