Full disclosure: I originally wanted to have this post be a headline with no text in order to accurately reflect the Phillies’ 2014 non-waiver wire trade deadline. But in the interest of offering you, the reader, a better product than what your local baseball team is giving you, I will offer my thoughts here.
Ever have one of those days where everything goes wrong? Ever have a day where you burn your toast, spill hot coffee on yourself, get stuck in horrendous traffic, screw up at the job all day, and return to your car to find a ticket on the windshield because you parked in the wrong area? That was pretty much the Phillies yesterday, with the exception of their 10-4 win over the Nationals last night. They really should have just lost that game 12-0 to complete the theme of the day.
Fans are justifiably frustrated with the Phillies front office in general and with GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. in particular. The non-events of yesterday will only add to the already bloodthirsty roar for Amaro to lose his job. Those pleas are 100% warranted, Amaro should not be the general manager of the Phillies, or any baseball franchise, or even any fantasy baseball franchise. At the risk of incurring your wrath though, I’m going to start off by detailing the aspects of the trade deadline where Amaro was NOT at fault. Believe it or not, there are a couple of them.
Now we don’t know what was offered in any proposed deal, but the fact that Amaro did not deal Cole Hamels for anything less than a few of either of the Dodgers, Cardinals, or Red Sox top prospects should be looked at as a positive. If you deal Hamels to the Dodgers, you have to get at least Joc Pederson and one (if not both) of Julio Urias and Corey Seager back. If you trade Hamels to the Cardinals, the package you get back must start with Oscar Taveras and go from there. If you trade Hamels to Boston, you need to get at least Henry Owens and Blake Swihart back. Hamels is worth at least more than one elite prospect. You’re talking about one of the best pitchers in the National League at a still relatively young age (30) with 4 years left on his deal. This isn’t a 2 month rental like Jon Lester. So props to Ruben for that.
Also, it’s not Amaro’s fault that almost every one of the pieces the Phils were dangling completely crapped the bed when scouts were in attendance. Cliff Lee (sigh), Antonio Bastardo, A.J. Burnett, and Jonathan Papelbon all looked terrible toward the end of July. You want to get moved to a contender? Perform in a way that will make teams want you.
This ends the Amaro-friendly portion of this post. The Phillies were unable to make moves because Ruben Amaro A) overpays for declining talent, and B) bids against himself by adding on sweeteners such as easy vesting options or just a plain old player option year, as if a declining player with nowhere else to go isn’t going to pick up that option 10 times out of 10. Those option years are why Burnett and Marlon Byrd are still Phillies tonight.
But hey, there’s still the August 31 waiver wire deadline. The difference is that now a team has to put a player on waivers and have no other team put in a claim on that player in order to be able to trade them. If a team does claim them, the Phillies have 48 hours to pull back that player off of waivers so that they don’t go to the team that claimed them. Candidates to be traded at this deadline include the aforementioned Byrd, Burnett, Papelbon, and up until last night Cliff Lee. As you know by now, Lee re-aggravated the left elbow injury that cost him the past few months. He is probably done for the year, and depending on whether surgery is needed, possibly beyond. It severely bums me out that this happened to a guy that willingly chose to come back here after he was stupidly traded before the 2010 season. At any rate, the Phillies won’t be getting anything for Lee this year.
Speaking of the August 31 waiver wire deadline, Amaro had some stupefying comments to make last night after the July deadline passed. Take it away, Rube…
“Not disappointed, more surprised that there wasn’t more aggressive action from the other end. We have some pretty good baseball players here.”
You hear that, folks? It’s not his fault, it’s the other 29 GMs in baseball. It’s guys like Billy Beane (Oakland), Dave Dombrowski (Detroit), John Mozeliak (St. Louis), guys like that who head up smart organizations while the Phillies have declined EVERY YEAR during Amaro’s tenure. And this gem…
“It’s not a scenario where we were asking for players that were their top prospects. We were not looking for exorbitant paybacks, so to speak, we were looking for players that would help us, but I think we were very reasonable in the discussions that we had. Frankly, I don’t think the clubs were aggressive enough for the talent we have on our club.”
Yeah, Ruben, I don’t understand why teams aren’t lining up for your old, overpaid players with ridiculous contract sweeteners who are 11.5 games out of first place, either. Why don’t these more successful GMs value your players as highly as you do?
Here’s why teams don’t want to deal with you, Ruben. First off, you way overvalue the guys on your team because you don’t know how to evaluate players. Secondly, and here’s a biggie: your peers don’t respect you at all. Baseball analysts on ESPN and the MLB Network were laughing at the Phillies’ inability to make a deal. This general manager, and as a result, this team have become a joke around the league.
Imagine that you go into work one day and completely run down your colleagues. You not only throw them under the bus, but you do so for something that is totally your fault. Would you be surprised if nobody wanted anything to do with you when you walked in the next day? This is essentially what Ruben Amaro has to deal with now, because there’s no way that the decaying corpses that make up the Team President role and the ownership group are getting rid of him before the season ends. Hey Ruben…you still need to do business with these people!!!! I have to be honest, those comments above might actually piss me off more than the inability to make a trade. They show not only a lack of job competency, they show a lack of understanding of the importance of maintaining business relationships. That alone should get you canned.
At every turn, this front office makes decisions that are more and more baffling. This is how you’d operate if you deliberately wanted to sabotage something. This is your Phillies front office.