Ruben Amaro Should Have Been Fired Before ManuelBREAKING NEWS, News, Phillies Friday, August 16th, 2013
The Philadelphia Phillies are going to miss the playoffs for the second straight season. They’re likely to finish below .500 for the first time since 2002. There’s even a chance they could fall to last place behind the lowly Miami Marlins.
Too many things have gone horribly wrong in the last two years for this franchise. A dramatic shakeup was needed. Responsibility had to fall on someone’s shoulders, and that someone’s head would have to roll in as atonement.
And so, the illustrious braintrust of the Phillies’ organization put their heads together. They considered all of the events and evidence before them, and found fault in a key member of the franchise. They found him to be responsible for the team’s failures and decline, and passed judgement on their guilty party by ordering a termination, effective immediately.
They got the wrong man.
Manager Charlie Manuel became the team’s scapegoat this afternoon, as the team announced the dismissal of the nine-year manager who had played an important role in 1,000 regular season victories, five division titles, two World Series appearances, and one championship.
Manuel certainly deserves his share of the blame for the decline of this team. Charlie’s message wasn’t getting through to the team. A manager who has been billed as a “hitting guru” couldn’t do anything to improve this team’s collective frustrating, impatient approach at the plate, an issue that has hurt this team since 2010.
But Manuel was far from the primary reason that this team has fallen off the map.
The main culprit of the last two terrible seasons has been General Manager, Ruben Amaro Jr.
In order for a manager to be successful, his GM has got to provide him with a talented, deep roster. A roster with few holes, and capable of sustaining injury. Amaro completely and utterly failed to do this, and instead provided Charlie with a bunch of miserable, ineffective free-agent signings that seemed doomed to fail from the start.
Let’s look at Amaro’s moves following the 2011 season.
- Signed Jim Thome to a one-year deal. Amaro hoped that Thome would be able to fill in for Ryan Howard at first base, but Thome’s back would not allow him to hold up physically. Amaro essentially signed an aging guy who could only play every day as a DH, and sure enough failed to deliver much to the team.
- Signed Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year deal worth over $55 million. Papelbon was good for the team for a year and a half, but has gone into a decline, losing velocity off of his fastball and has become a distraction in the clubhouse. With two years and massive amounts of money remaining on his deal, Papelbon is untradeable and the Phillies could potentially be stuck with an expensive and ineffective closer.
- Made a trade for infielder Ty Wigginton, who he acquired instead of pursuing Michael Cuddyer. Wigginton turned out to be a massive bust, and Cuddyer is currently batting .321 with 17 homers and 66 RBI’s for the Rockies this season.
- Signed outfielder Laynce Nix to a two-year deal, expecting him to become a key member of the bench. Nix spent most of 2012 on the disabled list, and hit just .180 this year before being released.
- Signed Dontrelle Willis and Chad Qualls to one-year deals. This was how Amaro decided to address the bullpen for the 2012 season. He got a couple of veterans on the cheap, and tried to pass them off as answers for the pen. Willis didn’t make it out of Spring Training, and Qualls was an absolute disaster.
Amaro hung Manuel out to dry. He gave him a roster with no offensive depth and no bullpen, and pinned the team’s hopes on Ryan Howard and Chase Utley’s ability to return healthy.
How did Amaro do preparing the team to be competitive prior to this season?
- Amaro began the off-season by releasing Nate Schierholtz. A very curious decision, considering the complete lack of outfielding depth on the roster.
- Signed Mike Adams to a two-year deal. Adams is a great pitcher when healthy, and this was a well-received move when it was made. But Adams came with a considerable injury history, and he broke down very early in the season, leaving Manuel without a quality set-up man.
- Signed starter John Lannan to one-year deal. Lannan was picked up to fill out the rotation, and he’s spent most of the year on the disabled list. He’s got an ERA in the low 5.00′s.
- Signed Chad Durbin to add another veteran presence to the bullpen. Durbin was absolutely terrible, and was released in June.
- Signed Delmon Young to a one-year deal. Although Young was a poor outfielder, Amaro had no problem committing the right fielder’s job to Young. Young was not a good fit for this team, and was recently released. By committing the team to Young, Amaro stunted Darin Ruf’s progress, keeping the right-handed slugger sealed away to rot in the minor leagues.
Somehow, Amaro managed to do an even worse job than he did a year ago. He left Manuel with one of the worst outfields in the major leagues, and a completely empty bullpen.
Still not convinced about Amaro’s inability to build a team? Take a look at his trade history when it comes to selling veteran players.
- In 2009, Amaro infamously dealt Cliff Lee to the Seattle Mariners for Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gilles, and J.C. Ramirez. The trade was one of the most criticized in Philadelphia sports history, and called the organization’s desire to win into question. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Amaro couldn’t get a halfway decent return for one of the best pitchers in baseball. Aumont can’t throw strikes and is a complete headcase. Ramirez got a chance to pitch this year, but was quickly designated for assignment. Gilles has been unable to crack the major league roster.
- Amaro dealt Shane Victorino and Hunter Pence at last year’s trade deadline. In exchange for two All-Star outfielders, the Phillies received a very poor return. Victorino netted reliever Josh Lindblom and Ethan Martin. Lindblom is no longer part of the team just one year later, and Martin may not be able to stick in the major leagues.
- Pence got the Phillies an effective outfielder Nate Schierholtz, who Amaro decided not to keep, believing that Laynce Nix was a better option. Schierholtz went on to hit .269 with 16 homers and 52 RBI’s for the Cubs this year. The trade also landed the team catching prospect Tommy Joseph, whose future is in serious doubt after dealing with concussion problems all season.
These failed trades have set the Phillies back. These were Amaro’s opportunities to add some good young talent that could help the organization, and he failed to acquire even one impactful player.
It was probably time for the Phillies to move on from Charlie Manuel, but there’s no doubt that Ruben Amaro has his fingerprints all over this team’s failures. In his five years as general manager, he’s proven that can hand out bad contracts, make bad decisions in free agency and trades, and doesn’t know to handle or develop young talent.
Where is his accountability in all of this? If all of his failures haven’t gotten him in trouble with the organization, what will? Amaro has sent this team to rock bottom, and he should have been giving his farewell news conference before Charlie Manuel.
Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at email@example.com, or follow him on Twitter.
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