Yes, the Phillies are poor, but their GM’s faux outrage ought to be aimed at himself and president David Montgomery, who assembled this sad excuse for a team
By Michael Bradley, El Hombre
The tirade by GM Ruben Amaro, which featured the architect of this season’s disaster saying that the team is poor right now, was one of the worst examples of spin control since Exxon decided the best way to handle the Valdez crisis was to run and hide.
The team is poor because Amaro assembled a poor team. It’s not bad because the players have underachieved. In fact, they have done pretty much what everybody expected them to do, which is struggle mightily to score runs.
The sad part of this is that Amaro’s faux outrage no doubt convinced some people that the onus for the Phillies’ last-place performance belongs on the players. That’s not right. This team was assembled to finish last. More to the point, by signing a bunch of recognizable names to ugly contracts, Amaro and wing man David Montgomery bet that a sizeable chunk of fans would continue to buy tickets. Their reasoning was last place with Chooch, Chase and Jimmy would bring more people to the park than last place with Groucho, Chico and Harpo.
They were right. Even though numbers are below the Glory Days Happy Sellout Times, the Phils are still fooling about 30,000 people a night into spending hard-earned money on manure. If some fans want to watch an Old Timers Game, that’s their problem. For those of us who want to see a competitive team, the strategy provides different problems. And Amaro’s smug approach to defending his ham-handed performance is even more offensive.
Tuesday afternoon, Amaro sparred with 97.5 The Fanatic’s Mike Missanelli and had the nerve to say that Missanelli was “uninformed” about the Phillies’ plight. Uninformed? It doesn’t take someone who played college ball, as Missanelli did, to see that this team stinks. The Phillies have the second-fewest wins in baseball, behind Houston, which has a competent GM and a farm system loaded with prospects who should deliver contending baseball within the next couple seasons. The Phillies, by contrast, have a decrepit big-league roster and no significant minor-league players anywhere near close to contributing. Oh, and a GM who doesn’t know what he’s doing.
Amaro’s outlandish declaration that the team is poor masks his own significant culpability in the mess. He assembled the team. He gave fading players large contracts that make them unattractive to other teams – unless the Phillies eat significant cash in any deal. He refused to use analytics to understand how the game has changed and to take advantage of free-agent bargains during the off-season. Instead, he chose to hope that familiar names would draw fans, and that somehow aging players would contribute big numbers. That hasn’t happened. He has conveniently ignored evidence that players over the age of 35 haven’t been putting up big numbers since baseball started testing for PEDs (Marlon Byrd is an exception right now and should be traded immediately, even if the Phils’ owners have to dine on millions of his contract dollars for the next couple years.)
Chase Utley started the season hotter than a July day on a row-house roof. He has since cooled considerably and shows little indication that he’ll be heating up again. Ryan Howard’s slugging percentage is well below his average pre-Achilles tear. Jimmy Rollins is hanging on, hoping to pile up enough numbers to make a case for Hall of Fame inclusion. (He shouldn’t get in.) The list goes on. This is a weak team that was weak from spring training and will be weak when the season wheezes to an end in late September. For Amaro to insinuate that the players are at fault is insulting. He assembled this mess, and the blame lies entirely in his lap.
So, stop buying tickets. Don’t gobble up overpriced food and drink. Lay off the merchandise. Show the owners that you aren’t willing to be slapped around anymore. Poor players? Poor GM? Poor president?