Just because the Phillies were matched up with the Yankees in the World Series, don't expect them to act like the Yanks when it comes to ostentatious player acquisitions.
"Signing a 'sexy name' doesn't necessarily mean that's the best player to get," Amaro said, adding the air quotes with a curl of his index fingers. "We acquired Cliff Lee, and a lot of people were talking about other names. He turned out to be pretty effective for us."
Yes, he did, and the Phillies locked up Lee for 2010 by exercising a $9 million contract option, which will be a bargain if he performs as well next year as he did since coming over from the Cleveland Indians in late July.
By the end of the postseason, Lee was the only reliable starter on the staff. Hamels was lost in a funk, Joe Blanton and J.A. Happ had been jerked around and were off their rhythm, Jamie Moyer was long gone because of an injury, and Pedro Martinez was weary beyond retrieval.
Looking ahead to next season, with the likely exception of Martinez, those guys are probably going to form the core of the rotation. Amaro said he would like to add depth from the outside, and perhaps Chan Ho Park will be given another shot, and perhaps Kyle Drabek will be ready for the big leagues by the all-star break.
But barring something unexpected, the Phillies are relying heavily on Hamels to join Lee at the top of the rotation and pitch as if he belongs there.
"If we get Cole Hamels pitching back where he was, we'll have a pretty unbelievable No. 1 and No. 2, really," Amaro said. "He wants to succeed, and I think many of the issues he had were [because] he was kind of fighting himself, creating expectations of himself.
"I think it can be a good learning experience. He's a young player with a tremendous amount of talent, and in some ways this could be a blessing in disguise. He can learn a lot from it."
The learning experience of 2009 was well-disguised, that's for sure. There wasn't much about Cole Hamels, whether from the neck down or the neck up, that wasn't called into question as he drifted from his 14-10, 3.09 season in 2008 to his 10-11, 4.32 season in 2009.
He came into spring training underprepared, so that could be part of the learning process. He was hurt early as a result, and presumably that can be prevented, too.
But the pitching results once he was healthy didn't improve. There are plenty of theories, chiefly that a starter with a fastball-and-change-up repertoire cannot survive long in the major leagues without developing a third option. Hitters are too good at this level, too good at picking up patterns, too good at laying off pitches they don't want and waiting for the ones they do.
That lack of variety combined with a lack of control forced Hamels to pitch to the middle of the plate rather than the corners, and to leave his offerings up in the strike zone more often than is advised.
His walk and strikeout numbers were about the same per inning pitched, but opponents went from batting .272 against him to .315. He went seven innings or longer in just 10 of his 32 starts (compared with 24 of 33 the previous year), which further taxed a faltering bullpen.
By the postseason, Hamels was all over the place. He gave up seven home runs in 19 innings, and none of his four starts was very good. He misspoke out of fatigue and frustration after his final start, in Game 3 of the World Series. The quote about wanting the season to be over was taken out of the context of the question - "If this turns out to be your last start . . . " - but it still wasn't a good thing to say, and you can be assured the organization took notice.
The team remains committed to him, though, assuming what Amaro said is accurate. According to the general manager, the Phillies believe that 2009 was merely an anomaly for Hamels.
"This is a top-of-the-rotation starter," Amaro said. "He had a tough year and had to deal with adversity for a change. It was the first time he actually struggled in his career. We expect him to come back and be the pitcher he can be."
Nothing less than a possible return to the World Series hinges on that assessment's being correct. There won't be any "sexy names" to bail the Phillies out if it is wrong. That might not be how the Yankees would handle things, but it works for the Phillies. Or, at least, it works until it does not.
Contact columnist Bob Ford
at 215-854-5842 or email@example.com. Read
his blog at http://philly.com/postpatterns.