Amaro still benefits from the fruits of former assistant general manager Mike Arbuckle's labors. Arbuckle built the Phillies after doing the same in Atlanta. A midseason collapse in the wake of consecutive playoff failures would mean carte blanche to deconstruct.
That means manager. Coaches. Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino, even Jimmy Rollins, if Rollins will allow it … and Rollins would be willing, if it's three time zones away.
A real run, and only a real run, would avert the demolition of the most popular team in recent Philadelphia sports history. The bandaged, battered remnants of a $176 million payroll must begin the winning when Colorado visits.
The run needs to start tonight, the first of 10 straight at home. The Phils stand six games below .500 for the first time since early in 2007 … long before Pat Gillick and Amaro, then Gillick's chief aide, undertook to remake the team near the trade deadline.
Because if this team is six games under .500 on July 31, it will be a very different team Aug. 1.
So, what do the Phillies need?
To begin with: Seven wins from this homestand.
That would bring them to two games under .500, entering a stretch of nine division games that runs up to the All-Star break. They should have injured sluggers Ryan Howard and Chase Utley back after the break. Ace Roy Halladay should be back by August.
Then, they make a charge.
Until then, they need homefield respectability in the next 10 games.
Three lockdown starts from Hamels and Cliff Lee.
Hunter Pence needs a 17-for-40 stand, with three homers.
Rollins needs to score 12 runs.
Victorino needs 10 hits.
The middle relief needs three two-inning holds behind starters Joe Blanton and Vance Worley.
Kyle Kendrick needs a six-inning start with no more than four runs allowed.
The Phillies do not need some of these things to happen. They need all of these things to happen, this homestand, right now.
There are problems with any of those things happening.
The Phils are the worst team in the National League at home. No team in baseball has fewer home wins than the Phillies' 12.
Lee cannot hold a lead. Hamels finally appears to be wilting under contract-year stress; he's 1-2 with a 6.75 ERA in his last three starts. Or maybe Hamels has a dead arm.
Pence is pressing so much he's hitting almost 30 points worse at home (.265) than on the road (.293).
Rollins has assumed Happy Man status: he got an MVP, he got a ring and he got paid again. Victorino, in his contract year, wants what Rollins has, but Victorino cannot get out of his own way.
Middle relief? Flip a coin.
Ditto Kendrick, who hasn't pitched that badly. Except for April and June.
Really, so many things have to change in the next 10 days that is seems more than improbable.
It seemed even less probable in early 2007.
Five playoff appearances ago.
The playoffs just start a little early this season. n
Contact Marcus Hayes at firstname.lastname@example.org