November 12, 2014 |
PHOENIX - The offseason is still in its infancy, but it's not too soon to draw one conclusion: Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has one of the most difficult jobs in baseball sitting in front of him. It might even be mission impossible. Start with the mess that is Ryan Howard. The Phillies owe their soon-to-be 35-year-old first baseman at least $60 million over the next two seasons and it's no secret they'd love to move him elsewhere to open up first base for one of their younger players.
November 11, 2014 |
PHOENIX - Ruben Amaro Jr.'s flight into Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport touched down early Sunday evening. Before noon yesterday, he had already had a private meeting with the agent for Cuban free-agent outfielder Yasmany Tomas. "Still talking," Jay Alou, Tomas' agent, said afterward. "Still talking. " Tomas, perhaps the biggest bat on the free-agent market, has been linked to the Phillies for obvious reasons. The Cuban defector is a home-run-hitting corner outfielder; with poor production from their current outfield, and almost no help coming any time soon from the farm system, the Phillies are in desperate need for a young, power-hitting outfielder.
November 6, 2014 |
A.J. BURNETT'S decision to turn down a guaranteed $12.75 million from the Phillies - and what could have been as much as $14.5 million if he had reached incentives - was apparently due to the pitcher's preference to play for a playoff-hopeful team in 2015. Through his agent, Burnett, who turns 38 in January, said he plans to pitch next season. Burnett flirted with retirement last winter; this offseason, he wants to land on a contending team. It's worth wondering, then, if other veterans on the current Phillies roster would also rather be elsewhere come Opening Day. On the first day of free agency, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was open to all possibilities as he begins the challenging process of remaking his roster.
November 1, 2014 |
While two teams that did not win 90 regular-season games in 2014 played to the conclusion of the World Series, the Phillies huddled at their facility in Clearwater, Fla. General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. unveiled The Phillies Way, a handbook distributed to all baseball personnel - coaches, scouts, athletic trainers included - during the team's organizational meetings this week. The Phillies are not the first team to draft such a manual. Amaro planned it, well before the franchise shifted to a rebuilding phase, and decided this was the ideal time to affirm the team's direction.
September 30, 2014 |
It was a beautiful day for baseball, unless, of course, it was that brand of baseball the Phillies have tortured their fans with the last two seasons. Not even clear skies and comfortable temperatures could erase the stench that has saturated Citizens Bank Park for far too long. There was no formal state-of-the-team address by general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. or acting team president Pat Gillick before or after the season's final game. None was needed. We've known for months that this was another lost season for the team with the third-highest payroll in baseball, and we've been assured for quite some time that the general manager will remain in charge of personnel operations going forward.
September 25, 2014 |
MIAMI - On Monday, Ruben Amaro Jr. was in the Dominican Republic with a contingent of Phillies baseball operations people to get a firsthand look at slugging outfielder Yasmany Tomas, a Cuban defector. Last week, Amaro was in Japan on another scouting mission. Such is the life of a beleaguered general manager who was given a vote of confidence on his job status repeatedly this season, but is still on the hot seat from Philadelphia sports fans after failing to field a winner for three straight seasons despite having one of the top three payrolls in baseball.
September 25, 2014
MIAMI - Jonathan Papelbon returned to active duty yesterday, with his seven-game suspension coming to an end. Nine days earlier, Papelbon got into an altercation with umpire Joe West at Citizens Bank Park after the volatile closer made an obscene gesture (or equipment adjustment, according to the pitcher) in the direction of fans following a blown save. Both Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg confirmed that Papelbon remains the team's closer. Even in Philadelphia this weekend, if the situation calls for a save, and despite what could be an ugly South Philadelphia return for Papelbon.
September 24, 2014 |
MIAMI - There will be no "Mission Accomplished" banners hanging from Citizens Bank Park if the Phillies surpass last season's win total with more than two victories in their final six games. Outsiders will see that feat as further proof that a culture of mediocrity has enveloped the franchise. But some team officials, no doubt, will maintain that competitiveness is close. That, after all, is how the Phillies thought after last season's 73 wins. They doubled down on a strategy of augmenting an older core with even older players through free agency.
September 12, 2014 |
CLIFF LEE made a quick trip to Philadelphia this week for the first of two checkups with doctors this month. Following Tuesday's exam with Phillies team doctor Michael Ciccotti, general mnager Ruben Amaro Jr. said Lee's ailing left elbow has improved. Lee will be checked out again at the end of the season. He is expected to begin throwing in early November, according to Amaro. "We'll see where it goes from there," Amaro said yesterday afternoon at Citizens Bank Park. Lee wasn't available for comment.
September 4, 2014 |
ATLANTA - The final call isn't likely to come for another month, when the season officially comes to an end, but the growing expectation for most of the summer was that Ruben Amaro Jr. would return for his seventh season as the Phillies' general manager in 2015. Team president David Montgomery, currently on medical leave, spoke to a group of fans at Citizens Bank Park 2 weeks ago and said Amaro was not on the hot seat. Amaro, when asked about it himself in recent months, hasn't ever given the notion that he was particularly worried about his job security.