Why I Have Faith in Amaro

The title may come as a shock to you as I was constantly deriding GM Ruben Amaro during the off-season, particularly when he signed Raul Ibanez to a three-year contract. But I actually have faith in him as the trading deadline approaches and the race for Roy Halladay heads into the homestretch. I don’t have confidence in Amaro actually landing Halladay, of course, as there are a lot of factors well out of his control, but I have confidence that, if a deal is made, the prospects given up won’t come back to haunt the Phillies in the future.

Why?

Have a look at all of the trades the Phillies have made since 2003. Keep a special eye on players that were “prospects” at the time.

Transaction information courtesy Baseball Reference.

2003

  • Ben Margalski for Jeff D’Amico
  • Jeremy Giambi for Josh Hancock
  • Johnny Estrada for Kevin Millwood
  • Mike Wilson for Damon Minor
  • Lyle Mouton for Aaron Myette
  • Frank Brooks for Mike Williams
  • Eric Valent for Kelly Stinnett
  • Ezequiel Astacio, Taylor Buchholz, and Brandon Duckworth for Billy Wagner
  • Bobby Korecky, Nick Punto, and Carlos Silva for Eric Milton

2004

  • Scott Youngbauer for Robert Ellis
  • Ricky Ledee and Alfredo Simon for Felix Rodriguez
  • Josh Hancock and Andy Machado for Todd Jones and Brad Correll
  • Elizardo Ramirez, Javon Moran, and Joe Wilson for Cory Lidle
  • Felix Rodriguez for Kenny Lofton

2005

  • Marlon Byrd for Endy Chavez
  • Placido Polanco for Ramon Martinez and Ugueth Urbina
  • Tim Worrell for Matt Kata
  • Kevin Pichardo for Michael Tucker
  • Jim Thome for Aaron Rowand, Gio Gonzalez, and Daniel Haigwood
  • Vicente Padilla for Ricardo Rodriguez

2006

  • Jason Michaels for Arthur Rhodes
  • Aquilino Lopez for Matt Thayer and Trey Johnston
  • Robinson Tejeda and Jake Blalock for David Dellucci
  • Daniel Haigwood for Fabio Castro
  • Sal Fasano for Hector Made
  • David Bell for Wilfredo Laureano
  • Bobby Abreu and Cory Lidle for C.J. Henry, Matt Smith, Carlos Monastrios, and Jesus Sanchez
  • Rheal Cormier for Justin Germano
  • Ryan Franklin for Zac Stott
  • Andrew Barb and Andy Baldwin for Jamie Moyer
  • Angel Chavez for Jeff Conine
  • Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez for Freddy Garcia
  • Adam Donachie for Alfredo Simon
  • Jeff Conine for Javon Moran and Brad Key

2007

  • Michael Dubee for Tadahito Iguchi
  • Matt Maloney for Kyle Lohse
  • Jesus Merchan for Julio Mateo
  • [Future Considerations] for Travis Dawkins
  • Mike Costanzo, Michael Bourn, and Geoff Geary for Brad Lidge and Eric Bruntlett

2008

  • Wes Helms for [PTBNL]
  • Adrian Cardenas, Josh Outman, and Matt Spencer for Joe Blanton
  • Brian Schlitter for Scott Eyre
  • Fabio Castro for Matt Stairs

As you can see from the list, the Phillies haven’t given up prospects that have turned into impact Major League contributors.

I perused the list and extracted as many names as I remember spending significant time at the Major League level. Then, I found how many Wins Above Replacement (WAR) they contributed with their new team(s). The results are not so good for the teams that opened their doors to the Phillies’ prospects.

Carlos Silva has been the most valuable prospect the Phillies have traded away judging by both gross and average WAR. Marlon Byrd and Gavin Floyd look to stick around in the Majors for a while. Out of the 14 recognizable names, only two or three have made any kind of Major League impact and none are superstars.

Considering the way the Phillies have drafted since, oh, I don’t know, around 1998, you have to conclude that upper management really knows how to evaluate prospects. Chase Utleys and Cole Hamelses don’t just grow on trees, you know.

While Pat Gillick is out of his role as GM, and Mike Arbuckle is with Kansas City, and who knows how many scouts have shifted around, it’s clearly not the same group of guys who brought you Utley and Hamels and Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard. But more likely, the success on prospects stems from an organizational philosophy, one that is likely to endure through the Ruben Amaro tenure.

So, if it turns out that the Phillies don’t end up getting Roy Halladay from the Blue Jays because Amaro didn’t want to give up Kyle Drabek, I’m fine with that. That tells me that something about Drabek really stands out to the Phillies upper management and scouts, and you have to respect that — it’s respect they’ve earned over the last ten years.

Having said all this, I’m confident in two things:

  • If Amaro does make a trade for Halladay, history suggests that the Phillies know exactly who they’re giving up. These players likely will not become solid Major League regulars.
  • If Amaro doesn’t make a trade, the players other teams wanted that the Phillies wouldn’t relent are really something special. Remember that around five years ago, Ryan Howard was in trade rumors for players like Ted Lilly (then of the Jays) and Kris Benson (then of the Pirates), but the trigger was never pulled by then-GM Ed Wade.

Overall, the Phillies have actually done very well in trades, even under Ed Wade, believe it or not.

Context is important in judging trades, as you may view the Abreu trade (executed by Pat Gillick) as a complete loss when it was in reality a complete salary dump. There aren’t any trades where you’re exclaiming, “Jesus! The Phillies got swindled!”

Heading into the last week of the month of July, I’m very confident that the Phillies will make decisions that best benefit the organization. And that may not include a trade for Roy Halladay, as hard as that is to believe among us lay people.