Ruben Amaro Doesn’t Want to Rebuild, Either
Earlier, I discussed how president David Montgomery feared going into a full rebuild because attendance could fall, even though it’s already been falling and will continue to fall until the team gets better. The Phillies’ brass must be sending out the big guns in an attempt to sway public sentiment, as GM Ruben Amaro joined the morning team on 94 WIP and discussed the prospect of rebuilding.
“It’s a little different in this market. For us to say ‘okay, guys, this is what we’re going to do. We’re going to stop winning, or trying to win for the next five or six years and we’re going to try and build a team from the ground up, or rebuild it from the ground up.’ I think that’s something that in our market place and with what our fanbase is all about, I don’t think that’s fair. I don’t think it’s fair to them. I don’t think it’s fair to the organization, I don’t think it’s fair to the players on the field. My philosophy has always been, and you’ve known me a long time, I always want to win. I always want to put our team in a position to try and win every single year. There may be years, and we may be coming up on that, type of transition where we may have to say to ourselves, ‘okay, we may need to take a couple steps back to move forward.’ But for us to do a total blowup, I agree with David [Montgomery] in that regard, that it’s just not something that our fans deserve or something necessarily that we need to do. What we do need to do is improve and get better and work on that everyday.”GM Ruben Amaro on 94 WIP
That Amaro is in line with the club president is no surprise. However, he was being a little disingenuous in suggesting that a rebuild would cause the team to be a non-contender for “the next five or six years”. If you’re the Houston Astros with an eight-figure payroll and rebuilding the farm system from the ground up? Yeah, that’s an accurate range of time.
But the Phillies signed a huge TV deal worth billions of dollars during the off-season. Their minor league system is no longer a shambles the way it was several years ago, after paying premium for Hunter Pence. The Phillies placed 14th in Keith Law’s annual organizational rankings, after coming in at 27 the year prior.
Cole Hamels is signed through at least 2018. Domonic Brown still has plenty of time to turn it around. J.P. Crawford looks like the clear successor to Jimmy Rollins. The Phillies will likely have another protected top-ten pick in the first round. 2014 first round pick Aaron Nola is expected to be a big leaguer sooner rather than later. Hopefully, the Phillies will be able to get a legitimate prospect or two in this summer’s — and this off-season’s — wheeling and dealing. And that’s just the building blocks. The Phillies will have a $150-$190 million payroll (or more, if they feel like ignoring the luxury tax penalties like the Yankees and Dodgers) to fill in around the edges.
The Phillies’ rebuilding process should only take two or three more years, not five or six. It could even be quicker if the Phillies are finally on the receiving end of some good fortune from Lady Luck. Yes, TV ratings will dry up, attendance will fall, and prices will have to be lowered (that they haven’t already may be a contributing factor to declining attendance), but two or three years of that beats an entire decade of it as a result of being too stubborn to admit publicly that the window has closed.
Amaro says that a rebuild is “not something that our fans deserve”. He’s wrong. What the fans don’t deserve is to see a consistent 75-to-81-win team that doesn’t bring any real hope of contention. They don’t deserve to watch a group of veterans in their mid-30’s feebly try to avoid the minefield that is injuries and declining production. They don’t deserve the roster inflexibility that they bring, resulting in having to rely on players like Jayson Nix and Ronny Cedeno. Phillies fans certainly don’t deserve having to watch one of the most underachieving teams in baseball history.