Crash Bag, Vol. 106: What’s the Phillies’ Plan?

Some self-promotion before we start: not only do I have a book to flog (coming out Nov. 4, pre-order now on Amazon!), I’ve started a weekly baseball podcast with my dear friend Liz Roscher, supreme empress of our rival Phillies blog, The Good Phight. It’s called Defensive Indifference, and for those of you who kept hounding me for a renewed Crash Pod, well, this isn’t it, but it’s pretty close. I’m working on getting the podcast on various syndication services and so on, so look for more of that in the future. Now, on to your questions.

@kgeich: “you have to spend the day with Ruben Amaro, what do you do? Does he survive the day? King Joffrey him?”


I think that depends on whether we’re just two dudes who just run into each other and decide to hang out and eventually fall in love, like in Lost in Translation or Before Sunrise or Blood Diamond, or if he is who he is and I am who I am. I’ve got ambitions of one day doing long magazine profiles, and if I wind up Wright Thompsoning or Gary Smithing all over someone, Ruben Amaro’s near the top of my list. He’s probably not the most fascinating person, but I get the sense that most of our frustration with the direction he’s taken the Phillies in has as much to do with PR as it does results.

By that I mean it’s frustrating that the Phillies are terrible and not that fun to watch, but we don’t have any idea of how things are going to go in the intermediate future. I’m not saying Amaro has to give a weekly candid press conference, because we know what Sam Hinkie’s plan is for the Sixers, and we know ownership has empowered him to carry it out, even though he talks to the media for about 20 minutes once every four months. I’m saying I look at what the Phillies have done over the past three years and I don’t really see a coherent plan, which worries me. I don’t know how empowered the GM even is–we could be blaming Ruben Amaro for only carrying out orders. I’d love to just sit down and have an honest conversation with him, even if it was off the record, because at least then I’d know, and I don’t care about you guys anyway.

@FelskeFiles: “OK, the Bryce Harper thing. It’s a punk move to call out his manager and throw Denard Span under the bus, right?”

Well, on the one hand, yes, it’s insubordinate to openly question your manager. On the other hand, Matt Williams can blow me.

Matt Williams has managed the Nationals like he takes really seriously that old aphorism about how you have to punch the biggest guy on the block on your first day in prison. So sure, you can wade into the room as a rookie manager and act like you’re more important than the best player on your team, and that might impress anyone who doesn’t realize how massively more important and popular Harper is than anyone else in that organization. Unfortunately for Williams, such people are in short supply nowadays.

@tholzerman: “Regardless of national peen-waving related to soccer, Ommegang is a better brewery than Chimay, right?”

INCORRECT. Chimay is wonderful–the destination as well as the journey. Let’s imagine that Drunkville was a physical destination and not a state of mind. Though really, aren’t all physical destinations states of mind and vice versa? They are if you’ve had enough Chimay. Anyway, the destination is the same, more or less, but good booze is about enjoying the journey, not so much getting there as quickly as possible so you can throw rocks through windows and fall down your front steps.

Here’s how you get there:

  • Yuengling: Normal airline
  • Vodka: Southwest Airlines, because it’s cheap but unpleasant, though if you do it often enough, you/the airline is going to forget you had baggage
  • Bud Light: Greyhound
  • PBR: Megabus
  • Michelob Ultra: Bicycle. If you do it conspicuously, it’s because you want people to know you’re watching your figure, but instead everyone assumes you’re a weenie. It also takes a lot of effort and you’re probably going to get hit by a car.
  • Tequila: Kidnapped, stuffed in a box and shipped via UPS two-day air
  • Bourbon: Train. A pleasant, low-maintenance experience that can either
  • Chimay: One of those posh luxury airlines I’ve seen in magazines, like Virgin Atlantic or Emirates, where you get an apartment and a tennis court and prostitutes and so on.

Anyway, my opinion of Ommegang is that it’s not bad, but I’d rather spend my money on another beer. Oh, and go look up “Ommegang” on the internet, because I’ve seen it and it’s weird.

@doug_phresh: “if you could have any sports team mascot for a pet which team would it be”

Any sports team mascot? From any era? I’d have to say the San Francisco Seals, the old PCL team that produced the DiMaggio brothers. I’ve said this for years, that if there were some sort of amphibious domestic mammal, something that was to a seal or a sea lion what a dog is to a wolf, there is no other pet I’d rather have.

@noallusions: “Should we retire atbat music? Could you watch another phillie walk up to Kashmir or In The Air Tonight?”

I’ll allow it. It’s not all that often that one player’s entrance music becomes iconic, because as much as I obsess over such things, they change. I still associate Jimmy Rollins with “So Fresh, So Clean” by OutKast, but he hasn’t walked up to that song in about 10 years. I count six songs that I’d want retired:

  • “Hell’s Bells” by AC/DC for Trevor Hoffman
  • “Enter Sandman” by Metallica for Mariano Rivera
  • “Shipping Up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys for Jonathan Papelbon, partially because that was iconic entrance music for him, but mostly because I never want to hear that song ever again
  • “Holy Diver” by Dio for Pat Burrell
  • “Kashmir” by Led Zeppelin for Chase Utley
  • “Sweet Escape” by Gwen Stefani for Ryan Spillborghs

Someone should form a committee to examine this more fully. It’s an important issue.

@Ut26: “how different would national and local reactions to the Astros leak have been if it were a Phillies leak instead?”

I think there’s a national reflex to think whatever the Astros do is, if not smart, then at least well-planned and well-considered. That reflex goes along with a similar reflex to ridicule whatever the Phillies do–I’m not complaining or crying persecution or anything, only saying that those are the two front offices’ reputations, and they’re well-deserved in both cases.

I’m not positive the reaction would’ve been that different if the Phillies had had their internal trade discussions exposed, because the reaction when it happened to Houston–at least as far as I can tell–has been mostly one of curiosity, with a side helping of “Wow, this is embarrassing.” Maybe if it happened to the Phillies, there’d be a little less curiosity and a little more embarrassment, but I don’t know. Mostly I’m glad I avoided the local spate of Hot Sports Takes.

@FelskeFiles: “Related: If you were Houston, would you have dealt Springer and Correa for Stanton?”

No, for a few reasons: first of all is positional scarcity–you’d be trading a potentially very good center fielder in Springer and a potential MVP candidate shortstop in Correa for a corner outfielder. One of the best corner outfielders in the game, sure, but a corner outfielder nonetheless. Second, TMGS would come to Houston and be the best player on a team that’s still developing his supporting cast, which is the situation he’d be leaving in Miami, except the Astros are even less far along than the Marlins are in that rebuild. He’s about to cash in–and deservedly so–in which time he wouldn’t be that much use to Houston anyway.

I’d absolutely be interested in TMGS, and I wouldn’t blink at trading a package centered on Springer for him. Correa’s a little tougher. I think the reasonable ceiling for Correa is better than the reasonable ceiling for TMGS, and considering that Correa is younger, cheaper and plays a more difficult position, the odds of him reaching it wouldn’t have to be 100 percent to make a one-for-one trade fair. I think I’d trade Correa for TMGS and maybe throw in a little token makeweight on the side, but I don’t know for sure, and I’d definitely want to ask someone who knows Correa’s game better than I do before making any decisions.

@BoomersBoro: “first guy traded? best return? Im thinking Bastardo and Byrd has the best chance fulfilling both”

I think if Amaro’s got the meatballs to trade Marlon Byrd in the first year of a two-year contract, he’d bring a pretty decent return. Byrd is hitting pretty well, and he’s on an extremely reasonable contract. He’s old, but he’s athletic and I bet that he could play center in an emergency. Not an enormous return, but a year ago two months of Marlon Byrd bought a legitimate bullpen arm (Vic Black) and a legitimate prospect (Dilson Herrera) for the Mets, so if I were running the Phillies, I’d be looking to move Byrd.

@Matt_Winkelman: “Favorite place in a baseball park to watch a game from?”

Near the bottom of the upper deck, behind home plate. I just like the view from up there.

@BCanneyBSB: “What’s the best case scenario you think with Dario Saric? Are we getting a Vlade or a Darko in 2 years?”

I’m glad you asked me about the best-case scenario for Saric, because I’m his biggest fan. I love big Europeans with ball skills. I think I’ve said this here before, but my two favorite NBA teams ever to watch were the 2002 Kings and 2009 Magic. What they had in common was big guys who could pass and shoot. Also Hedo Turkoglu. It just occurred to me, but has there ever been a better passing/playmaking pair of bigs than Chris Webber and Vlade Divac? I’m sure there has been, but I can’t think of one.

Anyway, that Magic team made the finals because they were a matchup nightmare. Their point guard–Rafer Alston–was really only a point guard on defense. Hedo was the real key to that team–he’d get the ball and if nobody guarded him, he’d shoot. If someone did guard him, he’d have the other four guys run around until one of them got open. His ability to create offense without ever moving faster than a walking pace would’ve made him a cult hero on the level of Andrea Pirlo if he played soccer.

So to answer your question, we’re not getting either a Vlade or a Darko from Saric, because he’s not a center. He’s more of a stretch four, someone who can run the offense when you go big and spread the floor when you go small. He’s 6-foot-10, but more like a Hedo 6-foot-10 than a Webber 6-foot-10. I have no idea how he’d play in a frontcourt with Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid, but whoever figures that out would be smarter than I am anyway, and on the defensive end, he could just hold hands with MCW and whatever long wing the Sixers take in the top 5 next year and cover the entire court. And whoever gets through that would have to try to score around the rim with both Noel and Embiid defending it.

I’m so mad I don’t get to watch the 2016-17 Sixers next year.

@GlennQSpooner: “Do the Phillies plan to devote more resources to the burgeoning International FA Market (specifically Cuban & Asian players)?”

I’d probably ask Ruben Amaro about that as we strolled hand-in-hand down the sunlit boulevard in Milan during our European 24-hour romance film. As it stands, I don’t even know if the Phillies know they’re bad, so how the hell would I know what their free agent plan is?

@Jesse_Pol: “how long will it take for this team to be actually relevant again?”

Forever. But it’s okay. We can’t understand the sheer insignificance of our own suffering in the grand scheme of the universe. Death comes for us all, and soon.


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  1. Matt

    July 02, 2014 09:17 AM

    Hmm if I had known there was a Q&A I would have asked you to rank the 10 best homegrown Phillies outfielders from the last 20 years, because I like a good tragedy.

    • Brian

      July 02, 2014 10:23 PM

      2 of the top 3 (4 if you count Bourn) are currently in the outfield.

      Think about THAT.

  2. Bob

    July 02, 2014 10:19 AM

    Byrd’s contract has the Ruben special attached to it. While it’s two years guaranteed, he’s got a vesting option for a third year that’s pretty attainable. He needs to get either 600 PA in 2015 or a combined 1,100 in 2014-15 with at least 550 of those coming in 2015.

    Last year, 104 players got at least 550 PAs with Byrd in this group at 579 PAs – his most since 2010. Currently, he’s got 340 at the halfway point. He should get his 550 this year and it’s possible he can reach 600 next year barring injury.

    I can see this going either way. It either increases his value because his deal is reasonable for his production. Or it could decrease his trade value because he’ll be guaranteed $8 mm in 2016 at the age of 38-39.

  3. tom b

    July 02, 2014 11:11 AM

    sorry but i don’t want a yes man for gm if that is true. nice to see all 4 prospects we traded to astros now on their mlb roster.

  4. Drew

    July 02, 2014 03:59 PM

    Nope. I don’t give a rat’s fanny about PR. My issue with Amaro is the this will be the sixth straight year of his tenure that his team will accomplish less than the previous year. That’s hard to do. He has ruined this team, gutted the minors and is emptying out the park. Worse, he has left us with no hope that things will get better.

    Dom Brown is the perfect symbol of the Amaro years. The so called five tool untouchable played a couple weeks of ball and it was clear he wasn’t a ball player. Athletic? I don’t care. John Kruk hit it on the head when he said ” I ain’t an athlete. I’m a ball player.” Amaro simply has no eye for talent. The parade of bums he has walked through here over the last few years are staggeringly inept. You can buy Cliff Lee or Doc Halliday; it takes no eye to do that. But it takes an eye to assemble an outfield and a bench. And third base. Ty Wigginton? Really? Pete Orr? Luna? Seriously?

    No, my problem with Amaro isn’t PR. It’s incompetence. It’s the Hunter Pence trade. The Cliff Lee trade. It’s destroying the Phillies.

  5. Derek

    July 02, 2014 06:35 PM

    Sorry, but what exactly does the T in TMGS stand for?

      • Derek

        July 03, 2014 01:19 AM

        Meh. Seems forced, like how Sarge kept calling Ryan Howard “The Big Piece”. I think he should just be called Giancarlo, kinda like how we call Ichiro by his first name.

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