Ruben Amaro Given A Vote of Confidence’s Todd Zolecki, Erik Bacharach, and Greg Johns report that Phillies president David Montgomery said that GM Ruben Amaro “is not on the hot seat” at the Baseball 101 Clinic and Luncheon for Women at Citizens Bank Park on Tuesday.

It isn’t shocking that Montgomery continues to publicly defend his GM despite the Phillies’ abysmal performance for a third consecutive season. Despite a fever pitch of frustration and disappointment from the majority of Phillies fans that still remains, Amaro has done a relatively decent job. Relatively, obviously, being the key word there.

Amaro did excessively dole out player and vesting options to players he has signed in recent years, but those are comparatively minor errors that have no real impact on the team’s ability to compete going forward. Since signing closer Jonathan Papelbon to a four-year, $60 million contract in November 2011, Amaro has abstained from signing free agents to lengthy, expensive contracts and losing draft picks to players who received a qualifying offer.

Additionally, Amaro hasn’t traded away the club’s future in a foolish endeavor to win games in the short-term. Furthermore, while more aggression would have been beneficial, the “Amaro administration” has been able to infuse the organization with some projectable talent. The farm system isn’t quite where it needs to be yet (ESPN’s Keith Law ranked it 14th back in January), but it is significantly better now than it was at this time two years ago.

This is hardly a defense of Amaro, as it was a string of completely avoidable catastrophic errors that put the team in the position it was and still is in. However, very rarely in baseball are GM’s refused the opportunity to patch up their own mistakes. It’s quite possible we could be in for another two years or more of Amaro.

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  1. yo mama

    August 21, 2014 08:44 AM

    Baumann’s been saying that for months. Amaro’s still got some time here. Are there any recent GMs that have “rehabilitated” themselves following this kind of stretch? I can’t think of anyone.

    • Andrew Cleveland Alexander

      August 21, 2014 10:24 AM

      Of the top of my head: between 2005 and 2008, the Giants lost 87, 85, 90 and 91 games, finishing last or next-to-last in the division both seasons. During that period, they also signed Barry Zito to one of the worst contracts of all time, along with a number of other lesser sins (ie, Aaron Roward for 5 years and 60 million). But they got some great draft picks out of it, including Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey, and by 2010 (as we know all too well) they were World Series champions. Brian Sabean remained GM throughout.

  2. Chris S.

    August 21, 2014 09:08 AM

    As crazy as this sounds the Phillies need Ed Wade to be in charge of getting talent in the Phillies farm system. He did a good job of getting our core together that won the WS in 2008 and he did a really good job of setting up Houston’s future as well. I am not saying he should be the long term solution, but he seems fairly adept at infusing talent into farm systems, which is something the Phillies need.

    • MattWinks

      August 21, 2014 03:28 PM

      Ed Wade has been part of the recent farm system revival. Right now he is in an ideal role, he is a special assistant providing insight and advice, being sent of special assignments, without having to worry about him building a major league roster

      • Mike Lacy

        August 22, 2014 12:09 PM

        And hopefully the team will not listen to his advice regarding trading for relief pitchers at midseason.

  3. crow

    August 21, 2014 09:14 AM

    I don’t know that I agree that Amaro’s doling out of options “have no real impact on the team’s ability to compete going forward.” Acquiring young talent for aging but still productive veterans is an important way for fading teams to acquire assets and replenish their system. The option given to Byrd transformed him from an attractive pick-up by a contender to untradeable. The option year in Papelbon’s contract has at least helped to make him untradeable. The escalators in Burnett’s contract (which we didn’t know about when his option looked like the equivalent of a buyout) would have made him untradeable if his performance hadn’t accomplished that. Add on the stubborn refusal to move Cliff Lee (who is also now untradeable damaged goods) while he aged and the Phillies continued to suck and the continuing pattern of goofy statements about winning, staying competitive . . . these aren’t comparable to earlier mistakes like Howard’s contract but I wouldn’t call them peccadillos either.

    • Mike Lacy

      August 22, 2014 12:11 PM

      I’m sure getting players for Byrd and Burnett would have helped. But were the Phillies likely going to get real impact prospects in exchange for those guys regardless of their contract situations?

      • crow

        August 22, 2014 01:38 PM

        1 1/2 years of Byrd and Paps + $ would each have fetched at least one mid-level prospect. You never know who is going to be an impact player going forward, so you acquire assets and hope for the best. Ruf (e.g.,) was every bit a mid-level prospect until he had a breakout in AA.

      • Mike Lacy

        August 22, 2014 04:02 PM

        @crow –

        What do you consider a mid-level prospect?

  4. tom b

    August 21, 2014 09:31 AM

    sorry bill,if this wasn’t a defense of amaro,you wouldn’t need to deny that it was defending amaro

  5. eddie

    August 21, 2014 10:44 AM

    “Amaro did excessively dole out player and vesting options to players he has signed in recent years, but those are comparatively minor errors that have no real impact on the team’s ability to compete going forward.”

    Baloney, for the reasons crow outlined above, as well as the fact that making those players untradable then hampers the development of what youngish players the team does have: if Byrd had been traded, maybe we could be getting Ruf more than 6 ABs a week.

    Athough probably not, since the manager Amaro hired probably wouldn’t take advantage of the opportunity.

    The larger issue, though, is what David Murphy has done a good job of articulating: the Phils under Amaro don’t have a plan. They won’t commit to a rebuild, there are no building blocks in place, there’s no organizing principle of what kind of team they want. I’d been holding out hope that privately, Amaro was figuring it out and understood that he had to build toward 2016, but that he wasn’t saying it publically because he thought it would be unpopular.

    The inability to make a deal at the deadline, and above all the damning explanation that he gave for why he didn’t, lost me completely. He simply cannot adequately judge player value. That’s a fundamental failing that dooms him as an exec.

    • Andrew Cleveland Alexander

      August 21, 2014 11:01 AM

      With the exception of the teams that dealt with Oakland, no one who made deals at the deadline got anything to speak of for their major league talent, while Amaro seems to have actually gotten something decent for Roberto Hernandez, which is amazing. Byrd might be worth more in the offseason, and if not he’s on a reasonable contract and is not going to be taking away ABs from anyone decent next year. And yes, that includes Ruf, who is at best a platoon first baseman. While I like the fact that he’s got the versatility to play the OF in a pinch, it’s pretty clear he can’t be a starter there on a daily basis.

      • Ryan

        August 21, 2014 12:46 PM

        “it’s pretty clear he can’t be a starter there on a daily basis”

        Why does everyone say this? Has he gotten a chance to a starter on a regular basis? Could he really be more of a black hole in the lineup than Howard? I am a Ryan Howard fan, but the only thing in that situation that seems “pretty clear” is that Howard is not going to return to anything more than a shadow of his former self…

      • Iatrogenes

        August 21, 2014 02:09 PM

        Ruf is the epitome of a self-fulfilling prophecy. They say (who ever “they” are) that Ruf can’t play left field …but his AAA manager doesn’t say that. He thinks Ruf is a more than adequate left fielder with a good arm. This is the team that won with Luzinski, Burrell and Ibanez in left field, and now the even worse Dom Brown. In VERY limited opportunities, RUF has the Phillies best OBA and OPS averages …so explain to me why he shouldn’t be given a chance to play his way on or off the team for the future. Who do they have better?

        Just nuts!

      • Andrew Cleveland Alexander

        August 21, 2014 04:11 PM

        Ryan, I said that it’s pretty clear he can’t be a starter in the outfield on a regular basis. First base I’d had no problem with him starting regularly at, if they could remove the rather large left-handed obstacle that stands in the way, until they do that however he is only going to be a platoon player.

        Latrogenes, the original commenter above was saying the Phillies should have traded Byrd and replaced him with Ruf in right. As to your “it couldn’t be worse” thing about left, maybe not, but I think the Phillies are better off trying to get Brown fixed and finding Ruf ABs at first. If you think that they should trade Brown and replace him with Ruf, fine, but in that case the best short-term strategy would be for the Phillies to play Brown every day, hope he gets hot at the plate in the last couple of months and salvages some of his trade value.

      • Mike Lacy

        August 22, 2014 12:14 PM

        There’s this weird sentiment that other teams were lining up to trade their best prospects to the Phillies in exchange for veterans in recent years.

        Despite no evidence to the contrary (although it’s hard to know what to believe when it comes to deadline rumors), people seem to think the Phillies refused trades simply because they wanted to hold onto these guys.

      • ASK

        August 22, 2014 05:39 PM

        “There’s this weird sentiment that other teams were lining up to trade their best prospects to the Phillies in exchange for veterans in recent years.”

        That’s an interesting take, but not one that I’ve seen often on this or other sites. The opinions I read more often convey the opposite of that….that most people think the Phillies over-valued their veterans (asking for the likes of Aaron Judge for Marlon Byrd) and were stuck with them when the other teams moved on to other options (e.g. Martin Prado). I think that many fans wanted them to trade Burnett and Byrd for “lottery tickets” then spend the money that came off the books on other players (e.g. Rusney Castillo).

      • Pencilfish

        August 23, 2014 01:09 PM


        It has been reported that the Red Sox signed Castillo to a s6-yr deal worth $72M. If he lives up to the billing (good CF defense and a line-driver hitter), maybe the deal is worth it, but on the surface it is a awful lot of money to pay for an unproven CF. The Phillies can probably live with Revere (a. .300 singles hitter) if they find a power-hitting OF instead. Someone like Yasmani Tomas, another Cuban player who may be available this winter, seems to be a better fit, specially if the Phillies get rid of both Howard and Brown.

      • Bob

        August 23, 2014 05:58 PM

        The question should not be whether the Phillies can live with Revere. It should be whether Castillo is an upgrade over our current CF. The Phillies have stated their intention is to compete next year and not conduct a full scale rebuild. In order to do so, however, they will need to find 20+ more wins. Each current, contracted player needs to be contrasted against those available in the market place to see where any improvement can be made.

        If the Phillies’ scouts, who took a hard look at Castillo, opine that Revere is a better player, then I’m ok with the decision. Revere is valuable despite some noted flaws. Or, if they see someone in FA that is more valuable than Castillo or Revere and sign him over the winter, than I’d be ok with that as well. But a last place team with playoff expectations for 2015 who need 20+ wins added cannot afford to pass on talent in an otherwise barren market.

  6. hhoran

    August 21, 2014 12:52 PM

    The (not wholly unreasonable) defense of Amaro is a reasonable number of his recent short term tactical moves have worked out ok (player provided value in line with cost) and no moves in the last 3 years have been profoundly negative. The larger issue is the strategic failure–a well forseen collapse in peformance (and attendance/revenue/TV ratings) that is now in year 4 that could last another 3-4 years since no outside observers can see factors likely to drive rapid recovery. Other big market teams have had awful years or notable declines (Bos, SF, LAA, Tex, NYY) but never dug themselves a hole this big (and several rebounded quite quickly). Other teams with much smaller revenue bases have taken action within 3-4 years to build a viable platform for the future (Mke, Sea, Mets, Miami, Cleve, etc). We’ve managed to combine Red Sox economics with Twins/Diamondback results.
    Since the issues are strategic, I think we need to stop calling this a Ruben Amaro problem, and start focusing on the David Montgomery problem. He sets the strategy, Amaro is his employee. I’m sure Montgomery gives Amaro a free hand on things like signing Sizemore to a minor league contract. But I’m also sure that none of the decisions with longer-term strategic impact (the contracts to people like Howard and Papelbon, the preference for semi-productive veterans versus taking risks on less-developed kids, keeping Howard in the lineup full time) are made without Montgomery’s full support.

  7. edwin

    August 21, 2014 03:36 PM

    Hmmm, sound a lot the Wade situation.

  8. Jason

    August 22, 2014 01:57 AM

    There is a sarcastic tone to this article right? Or am I just imagining it?

  9. Mike Lacy

    August 22, 2014 12:17 PM

    The only real catastrophic error has been the inability for their minor league system to provide the team with major league contributors.

    For instance, the Papelbon signing was about as catastrophic as the Adam Eaton signing was to the 2007-2008 Phillies.

    • ASK

      August 22, 2014 07:29 PM

      Did the Adam Eaton signing cost them a first round draft pick? Was there even draft pick compensation back then?

  10. BobSmith

    August 25, 2014 06:26 PM

    “You know nothing Bill Baer”

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