Ruben Amaro, for some reason – either a commendable one or a pathetic Baghdad Bob one – is on a little bit of a media tour, vacillating between telling people it’s time to burn it down and everrrrything is just fine.
Both with reporters yesterday and on the WIP Morning Show today, Amaro kept his wits about him. But this afternoon with Mike Missanelli, an expert needler, Amaro basically lost his shit and spouted all sorts of old-timey nonsense to defend the aging, underachieving team he constructed. These, are your highlights, which are actually just most of the interview [please forgive any transcription typos, Jim and I tag-teamed and powered through this]:
MM: Now, you made some statements and I gotta ask ya … like the statement that you are better but you haven’t shown it and “I didn’t anticipate our guys being this poor,” I gotta ask you straight up: How could you not have anticipated that these guys would play like this when all the statistics would indicate that they would play like this?
RA: Well, not all the statistics. I don’t know how well versed you are in statistics, but the fact of the matter is a lot of these guys have very strong track records, they’ve had some success in the past, and uh … if they don’t do it, then they don’t do it [Editor’s note: WHAT?]. But, uh, did we miscalculate on some of them? Perhaps we did. But you know, these guys are human beings and unfortunately they haven’t lived up to what we thought they’d be doing right now and we’re gonna try to do something to improve that.
MM: The statistics I look at say, when players get older, their production declines. And the fact that they get 400 at-bats because of injury factor. What about that did you think would not apply to your team?
RA: Well, I mean the injury factor is something that you have to take into account but you cannot necessarily count on. Clearly, we felt with guys like Chase back and healthy, and Ryan back and healthy, and Chooch back and healthy, and Domonic etc. [editor’s note: I love how Domonic is basically an etc. now]… we just haven’t produced unfortunately, and that’s part of the process. We’re talking about human beings. We’re all in this thing together. So we all share equal blame for what’s going on, but we all have to improve, and that’s something that we’re looking forward to doing.
MM: Even with them back and healthy, at an older age a player their production naturally declines, and I don’t even know where you considered that.
RA: No, no, no, we considered those things. But the fact of the matter is that when you look out there at the other options that were available to us, we felt like some of the options that we had were better options than some of the ones that were, uh, possibly available due to free agency or what have you [editor’s note: WHAT?!?!?!]. That’s one of the reasons why we brought Chooch back and Burnett and obviously Birdie. And in some cases, we did get the production. In the case of Burnett, Birdie, we’re getting that production, and in the case of Chooch since he’s now having problems with the concussion stuff I mean obviously that makes it a little more difficult for him to produce.
But we invested a lot of money in some other guys, Ryan and Chase and others, Chase obviously has been very productive and is an All-Star again. Ryan has not been, as productive as we’d like him to be but, umm, ya know, you take chances on guys and if they work, they work, and if they don’t, then you have to try to do what you can to improve it.
MM: Chase is an All-Star, but let’s face it, “very productive” I think would be stretching it, he has shown a serious decline and it almost looks like he’s fatigued.
RA: You’d like to go ahead and bag on Chase Utley and his production for the rest of the world out there, you can feel free to do that. I will disagree, and he continues to be a very important part and a productive player on our club. Whether it’s a decline or not, that’s all relative. That fact of that matter is, he’s still a productive player. Want to talk about our players declining, that happens. That does happen . But that doesn’t mean that they’re not producing in some way shape or form, and clearly Chase is one of those guys.
MM: I think my point is…
RA: I think you’re just basically saying that he’s not a productive player…
MM: No, I didn’t say that. You called him “very productive” and I would disagree with that. And I think he was very productive and he’s slowing down, which leads to my point that older players do decline.
RA: When you say “slowing down,” is he not as outstanding as he was when he was hitting .335 in the firs two months of the season? Do you expect him to continue that type of production? I don’t know if you do that for any player. He’s still a very productive player in the Major Leagues, in the National League. You can slice it any way you want, Mike. You got to get your story straight, too.
Utley has definitely cooled off, but his WAR is still good for 31st in all of baseball among hitters, so he’s still “productive,” but perhaps not “very productive.” It’s a semantics thing, me thinks. But he’s also not some game-changing player the way Rube imagines he is, and there’s little chance that he keeps up the pace as the season drags on.
Keep going, it gets better.
MM: I’m getting my theory straight. My whole theory…
RA: There’s no question, you, you know, there’s no question that we players that are on decline, but you also have to rely on some of the production that they’ve had in the past [editor’s note: heh?], um, and again, when you have other options that you don’t feel are strong options, you go with what you think is…
MM: I totally get that. You have no other way to go, but my whole theory is that older players decline, and this is kind of like a microcosm of all these other older players, if Chase Utley’s lost 50 points on his average, I don’t know that you’re going to be able to see a rekindle, and I’m not trying to pick on him. I’m talking about the general theme of your players, to expect them to be productive at that age, I think id s faulty premise.
RA: Well, other players have been very very productive at that age. You got guys across the board who have had plenty of success at age 34, 35, 36 years old. When they get healthy, you hope that they’re playing and you hope that they’re producing. Not all of our guys do that, you know, some of them haven’t, some of them have. We have a very productive player in Marlon Byrd. Is he 36 or 37 years old? Yes he is [editor’s note: which?] But he’s also one of the most productive players in the National League [editor’s note: 55th best WAR among hitters in the National League]. He’s old, but he’s even more productive now.
MM: Yeah, there are examples, but chances are you’re not going to get all of them at once…
RA: You won’t call up those examples just because they don’t work for your theory, correct?
MM: No, because they’re not working for your theory.
RA: I’m just saying that not all older players become less productive … a majority of them do but that doesn’t necessarily mean that they’re all.
MM: Well that’s what I’m talking about, the majority, you have a majority.
RA: Right, right.
My head hurts. That would be Ruben Amaro, with the most stupefying thing a GM has ever said… since Ruben Amaro was flummoxed by the difference between plate appearances and at-bats. He basically just described his anti-SABR philosophy in a nutshell. Do older players usually decline? Yeah, but there are exceptions. WE WANTED TO GET, LIKE, NINE EXCEPTIONS. That’s the problem with Rube. Chase Utley is old and having a good year, though he’s hitting a bit of a wall. Marlon Byrd has been halfway decent. But then there’s Ryan Howard, and Jimmy Rollins, and Carlos Ruiz, and Cliff Lee (hurt), and all those other guys from the past few seasons who didn’t pan out. Baseball, more than any other sport, is about playing the percentages. Could a few old guys have great seasons? Of course. But when you have enough of them, and when you have enough players with either unproven track records or concerning trend of declining production, the odds are that you’re not going to have much success. This is simple stuff, and Amaro seems clueless about it. It’s borderline crazy that, for like the fourth year in a row, the GM of a major market baseball team has been relying on luck. That’s basically what Ruben just said there– that the odds were against them but he tried it anyway. Good plan.
MM: Now, we’re talking to Ruben Amaro and I’m happy that you’ve come on to face these kind of questions and I apologize if I’m out of line on any of them…
RA: You’re out of line because you’re uniformed, Mike [editor’s note: whoever was standing near Ruben just mouthed “Oh shit.”] and (slightly intelligible) you’re uniformed all the time (?).
MM: Well my eyes inform me. I mean I think I know the game a little bit, my eyes inform me, and you’re last place…
RA: The one thing that you can see is that… your eyes can inform you, you’re not that informed Mike.
MM: Okay, well I look at the standings and you’re in last place Ruben.
RA: The first time.. listen, we have not had a productive year. There’s no question about it. And I absolutely stand up to the fact that we haven’t done the things that are necessary to be a contending team, unfortunately. Yes, we have a much better club [editor’s note: it briefly sounds like Ruben was swallowed up by a dust storm]. The fact of the matters you have to look at things in totality. Things didn’t work out for us? Our job is to try to improve.
Ruben goes on to explain that they’re not going to tear it down because, for some reason, this makes sense to him and David Montgomery.
MM: Have you been told that you will get an offseason to fix this? What have you been told by management?
RA: This is something that we talk about all the time, and it’s always a fluid situation. I talk to David and I talk to our group all the time about what our direction is and right now I think that everyone is just looking to try to improve and that’s the goal. That we’ve got to get better and we’ll try to figure out ways to do it.
MM: Let me ask you, when you think about your tenure, as the Phillies’ General Manager, what’s your opinion … how do you evaluate yourself?
RA: [MISSED SENTENCE] and right now we’re not an all out success. And my job is to try to turn that around. And so that’s, uh, that’s … I’m disappointed in what’s going on, particularly in the last two years, and obviously we have to do some things differently to get better and we’ll continue to try to do that. That’s my job and that’s what I plan on doing.
MM: All right, Ruben I appreciate you coming on. I really do.
RA: No problem, Mike.
Here’s the full audio of the interview.