Jayson Stark Explains Everything the Phillies Did Wrong at the Trade Deadline

Photo: St. Pete Beach Photo
Photo: St. Pete Beach Photo

Yesterday, on the Jayson Stark show on the Fanatic, Stark laid into Ruben Amaro and the Phillies. He talked about what other GMs he talked to said about Ruben and his “surprised they weren’t more aggressive” comments, the perception of the team around the league, and what they missed out on at the trade deadline. It’s a full hour (and audio is available at the link above), but here are some of the main points:

    • Other GMs are either “flabbergasted” or “annoyed” at Ruben’s comments.
    • Most GMs Stark has talked to had some dealings with the Phillies, but don’t quite understand what went on.
    • Stark’s analogy: The trade deadline was “the week before Christmas” and “shoppers are frantic,” but you need to “price things in the store so it will move.” If you’re selling flat screen TVs, and everyone leaves your store because you’re pricing them $1,000 too high, eventually you lower that price to sell them. The Phillies didn’t do that.
    • Phillies had their sights on specific players or types of players and completely locked in on that, without budging.

Remember, this was the time to sell. When you are a GM who is selling aging players with insane handcuff contracts, you might have to be open to taking a little less in return to clear up extra payroll space. Or maybe you just recognize what these players are worth to other teams, and become more open to what is being offered. Or, you can negotiate Ruben Amaro style: not at all.

    • Ruben was targeting high-end young players who were big-league ready or already in the bigs. Though Ruben said they didn’t ask for top prospects, Stark talked to guys who said Ruben asked for their organization’s very top guy and would not get off that idea, no matter who the other GM brought up. Another team said Ruben asked for best prospects for “guys who weren’t stars.”
    • Another GM said Ruben was basically asking, “Could you please drive your AA team to Reading and drop them all off?”

That is not how you negotiate, but that would be nice, wouldn’t it?

    • The Yankees were trying to get Marlon Byrd in RF. When they couldn’t, the Yanks traded Peter O’Brien for Martin Prado. O’Brien, though he has an unclear fielding position, has 33 home runs this year. Stark can’t say for a fact the Phillies were offered O’Brien, but considering the Prado deal, it seems like O’Brien would have been available. Stark can’t understand what the Phillies were doing, and said they had a lack of self-awareness.
    • Stark would say not everyone in the front office agrees with Ruben’s assessment that they “have good players here.”
    • People around baseball do not think the Phillies have a good grasp of what this team is, where they’re going, and what they have. Other teams have asked Stark, “What’s their plan, what do they think the path is?

It is absolutely and utterly insane that other GMs are so confused by Ruben’s lack of moves that they are asking Jayson Stark, a reporter, what the hell his plan is. But hey, Jayson, while we’re on the subject, what is their plan?

    • Stark thinks the Phils are not willing to rebuild, because if they are they’d acknowledge it could take some time and would be looking at players who are maybe 3-4 years removed from the majors.
    • Another team said it seems like Ruben is trying to do a rebuild with two magic-bullet trades, which cannot possibly happen.
    • Some teams that have just played the Phils talk about when the team falls behind, they quit and play with no energy. They’re walking off the field between innings, barely making the dugout. Stark says it’s hard to get revved up when you have no chance to win, and that’s the point of putting in new players, new energy, new expectations.

At this point, we’re lucky they aren’t all just sitting down on the field and picking at individual blades of grass while remembering what once was.

    • Ruben looks to the 2012 Red Sox, but there are SO MANY differences. The Red Sox won three World Series in the last decade. They won in 2007 because they moved on from 2004. They won in 2013 because they moved on from 2007. Left on the Sox from 2007 are two players (Pedroia and Ortiz). From 2008, the Phils have six players. And from 2009, there are eight players left. The Phils got sentimental and tried to ring every ounce of talent out of this team. And it all goes back to contract structure. Those Red Sox deals are basically “trade him and he’s yours,” while Rube’s contracts are full of vesting options and player options and no-trade clauses.
    • Stark talked to a guy from another team who said Ruben is clearly capable of being a buyer and he doesn’t think he has the knack for being a seller, which is a totally different skill-set.

After an exasperated Stark broke all of that down, they welcomed in former Mets and Orioles GM Jim Duquette, who said it wasn’t “the Phillies’ finest hour,” and the deadline was a big missed opportunity. The prices for these aging players will never be higher than they are at the deadline, Duquette said, but they likely overvalued their own players. The deadline was a time to get payroll flexibility, inject some new blood into the team, and light a fire in the fan base. Those are all things the Phillies needed and they did none of them. Duquette went on to say Ruben’s “not aggressive” comments don’t work because at the deadline there’s a mutual aggressiveness. If talks stall, or someone is overvaluing their players, GMs just move on. They don’t waste their time on a team that is sitting there “farting around.” Other GMs have told Duquette that Ruben basically wanted you to pitch him a great deal for his players, and then he would just tell them “yes” or (as was the case) “no.” But that’s not how it works when you’re a seller. Duquette finished up, saying that there’s no reason Byrd shouldn’t have moved at the deadline, and now he’d probably hold onto him until the offseason, because you won’t get anything for him now anyway.

So there you have it. The other GMs around the league look at the Phillies and say, “Hey, do you have any idea what they’re doing?” At least you, reader, have that in common with opposing major league GMs.


25 Responses

    1. Kyle Scott (2010):
      “Now, Ruben is at the helm, and since taking over he has been nothing short of shrewd.

      In the last nine months, he has traded for THREE former Cy Young Award winners in Cliff Lee, Pedro Martinez, and Roy Halladay. He reloaded the third base position by acquiring Placido Polanco, the only other member of that 2004 team who could have been considered a winner, and now he has outdone himself by signing Ryan Howard to a $25 million a year contract. Only Alex Rodriguez has ever made that much playing this game, in like, the history of the world.

      Maybe shrewd is not even the right word. A couple years ago the Phillies were shrewd, making clever acquisitions of under the radar players like Blanton and Werth.

      Now they’re bullies.

      They want the best pitcher on the planet. Can’t get him? That’s fine, borrow Cliff Lee for one of the best postseason performances of all-time and then trade him away to acquire the aforementioned first option. Then they pulled Pedro Martinez, the self proclaimed most influential player to ever play in Yankee Stadium, out from under a mango tree to pitch in the World Series. Our window is closing? Here, let Ruben open it by signing “The Big Piece” to a $125 million contract.

      The Phillies are starting to rival the Yankees and the Red Sox in terms of “f you, rest of the league” type moves. The World Championship wasn’t a fluke, it was calculated. The next? Well, that will be part calculated, part purchased. Either way, it will come.

      Yeah, shrewd isn’t the word. Maybe the word is gangsta. And you know what? I like it.”

      1. Ouch. That hurt to read. I don’t blame Kyle one bit for writing it though.

        Reading “Our window is closing? Here, let Ruben open it by signing “The Big Piece” to a $125 million contract.” made me physically cringe. Looking at that fucking albatross now compared to the hope we had in 09-10 going forward is too god damn much. Still, Howard was a top 3 power hitter in the league (he was so good at the time there was a believable rumor that he was traded straight up for Pujols)

        I didn’t hate Ruben then either. He looked like a fucking boss. He was finally spending the money the phillies had all along but were too penny pincher to commit. Now? He and Montgomery are living in the past and refusing to admit that this shit aint’t working. They’re like a disfunctional marriage trying to stay together for the kids, when you know the kids are old enough that they wouldn’t care, they’re just tired of seeing it not work.

        1. That was not a believable rumor. Howard was not worth anything near that much, even before the hilarious contract he’s signed to.

  1. FIRST! Yeah Ruben is a total tool, we know. The whole organizational management team blows and are clueless. I want ruben gone yesterday, but the way this team is run from above will prevent most candidates from succeeding. Unless they go in there and tell ownership – you will do it this way or you can f off. That’s what this backwards team needs. Someone to tell them what to do

  2. It’s amazing how little was learned from the 3 years Gillick ran this team. Ownership obviously wasn’t watching. And Ruben was clearly too fascinated with his own pecker to learn anything.

    1. Kinda wish people would stop sucking him off like he was the second coming of christ. He added a few nice pieces to a team ed wade basically built through the draft.

      Come to think of it, there’s a chance Ruben will be remembered that way also (If crawford, Nola, Franco, and the like are the next batch of studs)

      1. what kinda of drugs are you on? gillick was the GM that added the pieces to make a world champion. That doesn’t happen by accident you idiot. Yes he didn’t build the whole team, but the team wouldn’t have won without the werths, and Blantons. Those are the moves you make, plus at the time getting rid of thome for an emerging howard. moves that ruben is too stupid to even think about apparently

        1. Let’s not forget Gillick traded Gavin Floyd and Gio Gonzalez for Freddie Garcia which is one of the worst trades in franchise history and still hurts us today. Amaro was able to trade away a dozen “highly rated prospects” drafted under Gillick that have turned into NADA, ZIP, ZERO for Halladay, Lee, Oswalt and Pence (Does anyone think the 2008 rotation of Hamels, Myers, Moyer, JA Happ and Blanton would have made it to the 2009 WS? How about with Burrell in left in 2009? ) – Score 4 wins for Amaro the buyer. Let’s face it the cupboard was left bare by Gillick.
          I agree with the idea that Amaro is a buyer but clearly not a seller and the team isn’t smart enough to identify hidden talent in other team’s farm system or we wouldn’t be left with nothing in the 2014 trade deadline. The move to chase Cuban prospects is much smarter than chasing high $ old free agents. They need to do this to help speed the transition to the next generation. They also need to draft near MLB ready talent like Nola so that the road to contention is 2-3 years and not a decade plus like from 1994 to 2007.

          1. They traded away three quality players in the Pence deal. Cosart, Singleton and Santana would give us a fuck of a lot more hope for the future if they were still in the organization.

  3. its clear that ruben doesnt pull the strings. hes very calm and cool while everyone rips him apart everyday. hes just teh fall guy i guess. that has to be it. no one would leave someone who appears so imcompitent in the front office for so long.

  4. Dear David Montgomery,

    I am a better GM then Rubin Amaro Jr. You can pay me half of his annual salary. Please contact me.


    -Any other human being with a pulse

  5. Likely overvalued their players? Likely? Did you see Ryan Howards contract which was inked 2 seasons too soon? The certainly overvalue their players.

  6. It’s water under the bridge at this point.

    Get ready Phillies fans,for the dark ages since we all know this team won’t sniff the playoffs for at least 10 years.

  7. Hey Jim Pubichair your posts are the worst drivel in the history of drivel. I hope you get mauled by a mountain lion and die faggot.

    1. Oh Jim wrote this. I got to the end and was like wow that was the first time I didnt want to punch Kyle Scott after reading his dbag crap.

  8. I for one am just glad Ruin Tomorrow didn’t touch anything before he gets fired.

    Any of you bitches think for a second that this stupid fuck-up won’t screw up this team even more if he’s allowed to trade anybody? Look at his record. Enough said.

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