The Case for Ruben Amaro (since August 2014)
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This is going to sound strange. I fully acknowledge that to start because it sounds strange to me when I say it. My teeth bleed and my tongue cramps as the words emerge:
Ruben Amaro has been a good General Manager for 10 months.
I eventually started drinking and straightened myself out, but before that I was an Amaro apologist, highlighting the admittedly good trades he made to build a constantly exciting and at times fantastic ball team with a historic rotation. Like I said, I’ve reformed to hate RAJ with the masses now, but only to an extent.
He sent away a lot of young assets in those trades, but I am not going to pretend that when I would lay down in bed at night in July 2009, I was praying God, please, don’t let Rube trade Carlos Carrasco and those other stale hot dogs for Cliff Lee.
We all know what happened in the last three years so I won’t re-hash it. It was putrid. Pitiful. Piss-poor. It was a Marreese Speights break-away mammoth titanic SLAMMA-JAMMA DING DONG. And we had front-row seats, though if the attendance numbers are accurate most of us have gotten rid of those by now.
But something seemed to happen when his last massive mistake became clear. It was over a two-day period last season, July 31st and August 1st. The former is the trade deadline, when at 4:00 p.m. EST Cole Hamels was still a Phillie, as was Cliff Lee, who on the latter-day would blow out his elbow and unleash a string of words so unfriendly while walking off the mound that I could never hope to recapture them in simple, archaic text.
Rube got brutalized that day, as usual. But this time, it was different. I think he had hit rock bottom. Something changed.
There was only one truly notable signing this offseason, so we can start there. Aaron Harang, despite possessing no discernible impressive skill, has been a god-send. Has he made Phillies games more watchable? No. His goatee makes me want an acid peel. But he has been effective, and he is probably the single most definite trade candidate in baseball. That was a smart signing.
Then the trades. The Jimmy Rollins departure, while saddening, has frankly looked great so far. J-Roll has been subpar for LA and waiting to trade him now would have certainly netted the Phils less than Tom Windle and Zach Eflin. Eflin has looked stellar to excellent, while Windle has struggled recently, but to get both out of an aging shortstop crawling toward free agency was a stroke of genius.
Or a stroke of luck. I am also completely open to that interpretation. Amaro outsmarting Andrew Friedman still seems strange.
Then the Phillies got Ben Lively, who has also been fairly productive and seems like a future rotation piece, for Marlon Byrd. Just to ensure the effectiveness of that trade RAJ went Buddy Ryan on us and ordered the team to bust Byrd’s hand. For a moment, Sean O’Sullivan became the Phillies version of Donald Brashear, and for possibly the first time since 2011, things clearly went according to plan. Granted, not a whole lot is expected out of Lively, but he looks like a decent number 3 or number 4. I can’t muster a complaint about that.
Even the small trades might turn out to be something. Jesmuel Valentin (Roberto Hernandez trade) sort of sounds like a Cesar Hernandez/Freddy Galvis type, which is valuable even though the Phillies churn them out with a jaw-dropping efficiency. Joely Rodriguez doesn’t look great, but he came back for Bastardo, who has been suuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuper bad, so in my mind it’s a net gain as there’s still some development time left.
Hell, what if Francouer is an interesting defensive piece for somebody at the deadline? A good trade involving Frenchy could very well bring about Judgment Day, but what the hell, it could be interesting too.
And all of this is actual moves, ignoring the fact that as it has played out, Amaro has played the Hamels situation almost perfectly, despite a mountain of criticism throughout.
Look, I know we have all made up our minds about Amaro’s tenure, and these few moves don’t outweigh the mistakes he made previous to them. But with ownership still avoiding his termination, it seems like Amaro’s here for the long haul, i.e. The Glorious Rebuild. In light of the last ten months, I feel slightly less violently enraged at that scenario.
All hatred, vitriol, criticisms, praise, and insults can be directed to @AllegedButler on Twitter.