Amaro on Offense, Utley, Doc and More

Ruben Amaro Jr.,Ruben Amaro Jr. met with reporters this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park as part of the Michael Young press conference, so we asked a lot of questions.

Here are the highlights:

QUESTION: Are you still searching for a corner outfielder?
ANSWER: As far as the outfield situation is concerned, we’re still trolling through the possibility of adding another piece there. And we’re also considering the possibility of a double platoon. That’s a possibility as well. We’ve done some things that have helped our club at a couple of different levels. I don’t think the process of trying to help improve our club stops until the end of the season. It’s very possible that we have the answers internally. I feel comfortable with the way our club is today and if there’s a way to improve it, we’ll try to do that.

QUESTION: Have an update on Roy Halladay‘s offseason?
ANSWER: Doc’s done very well. He’s going to start throwing off the mound here very shortly. Dubes (Rich Dubee) has seen him throw a couple times, at least long toss. I guess he’s working down there with Kyle Kendrick pretty extensively. He’s doing well, but we don’t know what kind of Doc we’re going to get until Doc’s down firing in spring training. But he’s feeling pretty good so far.

QUESTION: How is Chase Utley doing?
ANSWER: He’s done very well this offseason. (Head athletic trainer) Scott Sheridan’s visited him once and he’s probably going to go see him again. He’s taking ground balls pretty much every other day. He didn’t take a whole lot of time off. One of the things I think we’ve all learned, including Chase, that it probably behooved him to continue to work and do things to be able to keep his joints going, keep his knees going. He’s actually done very well. We have to be cautiously optimistic that he’s going to be back and playing. He hasn’t played games in spring training the last two years, but we’re cautiously optimistic that he’s going to be ready to go. We’ll probably monitor and have a discussion prior to spring training about how he’ll be utilized and such during the spring. I think he’s feeling like he’s raring to go and hopefully he’ll be ready to go April 1.

QUESTION: Are you comfortable with amount of right-handed power in lineup?
ANSWER: I am. I’m obviously going to miss Chooch (Carlos Ruiz) in the first part of the season. That’ll be a bit of an issue for us. Would we like to add more power to the lineup? Sure. Again, it’s more about production than power. I think we have guys who can produce, Michael (Young) being one of them obviously. I think there’s other guys we have —  Jimmy (Rollins) as a switch hitter. Depending on how the outfield is constituted, I think we’ll figure it out. I think everyone thinks we’re so left-handed heavy, but the fact of the matter is we’re heavy in the middle of the lineup, left-handed depending right now on our three and four guys. But that can change and a lot of it depends on how Charlie (Manuel) puts his lineup together.

QUESTION: You mentioned being cautiously optimistic regarding Chase. Was there concern he might not be able to come back?
ANSWER: When a guy is down for two years and doesn’t play full seasons in the two years prior you have to be a little concerned. But we think Chase has learned and we have learned to manage whatever he’s got going on in his knees pretty well. I think he has a pretty good understanding of it, we have a pretty good understanding of it and I think he’s going to be fine. But you just never know. Obviously he’s got knee issues. Hopefully he’ll be able to put himself in the position – we think he’s put himself in the position to be ready to go out of the chute this spring. But that remains to be seen. We’ll see what happens.

QUESTION: How is Ryan Howard doing?
ANSWER: I thin Ryan right now, he’s been in the process of still getting 100 percent strength, he was never really at 100 percent, I don’t know how close he’ll be when spring starts. But typically it takes a full year to gain your full strength capacity with an injury like that, and I think he’s getting closer to that. From what Ryan was doing prior to his wedding and his honeymoon, he was doing well. I think he continued that program when he went on his honeymoon. We’ve been monitoring him and he’s seemed to be doing well. We’ll find out more once he gets back.

QUESTION: Do you think there are upgrades available among outfielders on the free-agent market?
ANSWER: Yeah, I think there are some guys that can help us, but there are also guys on the trade market we’ve looked into. We’ll see what works for us.

QUESTION: Are you reluctant to give up a first-round pick for a free agent like Nick Swisher?
ANSWER: If we think it’s the right guy to sign we’ll sign him. I mean, a lot of it depends. First-round picks are important, but at the same time if we feel like short term, long term we should go that route … we’re still trying to figure it out.

QUESTION: Do you have to stay under the luxury tax?
ANSWER: I haven’t been given any ultimatums as far as that is concerned, but there is a limit to where we want to be right now. I also think it’s important to give ourselves a little flexibility for the trade deadline in case we want to do some things there, too. Not just dollar-wise, but personnel-wise, too. We’re looking at all possibilities to improve the club and if we can do it and we think it’s the right thing to do we’ll move on it.

QUESTION: Do you feel you have more assets in the farm system now than before?
ANSWER: I mean, I like our guys. I like our depth, especially our starting depth that we’ve created. Ethan Martin and Adam Morgan and (Jonathan) Pettibone. Jesse Biddle is starting to come along. There are quite a few guys starting pitching wise that we feel pretty good about and that’s a plus. A lot of our guys depth-wise that we talked about in our bullpen, they finally got a chance to start pitching at the big-league level. We’re creating some depth pitching-wise. Position-player wise I think it’s endemic in some regards that it’s tough to find them. I think we had some guys that stepped up this year. Zach Collier played great in the Arizona Fall League, well enough for us to worry about losing him in the Rule 5 draft, so we protected him. Cody Asche, Tommy Joseph, who we traded for, Freddy Galvis. So we have some guys I think who can make an impact pretty soon with our ballclub and we still don’t know what we have out of Domonic Brown. He’s a guy who could do a lot of damage at the major-league level. So we have some guys who are young who we think will help us at some point and fortunately with some of the moves we’ve made, we haven’t disrupted too much of that.


That’s a mouthful, Ruben. If he gets it together it solves a lot of their problems. I think they are done with the roster. They have something in the area of 7-9 million left under the luxury tax and I think they’ll want to have that available for in-season moves.

The quote that was supposed to be there was about them not knowing what they have in Domonic Brown.

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They made an offer for Josh Ham, then signed Adams and Lannan for $8.5M AAV… So I think they probably have closer to $16.5M AAV to play with. The luxury tax threshold may be shallower than Mr Montgomery’s actual pockets… RAJ didnt mention Cody Ross, and he sounded a bit unexcited when questioned about “a free agent like Nick Swisher”. I think he is trying to telegraph that he is done dealing, that they are going to go with the double-platoon thing and see what else happens this season (pull off a timely trade deadline thing).

Take it up with Ryan Lawrence, who wrote this today: After signing Lannan ($2.5 million) and Adams ($6 million) for 2013, the Phils have less than $9 million to spend if they hope to stay under the $178 million luxury-tax threshold.
I’m inclined to go with Lawrence.

From where are you getting your $16.5 million total? You do realize that everyone on the 40 roster is included and an additional $10-$11 million for fringe benefits such as health insurance and the Phillies contributions into Social Security and Medicare required of all employers?

The Phillies just picked up two nice players in Young and Revere who already the hit leaders on the team…..It is a start, but that is not enough to build a winner. the Phillies had too many players with averages below .270 All the top teams had atleast 8 players with over 350 ABs and .270 averages or better……..AND those teams had payrolls multi- millions under what the Phillies SPENT. That tells me two things : ( one ) they do not how to evaluate talent, which includes holding onto dreams about certain older players, which means they think with their hearts and not with their heads, ( two ) They do not how to spend money smartly, which includes paying small money for small time players. The Phillies are trying to get good hitters , but that is not enough to compensate for the low average hitting players they already have. Placing your season and all your eggs in a basket on Utley and Howard is a scary thought …..I hope Ryan Howard dropping a lot of weight translates into more level swings and higher average (.219 was the 3rd lowest average for ALL of MLB) and I hope the newest hitting coaches can finally get him to recognize lousy low curveballs in the dirt or it is going to be a long losing Summer.

It will be a lot longer than just next season for the Big Glove Spitter has a lot more years remaining on his inflated $125M contract. What an anchor he’s been the last 3 seasons.

If Ryan Howard has another year like last, I really do not know what you do with him, You are stuck with his enormous salary and stuck with his low .200 average which is the key factor …..I don’t care about the RBI’s and HR’s …….unless it is more than 130 RBI’s and 35 HR’s then what he did with the rest of his AB’s … 150 hits in 550 AB’s would be a .272 average( That would be a Awesome improvement) which would mean less Strike outs. I PRAY that the weight he has lost and continues to lose can be down A LOT to get his gut clear enough to improve his swings, this is VERY IMPORTANT. Just because your injured and can’t exercise doesn’t mean you cannot lose weight. He came back last year looking more like an offensive lineman that a lean baseball player, especially since he is 33 and getting older….I really think the extra weight he carried can’t be good for his legs, not to mention his throwing…….think about the gut getting in the way of his throwing motion. His running will improve tremendously There should of been a weight clause in his contract, but that would have required Ruben and upper management to think and have some balls and I don’t mean baseballs.

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