Amaro Talks Howard’s Surgery, Buying at Deadline, Etc.
Sell! Sell! Sell!
But the Phillies entered tonight’s game against the Nationals at Citizens Bank Park winners of six of their last eight games and playing in a division that is arguably the weakest in baseball. So he seemed buoyed by the news Ryan Howard had successful surgery earlier in the day.
Howard had a debridement of the left medial meniscus. His timetable to return is six to eight weeks.
“After (Phillies physician Michael) Ciccotti went in there and went in with the scope, it was a little better picture then we thought,” Amaro said. “I think the player is feeling better about it, we’re feeling better about it. As news goes, this is as good as we can get.”
Amaro said it probably changes the season’s outlook “because we’ll have him back. There’s a reasonable chance we’ll have him back at some point. We still have a lot of question marks about where we’re going to go in the next couple of weeks. Right now, the team is making decisions a little harder on me which is fine and which is good. I’d rather be in this situation than thinking about 2014 right now.”
Amaro met with Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, the Phillies coaching staff and others in the organization Tuesday, although he declined to call it an organizational meeting.
Regardless of what one calls it, the organization’s decision makers met to discuss the team leading to the July 31 Trade Deadline.
“There were no real revelations,” Amaro said. “We are playing better baseball and putting ourselves in a position to be buyers. But there was nothing new out of it.”
So they are leaning toward buying at this point?
“Yeah, I think we’ll try to do that,” he said.
The biggest need seems to be the bullpen. Since the end of May, the Phillies rank seventh in baseball averaging 4.58 runs per game. Since a loss in San Diego on June 24, they are seventh averaging 5.29 runs per game. But the bullpen has a 5.21 ERA since June 8, which is 27th in baseball.
“It’s a hard one to get,” Amaro said of bullpen help.
Of course, what price would the Phillies be willing to pay to bolster the bullpen? A bad stretch before the Trade Deadline and they are back to sellers. So would the Phillies sacrifice a top prospect for a reliever, knowing how fickle they can be (i.e. Mike Adams, Chad Qualls, Jose Contreras, Danys Baez, Tom Gordon, etc.)?
“Maybe,” he said.
But the best guess is probably not, unless it is a clear difference maker to pitch in front of closer Jonathan Papelbon.
Amaro also addressed something on everybody’s mind: Chase Utley.
Utley will be a free agent after the season. He is the true leader in the Phillies clubhouse and offensively he is showing the power he possessed in 2008 and 2009, the last two times the Phillies reached the World Series.
Amaro has said he hopes Utley will be a “Phillie for life.”
So has he talked to him about it?
“Not really,” Amaro said. “I think it’s kind of inferred that it’s something he’d like to do. It’s a question for Chase.”
Last season the Phillies talked extensively with Cole Hamels’ agent before the July 31 Trade Deadline to see where Hamels stood on remaining with the organization. If Hamels had been steadfast on testing the free agent market after the season the Phillies could have pushed to trade him.
Amaro said they could speak with Utley’s representation in a similar manner, although it does not mean the Phillies are pushing for an extension at the moment. Utley has had a lengthy injury history the past three seasons, so they might want to see how he holds up through September first.
“We may have some discussions with him, out of respect for him and what he meant to our organization,” Amaro said. “We’ll cross that bridge when we get there. … We can always bring him back if we trade him. That’s a possibility. But I don’t really want him to leave. Period. So, we’ll see.”
Amaro will be a busy man in the coming weeks.
Buy? Sell? For the moment they are leaning toward buying, but that can change with one bad week.
“I would assume things would go down to the wire unless we reel off 10 out of 11 or we lose 10 out of 11,” he said. “Then we’ll have a clearer picture. Right now, we’re just not sure. I would assume like most years it would go down to the wire.”