Amaro Talks Ryno, Brown, Ruf and More

Ruben Amaro Jr.Ryne Sandberg has had his share of closed-door meetings and issues with players this season, but Ruben Amaro Jr. said today he likes the way Sandberg has handled his first full season on the job, although he acknowledged a learning curve.

“I didn’t expect Ryno to come in here and be the greatest manager of all time,” Amaro said. “This is a process. He’s learning. By and large, he’s done a good job. You’re a smart manager when teams win and you’re not so smart when you don’t have success.”

Sandberg recently met with Domonic Brown and David Buchanan following comments they made regarding playing time. A week earlier in San Francisco he met with Kyle Kendrick after he nearly left the mound before Sandberg could remove him from a game. He had closed-door meetings with Ryan Howard last month following his announcement he wanted to see others play more at first base, which he backed off a few days later. He benched Jimmy Rollins in Spring Training, but ruffled feathers when he offered a “no comment” when asked about Rollins’ energy and influence in the clubhouse.

“He’s addressing these things,” Amaro said. “That’s all I can ask of the manager. Some unfortunate comments, I think. In some case, some inappropriate comments on the player’s part. But I think that’s been handled.”

Sandberg has been criticized for some of his in-game decisions and how he handles the lineup, but a big part of a manager’s job is communicating and motivating players. Amaro said he believes Sandberg is improving in those areas.

“He was given a tough task right out of the chute,” he said. “There was an expectation for us to win. We have a lot of veterans who were, in some cases, underperforming. We had some young guys we were giving opportunities who we expected more from. It’s been challenging for him. It’s a great learning experience for him. He’s still learning and learning different ways to motivate and move the club forward. He’s addressing things. He’s learning how to handle the players on a daily basis. He’s utilizing the staff well. We still have over a month to go. I’ll know more about how he’s done. So far I’m pleased with how he’s handled things.”

Amaro touched on other topics today:

  • The August 31 waiver Trade Deadline is Sunday. Players like Cole Hamels, Marlon Byrd and Grady Sizemore have been claimed and subsequently pulled back from revocable waivers, meaning they cannot be traded. But others like Jonathan Papelbon and A.J. Burnett have cleared and can be traded. Is there a chance anybody will? “I think there still may be something that happens,” Amaro said. “But who knows? A lot depends on what teams’ needs may be in the next five or six days. We’ve been in contact with some clubs.” Amaro declined to discuss the possibility Papelbon is moved before the end of the month.
  • Brown’s .618 OPS as a left fielder is on pace to be the lowest of any qualifying left fielder in baseball since Kansas City’s Chuck Knoblauch posted a .582 OPS in 2002. Brown also has played below average defense. “We’re still in the process of assessing what he is,” Amaro said. “I think he’s better than what he’s been the bulk of the season. I think he’s a more talented player than that. At the same time, we’re still trying to assess where he is, somewhere between last year and maybe he’s better than what he was last year. We just don’t … we don’t have a crystal ball. We’re still assessing.”
  • Sources have said the Phillies believe Darin Ruf is more of a platoon player than an everyday player, but Amaro said, “We haven’t made a final decision on that yet.”
  • Ben Revere entered tonight tied with Colorado’s Justin Morneau for the National League batting title at .314. But is he the Phillies’ future center fielder? He is hitting .368 with an .800 OPS in 51 games since June 25. He hit .270 with a .617 OPS in 68 games before that. It mirrored last season, when he hit .243 with a .558 OPS in 53 games through June 4, 2013, before hitting .392 with an .881 OPS in 35 games before suffering a season-ending foot injury. “He has played well enough to (be the future center fielder),” Amaro said. “Again, we have to keep our minds open on every aspect of our club because this is clearly not good enough to contend. We haven’t played good enough to contend, so while some areas are probably things we have to address at the top of the list, like pitching, starting pitching in particular … and our offense, those are two things that have to get better.”
  • The Phillies are expected to have a few September call ups. It could come from a group that includes Cesar Hernandez, Cameron Rupp, Maikel Franco and Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez. But who will play and how often? “A lot of it depends on who gets called up, who we decide are the priority guys as far as playing time is concerned,” Amaro said. “We have time to decide that.” Amaro said the organization has not decided if they plan to call up Franco because they’re not sure if he will play enough. He also mentioned “atmosphere.” I’m guessing this means the Phillies don’t want him sitting on the bench watching a losing team finish out the season.

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