Amaro: Nothing Is Off the Table
In short, he said nothing is off the table. It seems the Phillies are finally open to doing anything in the offseason, which means trading Cole Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard, if a deal makes sense to them. Of course, they’re going to try hard to trade Howard, although it will be difficult with the $60 million remaining on his contract. But at least the Phillies are not going into the offseason believing they can still win if everybody stays healthy and performs to their capabilities. 2008 is a long time ago. They’re finally accepting that.
Here is some of what Amaro had to say:
Q: Is the organization acknowledging it held on too long to the idea it will win as long as the 2008 core is together?
A: I think we have to look at everything kind of deeply. My feeling is we need to try to get younger. We need to try to put ourselves in a position to be a little bit more athletic, and we have to put ourselves in position to be open minded about some changes at the major league level. Clearly, we’ve gone for it several times and the last couple years it hasn’t worked for us, and so we have to think about and have been thinking about ways to move the organization forward in a different way other than just adding small pieces to try to be a championship club. I think we have to certainly, and we have been, looking for more long term solutions.
Q: Is anything and everything on the table?
A: We’re staying very open minded. I think we have our philosophies about evaluating players and putting the club together, and we are still evaluating those as well. But we are keeping a very, very open mind as far as our player personnel is concerned. And so I guess you could say there’s nothing that’s really off the table.
Q: Do you feel you have one year to turn things around with your contract expiring at the end of next season?
A: It doesn’t bother me one way or another. I have a job to do and that’s to get the Phillies back to where we can be a perennial contender. And that’s really the ultimate goal. If you wanted to put a stamp on what we’re talking about today it’s about getting the Phillies back to the point where we’re a perennial contender. Does it happen next year? Does it happen in two years? Does it happen in three years? We don’t know yet. But we are in the process … but that’s the goal for long term success, not just the short term success.
Q: But do you feel pressure to do that?
A: No different from any other year where it’s my job to put us in the appropriate place to move the organization forward.
Q: It seems in the past the front office emphasized clubhouse chemistry and maybe it has gone away from that. Could the chemistry in the clubhouse be better?
A: We’re looking at everything and chemistry is part of it. I do believe in it being an important part of success. And, yeah, I think it needs to be a little bit better. But that’s no different from any other area that we have and need to improve. I would put that in the category of just one of the areas we need to improve on.
Q: What about Ryne Sandberg? Are you happy with the job he did? There were issues with a lack of communication between him and his players.
A: It was a very good learning experience for him. First time manager on a team that’s an aging team that has an expectation of winning. And with some of the bumps and bruises we had over the course of the year, I think Ryno is the man for the job. I also think Ryno is going through a similar learning process that is associated with being a first-year manager. And so I believe in him. I know that he is dedicated and focused on putting the Phillies where they need to be, and I feel very good about his instincts and ability to get us to where we need to go.
Q: You brought back the entire coaching staff. Why?
A: Everybody wants to try to scapegoat people, but these guys worked very hard. They’re very dedicated. In a lot of ways we saw areas of improvement that maybe the public didn’t see. And some things that we liked. Again, there’s always room for improvement, and that’s something that we’ll continue to look at. But at this stage of the game, with the effort they put forth and some of the progress that we think some of the people made, we felt comfortable moving forward with this group.
Q: Do you have an idea about your payroll budget? Can you spend like you have in the past?
A: I think we have the same philosophy, but our job is to try to create some flexibility, too – so that we can do some things. Where our payroll will be next year, that’s not been finalized. That hasn’t been dictated to me, and it typically isn’t. We will get the parameters. But the fact of the matter is, we’ll be operating basically under the same philosophy and it’s a matter of making decisions on the talent and need and not necessarily about the dollar and cents and the bottom line.
Q: Are you willing to eat salary to move a player?
A: We’ve been greatly supported by our ownership group. They’ve been open minded about that and they will continue to be. I haven’t been told that will change. Fortunately, hopefully, we’ll have opportunities to do some things not based on the bottom line.
Q: These player options and vesting club options have hurt your ability to trade players. Regret those parts of the contracts?
A: There are some CBT (competitive balance tax) things and some salary issues that are associated with the player options that give us some flexibility that frankly people don’t really know much about. There is a method to the madness always with the contracts. I don’t want to get into the specifics of it, but it gives us flexibility with the payroll and luxury tax issues as well.