Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’
But Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon at Dodger Stadium that the organization is not feeling pressured to trade anybody. Of course, that might be posturing on his part, but he said the Phillies will not be forced into a trade.
“If it’s going to do something to help our club long term, yes,” Amaro said. “But do we need to do something? I don’t think so.”
Amaro paused for a moment.
“I would like to do something,” he said.
Of course, he would. The Phillies are on pace to lose 109 games and trading Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon and other veterans could kick the organization’s rebuilding efforts into a different gear. But depending on who is talking, either the Phillies are making unreasonable demands for their players, or contending teams are offering mid-range prospects for one of the top starting pitchers and top closers in baseball.
“We’ve debated here internally about when is the greatest value of some of these players, a number of them,” said Amaro, indicating the Phillies could wait to trade until the offseason. “When does that player become the most valuable asset? Again, a lot of it depends on who’s going to step up, and who’s going to satisfy some of the things that we’re trying to do in a trade. If someone does, and we feel like it’s the right thing to do, we’ll do it. If not then we won’t.”
So are they being lowballed?
“They have their evaluations on our players,” Amaro said. “I don’t think it’s an issue of lowballing. I think it’s an issue of, like when we were in a buyers mode, trying to figure out what’s best for the organization. What’s best for each one of those organizations. They have to value what they want and how they want to proceed. That’s really up to them.”
Hernandez, 25, entered tonight’s game against the Dodgers hitting .302 (54-for-179) with 10 doubles, one triple, one home run, 19 RBIs and a .771 OPS in 71 games. Meanwhile, Utley is on the disabled list with an injured right ankle. He is hitting .179 (39-for-218) with seven doubles, one triple, four home runs, 25 RBIs and a .532 OPS in 65 games.
But is the iconic Utley, 36, still the primary second baseman when he returns from the DL?
“Not for me he’s not,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Cesar Hernandez is our best second baseman.”
So whenever Utley returns …
“I would assume that Cesar will be our second baseman,” Amaro said. “Chase’s situation will kind of dictate itself, how he feels. There’ll be time for him to play, I think. He could play some first base. He could play some second. But as far as I’m concerned, just like what our plan has been for a long, long time, that’s to give opportunities to young men who could be part of our future. Cesar Hernandez has been one of our best players on the field right now in a variety of ways.”
Not surprisingly, Utley had little reaction about Amaro’s comments.
“Well, I think Cesar has done a really good job,” Utley said. “There you go.”
Pete Mackanin seems to be on board with Amaro. Asked for a health update on Utley before the game, Mackanin said, “I haven’t heard a word. But with Cesar playing so well, it’s not really a big deal for the simple reason that Utley has not played and seen pitching, so when he does come back … you really can’t count on him. How long has it been? Two weeks. And by the time he starts taking BP and all of that stuff, it’s probably going to be a month before he comes back in and then what do you do? I don’t know.”
Utley’s ankle has improved since a cortisone injection. He could begin baseball activities before the end of the road trip.
He also said recently he could be back on the field before the end of the month.
But it sure sounds like Nola will be in the big leagues before the end of the month.
“He’s getting closer,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon at Dodger Stadium. “At some point after the All-Star break, yeah.”
Of course, that could mean anytime between July 17 and the end of the regular season, but Phillies interim manager Pete Mackanin said he expects more changes to the rotation following the All-Star break. That could mean injured right-handers Jerome Williams and Aaron Harang rejoin the team, but with Cole Hamels expected to be traded before the July 31 Trade Deadline it almost certainly means Nola, too.
“We have a plan in place, and we’ll execute it,” Amaro said. “We have a good thought about when he’s going to be pitching for us.”
The Phillies outrighted right-hander Sean O’Sullivan following last night’s 10-7 loss to the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. They recalled right-hander Hector Neris to take his place on the roster. Neris will help in the bullpen until Saturday, when the Phillies need to add a starter.
Triple-A Lehigh Valley right-hander David Buchanan is the smart bet. He got pulled after three innings and 40 pitches Tuesday, which means he could pitch Saturday. Amaro said they also are considering options outside the organization.
“We haven’t made a final decision on it,” Amaro said. “It’s time for us to turn it over.”
The Phillies also designated right-hander Kevin Correia for assignment. Rookie right-hander Severino Gonzalez will pitch in his place Thursday. Of course, Gonzalez has not exactly pitched well. He is 3-2 with an 8.28 ERA in six starts. He has not pitched more than 5 1/3 innings in any of those starts. The inability to pitch six or more innings has been a big problem for the rotation.
“I would rather give the young man an opportunity,” Amaro said, explaining the difference between Correia and Gonzalez. “He’s throwing better. His stuff’s better. I’d rather give the young man an opportunity to do it at this stage of the game and see how he fares.”
“It’s time to do something. It’s past (time),” Mackanin said. “We’re happy about getting something changed, I am at least. We got a fresh arm in the bullpen which is huge. I don’t like to keep starters on the field longer than they should, but we’ve bene forced to do that. So we’ll see. Hopefully we’ll get Williams healthy and Harang healthy. Now Seve. There probably will be more changes down the road. So down the road, just get through the All-Star break and regroup, start over.”
If the Phillies handle July the way everybody in baseball expects them to handle it, Jonathan Papelbon will make one of his final appearances in a Phillies uniform next week at the All-Star Game in Cincinnati.
He is the Phillies’ lone All-Star, based on strong numbers for a closer (1.65 ERA, 14 saves in 31 appearances) despite pitching for a team on pace to lose 108 games.
“I think every one of them is special,” Papelbon said today about his sixth All-Star appearance. “I think the best part about this one is my kids are a little bit older. I’ll be able to let them go … and let them experience it and let them kind of be able to remember it more. That will be pretty cool for me.”
The Phillies are expected to trade Papelbon before the July 31 Trade Deadline. Depending on who is talking either the Phillies are asking way too much for Papelbon or teams are trying to low ball them. Either way, Papelbon hopes to be pitching for a contender by Aug. 1.
“I would be surprised,” Papelbon said, asked about being with the Phillies next month. “Yeah, that would be a pretty valid answer.”
Would he be disappointed?
“Yeah, yeah,” he said. “I would say so.”
Papelbon has a limited no-trade clause, but he reiterated it will not be an issue.
“Any team that wants me I’m willing to go to,” he said. “I just think for me there are no doors closed right now.”
Except for teams that don’t want him to close. Papelbon still has no interest in being a setup man.
Papelbon has a $13 million club option for next season that automatically vests if he finishes 48 games this season. He already has finished 28, so he should reach that number. But Papelbon could require the option to be picked up to facilitate a trade. He only said his agents will handle that.
Papelbon’s salary has been an issue in trade talks, although the Phillies have said they are willing to eat salary to get the right prospects in return.
“The front office knows where my heart is and where my mind is,” Papelbon said. “And that’s to be with a contending ball club. The ball is in the Phillies’ court, the front office’s court, or I should say Andy MacPhail’s court? I haven’t had the opportunity to speak with Andy. I wish I could have. And I would still like to speak with him. But for some reason that hasn’t been made possible for me.”
Of course, MacPhail isn’t officially calling the shots yet.
“Well, then Pat (Gillick) knows where I stand and Ruben (Amaro Jr.) knows exactly where I stand,” he said. “I think everybody knows where I’m at. I’ve always been straight forward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it. I feel like that’s my right and my prerogative to have that opportunity and, you know, it’s in their hands. The ball’s in their court. I guess that’s kind of it.”
The move proved symbolic because the organization finally cut ties with one of its iconic players.
“It absolutely was the right thing for us to do,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday at Turner Field. “We’ll continue to try to do those types of deals that’ll help bring some talent into our system and afford opportunities for young players like Freddy Galvis, Cesar Hernandez and Maikel Franco.”
The early returns for the Phillies are positive. Rollins entered tonight’s series opener against the Phillies at Dodgers Stadium hitting .208 with 10 doubles, one triple, seven home runs, 24 RBIs and a .585 OPS, which ranked 161st out of 164 qualified hitters in baseball. Meanwhile, Double-A Reading right-hander Zach Eflin, whom they acquired in the deal, is 5-4 with a 2.88 ERA in 14 starts. Reading left-hander Tom Windle, whom they also acquired, just moved to the bullpen after struggling as a starter, but the Phillies think his arm will play big there.
“We’re very pleased. I’m very happy with it,” Amaro said. “Eflin has a chance to be one of, if not the best, one of the best pitching prospects we have in our organization. Right now, (Aaron) Nola is the guy that people are focusing on, but Eflin has a chance to have every bit as high a ceiling.
“Windle has a strong arm. His command wasn’t really good enough to be a starter at this stage of his career, but we think throwing him in the pen gives him a faster track to the big leagues. There’s great value in those guys that can throw in the mid to upper 90s from the left side.”
Nola remains the closest pitching prospect to the big leagues, especially with the rotation consistently struggling to pitch six innings. It would not be a surprise to see him with the Phillies before the end of the month.
“He’s close,” Amaro said. “He’s still working on some things. He struggled through a couple of games. He hasn’t necessarily been knocked around, but it hasn’t been easy for him. He’s still learning some things and dealing with more veteran hitters in Triple-A, which is a good test for him. I don’t think he’s that far away, but when he’s ready he’ll be here. Just because our rotation is very poor right now it doesn’t mean we’re going to bring him to the big leagues for that reason. We’re going to bring him when it’s time for him developmentally.”
It is not Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon or Ben Revere, but the Phillies made a trade today.
They acquired the No. 1 overall signing slot ($3,590,400) for the 2015-16 international signing period from Arizona for Class A Lakewood right-hander Chris Oliver, Class A Lakewood left-hander Josh Taylor and the team’s No. 9 overall signing slot ($1,352,100). The trade allows the Phillies to sign 16-year-old outfielder Jhailyn Ortiz and avoid penalties that would prohibit them from signing international players for more than $300,000 until the 2018-19 signing period.
“We’re trying to do some things internationally for this signing period,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said at Turner Field. “Clearly, that’s important to us for a variety of reasons. One, for today. And also for tomorrow. I think it was important for us not to curtail (our) ability to continue to add prospects.”
The Phillies entered the international signing period Thursday with an allotted $3,041,700 to sign international players, but the trade boosts that figure to $4,562,550 because teams can only acquire 50 percent of their international bonus pool. Sources told MLB.com that the Phillies and Ortiz have agreed to a bonus near $4.2 million.
This trade allows the Phillies to sign Ortiz and others, including Venezuelan catcher Rafael Marchan, and not incur a penalty.
Teams that exceed their pool by 15 percent or more are not allowed to sign a player for more than $300,000 during the next two signing periods, in addition to paying a 100 percent tax on the pool overage. That Phillies would have blown past that percentage without the trade.
The D-backs, Angels, Rays, Red Sox and Yankees exceeded the 2014-15 pool by at least 15 percent, and cannot sign any pool-eligible players for more than $300,000 until the 2017-18 signing period.
“This keeps our hands untied, so to speak,” Amaro said.
Amaro said he hopes the Phillies can finalize something with Ortiz in the next couple weeks.
The Phillies selected Oliver in the fourth round of the 2014 First-Year Player Draft. He went 4-5 with a 4.04 in 13 starts with Lakewood. The Phillies signed Taylor as an amateur free agent in August. He is 4-5 with a 4.61 ERA in 13 starts.
That should have become clear the second the Phillies issued a press release yesterday morning announcing ownership partner John Middleton would introduce Andy MacPhail as the next team president. It is the first time an ownership partner got in front of the cameras and microphones and discussed the team. In the past, it has been Bill Giles, David Montgomery or Pat Gillick. Never a Middleton. Never a Buck. Never a Betz.
But that has changed now and it will be fascinating to see how it unfolds. Middleton promised not to be involved in baseball decisions, but clearly he is exerting more influence on the direction of the organization. MacPhail will be interesting to watch, too. He is going to advise Gillick through the rest of the season, but while Gillick will have final say until then, I’ve got to think MacPhail will have more influence than everybody is letting on. For example, what happens if MacPhail loves a deal on the table for Cole Hamels, but Gillick does not? Who wins there?
“I would be very surprised if it ever got to the point where you had diametrically opposed opinions,” MacPhail said. “I think they’re going to insist and ensure that you’ll be involved. And you’re going to learn how that process took place and you’re going to learn who had influence. You’ll also get an opportunity to see just how much information was collected. how exhaustive the research was. So all of those things are going to be important. And again, I’ll give my opinion. That’s one thing I’ve never been shy about doing. It’s gotten me in trouble occasionally.”
Here are the stories from yesterday:
- MacPhail to become team president after the season. Middleton to become more involved.
- Ruben Amaro Jr. will remain GM through the end of the season. Pete Mackanin might remain interim manager, too. But MacPhail will be evaluating everybody every step of the way.
- MacPhail and Middleton talked a lot about analytics. Expect more of that in the future.
- Paul Hagen writes about how the Phillies are changing with Middleton stepping into the spotlight.
Phillies ownership partner John Middleton and president Pat Gillick will introduce Andy MacPhail at a 2:30 p.m. press conference, where he is expected to succeed Gillick. MacPhail is assuming control of the organization at a significant time, with the Phillies holding the worst record in baseball and trying to rebuild for postseason contention in a few years.
MacPhail will play a vital role in the potential trades of veterans Cole Hamels, Jonathan Papelbon, Aaron Harang and others before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
He also will decide the fate of general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., whose contract expires at the end of the season. Amaro is expected to remain GM for the foreseeable future.
Ryne Sandberg resigned as Phillies manager on Friday, leaving Pete Mackanin as interim manager. The Phillies only have said Mackanin will serve in that role through the homestand, which ends Thursday, probably because they did not want to announce anything official until MacPhail’s introduction.
MacPhail has experience leading three organizations.
He served as Twins general manager when Minnesota won the 1987 and 1991 World Series. He served as Cubs president from 1994-2006, helping the Cubs reach the postseason twice. He then served five seasons as Baltimore’s president of baseball operations, making some of the trades that helped the Orioles return to the postseason.
They announced this afternoon that Cole Hamels has been scratched from tomorrow night’s start against the Cardinals because of a mild right hamstring strain. Triple-A right-hander Phillippe Aumont will start in his place.
Hamels is 5-5 with a 2.96 ERA in 14 starts this season, but his health is critical as the July 31 Trade Deadline approaches. Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday he is hopeful the Phillies can make some trades to speed up the team’s rebuilding process. Hamels is the team’s most valuable piece, so they must hope the injury does not linger and Hamels returns to the rotation shortly.
A roster move will be made prior to Friday’s game to accommodate Aumont on the 25-man and 40-man rosters.
Ruben Amaro Jr. acknowledged the firestorm he caused today in Philadelphia following comments he made about Phillies fans, saying they “don’t understand the game” and “then they b—- and complain because we don’t have a plan.”
He apologized before today’s game against the Mets at Citi Field.
“I’m a fan myself,” Amaro said. “I understand the passion and the knowledge that our fans have for our game and the other major sports, all the other sports in Philly. The comments weren’t meant to disparage our fans by any stretch of the imagination. I probably used my words incorrectly or poorly. I want to apologize for that.”
The crux of the comments in a CSNPhilly.com story centered on some fans’ desires to see the team’s top prospects promoted to the big leagues in a projected 97-loss season. Amaro has said repeatedly those prospects will not be rushed to the big leagues.
“I’m as excited about seeing them in the big leagues as anybody else,” Amaro said. “But there’s a process they have to go through. There’s a process and a plan in place. And I think that was more of the point. I understand why the fans would want (to see them) because we’re not having a ton of success at the Major League level right now. But I think it’s incumbent upon the organization to make sure we do it at the right time and do it with the right plan in place.”
But Amaro’s harsh comments resonated loudly among a frustrated fan base. The Phillies have been losing more and more since they won a franchise-record 102 games in 2011, despite remaining among the top spenders in baseball. They finished 81-81 in 2012 and 73-89 the previous two seasons.
They entered Tuesday 19-28, which is the fourth-worst record in baseball.
The organization finally initiated a rebuilding plan once Pat Gillick became team president last August, but that has not removed Amaro from the hot seat.
Gillick has publicly supported Amaro, but Amaro’s contract expires at the end of this season and Gillick has said Amaro’s status will not be addressed before then.
It is not a stretch to think Amaro’s comments this week could come back to haunt him.
“The biggest thing that bothers me about it is how the organization is perceived – not me personally,” Amaro said. “We’ve always been one of those organizations, at least as long as I’ve been in the front office, to understand the fan and understand that the fans are the people who pay our salaries and support us. Am I worried about it for me? No. I’m worried about it for the organization, because they shouldn’t have to suffer because I made a bad quote.”
Amaro spoke Tuesday with Gillick.
“We had a discussion about it, and he said it was unfortunate and thought it was taken out of context,” Amaro said. “If you look at the breadth of the story … our job is to make sure the fans love this club for a long time, and we have to do what we can to put the team in a position for the fans to enjoy it. Sadly, that point gets lost because of my quote.”
Amaro said the Phillies will continue to develop their prospects at what the organization considers the appropriate speed. Aaron Nola, who many fans are clamoring to see, has made 20 Minor League starts. That is fewer than Max Scherzer (30), Cole Hamels (36), Clayton Kershaw (44), Matt Harvey (46), Sonny Gray (53), Shelby Miller (78) and other frontline starters made before their big league promotions.
“We have to build these guys in a way that prepares them to be Major Leaguers,” Amaro said. “We have a process and a plan in place to make sure that we protect them and develop them in the right way so when they get here to the big leagues … one, they’re physically protected. Two, they’re mentally prepared to be in the big leagues. Three, we develop them at the right pace, so that they can be the best players they can be when they get here.”
That part of the message makes sense, but can fans get past the other part?
“We’re fan-driven,” Amaro said. “This is an entertainment business, and we need the support of our fans, and we’ve gotten tremendous support. I apologize for the context or the words that I used. I think the thing that bothers me the most about this stuff that happened today and the quotes I made is that I don’t want to detract from the fact that there are some really positive things happening here in a way that the fans can focus on those. Hopefully they can focus on the progress as opposed to my misguided quotes.”