Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’
He uttered the word “anxious” a few times this afternoon at the Manchester Grand Hyatt, where Major League Baseball is holding its Winter Meetings. He is entering his second full season as Phillies manager and the team is in the beginning stages of a massive rebuild.
He is waiting like everybody else to see who exactly will be in the Phillies’ clubhouse in Spring Training.
“The goal of the organization is to get younger,” Sandberg said. “That is what this winter is all about.”
But there is another reason to be anxious. Managers are frequent casualties in rebuilds. Sandberg is signed through 2016 with a club option for 2017, but Phillies interim president Pat Gillick said the Phillies are unlikely to contend until 2017 at the earliest.
“Well, you know, he said probably might not contend,” Sandberg said.
But is he concerned he will be allowed to see the rebuild to completion?
“Well, I’d say after last year that this is the necessary thing to do is to get young and get more athletic,” he said, evading the question. “I think that helps in defense. That helps in scoring runs. It also starts to form a new core group. So with that being necessary and being a part of that, I’m excited about that possibility of seeing that started.”
But after finishing the season on the disabled list with a strained left flexor pronator, there is no chance Lee is traded until July. Ruben Amaro Jr. said today Lee has begun his throwing program and it is going well, which would be good news. The Phillies would like to trade Lee at some point, but it will be difficult. Lee is owed a guaranteed $37.5 million, which includes a $25 million salary in 2015, plus a $12.5 million buyout on a $27.5 million club option for 2016. The option automatically vests if Lee pitches 200 innings in 2015 and does not finish the season on the disabled list with a left elbow or shoulder injury.
“He’s got no issues,” Amaro said. “He’s in his normal program now. I think he probably won’t get on the mound until January.”
Amaro said Lee will be ready to go come Spring Training in February.
“That’s what we think,” he said. “Talked to (head athletic trainer) Scott Sheridan this morning about it and he’s on a normal schedule now. Of course unless he has some sort setback.”
But are they?
The Phillies have seen Tomas multiple times over the past several weeks and sources said they believe he could be a productive power hitter in the big leagues, which is something they desperately need. But they also said some in the organization have continued concerns about Tomas’ conditioning and defense.
Tomas has been linked to a $100 million contract, but sources said the Phillies will not approach a nine-figure deal. One source told MLB.com’s Paul Hagen today the Phillies have cooled on Tomas as a result.
That said, if the asking price drops in the coming weeks the Phillies could be in play.
It could happen. While the Giants, Padres, Royals and Braves are some of the teams mentioned as potential destinations for Tomas, he does not have the offer he seeks. CBSSports.com’s Jon Heyman, who reported Atlanta’s interest in Tomas, said Tomas will attend next month’s Winter Meetings in San Diego.
That indicates nothing is imminent.
The Red Sox signed fellow Cuban outfielder Rusney Castillo to a seven-year, $75 million contract this summer. Sources said the Phillies never seriously pursued Castillo because they liked Tomas more. But it is unclear if how much further north they would go above $75 million, if at all.
For comparison’s sake, the White Sox signed Jose Abreu to a six-year, $68 million deal, the Dodgers signed Yasiel Puig to a seven-year, $42 million deal and the A’s signed Yoenis Cespedes to a four-year, $36 million deal.
Each of those players has been a tremendous value.
Tomas’ agent Jay Alou said at last week’s GM Meetings that Tomas has “a lot more power” than Abreu, who hit 36 home runs this season on his way to the American League Rookie of the Year Award.
The Phillies need power like that. They also need to get younger. Tomas just turned 24 this month. It seems like a great fit for many reasons, including the fact the Phillies have nobody close to fitting Tomas’ description in their farm system (i.e. young power hitter close to big-league ready).
But Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. sounded frustrated when asked at the GM Meetings about signing a Cuban free agent like Tomas.
“Just because one guy did well signed from one country doesn’t necessarily mean the next guy is going to do well,” he said. “It doesn’t mean the guys before or after that are going to do well. It’s all individual. We’ll try to scout the players and try to project them in a way that you feel necessary and go from there. It’s like saying, ‘This Dominican player played real well one time so we’ve got to sign Dominican players.’ It’s ridiculous.”
Could the Phillies be interested in Maddon?
“We have a manager,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon. “Ryne Sandberg is our manager.”
So no plans to speak to him?
“Like I said, we have a manager,” Amaro said.
Maddon already has said he wants to manage next season. He told FOXSports.com and MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal that, “I have interest everywhere right now. I’ve got to hear what everyone has to say.”
Sandberg is signed through 2016. The Phillies finished 73-89 and last in the National League East in his first full season after replacing Charlie Manuel in August 2013. He did not have much to work with, but he had his struggles. A lack of communication with players was a problem at times and, like most managers, his in-game decisions were criticized. But interim president Pat Gillick and Amaro have supported him.
“It was a very good learning experience for him,” Amaro said about Sandberg earlier this month. “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.”
Maddon’s agent is expected to talk to numerous teams with managers already under contract. Some manager somewhere could suddenly find himself out of a job.
“For me, it’s not my responsibility to think for other organizations,” Maddon told Rosenthal. “I’m controlling what I can. … At the end of the day, I would never ask or tell an organization what to do. That’s not my business.”
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.
Wolever, who has been running the organization’s First-Year Player Drafts for more than a decade, had been with the organization since 1992.
“The Phillies express appreciation for Marti’s many years of service to the organization,” Amaro said in a statement.
Wolever could not be reached for comment.
One of the reasons the Phillies slid in the standings in recent seasons is because they have not had enough talent coming through the farm system. They took Cole Hamels with the No. 17 pick in 2002, but since then have produced few impact players or pitchers.
Recent first-round picks included Greg Golson (2004), Kyle Drabek (2006), Joe Savery (2007), Anthony Hewitt (2008), Jesse Biddle (2010), J.P. Crawford (2013) and Aaron Nola (2014). Supplemental first-round picks included Adrian Cardenas (2006), Travis d’Arnaud (2007), Zach Collier (2008), Larry Greene (2011), Mitch Guellar (2012) and Shane Watson (2012).
There have been more misses than hits, although Wolever’s final first-round picks – Crawford and Nola – could be his best.
Before this year’s draft, MLB.com examined the Phillies’ previous 10 drafts (2004-13). Forty-six draft picks reached the big leagues, which tied the A’s and Rangers for seventh-best in baseball. The average in that span was 41.8 players per organization.
But the quality of the Phillies’ picks ranked last. According to Baseball Reference, the combined WAR (Wins Above Replacement) of Phillies’ picks over the past 10 years was 20.7, which was 24.6 points lower than the 29th ranked Blue Jays (45.3).
The Red Sox (142.7), Braves (133.3), Angels (124.4), Yankees (120.5) and Diamondacks (120.1) were in the top five. The Phillies, Blue Jays, Mets (49.5), Twins (49.6) and Marlins (51.8) were in the bottom five.
The big-league average was 82.7.
“When you pick down low, sometimes your interest changes a little because you have a chance to take a little bit safer pick or take a chance if it hits with a high ceiling,” Wolever said in May. “You reach out and you take Golsons and Saverys and you roll the dice on Anthony Hewitt and you hope that you hit based on their tools and their athletic ability. Some do, some don’t and some of them haven’t and we need to do a better job in that regard, but it’s based on a lot of factors that come into play.”
It should be noted Wolever’s drafts produced players like Ryan Howard and Hamels as well as the players that helped the Phillies acquire talents like Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt, Hunter Pence, Brad Lidge and others.
But Wolever also got the Phillies snared in a controversy with the NCAA and two picks the Phillies failed to sign in 2013. Wolever reported those players to the NCAA for violating its “no agent” rule during negotiations.
“We probably could have handled things a little bit better,” Amaro said on 94WIP in March.
Wolever said in May he had no regrets.
“The only regret I have is taking players that had no intent of signing,” Wolever said. “That’s the only regret I have.”
One wonders if Amaro will look next at the player development staff. Are the organization’s shortcomings in the farm system a matter of lackluster drafts or lackluster drafts and poor player development?
One thing seems fairly certain: Wolever’s dismissal will not be the only change Amaro makes in the front office.
The Phillies named Pat Gillick interim president last Thursday while David Montgomery takes a leave of absence to recover from jaw bone cancer surgery. He joined the team today in Atlanta, and said he plans to follow the team through the rest of the season.
Gillick spoke with reporters this afternoon, when he offered thoughts and opinions on numerous topics. Basically, he said he will be focused on the baseball operations side of the Phillies. Senior vice president of administration and operations Mike Stiles will be in charge of the business side.
Here are a few highlights:
Q: Do you have full power on baseball operations?
A: Right now I guess that, you know, Ruben (Amaro Jr.) and I … let me put it this way, Ruben and I mutually agree on most decisions that we make. Ruben is very inclusive on any decisions that we make for the ballclub. But right now if there’s something I might have a different opinion, I’ll certainly voice that opinion and we’ll talk it through and try to make what we think is the correct decision.
Q: But you have final say?
A: I would say if it comes down to the end, I have part of the final say. At this moment, I think ownership has a part of the say, too.
Q: Are you a caretaker or someone who can come here and affect change?
A: A little bit of both. As I’ve said over and over, we want David back as soon as possible. So that point, I’m an interim care taker. But at the same time, if there are decisions that have to be made from a baseball standpoint, we’re going to make those decisions.
Q: Amaro said emphatically last Friday in New York that he is the GM and that is not going to change. He also said Ryne Sandberg is the manager and that is not going to change. Can you definitely say Ruben will be the GM and Ryne will be the manager?
A: Right. Absolutely. Absolutely.
Q: Why? Fans are incredibly frustrated right now with the GM position.
A: Well, let me say this, one of the more difficult thing to do in professional aports, and not only baseball but all sports, is to be patient. It’s very difficult. It’s very difficult for the fans to be patient. It’s difficult for the media to be patient. It’s difficult for ownership to be patient. But sometimes when you get challenges, and the challenges are we haven’t played well in the last two, three years. These are basically the same people that made the decisions when we won five division championships from 2007 through 2011. These are the same people making the decisions. So, all of a sudden, Ryne wasn’t here, but Ruben was here. All of a sudden he didn’t get dumb overnight. It’s just right now, we’re in a situation where we know where we’re headed and it’s going to take some time to get us where we want to go.
Ruben Amaro Jr. said today there will be more adjustments to the Phillies’ roster in the future, following yesterday’s trade that sent John Mayberry Jr. to Toronto for Minor League third baseman Gustavo Pierre.
“Not that it’s a huge change, but we’re going to have to start churning the roster in a way that it’s going to have to be improved,” Amaro said in the press box at Turner Field.
Does he believe those changes could be significant?
“I do,” he said. “I think we need it. I think we need it because what we have on our roster right now is not working. How much we’ll do will depend on what makes sense for us. We’re still kind of assessing what we have. But I think it would behoove us to make some change because we need to be better.”
Amaro declined to say if those changes could extend to staff and management positions, although he said Friday there will be no changes at GM or manager while Pat Gillick serves as interim president.
“I’m not going to get into specifics,” he said. “We have to be better.”
There is no question the roster does not have enough talent to win, but there also is a staleness in the clubhouse. It might be a good idea to move some players simply to get fresh faces and perspectives in there.
Amaro said that could be a factor when shaping next season’s roster.
“There are a lot of factors,” Amaro said. “How a player will fit short term and long term for us. What guys bring to the table on and off the field. All those things. Intangibles. We have to assess all those things. And we’ll look to improve in all those areas.”
But money will make the job difficult. The Phillies are loaded with players with expensive contracts, which they have been unable to move in the past. They could find the same issues in the offseason.
“We have a lot of ideas where we want to go, but to crystallize those we’ll have to see how things go, particularly when we have a chance to see some of the guys called up here,” Amaro said. “We have a lot of decisions to make. I think it’s a good thing. Change is going to be good in certain ways. Consistency is important too. I think we have a lot to assess, but we have a pretty good idea where we want to go. We just have to start thinking about the execution of those things.”
Pat Gillick is in charge while Phillies president David Montgomery takes a leave of absence to recover from jaw bone cancer surgery, but that does not mean changes are coming to the organization. In fact, Amaro said, it will be business as usual.
“Pat Gillick will be in (Montgomery’s) stead on an interim basis,” Amaro said he told players at Citi Field. “I’m the GM. That’s not going to change. Ryno’s the manager. That’s not going to change. And we’ll go about our business status quo. I’ll report to Pat. Ryne (Sandberg) will report to me. And this is merely on an interim basis.”
Amaro was very emphatic that his role as general manager and Sandberg’s role as manager are not going to change. But there is reason for that. Sources said Gillick has spoken to multiple people on the baseball operations staff since he assumed his new role and assured them they can go about their business without fear of change.
Sandberg confirmed he spoke yesterday with Gillick.
“Everything is status quo, yes,” Sandberg said about the conversation.
So no changes to anything regarding baseball operations?
“There’s no change,” Amaro said.
Even given the fact Gillick has such an extensive baseball background? He was elected into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2010 for his immense success as a general manager. He served as the Phillies’ GM from 2005-08, building the team that won the 2008 World Series.
“There’s no change,” Amaro repeated.
Asked if he expects this to last through the season, Amaro said, “Whenever David’s back and physically able to come back he will be back and he will take his role. … We’re all concerned about David, and that’s really the priority, is David.”
Other than that, the Phillies said little.
“We’re not really at liberty to really discuss much more about it,” Amaro said.
“Just prayers and thoughts are with him for a speedy recovery,” Sandberg said. “I’m supposed to keep this at a minimum. I think it was already addressed. I was advised to keep it at a minimum.”
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: