Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’
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:
Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week the Phillies need to make serious upgrades to their offense.
He could start in the outfield.
Despite the fact Marlon Byrd is fourth in the National League in home runs and sixth in RBIs and Ben Revere has the highest batting average in baseball since June 25, Phillies outfielders entered yesterday’s series finale against the Mariners at Citizens Bank Park with a combined .706 OPS, which ranked 19th in baseball. Domonic Brown‘s .622 OPS ranked 56th out of 60 qualifying outfielders. Brown is on pace to have the lowest OPS of any left fielder since Chuck Knoblauch (.582) in 2002.
Multiple sources said recently the Phillies will take a shot at Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo, but they are not expected to sign him. Castillo established residency in Haiti and was cleared by the U.S. government to sign with a team in July.
The Phillies could be more aggressive with other international free agents in the coming months. Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas has big-time power, and is somebody to watch closely. Tomas could hit the market in the next couple of months.
Yozzen Cuesta is a corner infielder, which would require the Phillies to shuffle several pieces if they plan to pursue him.
Tomas and Cuesta have established residency outside the United States and Cuba. They need to be cleared by the U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC), then declared free agents by Major League Baseball before they sign. But action on those players could pick up once Castillo signs with a team.
But Phillies president David Montgomery‘s support for general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has not wavered publicly, including yesterday at the organization’s Baseball 101 Clinic and Luncheon for Women at Citizens Bank Park.
“Ruben is not on the hot seat,” he told a large group of Phillies fans during a question-and-answer session.
The comment hit Twitter shortly thereafter. Montgomery could not be reached later for further comment.
Montgomery has continually supported Amaro, despite nearly constant criticism from outside the organization. He told MLB.com in February, “I think we have somebody whose experience working under two general managers served him well and positioned him to be very effective at his job. We — we — need to do better.”
He told The Philadelphia Inquirer in June, “I think we have pretty good people doing these jobs. We saw, over a long period, pretty good success with this group of people. Obviously, Ruben is part of that group.”
The Phillies acquired him yesterday as the first player to be named in the deal. The Phillies have until the middle of next month to select the second player, which will come from a remaining pool of three players. Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated they are leaning toward a pitcher.
“We have a pretty good idea of who we want but we’re still waiting to make a decision right now,” he said. “We’ll check on some medical stuff. They’re younger guys. For the situation we’re in and the player we gave up, I think we did pretty well. Even if we had just this guy, we’d be happy with it.”
MLB.com ranked Valentin, who is the son of former big leaguer Jose Valentin, as the No. 13 prospect in the Dodgers’ organization. Selected 51st overall as a supplement pick in the 2012 First-Year Player Draft, Valentin was hitting .282 with 22 doubles, nine triples, seven home runs, 47 RBIs and a .785 OPS in 107 games with Great Lakes.
Valentin will report to Class A Clearwater.
“We like the kid,” Amaro said. “He’s got baseball acumen. He’s advanced pretty quickly. He plays short and second; we’ll probably have him play second base for us. Switch hitter. Plays the game well. … We’re not sure if he’s better from the right or from the left side. He doesn’t have a whole lot of Minor-league at bats yet. But he’s all right. He’s someone who handles the bat pretty well. He has a little bit of pop. He’s not a big guy, but has a little pop. He can run. He plays the game right. He plays hard.”
Amaro said there is chance the Phillies could make at least another trade before the Aug. 31 waiver Trade Deadline.
In the past couple weeks:
- Ryne Sandberg has said it is time to see what others can do at first base.
- He also said the remaining $60 million on Howard’s contract will not affect future lineups and he would consider a platoon moving forward.
- There were multiple reports the Phillies front office kick around the possibility of releasing Howard in the offseason, which Ruben Amaro Jr. denied.
- Howard upset fans when he said nobody would want to trade places with him right now, despite the fact he is in the midst of a $125 million contract.
- Howard went 1-for-25 on a recent road trip through New York and Washington.
- He hit .135 (15-for-111) with two doubles, two home runs, 13 RBIs and a .451 OPS in 30 games from June 26-August 3. It was the second-lowest OPS out of 163 qualifying players in that stretch.
- He is on pace to have arguably the least productive season of any cleanup hitter with 575 or more plate appearances in the No. 4 spot in the past 100 years.
But then Howard hit .357 (5-for-14) with one double, two home runs and eight RBIs in the three-game sweep against the Astros. It included tonight’s game-winning grand slam in the eighth inning of a 6-5 victory. It preceded a curtain call for a player fans have booed regularly this season.
“It is what it is,” Howard said about the up-and-down fan reaction this season. “I mean, its unfortunate. I’ll be honest with you, it’s unfortunate that’s what happens. But I’ll go out there and continue to play. I understand what it takes to play the game. I understand it wasn’t there early, but it only had to be there once. It was there with me and I’ll try to build off that.”
Like anything, it is just three games. The key for Howard is finishing the season strong. Can he build upon this? Or is this just a good three-game series?
Lee’s locker inside the Phillies’ clubhouse at Citizens Bank Park had been completely cleared out before today’s game against the Astros. He is on the 15-day disabled list with a Grade 2 flexor pronator strain, and he is going to rest at home in Arkansas for about two weeks before rejoining the team early next month for a reevaluation.
Lee today visited orthopedist David Altchek at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. He confirmed the Phillies’ diagnosis of Lee’s injury, which said no surgery is required. Following Altchek’s examination, Lee returned to Philadelphia to visit the Rothman Institute in Philadelphia for a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) injection in the elbow.
“We hope to get him into a throwing program in October or November,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said in a telephone call late Wednesday night. “But right now he needs to rest.”
Amaro is hopeful Lee, who suffered a recurrence of the injury last Thursday in Washington, will be ready to go by Spring Training 2015. Lee is owed at least $37.5 million following this season, which includes his $25 million salary for 2015, plus a $12.5 million buyout on a 2016 club option.
Ryne Sandberg spoke assertively a couple weeks ago when he discussed Ryan Howard’s future at first base. He said he knew what Howard could do, so it is time to see what others could do. He talked about a platoon and said the remaining $60 million on Howard’s contract following this season would have no impact on his lineup because he is trying to win.
But since a couple meetings between Sandberg and Howard and since Ruben Amaro Jr. countered his manager’s comments to say he expects Howard to be his first baseman in 2015 and there are no plans to release him following the season, the narrative has changed completely. Howard has started eight of nine games at first base, including one game against a left-handed pitcher.
“We’d like to get him going for us,” Sandberg told reporters Sunday at Nationals Park. “And he’s working on some things. He could be a big bat for us.”
The Phillies face Houston left-hander Dallas Keuchel tonight at Citizens Bank Park. Will we see Howard in there, hitting fourth?
Howard is tied for seventh in the National League with 63 RBIs, but there is a reason the Phillies would need to eat every dollar on his contract to trade him. His .664 OPS is 132nd out of 152 qualifying hitters in baseball. And while Howard is on pace for 91 RBIs, he has had 331 runners on base during his plate appearances this season, which ranks third in baseball. Howard’s spot in the lineup has had as much to do with his production than anything.
Howard is on pace for 594 plate appearances in the No. 4 spot. There have been 400 hitters in baseball from 1914-2013 with 575 or more plate appearances hitting cleanup and 322 (80.5 percent) had at least 90 RBIs. In other words, hit fourth regularly and the RBIs will come. But one wonders how much longer the Phillies will hit Howard fourth? His .302 on-base percentage as a four-hole hitter would be fifth-lowest out of those 400 hitters. His .363 slugging percentage would be second-lowest.
His .664 OPS? It would be dead last, 14 points lower than Washington’s Chick Gandil in 1914.
If Howard is the Phillies’ first baseman in 2015, will they continue to hit him fourth? The Phillies need to make changes. If they can’t significantly alter the roster, they can at least shake up the lineup.
The Phillies are headed to their third consecutive season without a winning record and it is clear they need to make changes to have any shot to win in the future. But with a slew of players available to trade to help those efforts they traded nobody before Thursday’s non-waiver Trade Deadline.
Ruben Amaro Jr. kept a stiff upper lip as he spoke to reporters about it Thursday afternoon at Nationals Park.
“Not disappointed,” Amaro said. “More surprised that there wasn’t more aggressive action from the other end. We have some pretty good baseball players here.”
But there seemed to be a clear difference of opinion there. The Phillies look at a roster with Cliff Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, A.J. Burnett, Marlon Byrd, Antonio Bastardo and others and see players that can help contending teams. That might be true, but other teams looked at those players with age, injury or performance concerns often with high price tags attached to them.
“Well, I would disagree with that,” Amaro said, asked if the Phillies overvalued their own players. “In no scenario were we asking for players that were their top prospects. We were not looking for exorbitant paybacks, so to speak, we were looking for players that would help us, but I think we were very reasonable in the discussions that we had.
“I think one of the most over-coveted elements of baseball are prospects. I don’t know how many prospects that have been dealt over the last several years have really come to bite people in the ass.”
Amaro said he sensed teams believed the Phillies were desperate to deal and ultimately would cave to their demands.
“I’ve made it very, very clear that we didn’t have any pressure to make deals,” he said. “What our goal was to try and make our club better. So if there’s a deal to help us get there, we would’ve done it. There really wasn’t a deal we felt comfortable with or a deal that we were going to acquire talent that was compensatory to the talent.”