Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. just spoke to reporters in the Phillies’ dugout. He got asked about the importance of this team’s upcoming 10-game homestand, including seven games against the Braves and Nationals. Here are a few highlights of that interview. Check phillies.com later for more.
Q: How do you view the importance of this series?
A: This homestand more than anything else is probably the bigger questions. Very important. We’ve got to play well to stay in contention, clearly. I think we’ll know a lot more about this team after this homestand.
Q: If you don’t have a good homestand could the makeup of the team be different shortly thereafter?
A: It could be. It could be. I hope we’re adding to this club than subtracting. That’s the goal, but as I always say and I’ve been saying the same thing, the players will dictate it.
Q: Safe to say you have to have a winning record on this homestand? Does 5-5 cut it?
A: We’ll have to see. Probably, but we’ll have to see. But that depends how we get to 5-5, you know?
Q: Overstatement to say this homestand is make or break?
A: I don’t know. I don’t like to speak in absolutes all that much, but it’s an important one no question about it.
Q: Frustrating to see this team struggle?
A: Yeah, they’ve been a little enigmatic. I think this team has been a little bit of an enigma. We’ll see. We’ll find out more after this homestand, I think. These next 10 days are big.
Q: Do you view anybody on this team as an untouchable?
A: Some guys are a lot less touchable than others. But we’ll keep our eyes open, our ears open.
Q: How tough would it be to trade Chase Utley, considering his influence in this clubhouse?
A: Really tough. Really tough. Again, I see him as a Phillie for life. I’m not the most stubborn human being on the planet.
Thank some relatively mediocre play in the National League East for that.
“The only reason why I say that is because it’s still really dicey,” he said in the visitors’ dugout at Dodger Stadium. “No one has really stepped out and gone crazy. We’re only seven back. We had one streak where we’ve really played well and we’ve only had a fairly brief time where we’ve had our team on the field. We’ll find out. I honestly think it’s going to end up going to July 20 or 30 or somewhere around then when we’ll decide which direction we’re going to go.”
The Phillies continue a 10-game road trip tonight with their series opener against the Dodgers. The Dodgers have been playing better recently, winning five consecutive games. Following the Dodgers series, the Phillies play a three-game series in Pittsburgh. The Pirates entered the night tied with the Cardinals for the best record in baseball.
The Phillies finish their play before the All-Star break with a 10-game homestand against the Braves, Nationals and White Sox.
But since the Braves started the season 12-1, they are just 33-33. The Phillies are 32-33 in that same stretch, while the Nationals are 31-32.
“We all get spoiled,” Amaro said. “We think that winning is just going to happen. We seem to forget that people have to perform for teams to win. It doesn’t happen on paper. You can make predictions all you want. The fact of the matter is, people have to play and you have to be lucky. Some teams get unlucky and some teams don’t get performance.
“Look at Cole Hamels. I would like somebody to tell me he would be 2-11. It’s hard to imagine. Same thing with Cliff Lee last year. Baseball is an amazingly crazy game. I still think (Hamels) is one of the best lefthanders in the game. It just hasn’t happened for him this year, for whatever reason. Performance. Luck. Mojo. It’s just a crazy game. We’d be talking about how you’re going to improve this team to make this run. We’d be having totally different discussions if we had small tweaks in performance.”
“No, I don’t,” he said. “As a matter of fact, we might be playing better than we could play.”
In other words, this team is playing equal to its talent or playing better than its talent, which is truly something considering the Phillies are 34-37 with the sixth-worst run differential (-48) in baseball. Of course, Ruben Amaro Jr. thought differently, and said the Phillies have not played to their capabilities.
So the general manager thinks the team has underachieved. The manager does not.
That brings me to the point of this post. I get tweets every day from Phillies fans saying, “Fire Charlie Manuel!” I got one last night when Manuel replaced Mike Adams with Antonio Bastardo to face Adam LaRoche in the eighth inning. If Bastardo doesn’t get this guy out, Manuel should be fired immediately! (Never mind it was the correct move.) Asked about Manuel’s job performance yesterday, Amaro said, “Charlie’s had a tough task just because, like I said, the team’s been a little incomplete. I think he’s tried to be creative with some of the lineup changes, shifting some people into the lineup. He’s doing everything he can to try to spark plug us and at some point it is up to the players to try to do it.”
It is wise Amaro sticks with Manuel through the end of the season because unless he is truly convinced the Phillies will play significantly better under new leadership, he only would be pointing more targets at himself. If he replaces Manuel and the team with the sixth-worst offense and seventh-worst pitching staff in baseball continues to lose, he will have fired the winningest manager in franchise history, one of only two managers in Phillies history to win a World Series, only to reinforce the opinion the personnel is bad, regardless of who is filling out the lineup card and making the pitching changes. And who supplies the talent? Who makes the trades, the free agent signings, the roster moves? Who gave Manuel this roster? Amaro.
Once the season is finished it probably is time for a new voice, especially if the Phillies miss the postseason for the second consecutive year. Sometimes a change just needs to be made, and Manuel has had a heck of a run. But before the end of the season? I just don’t see Ryne Sandberg or anybody else markedly improving a team that on paper — injuries or not (everybody has them) — is one of the worst in baseball. Good or bad, Manuel has earned the right to finish the season. He shouldn’t be fired because the front office’s offseason moves haven’t worked to this point and some of his core players continue to decline.
The Phillies made that clear today at Citizens Bank Park, where Ruben Amaro Jr. said Halladay gets as long as he needs to correct himself, and Charlie Manuel said he is completely committed to his former ace.
Manuel offered an example of just how long his leash can be.
“You guys used to get on me about Brad Lidge,” he said, referring to Lidge’s 2009 season when he went 0-8 with a 7.21 ERA and 11 blown saves. “I used to look down there, and to me Brad Lidge was probably the best I had. If I was going to lose the game it was going to be Brad Lidge. I was committed to Brad Lidge. If I commit to you then I commit to you. And whatever happens is going to happen. That’s kind of how I look at it.”
Halladay has a ghastly 14.73 ERA through two starts, which follows struggles in Spring Training and struggles in 2012. He has allowed 12 hits, 12 runs, six walks, three home runs, one hit batter, two wild pitches and struck out 12 in just 7 1/3 innings this season.
Amaro and Manuel said they never considered holding back Halladay, having him pitch in extended Spring Training games before he was better prepared to pitch in the Phillies rotation. To have him pitch extended Spring Training games, the Phillies would have needed to place him on the disabled list, but Amaro said Halladay is not injured.
In fact, he said Halladay has not been on the team’s daily injury report once this year.
“Roy felt he was physically ready to go,” Amaro said. “There wasn’t anything real alarming.”
“Roy has earned the right to tell us how he feels, and how he wants to go about certain things when it comes to his routine and his pitching and things like that,” Manuel added. “We never once thought about shutting him down or nothing. I can tell you that. You know something else? Shutting him down ain’t the right way, either. I don’t see no way in the world, if he’s healthy and everything like that, we shut him down.”
Today they claimed outfielder Ezequiel Carrera off waivers. He hit .272 with six doubles, three triples, two home runs, 11 RBIs, eight stolen bases and a .707 OPS in 158 plate appearances last season with the Indians. The Phillies designated Inciarte for assignment to make room for Carrera on the 40-man roster.
Carrera, 25, is expected to be with the Phillies in time for Wednesday’s game against the Braves at Turner Field.
“He’s got a little more experience,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Offensively, he’s a little more advanced than Inciarte right now. Inciarte may have been a little better all-around defender, although we think Ezequiel’s got more speed. But his versatility and speed were important to us. Again, this is the 25th man, but we think we’ve marginally improved.”
The Phillies selected Inciarte in the Rule 5 Draft from the Diamondbacks. He impressed with his glove and speed early in Spring Training, although a couple errors late last month convinced the Phillies they needed more seasoned help in the outfield, especially considering Inciarte had never played above Class A in the Minor Leagues.
Because Inciarte, who did not play in Monday’s season opener, is a Rule 5 pick, the Phillies were required to keep him on the 25-man roster the entire season or risk losing him. If a team claims Inciarte off waivers they also must keep him on the 25-man roster the entire season. But if he clears waivers, the Diamondbacks have the option of bringing him back, although they would have to pay the Phillies $25,000, half of what the Phillies paid to select him in the draft.
“We didn’t like the idea of having to lose Inciarte as a result of this,” Amaro said. “But this is part of the game.”
The Diamondbacks are expected to reclaim Inciarte, although Amaro said they will try to work out a trade.
Indians manager Terry Francona said during Spring Training they knew they would lose Carrerra, who can play all three outfield positions, if they placed him on waivers.
“His speed impacts the game,” he said last month. “He’s got the ability to hit the ball out of the ballpark occasionally. He can be an interesting part of the bench, when he can change a game with his speed. He’s a good little player.”
They settled on their utility infielders today.
They announced they had released Yuniesky Betancourt as requested. He had hit .447 (21-for-47) with three doubles, one home run, 14 RBIs, a .451 on-base percentage and a .574 slugging percentage in 18 Grapefruit League games. The Phillies had signed Betancourt to a Minor League contract with an opt-out clause, stating they had to place him on the big-league roster by Sunday or release him if he requested it. His agent Alex Esteban said Betancourt officially requested his release.
The Phillies essentially chose Freddy Galvis and Kevin Frandsen over Betancourt.
“This was the evaluation, right or wrong, of what we thought was best for our club,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said. “Better to have this decision — too many players — than not having enough.”
Roy Halladay’s start yesterday in a Minor League game at Carpenter Complex drew plenty of attention.
He has had a rough month, struggling in starts because of dead arm, lethargy and illness, respectively. Then 11 of the 18 batters he faced yesterday reached base. He got just three swings and misses, with Triple-A hitters from the Toronto Blue Jays hitting numerous balls hard. His fastball consistently hit 87-89 mph on the radar gun, hitting 90 mph once in the first inning. He officially allowed three runs, although he had the bases loaded with two outs when the first inning got cut short after he reached his pitch limit.
Halladay insisted he felt fine and will be ready to go April 3 in Atlanta.
“He was OK,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said.
“After what he’s gone through, he was fine,” Rich Dubee said. “I’m not looking for results right now. The good part was he threw 80 pitches, he felt strong and felt like he could have thrown more. The arm slot was fine. He’s a ways from repeating it. Do you see anybody at their level yet? He’s not where he’s going to be yet. But I thought the velocity for not having pitched was good. He sat 88 to 90 consistently and finished the game at 89 almost 80 pitches into it. So arm-strength wise, that was good and he feels like there is more there. I think the more we get it right, the more it will come out.”
He had just smashed a baseball onto the thatched roof of the mini-tiki bar in left field for a solo home run in the bottom of the ninth inning to give the Phillies a 7-6 victory over the Braves. The ball bounced off the roof, out of the ballpark and onto the MLB Network satellite truck below. It was a nice moment for Ruf, who had struggled early this spring as he competed for a job in the Phillies outfield. But before Ruf had a chance to enjoy the moment, the Phillies called him into manager Charlie Manuel’s office and optioned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley.
“I’ll be pulling for him,” Manuel said. “I think there’s a good chance we’ll see him here (this season). It depends on how our offense goes. He’s capable of being a really good hitter.”
That is not going to happen, but Young continues to progress from microfracture surgery on his right ankle in November. He worked out in the outfield for the first time today. He also ran the bases with the athletic training staff monitoring him.
Ruben Amaro Jr. said Young could face live pitching in a simulated game sometime in the next week.
“I’m just going day by day,” Young said before his workout. “If I feel good then we’ll keep going along. If I don’t then we’ll back off. I really don’t know yet. But I feel good. I’m happy with the progress. You want everything to happen right away, but you know it’s going to take time to build back up.”
Amaro said there remains a chance Young will rejoin the Phillies before May 1, but he wouldn’t say if his timetable has been pushed back or not.
Ruben Amaro Jr. said today the competition for the team’s two utility infield jobs remains wide open with less than a week remaining before they need to make a decision.
Freddy Galvis, Kevin Frandsen and Yuniesky Betancourt are fighting for those jobs, but because Betancourt has an opt-clause he must be informed by Sunday if he has made the 25-man roster. If he has not, he can ask to be released.
Galvis is hitting .273 (15-for-55) with six doubles, one triple, two home runs and eight RBIs. He is the best defender of the three, and Charlie Manuel has been vocal in his support. Frandsen has had a good spring offensively, hitting .298 (14-for-47) with four doubles, one triple, two home runs and six RBIs. Betancourt went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBIs in today’s 17-10 loss to the Braves at Champion Stadium. He is hitting .450 (18-for-40) with three doubles and nine RBIs.
“I think they’ve all played well enough to be on our club, so it has to be wide open,” Amaro said, “Defense is still important, but obviously it’s the total package of the player. All three of them have played very well. I’m happy with all three of them.”
Asked if he can make up his mind in the next six days, Manuel said, “I can make up my mind in two seconds.”
But has he?
“No, I haven’t,” Manuel said. “Everything comes into play. It kind of depends on where we want to go and what we see on our team. Really. We’ve got a good battle there, man.”