Results tagged ‘ Ruben Amaro Jr. ’

Could Chooch Sit Rest of Season?

For the first four months of the season, Carlos Ruiz played as the undisputed MVP of the Phillies.

But then Ruiz suffered an injury to his left foot in July. He has been on the disabled list since Aug. 3. Ruiz has been running every other day to test the foot, but Ruben Amaro Jr. and Ruiz spoke yesterday about the possibility he finish the season on the disabled list rather than return and possibly reinjure himself.

“Definitely, if I want to come back, I want to make sure I’m 100 percent,” Ruiz said before today’s game against the Atlanta Braves at Turner Field. “I don’t want to come back and the injury happens again. I don’t try to push it too much. Just taking it nice and easy with my running. If I feel something, stop. But so far I feel real good. It’ll be a little hard. It’s not completely gone. I still feel just a little bit.”

But Ruiz said he understands Amaro’s thinking on this.

“I got his point,” he said. “At the same time, I feel like I have to try. I have to try until the last day. It’s not like I’m going to give up. But yeah, I got his point. We’ll see. He said there is no pressure to come back. Try to be 100 percent and that’s what we’re doing right now.”

Utley to Third Base? Say What?

Chase Utley is a quiet man publicly, but privately he can talk.

He speaks frequently with Ruben Amaro Jr. about the future of the Phillies. Looking into the near future, Utley is smart enough to know they need an everyday third baseman next season. The Phillies will not pick up Placido Polanco’s $5.5 million club option, Kevin Frandsen is not viewed as an everyday player, Jimmy Rollins is not moving from shortstop, Carlos Ruiz is going to remain behind the plate and the free-agent market is less than desirable, unless Kevin Youkilis, Scott Rolen or Brandon Inge get folks excited.

So that is why Utley asked Amaro a very interesting question Monday.

“Can I play third base?” he said.

“Can you?” Amaro replied.

“I don’t know, can I?” he said.

The experiment began early this afternoon at Citizens Bank Park with Utley taking ground balls at third base. Nobody was supposed to see it, but 94 WIP had been broadcasting its afternoon show at the time, saw Utley, broadcast it and tweeted it. And so Utley stood on the field for a couple minutes before tonight’s game against the New York Mets and reluctantly discussed it.

(more…)

Amaro Not Ready to Draw Conclusions Based on One Month

Ruben Amaro Jr. and the rest of the Phillies front office are evaluating every inning of every game the rest of the season.

They are far from ready to draw conclusions.

Domonic Brown has hit .267 (20-for-75) with five doubles and 10 RBIs in 21 games. Kevin Frandsen has hit .350 (28-for-50) with two doubles, one triple, one home run and seven RBIs in 21 games. Erik Kratz has hit .292 (19-for-65) with seven doubles, seven home runs and 16 RBIs in 26 games. Left-hander Jeremy Horst is 1-0 with a 1.06 ERA in 16 appearances.

They are solid performances, but it makes little sense for the Phillies to anoint anybody anything – from backup catcher to left-hander in the 2013 bullpen – based on less than a month’s worth of games.

“They haven’t pitched a ton and they haven’t played a ton,” Amaro said today. “They’ve only played a couple weeks. They’ve done a nice job. I don’t want to take away from the job they’ve done, but you have to understand that two weeks does not make or break you. I had a nice two weeks in my career and then I stunk. I think these guys are probably better players than I am, but everybody likes to jump on the bandwagon, plus or minus. I think we have to show some patience there.”

The Phillies entered tonight’s game against the Cincinnati Reds at Citizens Bank Park with 39 games to play. They will get the opportunity to take a closer look at everybody in those games, but the evaluation process will continue in the offseason and very likely through the closing days of Spring Training 2013.

“Domonic has had about as good as a consistent approach as anybody on our club,” Amaro said. “He and Frandsen have been putting together the best overall at-bats as far as controlling the strike zone and swinging at strikes.”

And the lack of power from Brown so far?

“He’s got a lot of natural power and raw power,” Amaro continued. “I’m not worried about that. It always comes late with young players. Very, very rarely does consistent power come in the Major Leagues when they’re young. He’s been fine in the outfield, too. He’s not a finished product yet. He’s still learning. But I have a lot of confidence he can be an everyday rightfielder or leftfielder.”

Amaro likes what he has seen from Frandsen and Kratz, commending them for making the most of their opportunity. He stopped short of saying either would be on the bench next season, again, because they need to see more.

“It’s a possibility,” Amaro said of Kratz’s chances as a backup. “We’ll continue to watch him play.”

There has been an interesting fascination with fans regarding former infielder Wilson Valdez in Philadelphia. The Phillies traded him to the Reds in the offseason for Horst. Earlier this season even Amaro said he wished he had kept Valdez, but in retrospect it looks like a good trade.

“Guys like Horst and (Raul) Valdes have performed well and much more consistently than some of the other guys in the bullpen, but some other guys have pretty good arms,” he said. “They haven’t really pitched enough to make a decision one way or the other.”

What It Takes

Before the Phillies opened the second half of their season Friday in Colorado, what would you have said they needed to play in 15 games before the trade deadline to keep Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and others?

I thought for a while they would need to finish 10-5, but the more I think about it the more I think it has to be better than that.

If they finish a very good 10-5 they’ll still be eight games under .500 entering the trade deadline. Is that good enough for Ruben Amaro Jr.? Should it be? If you’re looking at things with a cold and calculated eye it shouldn’t be. Entering tonight’s game at Dodger Stadium, the Phillies are 10 games out of the NL Wild Card with eight teams ahead of them in the standings. The Pirates, who currently hold the second Wild Card spot, are on pace to win 89 games. The Phillies need to finish 49-22 (.690) to win 89.

So say it’s July 30 or 31 and the Phillies are 10-5 since the break. They’re looking better. Roy Halladay has stabilized the rotation, taking pressure off the bullpen. Chase Utley and Ryan Howard look closer to form. They’re playing good, solid baseball. You start to think, “Boy, maybe these guys can get on a run.” But then you look at the standings and see the Phillies are 47-55, still way behind the Nationals in the NL East and something like seven or eight games behind the Wild Card leaders with seven teams ahead of them in the standings.

Then a team like the Rangers call.

Hey, Ruben. Listen, we thought about it and we’ll give you that package you want for Hamels. We’re just too close to winning the World Series not to go for it. What do you say?

What do you say? Do you say no on a long shot to win a Wild Card spot, which only guarantees one playoff game? Do you pass up on an opportunity to get younger and fill a few holes, like finding a power-hitting third baseman you sorely need?

These were the things running through my mind as I headed to the visitor’s clubhouse following last night’s 3-2 victory over the Dodgers. The victory gave the Phillies a three-game winning streak, their first winning streak of three or more games since May 23-26. It also was the first time since May 13 they won a game when scoring three or fewer runs.

Does 12-3 convince Amaro to stand pat? They’d still be four games under .500, and they still would need to play 40-20 (.667) the rest of the way to finish with 89 wins. But it’s a more difficult decision at that point. Fans will start getting excited again. They’ll start believing. But don’t you have to push through and make the trade anyway? If it’s the package you want I think you probably do. But it must be the package you want. No settling. You can’t get Vicente Padilla, Travis Lee, Omar Daal and Nelson Figueroa, like they got for Curt Schilling in 2000. They can’t get Placido Polanco, Bud Smith and Mike Timlin, like they got for Scott Rolen in 2002. They have to get the guys they want.

Tough call, isn’t it?

So what would it take for you not to sell?

Tell me what it takes to let you go

*

Jimmy Rollins played coy or simply did not want to answer my questions about waiving his trade rights.

Manuel: I’m A Winner

Ruben Amaro Jr. said last week that Charlie Manuel has done a “fantastic job” as Phillies manager.

He said he should not even have to answer questions about Manuel’s job status.

“We haven’t played well,” Amaro said.

But with the Phillies taking a 37-50 record into the All-Star break, the heat is being turned up on everybody. So it was no surprise Manuel was asked Sunday at Citizens Bank Park if he is concerned he might take the fall for the team’s fast fall.

“How concerned am I? I’ve got a lot of confidence in myself,” said Manuel, whose contract runs through next season. “And I am a fighter. And not only that, I think I’m a winner.”

Manuel then presented the places he has won as a player and manager, both in the big leagues, minor leagues and Japan.

“I’ve been a winner ever since I’ve been in the game,” he said. “I’ve got a lot of confidence. I’ll do my job as hard as possibly can, and as hard as I possibly can and that’s all I can do. The rest is out of my control.”

Hitting Fourth and Playing First Base …

The Big Piece is back.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said after last night’s gut-wrenching 6-5 loss to the Mets at Citi Field that Ryan Howard, who has been on the disabled list since the season started because of left Achilles surgery, is “likely” to start at first base tonight against the Braves at Citizens Bank Park. But “likely” means he will unless something absolutely unexpected pops up.

“Excited to be back in Philly tomorrow,” Howard tweeted last night.

Amaro said Howard will be evaluated this afternoon before a final decision is made, but “if we feel comfortable with how he felt coming out of this game – and so far we do – then it’s likely he’ll begin playing in Philadelphia tomorrow.”

Howard played nine innings at first base in a rehab game last night with Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He went 2-for-3 with one RBI. In seven rehab games with Class A Lakewood and Lehigh Valley he hit a combined .500 (10-for-20) with two doubles, one home run and 10 RBIs. He hasn’t played back-to-back games at first base, but so what? It isn’t a pain issue with Howard, like it is with Chase Utley. It’s a comfort thing. Amaro said Howard is running fairly well, although “he’s had a tiny hitch in his giddy-up I guess, but when he’s running full speed he looks pretty smooth.” But it’s not like playing a few more rehab games is going to have Howard running at 100 percent. Howard said last week he won’t be 100 percent this season.

So if the Achillies is healed (Howard said it’s healthy), he can hit (Howard said the Achilles does not affect his hitting) and he is comfortable, why not bring him up?

What does anybody have to lose?

I’ve had a few people ask me on Twitter if he is being rushed back. Rushed back? I don’t think so. It’s July 6. No, the only question I have is: Is it too late to make a difference?

“If he plays this weekend, it may not be the worst thing for him to get some time off,” he said. “You just don’t know how he’ll react and what kind of adrenaline there will be. We’ll take it one day at a time with him.”

Day 1 begins tonight.

Retool, Not a Redo

There has been a lot of losing lately, and the Phillies are preparing themselves for trades in the event they keep losing.

The Phillies have not been sellers before the July 31 Trade Deadline since 2006, when they moved Bobby Abreu, Cory Lidle, David Bell, Rheal Cormier, Ryan Franklin and others to change the look on the field and the chemistry in the clubhouse. But no matter what happens in the next few weeks, even if the Philies become sellers, Ruben Amaro Jr. said today the Phillies plan on competing in the future.

“It’s more about retooling than it is redoing,” he said at Citi Field. “We’ve got a lot of players that are pretty damn good that I expect to be playing next year for us.”

The will have Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Ryan Howard, Chase Utley, Jonathan Papelbon, Jimmy Rollins, Carlos Ruiz, Hunter Pence and others under contract next season.

“We plan on being contenders in ’13, ’14, ’15 and ’16,” Amaro said. “We’re not blowing this team up. That’s not going to happen. Regardless of what happens over the next couple of weeks, we plan on being contenders for the next several years. Even if we don’t get to the finish line this year we still view ourselves as contenders after this year.”

Could Howard Return This Weekend?

Could Ryan Howard rejoin the Phillies this weekend?

It sure sounds like it.

“I guess it’s possible,” Ruben Amaro Jr. said this afternoon at Citi Field. “But we’ll see how he feels the next day or so.”

Howard has played six games in rehab assignments with Class A Lakewood and Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is hitting a combined .471 (8-for-17) with two doubles, one home run, nine RBIs, three walks and three strikeouts. The Phillies needed Chase Utley to play back-to-back games at second base before they considered activating him from the DL, but Howard might be different, although he is scheduled to play back-to-back games at first base tonight and tomorrow night with Lehigh Valley.

“He’s been progressing pretty good,” Amaro said. “We’ll see how he feels after tonight.”

Amaro said Howard is running fairly well, although “he’s had a tiny hitch in his giddy-up I guess, but when he’s running full speed he looks pretty smooth.”

It sounds like Howard thinks he’s ready to rejoin the Phillies.

“I think he thinks he’s ready,” Amaro said. “But we’ll see. We’re still talking with the docs and have people evaluating him every day. … If he plays this weekend (for the Phillies), it may not be the worst thing for him to get some time off. You just don’t know how he’ll react and what kind of adrenaline there will be. We’ll take it one day at a time with him.”

Reading between the lines we can make the following assumption: If Howard isn’t back this weekend, he should be back for the July 13-15 series against the Rockies immediately following the break. But both Amaro and Charlie Manuel said Howard will be evaluated after tonight’s game at Lehigh Valley. That makes you think they could give him the green light and activate him for tomorrow night’s game against the Braves.

Lee Wins; Amaro and Hamels Meet

Who’s the big winner?

Cliff Lee! Cliff wins!

Lee downplayed his first win of the season this afternoon, but it was a big deal. So big Roy Halladay and Cole Hamels dumped Gatorade over Lee’s head to celebrate.

Read the story here.

*

Hamels and Ruben Amaro Jr. met privately after Tuesday’s game. Amaro and Hamels kept quiet about it, but I’d bet my life Hamels’ potential contract extension and the trade speculation surrounding him came up.

Amaro Discuses Hamels Speculation

If Phillies fans think speculation about Cole Hamels is hot today, just wait a couple weeks.

Ruben Amaro Jr. said today the Phillies remain optimistic they can sign Hamels to a contract extension, despite indications the parties are not close to an agreement. He also downplayed multiple reports the Phillies are calling teams to gauge interest in Hamels, in the event they decide to make a move as the teams falls further and further from contention in the National League.

The Phillies are 36-45, their worst record through 81 games since 1997.

“It’s a matter of having good players, including Cole and others, who are outstanding All-Star caliber players,” Amaro said about the reports involving Hamels. “And teams who are contenders have an interest in them. That’s how it works. It’s a product of the time and circumstance.”

Hamels will command a monster deal if he hits the free agent market. Certainly he should get more than the five-year, $120 million contract Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies in Dec. 2010, considering his talents and age.

Hamels is just 28.

“I’ve never had any indication at all, to be frank with you, that the goals haven’t remained the same on both sides,” Amaro said. “One, a club that wants to continue to have the player. Two, the player that — I believe – has given no indication that he wants to leave.”

Asked Saturday in Miami if the Phillies’ losing ways could impact his decision in the offseason, Hamels said, “I’m not even thinking about that. I’m trying to not lose. Like today. I’ve got a game in five days, so that’s all my focus.”

The front office could take that answer one of two ways: Hamels did not answer the question because he simply does not want to talk about his contract situation, or Hamels did not answer the question because he did not want to give an honest answer.

Amaro would not comment on where negotiations stand with Hamels, although ESPN.com reported the Phillies will make one more push to sign him before they seriously consider trading him.

“I have no indication at all that anything is too late for anything,” Amaro said. “We stay optimistic that we’re going to keep him in our uniform. And that’s the bottom line. Whether we can do it or not, I don’t know, but we stay optimistic that we will.”

But if the Phillies continue to lose, they will have to start thinking about retooling for next season. Hamels could get quite a haul. Trades involving Shane Victorino, Hunter Pence and others also could change the dynamic and chemistry of the clubhouse.

“Those are things that we may have to think about down the road,” Amaro said. “But they’re not what we’re actively trying to do now.

“Our goal will always be the same: it is to be a contender this year and beyond and to keep Cole Hamels in our uniform as long as he possibly can after 2012. I think our best chance to continue to be a contender is with him and not without him. We don’t comment on all this stuff, but the one thing I can say about it is this is a product of the time of year, the fact we’re not playing well and that we have very, very good players people will speculate and ask about.”

Everybody is taking heat for the Phillies’ losing ways, including Charlie Manuel. Amaro said about Manuel: “He has done a fantastic job. We haven’t played well.”

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