The Best & Worst of Ruben Amaro Jr (Part 2: The Worst)

November 5th, 2013 by Mike H. | Filed under Baseball, General, Phillies.


Although I’ve obviously had this portion of the two-part series done for a while now, I figured I’d better get it out of the way before Amaro makes a significant move of stupidity before Christmas (because we all know Rube likes to get his shopping done early). I think that it is important to note prior to revealing this list, that they are not in order of financial pain, even though the majority of Ruben’s self-inflicted problems are monetary ones. 10: Uncle Cholly

In the spring of 2011, Charlie Manuel and his agent voiced their opinions about going into the final season of his current contract without having been extended.  This was obviously something that was rooted in the hiring of Ryne Sandberg to manage the Lehigh Valley IronPigs. Manuel must have felt the seat getting warm and was looking for assurance that Sandberg wouldn’t be replacing him mid-season if the team were to falter. While Manuel did manage the team to a franchise record 102 wins in 2011, they faltered in the playoffs and failed to make the post season during his extension.

9: Cole Hamels’ Extension

In the summer of 2012, Cole Hamels signed a six-year extension with an option for a seventh year. This would be the first time in two consecutive summers that instead of trading his best chip to help restock the Phillies inadequate farm system and ensure long-term success for the franchise. Don’t get me wrong, Hamels is a very good pitcher and has a playoff pedigree, but what good is he to have around if the team can’t make the post season?

8: The Return of Cliff Lee

Cliff Lee is another very good pitcher. 2008 AL Cy Young award winner. Ace of two separate, yet consecutive, World Series competitors. In the fall of 2010, it appeared that Lee was entrenched in a bidding war between the Yankees and the Rangers. At the time, Phillies fans rejoiced when Lee supposedly turned down more money to return to Philadelphia. Despite being a part of a four-headed monster in 2011 and a three-headed one in 2012, Lee could not help the Phillies return to the World Series since. With two years guaranteed remaining on his contract, hopefully Cliff Lee can be moved to finally bring something valuable in return.

7: Closing Time

Yes, Amaro dodged a bullet by not signing Ryan Madson to the supposed 4 year, $44 million deal before 2012, but how much better has Papelbon been? He’s saved 67 games in two years. He’s produced a sub-3 ERA during his time in Philly. Despite the dip in velocity, Papelbon has put up a 5.14:1 K:BB ratio. The real question is has he been worth it? The answer is obviously no. Papelbon has had a WAR of 2.0 or higher since 2009. For the Phillies, his cumulative WAR is 3.2. If you use the rough estimate of $5M per WAR, that puts Papelbon’s WAR value at $16M or $8M per season, which is significantly lower than the just over $24M the Phillies have already paid him. The worst part is, he still has two guaranteed years left and possibly a third at a very high dollar amount.

6: Give a brother a chance

Ruben Amaro has made deals that would make other GMs jealous in his brief tenure as general manager. He signed a guy that has hit .269/.345/.550 with 85 extra base hits and 139 runs batted in. He signed a reliever that has 36 saves, 43 holds, a sub-3 ERA, and a K/9 of 12.8. He signed a serviceable number three or four starter who has accumulated 31 wins in 78 starts. The three players, since being signed by Amaro, have put a combined WAR of 9.9 with a total cost of $14.7M! Using the multiplier, that is WAR value of just under $50M. The only problem is, none of those three were even given a fair shot to do it as Phillies.

Brandon Moss, Jason Grilli, and Ryan Vogelsong have all been signed and allowed to walk away with nothing in return. Of the three, only Moss has even donned red pinstripes. He appeared in five games, but it still counts. None was given a chance and all could have solidified a role on the team. Heck, even Ender Inciarte looks like a quality Rule V pick that was unwisely returned. After being returned to Arizona, Inciarte only managed a .281/.327/.362 with 25 extra base hits and 43 stolen bases at age 22 in AA Mobile.

Thank GOD that the likes of John Bowker, Ezequiel Carrera, and Delmon Young were given a shot and released.

5: Strong armed by JRoll

He wanted five years. He wanted top dollar. He entered the market as basically the biggest catch. Rafael Furcal and Clint Barmes signed before Rollins did for lesser deals and it appeared that only Milwaukee had even remote interest. So what does Amaro do? Basically signs Rollins to a deal twice as long as any other shortstop that signed that offseason. The best part was that Freddy Galvis was waiting in the wings. Don’t get me wrong, Galvis is closer to being Kevin Stocker than he is to being Juan Samuel, but the monetary value alone would have been worth it.

4: The Summer of 2013

Everyone knew the Phillies were out of it ten days after the All Star Game. The Phillies managed to come out of the break going 1-8 and losing eight straight. With players such as Michael Young, Chase Utley, Carlos Ruiz, and Delmon Young all on expiring contracts and guys like Cliff Lee and Jonathan Papelbon on long-term deals, but still holding value, one would have thought let’s look to the future and sure ourselves up long-term. Of course Amaro does the exact opposite. In fact, just over a week after the deadline, Chase Utley was rewarded for spending only a month on the DL, as opposed to his usual half a season by being extended. Young was moved for nothing remotely worth watching and everyone else either finished the season in Philly or was released. Ugh!

3: Hunter Pence

While Hunter Pence was productive the second half of 2011 and was grooming himself as a fan favorite, his arrival and departure will forever go down in Phillies history as one of, if not the worst transactions in the history of the franchise. After Domonic Brown put up horrendous numbers in June of 2011 (.165/.258/.354), Amaro felt obligated to get a more “reliable” bat in the lineup. Even though Brown completely turned it around in July (.296/.398/.366), Amaro went and pulled the trigger on acquiring Pence. The cost would be franchise changing as the at the time top pitching and positional prospects in Jarred Cosart and Jonathan Singleton would both be moved as well as Josh Zeid and “throw in” outfielder Domingo Santana. Ironically, after only being able to help the Phillies for so many years by NOT making trades, then Houston GM Ed Wade ended up making what probably will turn out to be his legacy in Houston. Wade was subsequently fired at the end of 2011 and re-hired by his homeboy, Ruben Amaro. To make matters worse, only a year later, with the Phillies out of contention, Amaro then turned around and traded Pence away to the future World Series champion San Francisco Giants for catcher Tommy Joseph and pitcher Seth Rosin for what obviously turned out to be a financial move more than anything else. Neither was the remotely the top prospect in the aspect of the Giants organization. Joseph was expendable. Rosin was far enough away to not make a difference in the Giants’ long-term success. The long-term ramifications of the speed bump that was Hunter Pence will be felt for years.

2: Good-bye Cliff Lee, for now

December of 2009 was EXTREMELY exciting when Amaro reeled in his Moby Dick, Roy Halladay. The rotation of Halladay, Lee, and Hamels sounded like World Series or Bust for the Phillies. That thought evaporated quicker than it had arrived. It appears that while Amaro was in the midst of negotiating sending Travis D’arnaud, Michael Taylor, and Kyle Drabek to Toronto, he was also negotiating sending Cliff Lee to Seattle for Phillipe Aumont, JC Ramirez, and Tyson Gillies. Gillies had a history of hamstring issues that still haunt him. Aumont was sent to the bullpen to try to extend his career after being diagnosed with a chronic hip condition. While Taylor and Drabek have apparently fizzled out, D’arnaud is primed to be a promising all-around catcher. The Phillies are down to Gillies and Aumont as Ramirez was claimed off of waivers by Cleveland. At this stage in their careers, little should be expected out of the remaining two, if anything at all.

1: The Big Piece

I want to preface the worst move to date with proviso that I do NOT think that the contract itself is bad. I think five years and $125M is a fair contract for a player who had average over forty home runs and 120 runs batted in over the previous three years is a steal. The only issue I have is the timing of it all. That was killer. There was no need whatsoever to sign Ryan Howard long-term in 2010. Howard still had a season and a half left on his current contract. In fact, at the time, Ryan Howard was potentially going to hit free agency at the same time as Prince Fielder, Adrian Gonzalez, and Albert Pujols. The Yankees were entrenched in Mark Teixiera. The Dodgers were struggling to make ends meet financially. So there was no reason to think that any team besides the Phillies, Red Sox, and Tigers would have been more attractive destinations for a premiere, slugging first baseman. To make matters worse, Howard was injured two months later and has yet to remain healthy since.

Ultimately, the biggest of Ruben Amaro Jr.’s problems is patience. He’s impatient in times where things can be played out, and patient in times of urgency. I bet many of you have personal favorites as to what his worst/best moves are. Feel free to let us know either in the comments below or at any of Team TSP’s Twitter accounts.

You can follow Mike H. on Twitter @MikeH_TSP

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