Will Ruben Amaro's Lack of Major Signings Cost Him His Job at the End of 2013?
After a very disappointing season where the Phillies finished the season in third place and a record of 81-81, the 2012 offseason has become one of the most important in recent memory.
The general manager of the Phillies, Ruben Amaro Jr., has traded for center fielder Ben Revere and third baseman Michael Young while also signing reliever Mike Adams to booster the bullpen.
In acquiring these players, they traded away starter Vance Worley, reliever Josh Lindblom and minor league pitchers Trevor May and Lisalverto Bonilla.
The major free agent splash or trade has not happened so far this offseason. After trading away Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino, it became a priority to sign an impact outfielder, who can supply some power from the right-side.
Unfortunately, the Phillies were unable to add the power bat they had on their Christmas list this year. If the Phillies have another mediocre season with their enormous payroll, Amaro may be held responsible.
Which may or may not lead to him losing his job at the season's end.
There are reasons why he could lose his job, but there also many reasons why he should keep it. Here are three arguments for each side of the coin, complete with a verdict of Amaro's future with the Phillies organization.
Reason to Keep His Job #1: Quality Inexpensive Moves in 2012 Offseason
One thing a team can never take for granted is its flexibility. With the moves Ruben Amaro Jr. made this offseason, he has given his team some financial wiggle room to use, if they don't wish to go over the league's luxury tax.
If the Phillies are in contention come the All-Star break and don't make any other addition to their current team, they will be able to use that flexibility to take on salary and improve their club.
Instead of overpaying for high priced free agents like B.J. Upton or Kevin Youkilis, Amaro decided to trade players to fix his holes at third base and center field.
Michael Young will only be paid $6 million by the Phillies in 2013, while Ben Revere will make somewhere around the $500,000 mark. Both coming in at an extremely reasonable price for the potential upside each player has.
Since Amaro paid such great prices for the players he acquired, he was able to go out and get the best relief pitch on the market in Mike Adams and still have money to play with.
With Amaro's quality addition of a young controllable center fielder, a former All-Star third baseman, a low price starting pitcher and the best relief pitcher on the market, Amaro has improved his team from a year ago and it may just save his job.
Reason to Keep His Job #2: Consistently Giving the Phillies a Chance to Win
Since Amaro took over the Phillies in 2009, the Phillies have appeared in one World Series and have made the playoffs every season except for 2012.
Amaro has made blockbuster trades to acquire players like Roy Halladay and Pence. He has also made surprise free agent signings, like when he surprised all of baseball and brought back Cliff Lee.
In his tenure, he has locked up core players Cole Hamels and Ryan Howard on long-tern extension before they hit the open market.
By keeping the core together, he has given the Phillies a chance to win year after year.
When players don't test the open market, it shows that the general manager has done a quality job of balancing well paying contracts and consistently putting a winning team out on the field.
Yes, Amaro has one of the biggest payrolls to play with in baseball, but he has yet to have a losing season. His teams over the last few years have also been riddled with injuries.
Howard, Chase Utley and Halladay all missed significant time in 2012. Utley and Halladay are both hitting the free agency at the end of 2012, so hopefully they both will have healthy seasons.
The success of his 2013 team will have a lot to do with his future with the team. Baring any injuries, the Phillies should again have a serious chance to contend for another World Series title and as a general manager that is really all you can do.
The rest is up to the players.
Reason to Keep His Job #3: Valuable Professional Leadership
The Philadelphia sports media market is one of the most demanding in all of sports.
Season after season, Amaro continues to keep a very professional relationship with the local and nationwide media.
He consistently makes television appearances to keep fans informed as well and assuring them of his diligence to improve his team.
During his time as general manager, he has made it a point to not discuss trades or possible acquisitions until they are official and never comments on rumors of any sort.
Amaro is also very respectful of the media while still keeping the majority of the inner workings of his team private. Not a lot of general managers can say that. Phillies' fans are fortunate Amaro spends a lot of his time working on not only bringing quality athletes to the Phillies, but also bringing in quality human beings into his organization.
During his tenure, Amaro has continuously brought talent to Philadelphia. This offseason he has signed the best relief pitcher on the market, convinced a former All-Star to waive his no trade clause and traded for a young controllable center fielder with a ton of upside.
These moves show his growth as a general manager and as a leader. Replacing him could be a lot harder than fans may think.
The type of leadership Amaro possesses is tough to find and he has a lot of upside as a major league general manager.
Reason to Lose His Job #1: Lack of Replacing a Right-Handed Power Bat
One of the biggest disappointments this offseason was the Phillies inability to bring in a quality right-handed power hitting outfielder to replace Pence.
Could the Phillies make the type of moves they made this offseason with Pence still on the roster? It's hard to tell, but the Phillies will definitely miss his power to balance out Chase Utley and Howard.
B.J. Upton was the Phillies' number one target this offseason. When he signed with division rival Atlanta Braves, many fans were left extremely disappointed. Not only is he a player with many tools, he will be playing against the Phillies multiple times a year for long time.
As the offseason progressed, outfielder after outfielder and power bat after power bat signed with other clubs. Leaving the Phillies' outfield in shambles.
Besides Ben Revere, the Phillies do not have one legitimate outfielder and we saw last season that John Mayberry Jr. does not have what it takes to play everyday.
Domonic Brown may be the frontrunner to win the job in right field, but he has yet to have any real success at the major league level. He is far from a sure thing.
If Darin Ruf doesn't work out in left field and the corner outfield turns into a platoon disaster, it very well could cost Amaro his job.
Amaro knew he had several outfield problems to address and so far hasn't gotten it all done.
Reason to Lose His Job #2: Overpaying for Players
In Ruben Amaro's time with the Phillies, he has dished out millions upon millions of dollars to his players.
The Phillies have several players with over $20 million a year contracts and also have the highest paid closer in baseball.
Lee, Howard and Jonathan Papelbon are all extremely overpaid and it has cost the Phillies some much needed depth.
Lee's five-year $120 million contract plus his 2016 option is a ton of money to shell out to a player, who only plays once every five days. Lee is a great pitcher, don't get me wrong. He's just not worth $25 million a season. No pitcher is.
Signing Howard to an extension a year a half before he had to, really blew up in Amaro's face when Howard ruptured his Achilles tendon.
Howard is still fresh off the injury, but only time will tell if he will ever get back to the All-Star player he once was. Howard was already declining before the injury. Hopefully, for Amaro's sake, the decline doesn't continue.
Closer Papelbon will make $13 million in 2013. He only pitched 70 innings, which is only a fraction of the Phillies innings over the 2012 season. The Phillies play more than 70 innings in less than two weeks during the regular season.
In comparison, Jimmy Rollins who played in over 150 games last season will only make $11 million in 2013. He also plays arguably the most important defensive position on the diamond, shortstop.
With some of the contracts Amaro has made, it has put a strangle hold on the Phillies. These contracts might just cause him to get fired after the 2013 season, if the Phillies fail to make the playoffs.
Reason to Lose His Job #3: Poorly Assessing Talent
With the Phillies' recent success, their payroll has sky-rocketed and the overall assessment of in-house and minor league talent has greatly suffered because of it.
Instead of investing time in growing players, the Phillies have opted to sign and trade for the biggest names that are made available. This leads to bloated contracts and paying for a player's past success.
Since Hamels, the Phillies haven't really had any legitimate home-grown prospects, who contribute to their major league club. Worley had one quality season, but has recently been shipped out of town. A shooting star in a dark sky.
Management has let players like Ben Francisco and John Mayberry Jr. compete for starting positions and fail miserably. Neither of them should have had a chance to start for a $170 million team.
Team officials, especially Ruben Amaro, need to recognize these individuals are not everyday players and bring in personnel who can contribute to a winning organization.
Ruben Amaro Jr. and company has also held onto prospects like Domonic Brown, who could have brought quality veteran players to Philadelphia.
Instead, Brown has been misused and juggled between the minor and major leagues. So far, he has not manifested into the quality big league player they once envisioned.
Amaro and his staff simply need to do a better job when scouting their players. If they did a better job in this department, the Phillies could have addressed other problematic areas like the 2012 bullpen.
Without bringing in a quality outfielder this offseason, Amaro is again rolling the dice on several unproven and mediocre outfield parts.
If his talent assessment fails again and he doesn't address them by season's end, Amaro may be looking in the classifieds this coming offseason.
Final Verdict: He Stays
Ruben Amaro was around as the assistant general manager when the Phillies won the World Series in 2008 and I see him staying around to at least finish out his contract, which expires at the end of the 2015 season.
Amaro lead the Phillies to the World Series in 2009, and lost in the playoffs in 2010 and 2011 to teams that would go onto win the World Series.
In his first four seasons as general manager, he won three NL East titles. He also helped put together a 2011 Phillies team that would win a franchise record 102 games.
It's hard to imagine a team would get rid of a general manager after two poor seasons (If the Phillies fail in 2013).
Even if the Phillies do squander in 2013 and miss the playoffs again, Amaro will be the general manager going into the 2014 season.
If he can't righten the ship by 2015 or if the team completely folds, he most certainly will be replaced.
Until then, Amaro's upside and skills far outweigh his faults and he should continue to be the Phillies' general manager for the foreseeable future.