3...2...1... HAPPY NEW YEAR!
Okay, so maybe the calendar hasn't technically turned the page from December to January, but it is never too early to think ahead. In fact, in sports, thinking ahead is how you get ahead.
Going one step further, if Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro had thought ahead and not traded so much of the future for the present, then maybe, just maybe, the 2012 offseason would have told a different story.
Not to indulge in thoughts of what could have been, because that is not what ringing in the new year is supposed to be all about. Instead, it is about looking back on the previous year, not in terms of what could have been or what should be, but rather about how to fix the mistakes, let's face it, we all inevitably make.
For Amaro, 2013 is a chance to do exactly that.
Anyone around the team—fans, players, coaches, media—they would all tell the story of the same thing. 2012 was a disappointment. It was not the way things were supposed to go. The expectations, albeit always high, just fell short.
So, it is a new year, new beginning and new chance for this team to figure out a way to get back to the ultimate baseball glory. It all starts when the clock strikes midnight on 2012. It will be a chance for Amaro to ring in the new year with a few resolutions of his own.
While a fellow writer here at Bleacher Report, has already written an excellent piece about resolutions that the players need to make, I'm going to focus on resolutions that the GM would be advised to make. Considering how things have gone in the past few years, these resolutions could be a deciding factor when it comes to next season and beyond.
Don't Be Afraid to Fire Charlie Manuel And Promote Ryne Sandberg if Things Go Bad
By now, most Phillies fans are probably familiar with the fact that the organization has the successor to current manager Charlie Manuel waiting in the wings. Considering that the team formerly traded said successor when he was in their minors before watching him go on to become a Hall of Fame second baseman with the Chicago Cubs, my bet is this team doesn't want to lose him again.
Sure, there is no guarantee that Ryne Sandberg will be a good major league manager, but that doesn't mean the Phils are going to let him walk away so they can learn the hard way just how good he is.
Sandberg, who in just one season led the Phils Triple-A affiliate Lehigh Valley Iron Pigs to their first ever playoff appearance, earned minor league manager of the year in 2011. Following the 2012 season he was promoted as the Phillies third base coach and infield instructor. Considering that Manuel has just one year left on his contract, it is without a doubt that Sandberg is being groomed to take over.
There is no guarantee he will still be around if the Phils wait too long. In the 2012 offseason he already interviewed for a few managerial jobs and if managers are fired during the course of the year, his name might pop up once again. For that reason, Amaro has to resolve to do what needs to be done and promote Sandberg if and when the time comes.
Avoid Another Fire Sale
There is nothing more disheartening to a team, especially a team just five years removed from winning the World Series, than watching an annual playoff contender become a "seller" at the trade deadline. At the time Amaro wrote it off, concluding that the team wasn't necessarily selling but rather rebuilding. The only problem with that, however, is that if this team blunders again this year, there will be no denying why the team enters the selling market.
Amaro, as well as his predecessor Pat Gillick, did well to bring this team a core of talent. Unfortunately, this core has aged and this talent has become disposable. Last year, Amaro heard offers for some of the organization's top players, including Cliff Lee, who it seems is a surprise member of the team considering the desire to trade the lefty.
Other possible trade pieces at this point include Domonic Brown, whose name is always popping up, Darin Ruf, whose breakout minor league season could make him attractive to some teams, and then of course, Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Chase Utley and maybe even Ben Revere.
Although some of these guys are likely to be gone after next season anyway, the team has to avoid another deflating fire sale. Otherwise, the Phils could go back into mediocrity that might take years to climb out of.
Inquire About Giancarlo Stanton But Don't Be Stupid or Hasty To Make A Trade
Amaro may have started this resolution early, but if he has not the least this GM could do is find out the hypothetical ballpark number needed to land Giancarlo Stanton. The outfielder is by far the best player on the trading block.
Plain and simple, if the Miami Marlins have an interest in anything the team has to offer, Amaro should at least listen. The return has to justify what the Phils would give up and that is where the second half of this resolution comes into play.
Stanton is an incredibly attractive talent. At just 23 and in parts of just three seasons, Stanton already has 93 home runs, including a career high 37 last year. Did I mention he is just 23? Most of the Phillies top prospects are already over 23 and haven't shown even a fraction of that kind of production and potential.
So yes, Amaro should put together a package and make an offer. At the same time, Stanton is just one player. Sure he is a phenomenal one, but he can't be a catcher, pitch or play the infield. Considering the fact that the players the Phillies currently have catching, pitching and playing the infield won't be around forever, it would be wise to consider this before going all in on Stanton.
Win Another World Series ... Or At Least Make the Playoffs
Okay so maybe this is a no-brainer.
Every coach and general manager should resolve to take their team to the playoffs and to go even further, win the championship. Ultimately, this is their job and as former Philadelphia coach Andy Reid learned this year, resolving to do a "better job" and not winning the title is not good enough. If the same trends continue with the Phillies, Amaro might find himself resigned to that same fate.
Winning the World Series, however, should save his job regardless of whether he is currently in danger of losing it or not. Making the playoffs, well it would certainly bring fans, and the city, back some hope after one of the most devastating sport seasons in recent memory.
Plus, you don't resolve for mediocrity. You resolve for the pinnacle of greatness. For this reason, Amaro should be among the majority resolving to somehow, someway bring this team back to championship glory.