The Winter Meetings are over. And once again Ruben Amaro Jr. is pushing himself and the Phillies organization to the top of the pile. He has made it clear his intentions are winning. Winning now, but also in the future. We could see that last July.
Getting Cliff Lee from the Indians for what a lot of people thought were second tier prospects was huge. It not only got the Phillies that certified ace they had been looking for but they also didn't have to part ways with some of their big name prospects like Kyle Drabek, Michael Taylor and Dominic Brown. Now this could go either way. Amaro could hold onto these guys (who wouldn') and develop them into superstars just like Pat Gilleck did with Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins, Ryan Howard and Carlos Ruiz. Or he could try and package them for Roy Halladay. But frankly I am a little burnt out on the Halladay talk so I will spare you this time.
Amaro went into winter meetings with a very clear list of needs. Back end of the bullpen needed help as did the bench wanting a utility player that could pinch hit occasionally. Another starter was on the list too, just a little further down. So Rube went to work. He starting trimming fat. Matt Stairs was clutch in the NLCS springing the Phillies to the World Series. But those memories all started to fade when you can't hit a lick. He was horrible this past season as a pinch hitter and a liability in the outfield when he did see playing time. He had to go.
Next, Amaro broke out the shaving cream. Eric Bruntlett may have had the biggest following for a non-talented baseball player. His epic beard could be seen from space. Signs around Citizens Bank Park read 'MVB Most Valuable Beard.' And for the most part, he was just a glorified circus freak. Aside from his unassisted triple play against the Mets and scoring (as a pinch runner) on Rollins' walk off double against the Rockies (LDS) he really has not done much to help himself out. He filled in for Rollins when JRolled his ankle to start the World Series winning season. About 27 games and 5 errors later he was on the bench. Time to trim the hair.
Since then Amaro has added some pretty decent names. Placido Polanco tops the list. A Gold Glove second baseman has agreed to move to 3B for the Phillies, who he played for in '02-'04. He will give the Phillies three legitimate leadoff men. And all of them are capable of stealing double digit bases as well as adding pop to this homerun derby type team. For a Phillies team that is already very proficient in base running, this only makes them stronger.
Other additions include Brian Schneider, Ross Gload and Juan Castro. The Phillies some other guys to minor league contracts that I will touch on later this week. The only thing left is to try and improve on starting pitching. There are rumors surfacing that Amaro may try and move Blanton to free up his salary to sign a top 2nd tier type pitcher.
With winter meetings over, I think the Phillies came out stronger than when they went into them. More to come....