The Young and the Restless: Is Ruben Amaro Too Quick on the Trigger?
Last offseason, fresh off his team's first championship in nearly three decades, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. pounced on free agent OF, Raul Ibanez to fill the void left by the departed fan favorite, Pat Burrell.
Amaro acted quickly, as the rival Mets were reportedly hot on the trail for the left-handed slugger.
The rookie GM offered the 36-year old Ibanez a three-year, $31.5 million deal, to which he quickly agreed to.
Unquestionably benefiting from the gleam of his shiny new World Series ring, the signing was met with little backlash, though if you listened closely, you could hear the whispers of doubt: Will Ibanez be worth $10 million at the age of 39? Could he play left field all nine innings? Why another left-handed bat?
All of those concerns were quickly put to rest when Ibanez absolutely carried the Phils for the first two and half months.
Game after game, Ibanez stepped up.
Some were even discussing Ibanez as the early front-runner for MVP.
After his torrid first half, Ibanez was rewarded with his first All-Star Game selection, garnering the second most votes amongst all NL OFs.
The latter half of the season however, didn't go so swimmingly. Perhaps it was his groin strain, perhaps it was age, or maybe he was playing over his head, but whatever the case was, his numbers plummeted.
His final line, aside from the peak in HRs, didn't look too dissimilar from what the Mariners came to expect out of him.
Now with modest expectations, many are labeling the Ibanez signing a bust, with many believing we've seen his best.
This offseason, Amaro did nothing to quiet those critical of signing aging veterans to three year deals, inking former Phillie, Placido Polanco to an $18 million deal.
In a vacuum, these deals don't look terrible. Ibanez's market value was approximately $10 million. I'm not sure a third guaranteed year was widely available, but it was clear that Amaro had Ibanez in his sights all along.
But as the months wore on and spring training inched closer, former Phillie, Bobby Abreu, remained without a job.
Finally, two days before Valentine's Day, Abreu joined the Angels at a modest price of $5 million in a one-year deal.
The 35-year-old rewarded the Halos with one of his finest seasons, hitting .293 with 100+ RBIs, 15 HRs, and 30 SBs.
Meanwhile, the twice as costly Ibanez slugged 34 HRs, but hit only .270 and failed to clear the 100 RBI plateau.
This year, Amaro had another hole to fill, this time at 3B.
After gladly declining incumbent starter, Pedro Feliz's $5.5 million option, Amaro set his sights on a free agent class that included Chone Figgins, Adrian Beltre, Mark DeRosa, Placido Polanco, and eventually Garrett Atkins.
Once again, Amaro was the first to strike, seemingly outbidding himself for the services of Polanco.
Again, while the signing wasn't completely despised, few thought this was the right move.
Many wanted to go for the jugular, and sign Figgins to top this already potent lineup. That was a pipe dream, but other options in the same general price range of Polanco were Mark DeRosa, Garrett Atkins, and the slightly more expensive Adrian Beltre.
Shortly after the Polanco signing was announced, reports surfaced that both DeRosa and Beltre were seeking deals in excess of $10 million per year, a price the Phillies certainly couldn't afford to pay.
Understandingly now, the pundits regressed, seeing Polanco's $6 million yearly salary as a bargain compared to what DeRosa and Beltre were commanding.
But then the market dried up and prices nosedived. Earlier this week, Mark DeRosa signed a 2 year, $12 million deal with the San Francisco Giants. Garrett Atkins signed with the lowly Orioles for a $4.5 million deal.
Don't both of these signings represent value in comparison to the Phillie's newest 3rd basemen?
The point is, sometimes it's better to sit on your hands while others play.
Now, I'm willing to let the chips falls as they may, but at first glance, it looks like Ruben is too eager for his own good.
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