Do you have any friends who you absolutely adore, but hate talking to? I know I do. Whenever they call, I can’t seem to get off the phone fast enough.
That’s what it must be like for Ruben Amaro’s fellow general managers around Major League Baseball.
Amaro has been in baseball his entire life and knows everyone. However, when other GMs see his caller ID on their phones, they must cringe.
“Oh no, what does that man want now?” they all must say.
Whatever it is that Amaro does say to them must make them want to get off the phone quickly; they must be willing to give up practically anything to just shut him up.
There’s no other explanation for how he continually gets the players he wants from the teams he wants by giving up the scraps he no longer needs.
For the second time in as many Julys, Amaro has “stolen” a player from the Houston Astros.
Reports were that he’d offered Jonathan Singleton and Jarred Cosart for the 28-year-old Hunter Pence a while back, but was flatly rejected. Then rumors started surfacing that Domonic Brown’s name was being floated around in trade talks for Pence, and many Phillies fans panicked. Why give up the future that is currently learning at the major league level, a player that is projected to be better than the one you’re acquiring?
Instead of parting with the one player he’d refused to in dealing for aces Cliff Lee, Roy Halladay, and Roy Oswalt, Amaro re-offered the package, included a couple of “players to be named later” (one of whom is rumored to be Double-A pitcher Josh Zeid), and wouldn’t let Astros GM Ed Wade off the phone until he accepted.
Thus, the Phillies acquired Hunter Pence, who will be starting in Philadelphia's right field beginning Saturday night.
Are the Phillies done dealing?
Once again he has gotten the player he targeted and only given up what he felt was expendable.
Now that he has done so, two questions have arisen: Do the Phillies have enough? If not, who will Amaro go after next?
As constructed, the Phillies have enough to potentially win the World Series.
But before they dealt for Hunter Pence, the same could have been said. He’s an extra piece for a team that could have won the World Series without him.
But he’s nice to have.
Now that the right-handed hitter they lacked is in the fold, what other piece or pieces do they go after?
With Roy Oswalt seemingly on his way back to the rotation (and if history tells us anything, Oswalt is going to be dominant down the stretch and into the postseason), Vance Worley impersonating Roy Halladay, and the other aces performing well, the rotation is stacked for another deep run into October.
Once Placido Polanco returns from his injury, the Phillies will have nine everyday players for eight spots. (The bet here is that Domonic Brown’s playing time gets cut down, as he has not produced as well expected and has actually cost the Phillies some games this year.)
The only two places at which the Phillies really could use an upgrade are on the bench and in the bullpen.
The bullpen has been strong all year, and with Brad Lidge back and showing his best stuff since 2008, it could get stronger.
But it’s difficult to imagine the Phillies having 100-percent confidence in the abilities of Antonio Bastardo and Michael Stutes to get the biggest outs of the season under the hot lights of October.
A veteran arm would be a tremendous addition, and with the market flooded with them, an acquisition shouldn’t be too hard to imagine.
Heath Bell and the like are probably out of the question, given payroll constraints and a dearth of prospects in the minor leagues.
But the Phillies could add a midlevel piece such as Tyler Clippard or Mike Gonzales. Some rumors put Octavio Dotel on the market as well, but nothing to tie the Phillies to him.
The Phillies definitely need some help on the bench.
The only rumor floating around the internet is that Ruben Amaro has contacted the Minnesota Twins about the possibility of reacquiring Jim Thome. The 40-year-old slugger is closing in on 600 home runs and would fit in with the Phillies much the way Matt Stairs did in 2008. Nothing would be sweeter than watching Thome launch a Brian Wilson fastball into McCovey Cove in the NLCS.
The Phillies are going to win the 2011 World Series.
I’ve believed that from the start of the season, and nothing I’ve seen has change my mind.
Ruben Amaro has his faults as a general manager, but he is aggressive and makes bold moves.
With only hours left before the 2011 trading deadline, it will be interesting to see what other rabbit Amaro can pull out of his hat.