Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been a busy man this offseason. The Phils' GM looks to do, according to history, the unlikely, repeat as World Series Champs.
He has parted with Pat Burrell, a Philadelphia monument. he signed a 36-year-old to a long-term contract and brought back the oldest man in the major leagues for not one, but two years. He has created a catcher controversy and re-signed the sometimes awkward, yet beloved, huggable, face of the franchise manager.
Yes, Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been a busy man. But what will come of his hard work?
The 36-year-old left-fielder comes to replace the often frustrating, yet beloved Pat Burrell. Ibanez presents an interesting situation: he is left handed. Another lefty in the Phillies lefty dominant lineup could present as many as seven consecutive lefties marching to the plate.
However Ibanez has hit well in his career against left-handed pitchers. He also provides a minor fielding upgrade and a major speed upgrade. Maybe Charlie Manuel won't feel the need to yank him in the seventh inning every game as he did with Pat Burrell.
The Bottom Line: Ibanez will not match the numbers he had in Seattle. He will be a minor upgrade above Burrell. He will provide a full nine innings and more consistency.
Jamie will be back again to pleasure of most Phils fans. He has agreed to a two-year contract, making him a month shy of 49 when the deal ends. No one at this point can predict what Jame will be like two season's down the road, but if the Phils need to eat the final season, it will be well worth it.
He will provide not only a competitive effort every fifth day, but an irreplaceable leadership quality.
The Bottom Line: Every year, Jamie challenges each young pitcher to take his job that year. It may not be long before someone will.
The one move overlooked by many. Don't. A source close to the front office tells me that the move may be setting up a bigger deal involving Chris Coste. If the source is wrong, however, an open catcher competition could be exciting this spring training.
The Bottom Line: Could be nothing, or it could shape the organizations future, seriously.
A Good-Bye to Pat Burrell
Pat Burrell has been in the Phillies organization for 11 years. It's hard to imagine him anywhere else. Pat has had his struggles, he has heard his boo's, and rightfully so. But every time Pat Burrell stepped to the plate, he was greeted by cheers. Every time.
Pat never lived up to his potential. The memory of him flailing at the low and outside breaking pitch will haunt us all to this day. The image of Pat ripping off his helmet after a bad strike-out revealing his bleached- blond hair, a sign of his immaturity will never leave us.
However, Pat matured with us. He became the endearing symbol of Phillies baseball. Why did we all give Pat a second chance, a third chance, and many more chances after that? The answer is simple: We understood Pat Burrell; we related to him.
He was one of the hardest workers on the team, arriving first every day to take extra BP. He worked just as hard at his job as every blue-collared Philadelphian works at theirs. That's all anyone ever wanted from an athlete and Pat gave us that.
My endearing memory of Pat Burrell will be him atop the Budweiser Clydesdales, at the top of the world with his hands in the air, loving every moment. At this moment we finally understood Pat and he finally understood us. Too bad it took so long.
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