The Philadelphia Phillies have gone from perennial cellar-dweller to the year in and year out odds-on favorite to win the World Series under Ruben Amaro's watch.
Amaro took over as GM of the Philies after serving as Assistant GM to Hall of Fame inductee Pat Gillick, who also happened to bring a World Championship to the City of Brotherly Love.
It is incredible to look back at this point and realize that Amaro has been able to bring in the top player(s) available each year. The man clearly values pitching above all else, but this past year at the trade deadline he showed that he is willing to make a big move for a bat.
There's a famous saying, "Hater's gonna hate," and that clearly applies to Ruben Amaro. He has built a team that is loaded with aces and is solid from the back end of the bullpen.
That rotation will continue to make them extremely difficult to beat in a playoff series, whether they've come up short in the playoffs or not.
Vegas is in the business of making money and they seem to agree that it's smart money to make the Phillies the favorite again in 2012.
If you are still questioning whether or not Ruben Amaro is a force in the MLB, then look no further than the boss to the devil himself. The GM of the New York Yankees Brian Cashman told Ken Rosenthal, "I'm not Ruben Amaro," referring to the Phillies GM and his affinity for blockbuster trades.
Take a look at this ranking of Ruben Amaro's six best trades as GM of the Phillies.
Some of them are in the remember-where-you-were-and-exactly-what-you-were-doing-when-that-trade-happened variety.
It's tough to add this deal to a list that includes the likes of Halladay, Pence, Lee, etc. but I do believe this will turn out to be a brilliant move. Phillies Nation has clamored all season for more pop off the bench, and Wigginton is a veteran bat that came at the price of a player to be named later or cash.
In true Amaro fashion, Colorado will pay half of Wigginton's $4 million salary owed to him in 2012. Wigginton gives the Phillies a lot of flexibility, as he has played six positions in his 10-year career.
He hit .245 with a .731 OPS in 2011 and has slugged at least 15 home runs in five of his last six seasons. Wigginton from the right side and Thome from the left side gives Charlie Manuel more firepower and flexibility moving forward.
I wrote an article over the summer about Ruben Amaro and indicated that this same deal was the worst trade by Ruben Amaro. With the benefit of hindsight, I can sit back objectively (while the homer in me still screams in pain) and realize that this deal will ultimately help the Phillies.
Phillippe Aumont was recently ranked as the No. 33 overall prospect in all of baseball by MLB.com:
Aumont has thrown just 106 2/3 total professional innings since being drafted in 2007, but he's shown just how dominant he can be, with a .228 batting average against and a 9.20 K/9 ratio.
Aumont still projects as a top-of-the-rotation arm by many scouts, but there is a great chance that he will be pitching in Philadelphia in 2012 in a relief role. The fact that Amaro (and team ownership) swallowed his pride and re-signed one of the most popular players ever to put on the Phillies pinstripes only sweetened the deal.
Philadelphia is way too smart to buy Amaro's "We had to replenish the farm system" response to the trading of Lee. Phillie Nation made it clear that they were disgusted by this deal by taking to social media sites and sports radio within in the city.
Do you think these are some of the same people who are involved with Occupy Philly?
Here's a trivia question that you can expect to hear soon on a Phillies broadcast: What was Ruben Amaro's first trade as GM of the Philadelphia Phillies?
The answer: The Phillies received power-hitter John Mayberry Jr. and the Texas Rangers got speedster Greg Golson. The 2011 season proved that Ruben Amaro again got it right, as Mayberry Jr. was nothing short of brilliant.
Mayberry Jr. had many questioning whether or not he was an MLB-caliber player, but he belted 15 HR and 49 RBI while hitting .273 in 2011 to answer that question, while Golson is sputtering in the New York Yankees farm system.
Mayberry Jr. will have every opportunity to be the man out in left in 2012 and give the Phillies another viable RH-power bat alongside Hunter Pence. He sure earned a chance by his play last season.
It's odd to me that Roy Oswalt hasn't completely fallen in love with Philadelphia. I understand that he is a quiet country man from the midwest, but he is a beast on the mound who loves the lights shining on him.
The Philadelphia Phillies sent J.A. Happ to the Houston Astros, along with Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar. Happ was in the midst of a brilliant rookie campaign in which many believed he was the ROY.
It was hard to comprehend all of the trade talk surrounding Happ, as it was said that his stuff translates to a back-of-the-rotation starter at best.
How could a guy who seemingly hides the ball so well and has decent movement on his fastball be so undervalued?
He showed in his first season in Houston why. Happ was arguably the worst starter in the National League (for the worst team in the NL) as he went 6-15 with a 5.35 ERA in a pitcher-friendly park.
Oswalt, on the other hand, was the Phillies most dominating pitcher down the stretch in 2010 forming H20 (Halladay, Hamels, Oswalt). Expectations were again really high in 2012 with formation of Fat Joe and the Terror Squad (or Four Aces, whichever you prefer) but a tractor injury (you can't make this stuff up) really sidetracked Oswalt's season.
There are three things that made this deal brilliant by Amaro.
1) The Houston Astros gave the Phillies $11 million in this trade to help pay Oswalt's salary (dinner every night for Joe Blanton isn't cheap).
2) The Phillies had him under control for another season.
3) The world has forgotten about J.A. Happ already and they never knew Anthony Gose and Jonathan Villar.
Brilliance in only his fourth best trade.
Many Philadelphia Phillies fans (on this site as well) claimed that it was "ludicrous" and "ridiculous" that Ruben Amaro would be able to acquire the Houston Astros best player at the trade deadline. But that's exactly what he did (again) when he traded for Hunter Pence.
Amaro has shown that he is willing to do something that Ed Wade never was in trading top prospects. Sometimes prospects work out, sometimes they don't.
Houston nabbed two of Philadelphia's top prospects in first baseman Jonathan Singleton and right-hander Jarred Cosart, but Amaro held onto top prospect Domonic Brown. The Astros also got a 25-year-old RH named Josh Zeid and a player to be named later.
Here are just three reasons why this was a brilliant trade by Amaro:
1) Pence is under control for another season.
2) The Astros sent the Phillies $2 million to help pay the approximately $2.2 million left on Pence's salary for the rest of the year.
3) Power RH bat that plays a great RF and has the warrior type of mentality that Philly loves.
Good trade, good player, "Let's go eat!"
Ruben Amaro acquired Cliff Lee and Ben Francisco at the trade deadline of 2009 by giving up Carlos Carrasco, Jason Donald, Jason Knapp and Lou Marson. Phillies Nation was still bouncing off the wall because their team was the defending World Champions, and they had a very real chance of winning it again in 2009.
For the entire month of July, Philadelphia was rumored to be the top suitor for the brilliant Roy Halladay. GM of the Toronto Blue Jays J.P. Ricciardi certainly was not going to let fan favorite (and best player) Doc Halladay go without a king's ransom in return.
So, Amaro pulled a rabbit out of his hat (and a no thank you to Toronto) by trading for Cliff Lee for the aforementioned players. The deal was amazing and baffling at the same time.
How could Lee, the reigning American League Cy Young winner, become a Philadelphia Phillie for what they gave up? After weeks of hearing that the Phillies would be giving up Kyle Drabek, Brown and Michael Taylor, he managed to get another ace while not trading any of his top prospects.
Lee proceeded to dominate the New York Yankees in a way that was so brilliant that the man is now commonly referred to as in Philadelphia as "Noble steed" and/or "Unicorn."
Walk down Broad Street and say either of those terms and you will be welcomed with open arms.
I'll stick with the mythical creatures references for a minute and say that watching Roy Halladay take the mound every fifth day is liking watching a Titan completely dominate a...
I can't even do the man justice with a play on words. Halladay won the NL Cy Young in 2010 and he should've won it again in 2011. The best pitcher in baseball was signed to a three-year contract extension at a very reasonable $20 million per year.
The Phillies traded pitcher Kyle Drabek, outfielder Michael Taylor and catcher Travis D’Arnaud to the Blue Jays for Doc in December of 2009 (the same day they traded Cliff Lee).
Some still may claim that we gave up a ton for Halladay, but it’s important to remember that we got the best pitcher in baseball at an extremely fair price for five years.
The Lee deal (Version 1.0) would've been the best deal Amaro has pulled off due to the fact that he gave up so little for so much, but Amaro being able to sign Halladay to an extension right away puts this deal over the top.
In Ruben we trust.