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Amaro had his reasons for the Polanco deal. Bad reasons, but reasons all the same

Dec 4, 2009, 8:55 AM EDT

Neither Aaron, nor Matthew nor I are all that thrilled with the Polanco deal, but via Rosenthal, Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. defends the length of the deal thusly:

1. “I think he’s going to be in shape — he takes care of himself.

“He’s versatile, he can move around. If he’s not playing third base in
two years, maybe he can go somewhere else (on the field).

“3. “We really don’t have anybody coming in the system at third base. We’re trying to protect ourselves.

4. “I wanted to be aggressive. I like him.”

Whatever. Most ballplayers take care of themselves. They still decline with age.

And where else is Polanco going to play? Utley is at second. Rollins is at short. There are three All-Star outfielders, and even if one of them goes down, Polanco’s bat couldn’t carry, say, left field even in his best years, which are almost certainly behind him. Basically, Amaro is saying that if he can’t stick at third for the length of the deal, he’s willing to pay $6 million for an old backup infielder.

Reason number three is the reason to go after any third baseman and doesn’t justify Polanco’s deal in any way. Reason number four — I simply like the guy — is the only one that actually illuminates the deal that was made. Amaro went with his gut.

Good for him and his gut, but it doesn’t make $18 million over three years to Polanco any more justifiable.

  1. bigcatasroma - Dec 4, 2009 at 9:08 AM

    I keep having to chase you across the intertubes to different sites. Stay still for more than 12 mos., will ya! Alas, as exam season approaches, my time to enjoy baseball snark declines . . .
    I’m torn in half with the Polanco signing. I agree with both you and Neyer – the two opposite ends on this one.
    On the one hand, he’s great value (half of his FanGraphs value – say what you will about FanGraphs, but half is still half), can play 3d (and 2d if Chutley needs a day off), and as long as his avg. is up, his middle power and low K rate will allow him to make less outs than Feliz.
    On the other hand, it is 3 years for a guy with little ability to get on base without hitting entering his decline phase. And you’re 100% right on Amaro’s point #3 – if that’s the case, then go get *anyone* and develop a 3d baser over the next 2-4 years.
    Amaro, while not seeming to be a “Moneyball” type GM, and someone stuck in the Dallas Green – 1980s mold, *has* developed a top-5 farm system (at least according to BP – I think Klaw has them in top 10, but I’m not sure) and back-to-back NL penants, with no reason to think they can’t compete again for the Trebble. I don’t really like this style – Amaro is so orthodox that in 2010 he’s unorthodox – but in the same way the Angels keep pumping out 95 win seasons, maybe Amaro, in his old school ways, has found that new market inefficiency and is pouncing . . .

  2. Megary - Dec 4, 2009 at 10:19 AM

    Sure looks like a not so veiled hint at Utley to 1B, Polanco to 2B in 2012…after Howard signs with the Yankees to DH. Or Polanco remains at 3B and they look for a 2B. That’s at least some flexibility that your post doesn’t take into account.
    Just curious, at what age do ballplayers become “old”? Is it when they reach a certain age or is it in hindsight, when we can look back at their numbers and say “Aha!”
    And what has Beltre, Figgins and Derosa signed for? Until you have this little bit of information, you can not say 18/3 is too this or too that.

  3. Chris - Dec 4, 2009 at 10:44 AM

    Sigh. I like Ruben Amaro — we went to the same school in Philly, though he was six years ahead of me — and he made some superfantastic moves last summer that took the Phils back to the World Series. But this move is dumb, not because Polanco’s a bad fit (someone has to play third, and he’s a small but measurable upgrade on Feliz) but because (1) there’s no reason to commit three years to him at any price, and (2) the price tag is just silly.

  4. Fast Eddy - Dec 4, 2009 at 10:45 AM

    What you failed to address is that Polanco has really been a utility player most of his career. He was not been a regular for an entire season, even though as a bit player he was very good. I really like the old Polanco, however, he will not be able to play 100 games in the season and be effective. A player is old when he can’t produce on a regular basis for at least 100 plus games in a season.

  5. Megary - Dec 4, 2009 at 11:42 AM

    Fast Eddy: Polanco has played over 100 games in a season for the past 10 seasons, so I’m not sure where you are going with that. Unless your argument is that he hasn’t been effective for the last ten seasons…
    I’m not saying the Polanco signing was perfect, just that it’s a little early to judge 18/3 as being too much.

  6. Cru11 - Dec 4, 2009 at 12:37 PM

    He has a .300 avg in his 8 seasons in the NL and puts the ball in play. 43/665 K/PA ratio is pretty good in my book. Im sure he’ll be able to move runners around with that talented Philly lineup

  7. Fast Eddy - Dec 4, 2009 at 2:14 PM

    OK have it your way. you will find that in the first two months of the season, you will be rewarded. After July, he will not produce as he does in April thru June.

  8. Cru11 - Dec 4, 2009 at 5:34 PM

    Really Fast Eddy? Youre also the numbskull who declared that Polanco wouldnt be effective in 100 games but hes averages 122 games played a year and he as a a career average over .300?? So is Polanco known for declining down the stretch because I dont think you hit above .300 for a career and are known for tanking after the break. Consistency my friend.

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