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Ruben Amaro: "I'm not a Dummy"

Feb 2, 2010, 12:14 PM EST

Despite pulling off the Halladay trade and extension, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro has continued to get flak for not keeping Cliff Lee too and shooting for the moon in 2010.  He responded yesterday:

“I was talking to some people the other day,” Amaro recalled, “and I
said, ‘I’m not a dummy. I know what Cliff Lee means to our rotation in
addition to Halladay and [Cole] Hamels. It’s a no-brainer.’ … Our goal is to be a contender every year — not
just to be a competitor, but to be a contender every year. That’s
really my job. As an executive of the club, it’s my job to do what I
can to try to maintain that level of talent on the club and that hope
from the fans. So, yes, I’d like to have a championship, but not at the
cost of having our organization not be good for 10 years.

I’ve wondered about decision to trade Lee too, but I’m not going to go crazy over it. The Phillies should still be favored to win the division this year, and there’s no real reason to believe that they’d have the resources to sign Cliff Lee beyond 2010 after locking up Halladay. They did what they did, it’s not the worst move anyone has made this winter, and life will go on without Cliff Lee.

Still, I’m not quite sure that Amaro’s reasoning here is all that compelling.  Sure, no one wants to have their team “not be good for 10 years,” but is the haul they got for Lee — Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez — the sort of thing that prevents that?  As Matthew noted at the time of the trade, the Phillies, like the Mariners, likely view Aumont as a relief prospect.  Ramirez has potential, but he got beat up a bit last year and is still a work in progress.  Gillies had nice numbers last year in strong hitting environments, but probably projects to be a fourth outfielder.

Like I said, Amaro has a ring and has made some good moves, so he’s entitled to some benefit of the doubt. But ask yourself: is a relief prospect, a raw starter and a potential fourth outfielder the kind of thing that keeps a team competitive for a decade?  Put differently, are they worth a season of a stone-cold killer of a rotation plus a first round pick once Lee leaves via free agency?

I kind of don’t think so.

  1. ecp - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:23 PM

    You missed one other point: The prospects Amaro gave up to get Halladay are way better than the ones he got for Lee. And that doesn’t bode as well for the next ten years either.

  2. RobRob - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:29 PM

    The compensation pick can be a bit overrated. Remember that a good chunk (half?) of the teams are protected, so they won’t lose their first round pick.

  3. Vas! - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:35 PM

    Well, yeah, if you take the worst case scenario for each prospect you’re going to make the trade, well, as bad it could possibly be. As ridiculous as High Desert is, the .341/.430/.486 slash line Gillies put up hardly relegates him to 4th outfielder upside. (For comparison, the league leaders put up a composite .345/.431/.636 line.) Aumont and Ramirez still have top of the rotation upsides, and Aumont looks to be a back of the ‘pen guy at worst.
    Looking at it another way, the Phils haul for one season of Lee is at least equal to what they gave up for 1.5 season of Lee and 4 cost controlled years of a very, very good 4th outfielder in Ben Fransisco.
    The way I look at it, the Phils are in a position to contend for a playoff spot for the next few years, and the early winter moves guarantees that they’ll have two aces (assuming, foolishly perhaps, that Hamels bounces back) locked up for the foreseeable future. Amaro is minimizing risk, and while it’s not very sexy, I love the idea of footing for a team that will be contending for the indefinite future, monster rotations notwithstanding.

  4. jsf - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:52 PM

    I agree. Gillies is a very exciting prospect. In addition to top of the order batting skills, he is incredibly fast and was also named the best outfield arm in the Seattle farm system. Why can’t he become Shane Victorino, if not even more? He’s 20 years old. Aumont was named one of the best 50 prospects in baseball. Sure, it would be nice to have Kyle Drabek and the other prospects in the Halladay deal still around, but Amaro has locked down his rotation for the next 3-4 years. With the hitting and defense they have, that means this team will be a perennial contender for the foreseeable future.

  5. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:56 PM

    They could have lost Lee to free agency and gained a pick or two.
    There is no guarantee in tomorrow or the draft pick, This guy pulled off the two best trades of the off season, leave they guy alone, he got his team back to defend it’s title, the Yankees smacked them back to reality, but hey, we are the Yankees.
    Get ya popcorn ready fellas, Spring is in the air.

  6. Jonny5 - Feb 2, 2010 at 12:59 PM

    Why does everyone forget about Ben Fransisco. He could start at OF in many cities. He was why the Phillies look to have gotten the short end on the “prospects” side, because no one thinks of him him as a prospect. So did they really get the short end after all? They got an excellent 4th OF to boot. If he was given a healthy dose of at bats I’d say his average would be much better ,his defense is good. But he’s left out of the after trade talks many times.

  7. George Parrish - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:18 PM

    Brian Sabean uttered much the same words when he traded Matt Williams for Jeff Kent and a couple of sandwiches. Unfortunately, over time, Sabeans actions have proved that he borders on nitwit or dimwit, depending on how many minor leaguers he has at his disposal.

  8. ecp - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:20 PM

    The only top 50 that Aumont is currently in is Fanhouse, a dubious source at best. Dobber Baseball has him at 54. Keith Law doesn’t have him in the top 100. Baseball America, Baseball Prospectus, and John Sickels don’t quite have their top 100s out yet, but I’ll lay odds that he won’t be in the top 50; all three of these will downgrade him because he’s currently projecting as a reliever. At any rate – he’s no Kyle Drabek.

  9. GBSimons - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:25 PM

    “(W)e are the Yankees.”
    Really? You got Derek Jeter in your pocket or something?

  10. GSS - Feb 2, 2010 at 1:47 PM

    The Phils plan to make Aumont a starter.

  11. Omar Minaya - Feb 2, 2010 at 2:11 PM

    I can vouch that Amaro is not a dummy. He never attends the meetings. The Dummy meetings I mean.

  12. Simon DelMonte - Feb 2, 2010 at 2:22 PM

    Yes. But that comment was defensive in a very Omar kind of way. Have you been slipping him dummy pills in hopes of stopping the Phils?
    And what sort of dummy are you? The kind who’s entirely stupid, or the sort who’s made of wood and mouths the thoughts others put there?

  13. Old Gator - Feb 2, 2010 at 2:39 PM

    “I am not a crook.” – Tricky Dick
    .
    “I did not have sex with that woman Monica Lewinsky.” – Slick Willie
    .
    “I never laid a hand on that bitch.” – Isiah Thomas
    .
    “Which floor has the department where they sell the training bras?” – Steve Phillips
    .
    “I never took steroids.” – Roger Clemens
    .
    “Margo who?” – Wade Boggs
    .
    “He’s got ‘em.” – George W. Bush
    .
    “I did not have sex with that woman Linda Tripp. And you can believe me because I never lie and I’m always right.” – Old Gator

  14. moreflagsmorefun - Feb 2, 2010 at 2:48 PM

    Yeah funny guy, who is your team, you failed to say.
    I bet because they are not so good.

  15. BC - Feb 2, 2010 at 3:08 PM

    I’m both types of dummy. I have the IQ and baseball savvy of a dead houseplant, and Fred Wilpon has his hand up my a– and keeps telling me I can’t sign anybody.

  16. Talex - Feb 2, 2010 at 3:29 PM

    Lee, Halladay, Hammels, Happ, and Blanton would have been a mean rotation and probably a World Series title in 2010. Without Lee it will be what it was last year: just not quite enough.
    After watching both Halladay and Lee last year, I would have taken Lee any day. He’s got more guts than Halladay; and Hallday is more on the way down than on the way up.
    And one other thing: You can’t be the Yankees when they are the World Champions. Your not even the Red Sox there guy!

  17. fake experts - Feb 2, 2010 at 4:13 PM

    Man, i love all the experts out there. “I would take Lee over Halladay anyday.” Have you seen Halladay pitch?? Who has a better career?? The same person is probably saying, “get rid of Hamels, he is washed up”. Here’s a thought, the PHILLIES GOT BETTER!!!! The bench is better, 3B is better, the rotation is better and they are adding more pieces in the bullpen. Here is another thought…you don’t play on paper!! The Phillies won the WS in 2008 but they were not the best team on paper. They were the best TEAM!!!! There are no guarantees in winning the WS but damn, i like their chances of getting there.

  18. frustrated Phils fan - Feb 2, 2010 at 4:32 PM

    As a Phils fan, I am extremely ticked off by them trading Lee. They would have an excellent shot to win it all this year and instead traded Lee for 3 middle of the road prospects. 1 year of Lee and a great shot to win it all this year was easily the way to go. No brainer except for Amaro who seems to think that being pretty good for a few years is better than improved shot of winning it all. Phils now are no better than they were last year as they will fall short again. It’s not like the 3 guys they got really improve their chances to be better in the long run either. Their lineup is still young and they have some good young players such as Happ and Brown in pipeline. So they will be good for at least next 3 – 4 years anyway not including the 3 prospects. Amaro really blew it!

  19. behappy - Feb 2, 2010 at 5:18 PM

    It’s water over the bridge. Let’s get on with the season.

  20. kevin stewart - Feb 3, 2010 at 9:33 AM

    I did not understand the trade they should have kept Cliff Lee he a STUD!!!!!

  21. GBSimons - Feb 3, 2010 at 10:22 AM

    I’m a Cardinals fan. I’d say 10 World Series titles is pretty good for a city one-tenth the size of New York.
    Of course, I’m just happy for their success. I don’t claim to be a part of it, nor do I make it a part of how I define myself.

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