Ryan Howard's monster contract extension a few years ago is just one of the costly moves the Phillies have made under Ruben Amaro. Credit: Getty Images
Ruben Amaro Jr. is the worst general manager in baseball, if not in all of sports. He cannot evaluate talent, negotiates insane contracts and is atrocious at making trades. He has taken a championship roster and sent it free-falling into last place. Is there one good reason – just one –why he should be allowed to continue his demolition of the Phillies?
The only person who can answer that question is president Dave Montgomery, and his recent medical problems have rendered him unavailable for comment. But he will have to speak soon, and his first order of business will be to provide a logical response to the thousands of fans clamoring for the GM’s head.
If there was any remaining doubt about Amaro’s stunning ineptitude, it expired at 4 p.m. last Thursday, when he could complete not a single deal on the second busiest trade-deadline day since 1986. Eighteen teams swapped 37 players, and yet Amaro whiffed.
Then he made the situation even worse. When asked to explain the lack of moves, he actually said: "I'm not disappointed, more surprised there wasn't more aggressive action from the other end.”
In other words, it was the fault of the other 29 GMs. The Boston Red Sox managed to make four deals last Thursday. Why was the “other end” so much more aggressive with them? Why did more than half of the teams in baseball find trade partners, but not Amaro?
On a day when ace pitchers David Price and Jon Lester were traded, there was no market for Cole Hamels? Relievers Andrew Miller and Huston Street were dealt before the deadline, but no one showed any interest in Jonathan Papelbon? Outfielders Martin Prado and Austin Jackson found new homes, yet no one wanted Marlon Byrd? Really?
Later, Amaro admitted that he valued his players more than other teams, and there’s a logical reason for that – the GM wouldn’t know a good baseball player if the guy threw a 100-mile-per-hour fastball right under his chin. Amaro loved Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez, but was blasé about Ken Giles. Need any more proof than that?
The best hope fans have for the long-overdue firing of Amaro is the reaction throughout baseball since the deadline passed. Some of baseball’s biggest voices – Buster Olney of ESPN, Kevin Millar of the MLB Network, Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports – have lined up not merely to rip Amaro, but also to mock him.
Montgomery has always managed to seal himself off from criticism of his team, and especially of Amaro. But there is no way to do that now. When a GM whines about the lack of aggressiveness of other teams on one of the busiest trade days ever, he invites derisive howls that are impossible to ignore.
Phillies attendance is plummeting, the roster is a mess and now the baseball world is laughing at Ruben Amaro. In the final analysis, Dave Montgomery doesn’t really have a decision to make about Ruben Amaro’s future. Amaro already did that for him last week.