And then to play baseball on top of that… hey, Ruben can retain some information. He may be a lot of things, but dumb ain’t one of them.
Hey, if you don’t believe me just ask Ruben.
“I was talking to some people the other day and I said, ‘I’m not a dummy,’” the GM said on Monday night at the Philadelphia Sports Writers Association banquet in Cherry Hill.
That wasn’t just some pre-emptive sweeping statement or a bit of braggadocio, either. It was some way for Amaro to flaunt that B.S. from Stanford that his baseball ability got him. Not in the least. It’s just that Amaro knows about all the folks forlornly kicking stones into the gutter because the Phillies traded Cliff Lee. He senses the touch of melancholy amongst the baseball die hards.To use a phrase, getting Roy Halladay, but dealing Lee is a major bummer.
But it wasn’t dumb trade because Amaro is no dummy. He wants you to know that because there was a method to his madness. He didn’t catch a case of the dumbs and trade away the pitcher with a Cy Young Award who just completed the greatest postseason ever by a Phillies pitcher.
“I know what Cliff Lee means to our rotation in addition to Halladay and [Cole] Hamels. It’s a no-brainer,” he said, talking about brains and relative dumbness again.
“Our goal is to be a contender every year,” he continued. “It’s 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. Absolutely not. That’s not the goal. The goal is to be a contender every year. And once you get to the World Series or get to the playoffs, it’s really a matter of who’s playing the best baseball, who’s hottest, who has the karma.”
Go ahead and pick that apart if you like. Certainly Amaro left himself open to more criticism there, but any sentence spoken by any pro sports exec is fair game for second-guessing. That’s what we do. But it’s only fair to acknowledge that Amaro has thoroughly and meticulously explained why he felt he had to trade Cliff Lee. Frankly, people with the ability to think and reason with logical and cogent points should understand that by now.
You don’t need a B.S. from Stanford or the School of Hard Knocks to figure that one out.
But that doesn’t mean we have to like it.
No, Amaro is not a dummy. We’ve established this already. But maybe he thinks you are a dummy. It kind of sounds like that when he says:
“We cannot be the New York Yankees,” he said before sitting down to dinner in Cherry Hill. “We have to have people that we can bring to the big leagues from our system. The guys who are our core players are guys from our system.”
Now some people might reason that the GM is rightly explaining how the Phillies cannot buy championships or have a payroll up to a third more than the record $140 million the team is spending on salaries in 2010. At some point, they’ll explain, low-priced rookies and up-and-comers will have to take over for potential high-priced All-Stars like Jayson Werth or Ryan Howard.
To those folks we ask, how’s that Kool-Aid taste? Is it fruity?
When a Phillies executive says his team cannot be like the New York Yankees and up the payroll in order to make sure guys like Werth and Howard and Utley and Rollins spend the rest of their careers in South Philly, it does not mean anything about giving the young and hungry kids a chance. Nope, all it means is that the Philadelphia Phillies L.P., are a corporation that plans to be run as a business with its eyes on the bottom line. Sure, they would all like to win championships and they have hired Amaro to be the guy to put together a championship-level team as long as he comes in under budget and maximizes profit.
It means they want to keep all that cash that hard-working people spent on tickets, shirts, concessions and parking from all those sellouts over the past three seasons is something the organization wants to keep for itself and not waste on some silly overhead like baseball players.Surprised?
“I guess I’d characterize myself as someone who is aggressive and someone who understands what the fans want,” Amaro said. “But at the same time, I have to do right by this organization, and in turn, I think that’s doing right by the fans.”
In biology they study how form develops and grows. Mixed in there are theories of evolution, function and structure. Students of biology have a good idea of how an organism will travel from infancy to adulthood, which seems to be a perfect training ground for a future baseball general manager. Cliff Lee an organism in its complete and mature form. He was in his peak and was on target for another above-average season.
But Lee was traded for ballplayers still in development. Though baseball people have a pretty good idea of what they will be when they are ready for the big leagues, nothing is promised or guaranteed.
In other words, Amaro traded the known to Seattle for the unknown only he’s talking like it’s a given.
Does your head hurt, too?
“It’s going to be difficult to look fans in the face and say two years from now, ‘You know, why we don't have any players to supplant some of the guys we have now is because I went for it with Cliff Lee and now we have no players to fall back on,’” Amaro said. “That's not the goal.”
The logic makes sense. We get it. But just think about how fired up the fans in the city would be heading into spring training in two weeks with Halladay, Hamels and Lee. Go ahead and think about that for a second and then think about how uninspiring minding the bottom line really is.