Ron Costello

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Amaro's Ten Moves

It's the time of year when baseball people lose their jobs — especially if the baseball team is 16 games below .500 and 23 games out of first place in the NL East Division.

Already the club dumped it's general manager of scouting, Marti Wolever, and like November turkeys, more may be axed. Vulnerable are the hitting coach, pitching coach, base coaches and bench coach — not to mention the manager of the team, of course.

Everybody except the person who put the team together for the Texas season-opener back on March 31.

Mr. Amaro has been too loyal to a core group of players he thought could still be winners. Well they can't be, and he was wrong — but he wasn't totally off his rocker.

The starting second baseman in the  NL All Star game was Chase Utley. J-Roll and Marlon Byrd had decent seasons. Chooch's numbers are down and injuries continue to haunt him, but he's a steady hand for pitchers. Hamels pitched well, and the bullpen showed positive signs.

And Ryan Howard, despite a near Mandoza Line batting average, did have 23 home runs and 95 RBIs. Papelbon? If you over look his distasteful on-field behavior and locker room distraction — had a great year.

We found out that Cody Asche is a steady, productive major league bat who can play third.

Now look. Do you see what I'm doing?

It's exactly what Junior cannot do — look for signs of a  rainbow amidst a dark and gloomy thunderstorm.  He's respected the core group long enough. They don't have the capacity to "win it" any longer for the Philadelphia Phillies. Let's move on.

Junior now has to respect the loyal fan base and come back in 2015 with a young and hungry team.

To do that, here are ten moves he must make:

1. He's got to trade Hamels and get two blue-chip, can't miss outfielders for each side of Ben Revere. Domonic Brown has had enough chances, trade him. He might bring value in return, a bench role player or another bullpen arm.

2. He's got to find a way to trade Papelbon and make Ken Giles the closer. Test out Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez in the set up role.

3. Move Cody Asche to second — allow Asche and Cesar Hernandez to battle it out  — or, if Asche doesn't have the range, to a fourth outfielder role.

4. Make Freddy Galvis the starting shortstop.

5. Find another team — preferably in the American League — for Ryan  Howard.

6. Put Darin Ruf at first base and Maikel Franco at third.

7. Make Chooch back up and either by trade or the free agent market, find a good catcher who can hit fifth or sixth.

8. Rebuild the rotation through the farm, trades, and the free agent market, which may be Amaro's most difficult challenge. David Buchanan and Jerome Williams deserve a look. There may be others in the farm such as Jonathan Pettibone, Ethan Martin, or Miguel Alfredo Gonzalez.

9. Build the bench around Sizemore, Rollins, Utley, and Bryd. Not playing the entire marathon season — and, yes, slightly over paid for coming off the bench — they could be productive.

10. Tweak the bullpen — although inconsistent all season — it has talent. Unlike the rotation, the bullpen doesn't have to be rebuilt.

Mr. Amaro has been riding the coattails of the core — Howard, Utley, Rollins, Ruiz, Lee, Hamels, and Papelbon — long enough. Let's see what kind of general manager he truly is, when everyone else in the room knows what to do.

Like the old tennis idiom my friend Al Link would use:

Junior, the ball's in your court!
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