Late last week, Phillies General Manager, Ruben Amaro Jr. followed up Pat Gillick's comments on a rebuild with support. The Phillies management held organizational meetings this week and have the start of a plan that will begin a rebuild process for a team that is home to over-aged veterans.
Ruben Amaro distributed a handbook to coaches, scouts, athletic trainers, called "The Phillies Way" and the Phils GM had this plan in place years ago, but decided now was the best time to use it in order to change direction of the team. While framework is being set for the start of an overhaul, Amaro preaches patience, which Philadelphia fans are all too familiar to, with the Sixers undergoing a process of their own to build for the future. (via Philly.com Sports)
"We want to make sure we're implementing the things we've decided are important in the organization," Amaro said. "We're just looking to try to move forward."
"More than anything else, we're trying to get younger first and foremost," Amaro said. "That's the main priority. We're trying to have a shift, a process where - whether you want to call it rebuilding, or redevelopment, or whatever you want to call it - it's time for us to change gears and look for younger, more controllable players we think can help build us a new core and move it forward."
With a plan moving forward to get younger, Amaro focused on a couple of names he believes this team can build around include the likes of Cody Asche, Darin Ruf, Ben Revere, top prospect Maikel Franco and even Domonic Brown. Beginning to restructure the team will take plenty of effort as the Phillies aim to create a better enviornment for their player development, which has struggled significantly thanks in large part to prospects received in trades that never panned out.
"Those are all younger players who need to be surrounded by quality people and players who can help us develop them as players and people," Amaro said.
"The thought process is to design our decisions around rebuilding and identifying a new core of players that we can look to more on a long-term basis."
As this process begins, Amaro has begun with small, low-risk moves that bring back veterans Grady Sizemore and Jerome Williams, rather than focusing on a big free agent in the winter. While the Phillies may not be looking to make a splash on the free agent market in the MLB market, they are strong contenders for Yosmany Tomas, a slugging outfielder from Cuba, who will likely command a deal up to $100 million.
In order to make room for Tomas and other young players, Amaro plans to attempt trading some of the veterans that helped this team wim five straight NL East titles and a World Series Champtionship. While fans have been calling for the release of Ryan Howard and others, finding trade partners would be a more ideal situation, but it all depends on the needs of the teams that are interested.
"A lot of it depends on the needs of the clubs," Amaro said. "A lot of it depends on the flexibility that we have - and can have - as far as dollars and cents are concerned. And our priorities. Our priorities now are a little different than they were in July. We made the decision, it's time to make a shift."
There are still plenty of variables in the mix right now, including the decision facing AJ Burnett and his player option along with the health of Cliff Lee, who is recovering from left elbow issues that caused him to miss a good part of the 2014 season. Beyond that, Amaro is focusing on depth when it comes to pitching.
"We're going to try to find as many pitchers as we can that fit the mold of short-term deals that can provide some depth," Amaro said. "That's kind of the plan."
With improvements needed in nearly every facet of their organization, it is at least somewhat promising to see the embattled GM have a plan moving forward in terms of getting younger and creating a new core of players for the future. Amaro is under contract through 2015, so if the beginning of this proposed rebuild starts to take place, it is likely his job will likely stay put for at least the forseeable future.
Having Pat Gillick as a voice in your organization is a great asset, so let's hope some of his baseball genius rubs off on Ruben, otherwise we may be in for a long wait to see a contender at Citizens Bank Park.
Apter Thoughts: I am not a huge Ruben Amaro supporter by any means. The contracts he has given out are questionable at best, but I find it hard to really but all the blame on him when it comes to trades. Keep in mind, Phillies fans and management were high on "untouchable" prospect Kyle Drabek years ago. Where is he now? Still struggling to be consistent in Triple-A. The Cliff Lee deal with Seattle wasn't a bad deal conceptually, the prospects just never panned out. The Hunter Pence trade is the biggest question because who knows if the Phils really needed him anyways. At the time of the trade, they were 27 games over .500 and dealt Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid and Domingo Santana for Pence. Three of those prospects would be likely to make the 2015 Phillies. That deal is what depleted the system and tainted Amaro's reputation for good. All we have to show for Hunter Pence at this point is Tommy Joseph. As a person who works in minor leagues, I completely understand the word "prospect". When the Phils dealt Pence and Lee, they received prospects with high ceilings. I just don't think you can put all the blame on the general manager just because the players didn't pan out. That is on them. He tried to replenish the farm, but they were busts, just like Kyle Drabek, Lou Marson, Jason Donald and others. That's why trades are so unpredictable, because prospects are such a big shot in the dark. Hopefully, the Phils can deal some of their veterans for solid middle-tier prospects with upside or young guys with a little major league experience that have room to grow. It is all going to be a long process, it is just nice to see it finally starting to take place. While I would be hesitant to trade Cole Hamels, he seems to be the guy on the roster with the most value, so that would be a good way to get things underway.
Brandon Apter, Publishing Editor for Philliedelphia.com