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Ruben Amaro transfers blame for 2012 season
by Scott Butler 10/13/12

Bob Brookover offered good advice on his Monday article analyzing Ruben Amaro's 2012 performance, stating, "Looking forward is always preferable to looking back after a disappointing season."

Good point, Bob. I'm just not ready yet.

Ruben Amaro's press conference with Charlie Manuel last Thursday made it hard to close the book on the 2012 season. As I mentioned earlier, he made several coaching changes, but Ruben Amaro has not earned the privilege to hire and fire coaches. Charlie Manuel has earned that right, not Ruben.

Another troubling development in the press conference was how easily Amaro absolved himself of essentially any wrongdoing.

"I'm kind of one of those guys who tries to look forward. I try not to look back unless I think I can learn something from it," Amaro said. "There are moves that we make when they work out well and ones that don't work out well that you can learn from."

Good advice, Rub. Seems to me like you have a lot to learn from. So, any regrets?

"Obviously, you can't cover for all the things that happen as far as injuries and stuff are concerned, but I guess we probably could have done a little bit better job in the bullpen," Amaro said. "We were kind of relying on some guys that had some success last year, and after having lost four of those guys during the early part of the year, it was a little tough for us to recover. That was something that I think I regret a little bit."

That's it!? You regret your work with the bullpen A LITTLE BIT!? I have to pull a quick Gary Dornhoefer and "stop it right there."

Ruben Amaro's bullpen failures

Here are the guys who he relied on entering last season.

Mike Stutes, who had a decent season but struggled down the stretch.
Antonio Bastardo, who had one good season, a history of control problems, and was a basket case at the end of 2011.
David Herndon. You are in some big time trouble if you are relying on David Herndon.
Jose Conteras, a 40-year-old pitcher coming off surgery.
Joe Savery, a converted hitter called up from the minors.
Chad Qualls. Well, his 2012 season speaks for itself.

There is no fan on earth who would be comfortable with those names. And then he throws in the injury card. It would be one thing if the 2008 Phillies lost Madson, Romero, and Durbin, proven relievers with a track record of success. The 2012 Phillies lost Stutes, Contreras, and Herndon, players with questionable at best reliability.

Ruben Amaro's mistakes covering for Utley and Howard

"As far as the rest of this stuff is concerned, you can't really cover for everything," Amaro said. "It is hard to cover for two guys in the middle of the lineup that aren't going to be back for a significant period of time. I wish we could have covered a little bit better from that."

Losing Howard and Utley is a valid and easy excuse. But Amaro cannot use that excused because he deserved plenty of blame even for those injuries.

Let's start with Utley. Ruben could not have expected him to miss three months after having almost six months of rest. But he was irresponsible to just assume Utley would be healthy. A responsible GM would have looked at Utley's history of injuries and his chronic knee problems and assumed just the opposite, ensuring a solid backup plan if and when Utley would be injured again. Amaro was so blind to the truth that he traded away his super utility man in Wilson Valdez, trusting a light hitting rookie (Galvis) and the non-hitting Martinez (who hit .174) to fill in for Utley.

In the case of Ryan Howard, Amaro did not have the luxury or the financial flexibility to replace his bat with a high priced free agent, so his only option was to replace him with bench pieces. The names Amaro chose were Nix, Wigginton, and Thome.

Hitting on second rate players is no easy task, but that is the responsibility of a general manager. We won't know if Nix could have made a difference since he missed most of the season due to injury, but we do know that Wigginton and Thome did not help.

Wigginton hit a dreadful .235. Thome could not play first base and was unsuccessful off the bench. But Amaro chose them and passed on several outfielders who could have covered immensely better for Howard's offense. Josh Willingham hit .260 with 35 HR and 110 RBI, Cody Ross hit .267 with 22 HR and 81 RBI, Raul Ibanez hit 19 HR, and Brandon Moss (who was in the Phillies system last season) hit 21 HR in 265 at-bats. Ruben chose none of them.

Amaro putting all pressure on superstars

Looking towards 2013, Ruben Amaro already removed himself from responsibility and placed it instead onto his superstars.

"There is urgency - our core guys are not getting any younger," Amaro said. "The bottom line is this: If our players that we paid a great deal of money to do not perform next year, we're going to be in trouble. We need them to perform. Ryan Howard has to perform. Chase Utley has to perform. Roy Halladay has to come back and perform. And we have to get that performance out of guys like Chooch [Carlos Ruiz] and [Cole] Hamels and [Cliff] Lee."

"If we don't get their performance, it's going to be troublesome for us. We're relying on those guys to perform. We think they will, and we're hopeful that they're healthier. But we need to support them better, and that's kind of my job to be able to try to do that."

The Phillies need their stars to perform. That is obvious. But what is the point of putting more pressure on them than they already have? It is yet another example of Ruben Amaro escaping responsibility.

Amaro preparing a 2013 horror story

Ruben Amaro has too many items occupying his attention to waste time dwelling on the past, but as he himself mentioned, moves that do not work out provide something to learn from. The frightening thought is that Ruben does not appear to feel he did a poor job.

Pat Gillick proved that minor tweaks are crucial to building a championship. Ruben thus far has failed with those minor tweaks throughout his tenure and does not seem to realize it. With few marquis free agents available and little financial flexibility, he better realize quickly or next season could be worse than last.

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