Philadelphia Phillies: The Light at the End of the Tunnel is Definitely a Train

By Charlie Lichty

Philadelphia Phillies GM Rueben Amaro, Jr. might be wearing tinted glasses to lessen the glare of the bright light shining in his eyes. It’s coming from the proverbial train that is now roaring down the track and heading straight for him.

He has no one to blame but himself. Over the past several years, he has compromised the long-term stability and success of the Phillies franchise. His yearning to play with the big boys, ie. New York Yankees, has a price tag attached to it.

The early returns on his tenure were exciting and inspiring. Amaro was officially named the Phillies new general manager and senior vice-president of the franchise on November 1, 2008, a day after the Phillies’ World Series parade down Broad Street.

However, his involvement and contribution to the current situation began 10 years earlier when he became assistant to then-GM, Ed Wade, for seven years. He continued in that role for another three years under Pat Gillick before assuming the reins in 2008.

Success often breeds contempt. Following the World Series jubilation in 2008, talk often revolved around the likelihood that the Phillies would become a dynasty. Money poured in and player contracts expanded into the ridiculous realm.

Building the franchise with talent from the Minor League farm was as foreign an idea as would replacing the Phillie Phanatic with prior mascots, colonial-era Philadelphia Phil and Phillis — not sexy enough and boring.

It should have been fair warning when the Yankees defeated the Phillies in the 2009 World Series.  Although some luster was taken off the glory of the previous year’s trophy, it was still full steam ahead.

It would be somewhat unfair to list the players who benefited financially from the largess that Phillies management had embarked upon. Suffice it to say that this only fueled the speed of the train and kept it moving recklessly onward toward its destiny.

In the end, it’s not the players’ faults that spending got out of hand. How many workers refuse raises when offered by management?

The bill is now due for the “keeping up with the Joneses” strategy. Roy Halladay is the first of the lot to come due. Others will follow in the near future.  It will impose changes on the Phillies franchise.

Amaro may have waited too long to get off the track. This is one train that will not be delayed.

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