No one could have been happier to see that ball drop in Times Square on 2013 than Philadelphia Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. His 2013 was so disappointing the only logical conclusions one can draw is that he is either incompetent or he was saving money for one big 2014 signing. Those who dislike Amaro pick one; those in his corner pick another.
One month away from pitchers and catchers in Clearwater, Fla., he’s running out of time to make a significant move. More than that, he’s running out of significant moves that can be made. Sure, Masahiro Tanaka is out there to be had, but Amaro’s hands could be tied by a management group dead set against going over the luxury tax threshold. That leaves another lesser signing that again could underwhelm an impatient fanbase demanding a big-time move. What’s left? Amaro can still sign a significant bullpen piece and a professional right-handed bench guy, but other than that there’s not much more out there.
While Marlon Byrd had a career year as a 36-year-old, gravity and age dictate he’s not going to get better this season. His fellow aging core, many of whom he came through the Phillies’ system with, also fall into the same category. There’s no Fountain of Youth out there for players like Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard.
Amaro is hoping he can catch lightning in a bottle by keeping all three of those injury-prone players healthy over the course of a grueling six-month season. Hope is a bad strategy. Signing Tanaka, a good bench piece and a reliable back-end of the bullpen arm is a better one, and even Amaro has to know that now. What he can do about it will go a long way toward finding out if his 2014 is better than his 2013 was.