As the Philadelphia Phillies finished what turned out to be a marathon series against division rivals the New York Mets, one couldn’t help but think that the end is near. The Phillies lost four of five, dropped to a season-worst seven games under .500, and played some incredibly bad baseball for a group of players who won a World Series back in 2008.
So, the question now becomes when, not if, the Phillies should blow everything up and start the rebuilding process.
However, an even bigger question is whether Ruben Amaro Jr. should be trusted with the responsibility in the first place. He inherited a team that had just won a World Series when he replaced Pat Gillick as GM. The following year in 2009, he kept the core of the team intact, added outfielder Raul Ibanez, as well as Pedro Martinez and Cliff Lee to the pitching rotation, and watched as the Phillies returned to the World Series, losing to the New York Yankees in six games.
Acting almost as a harbinger of things to come, the team has gone downhill ever since.
Now, the Phillies are hamstrung by a roster filled with older players with long-term, overpriced contracts, underperforming younger players, and a depleted farm system due to trade after trade that netted the team nothing. Most, if not all of those decisions directly involved Amaro Jr.
This leads us to rebuilding the Phillies, and who would be best to do so. If you look at the times Amaro Jr. did pull the trigger on a trade, it almost never helped the Phillies in a significant way. When he traded Lee away in 2009, the Phillies acquired a group of prospects that have yet to make any contribution to the team almost five years later.
In 2012, when the he moved Shane Victorino, Joe Blanton and Hunter Pence at the trade deadline, it was essentially for nothing, except maybe to make room on the payroll for the mega contract Cole Hamels had just signed.
When you take all that into consideration, you can see why some fans might be nervous to have Amaro Jr. be in charge of making deals for the likes of Jonathan Papelbon, Ryan Howard, Lee (again) or Chase Utley; if you are going to blow up the Phillies, it’s important that once the smoke clears, the team is in a better situation than it was before. Otherwise, blowing everything up isn’t really worth it.
So far, Amaro Jr. has done nothing to show that he should be trusted with the job. Under his leadership, the Philles have gone from World Series champions to a team that has almost no chance of making the playoffs, short of a miraculous run during the second half of the season.
If the decision is made to blow up what’s left of a once-proud Phillies team come the trade deadline, it might be time to let Amaro Jr. go up with the rest of them and start with a completely clean slate.