When Ruben Amaro Jr. finally faces the facts after his tenure as the Philadelphia Phillies GM is over — which is probably soon — the story of how he let Brandon Moss go might be near or at the top of a lengthy mistake list.
Instead of keeping a young player with many good years left like Moss, Amaro acted the way he usually does — overpay an older player with a short shelf life, like first baseman Ryan Howard. These days, Howard looks every bit the old and fat player he is while Moss looks like a young and vital piece the Phillies could have built around. Instead, Moss is doing his hitting and winning for the Oakland Athletics while Howard is doing not much hitting and a lot of losing for the Phillies.
That bit of history might be too late for Amaro because someone has to be the scapegoat for this season and it won’t be second-year manager Ryne Sandberg. Still, the next Phillies’ GM must be the kind of guy who will be willing to say goodbye to veterans and have an eye on young guys who project to be long-term major leaguers.
Last year, Moss hit .256 with 30 home runs for the A’s, which were similar numbers to Howard’s last productive year with the Phillies (.253, 33 homers), which was 2011. The big difference is that Howard hasn’t done anything remotely productive since, while Moss’ career is on the uptick.
Amaro’s myopic view of the Phillies’ situation is precisely the reason the club is in the trouble it is in now. Had he implemented a long-term plan that included guys like Moss in 2011 and gotten rid of guys on the downside of their careers like Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Chase Utley, he might not have to be printing those resumes now in search of his next job.
Moss had a pretty good year at triple-A for the Phillies in 2011, but Amaro chose to ignore that and cling to the past. The lesson of Brandon Moss is a good one to learn from now that important decisions on the future are about to be made.