Any hope that the Philadelphia Phillies would find a new energy and sense of urgency after the All-Star break died a quick death on Friday night. Picking up right where they left off, the Phillies lost to the Atlanta Braves 6-4 behind a subpar performance from A.J. Burnett that dropped the team to 11 games below .500 on the season.
That means it’s looking more and more like the Phillies will not only be sellers at the trade deadline, but that they will be trying to move as much product as Ruben Amaro Jr. is willing to part with. The problem is that, from all accounts, Amaro Jr. isn’t willing to do that.
Ever since the idea that the Phillies were in need of a rebuild was first voiced publicly, Amaro Jr. and Phillies president David Montgomery have been resistant to the idea. They’ve said it’s not fair to the fans, attendance would drop too much and the team just doesn’t need a rebuild — all it needs is a “retooling.”
As anyone who has watched the Phillies play over the course of the last month will tell you, they need more than a retooling. They are in need of a full-on, tear-it-down-to-the-studs rebuild. And not just the big-league players, but the entire farm system in addition to the people in charge of scouting. This team has problems on every level and the longer they wait to tear it down and start over, the harder it’s going to be to fix it.
So what is Amaro Jr. afraid of? What is stopping him from just doing what needs to be done?
Is he scared for his job? If that’s the case, then someone should break it to the man that his job is already on the line. Most agree that if he doesn’t get fired this offseason, it will definitely happen next year if the team continues to perform poorly. If he’s worried about attendance, he needs to realize that ship has already sailed. The Phillies’ attendance numbers are going down at a record-setting pace with the team looking to drop about a half-million from last year, on pace to draw 2.5 million through the gates of Citizens Bank Park in 2014.
So could it be something else? Could it be as simple as Amaro Jr. just doesn’t think he has what it takes to build a championship-caliber team?
Because let’s be honest: Amaro Jr. was handed the keys to a team that had just won the World Series and has proceeded to run it into the ground. It’s always possible that did something to his confidence and now he doesn’t think he can put a winning team together from scratch. It would explain why he seems so reluctant to part ways with players such as Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and Cole Hamels. It might also explain why it has been taking so long for any of the team’s prospects to move up to the big leagues. Why even think of bringing up J.P. Crawford when good ol’ Rollins is still able to play shortstop?
Ask a group of Phillies fans and they’ll tell you that there isn’t much hope that Amaro Jr.’s retooling is going to work. And the end result will be that the team will be in even worse shape than before and that whoever takes over as GM will have an even bigger mess to clean up.
Regardless of the reasons why he’s so scared of rebuilding the Phillies, it’s a safe bet it won’t be Ruben Amaro Jr.’s problem for much longer.