It must be nice living in the fantasy world of denial that Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. does. As his team continues to slip further into the cellar of the NL East, arguably the worst division in baseball, stories continue to trickle out about just how incompetent Philadelphia’s front office is. That latest development? The Phillies ‘accidentally’ sending a prospect to the Astros in the Hunter Pence deal named Domingo Santana. Jose de Jesus Ortiz of the Houston Chronicle unearthed some especially troubling details about the sort of oversights that are reserved for middle school students, not men in control of multi-million dollar payrolls.
Less than two months after they picked George Springer from the University of Connecticut, the Astros sent Pence and cash to the Phillies on July 29, 2011, for Cosart, Singleton, Zeid and a player to be named, which ended up being Santana. In spring training, a Phillies official admitted that Santana wasn’t actually supposed to be on the list that was given to the Astros to pick from to satisfy the final piece on Aug. 15, 2011.
So basically, as Amaro Jr. and the Phillies front office were executing a move that is often looked at as the last transaction of the team’s golden age, they were unknowingly handing the suddenly promising Astros a prospect who figures to be a fixture in the starting lineup in the near future. The 21-year-old outfielder is hitting .297 in Triple-A and slugged 25 home runs at the Double-A level last season. Given the Phillies glaring void in the outfield, one would think Santana would fit quite nicely when stacked up against Domonic Brown or Ben Revere.
As if the clerical error that cost the Phillies Santana wasn’t enough, Ruben Amaro Jr. wasted no time taking to the media to try to squash the story. The first-ballot candidate for most-hated man in Philadelphia instead defended the move and the results of it (a season of Hunter Pence).
“We didn’t want to put Santana on the list but we had to to get the deal done…There were several prospects we didn’t want to part with in that deal but we were trying to acquire the best right-handed hitter on the market and that was the price. I understand we’re going to get picked apart because we haven’t had success for a couple of years, but this is not true.”
My take: Ruben Amaro Jr. should take a page out of Sam Hinkie’s book and stop opening his mouth. The product on the field is embarrassing enough at this point that the fans, and the players for that matter, don’t need Ruben exacerbating things by addressing every little thing that comes up with his floundering squad. He isn’t good enough in the media to spin things positively. Although at this point, I don’t think Bill Clinton’s rhetoric could paint this train wreck any more brightly than Amaro Jr.