Prior to the Phillies opening up a four-game set with the Milwaukee Brewers last night, Ruben Amaro spoke to the media, essentially addressing a more than disgusted fanbase, after the Phillies had lost nine of their last ten.
The money quote that came out of meeting with the press was, “we’re going to have to make some changes,” but Amaro didn’t mean changes like actually seriously listening to offers for Chase Utley, Cole Hamels or Jimmy Rollins, but rather that some veterans could soon be pushed for playing time.
“What more can you say other than we’re not swinging the bats very well. I didn’t anticipate our guys being this poor. Because they are. They are this poor. We think that they’re better. But they haven’t shown it. So at some point we’re going to have to make some changes. Some guys, once they are ready to play, may be factors for us.”
According to both Todd Zolecki and Jim Salisbury, the ‘guys’ that Amaro was alluding to were Grady Sizemore, Darin Ruf, and Freddy Galvis. I hate to break it to him (well, actually I don’t), but none of those guys are going to make the Phillies a good hitting club, or vastly improve the team in any particular way.
Unless we are getting the healthy, 2008 version of Sizemore, I’m really uninspired by his pickup. Galvis might be the best fielding infielder that I’ve ever seen, but his bat is so poor that I can hardly imagine him ever making a consistent impact at the big-league level. And I’ve liked Ruf for a long-time, and would gladly place him in left-field over Dom Brown at this point, but he isn’t going to change the entire complexion of the Phillies team just by being in the lineup. It’s funny how quickly Amaro, of all people, is to embrace Ruf, though.
Amaro didn’t stop by just talking about those three, but even opened the door on third-base prospect Maikel Franco, who he had previously been hesitant to discuss.
“He’s swinging the bat well,” Amaro said. “Hey, listen, I’m looking for people who can swing the bat because we’re not doing it here. If he gets to the point where he starts swinging the bat consistently, he’s a guy who could be in play, too.”
Per Salisbury, Amaro was then pressed on where Franco would play on the big-club, with Cody Asche‘s bat having turned the corner.
“He could play first base, too.”
As much as I am a self-admitted Ryan Howard apologist, I don’t have any issue admitting that Howard is vastly underperforming when you consider how much money is making. I just found Amaro being the one to call him out quite ironic.
As I highlighted last month, I would kill to be back in 2010, and to just be able to tell Amaro to not force a Howard extension more than an year before it needed to happen. I understand how much of a joke the contract was/is, while still being able to keep in perspective that Howard is one of the greatest Phillies ever. I can rip it, because I didn’t give it. Amaro CAN subtly rip Howard, but being that he locked him up more than a year before he needed to, it just makes Amaro’s tenure, not Howard, look even worse.
As for Howard, we all know that between health and the fact that he is 34 now, he isn’t nearly the player he used to be. He will still provide occasional power spurts and will drive some runs in, but his range has rapidly declined, he isn’t hitting for nearly as many extra-base hits (doubles) as he once did, doesn’t hit lefties really at all, isn’t hitting for near the modest .260-ish overall average we had become accustomed to, and has next to no range left in the field. Frankly, his numbers look a lot better than he has performed.
It saddens me to look at things that way, but it’s the truth. But it only has to be the truth in Philadelphia because Ruben Amaro had to rush and lock Howard up more than a year before he was set to become a free-agent. So Amaro can complain about sleeping in this dirty bed, but it’s a bed that he made for himself.
As for the Franco idea, I’d be surprised if we don’t see him at the big-league level at some point this year, but I wouldn’t expect it to come before the trade-deadline. And it is too bad that Asche isn’t a right-handed hitter, because him platooning with Howard at first, and then maybe going back to third on the days that Howard starts, would make a lot more sense because he isn’t exactly flashing the leather over at third-base (he had his eighth error last night), but you still want his bat in the lineup everyday.