Ruben Amaro Jr. Calls Out Phillies’ Fan Base


The Philadelphia Phillies fan base is about to be outraged by Ruben Amaro Jr. yet again. This morning in an interview with Jim Salisbury, Amaro took a shot at the Phillies fan base. The quote was from an interview regarding the plan for Phillies prospect Aaron Nola, among other things. This year in Double-A, Nola has been very good—sporting a 1.87 ERA in 57.2 innings pitched. Those numbers lead all starters in Double-A Reading. In his statement, Amaro talked about the process of Aaron Nola and that the Phillies fans don’t know or understand the game or its processes.

"“They don’t understand the game,” Amaro said. “They don’t understand the process. There’s a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don’t have a plan. There’s a plan in place and we’re sticking with the plan. We can’t do what’s best for the fan. We have to do what’s best for the organization so the fan can reap the benefit of it later on. That’s the truth.”"

In the statement above Amaro talks about the process for the Phillies while taking a shot at the knowledge of the Phillies’ fan base. Amaro also states that the Phillies’ fan base ‘bitches and complains.’

First off, I don’t think Amaro meant this to come off like it reads. There is a message in there, but it is going to be completely overlooked because of the phrasing. Anytime you take a shot at a fan base, telling them they bitch and complain, they’re not going to care about your message. It becomes personal to them.

Funny enough, it seems that Amaro is bitching about the fans bitching. But, that is really beside the point right here. I don’t think Amaro is technically wrong here. The fans do complain, but that is because they care. It is part of the passion for the game. In a time where the Phillies are one of the worst teams in MLB, the fans want to be excited about something. The recent call-up of Maikel Franco has been something to get the fans excited, but if they see a player dominating in the minors, they want to see him at the next level.

It really isn’t about the process for the fans, it is about excitement. It is about the entertainment value of the product on the field—which makes sense. Remember when Darin Ruf hit 38 home runs in 2012? No one cared that Ruf was old for Double-A, or that he did not have a true position, they cared about the entertainment value of Ruf hitting home runs for the Phillies. Even if Ruf didn’t produce, they wanted to see what he could do. That even remains true today when fans have the Dom Brown versus Darin Ruf arguments.

Now, on the other end of this, the fans don’t understand the process. As an outsider of the organization, no one knows the Phillies’ plan for Nola or any other prospect. The Phillies could be planning to bring him up post All-Star break, but aren’t announcing anything. There is a lot that goes on behind the scenes. Amaro also needs to know that fans aren’t willing to hear about a process because of the decline in success since their World Series victory in 2008. Each year the Phillies have declined in terms of where then finished. Add onto that the fact that the Phillies don’t graduate many top draft picks that have succeeded at the next level. The last first-round pick to make an impact at the next level was Cole Hamels—who was selected in 2002.

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When that is the case, it is fair to understand the hostility of the fans. If you’re team went from first to worst in seven years, there will be a disconnect between the fans and management. The fans have also seen the Giants winning three World Series in five years, which isn’t too fair of a comparison, but it is made. The lack of success in recent years, coupled with loyalty to aging players and an unsuccessful farm system has led to hostility from the fan base.

In his statement, Ruben Amaro Jr was wrong with his phrasing, but I do not doubt that there is a plan. The Phillies know the Nola is a good prospect (number two in their system) and that there needs to be a plan in place. Amaro also knows that the Phillies aren’t very good and Nola has just 20 minor league starts under his belt. I do believe that Nola could pitch at the major league level right now, but it isn’t a do-or-die decision. Personally, I believe that the next step is to get Nola to Triple-A to see if the success continues, which it should. Nola has plus-control with all of his pitches, which is extremely important in transferring success from one level to another. Coming out of LSU, Nola as referred to as the most major-league ready pitcher. That is probably another reason fans aren’t excited to see him staying in Double-A.

In the end, fans believe that Ruben Amaro Jr. is the reason the Phillies have declined. Why would they trust someone to run a process when each of the previous processes has failed? This isn’t just on Amaro, as the entire Phillies organization from the top-down has failed. Sure, Amaro has made some moves that haven’t played out well, and that is his fault to an extent, but others do sign off of these moves. The Cliff Lee signing was very expensive, but didn’t the fans love that deal when it happened? I believe so. It gave the Phillies a shot at another World Series with one of the top-five pitchers in baseball. Now that he is hurt and the Phillies owe him a lot of money this year, they’re speaking up. Amaro is going to get crushed by the fans regardless of what he does at this point. The internal failure to draft players and get them through the system to the major leagues is a huge problem. Since Aaron Nola is performing well in the minors, fans want to see what he can do at the next level. While I think Amaro was out of line with his phrasing, he does have a point. This whole rebuild is a process. Whether or not he will be around for the entire process, or even one more year, remains to be seen.

Update: Amaro spoke to noted Phillies’ apologist Howard Eskin this morning, in an attempt to do damage control for his comments. (Quotes transcribed courtesy of Crossing Broad.)

"“I didn’t say they don’t understand,” Amaro said. [His exact quote from earlier: “They don’t understand the game. They don’t understand the process.”] “Some fans don’t understand. It’s not all Philadelphia fans.” Ruben then back pedaled so hard he was tumbling on the ground just tossing out “some” and “not all” and “those fans” until he stopped spinning:“That was not the purpose of it. It is some fans who think that bringing [Zach] Eflin and [Aaron] Nola, for instance, to the Major Leagues at this time is the right thing for the organization. It’s those fans that really quite, don’t know—or bringing young minor league players to the Major Leagues before it’s time for them to really be ready to reap the benefits of being in the Major League. It’s those fans that really don’t understand.When I said that, it’s more about the fan that really doesn’t understand the process—and it’s not all fans. There are just some who feel like, ‘Let’s just bring this guy because he’s a young player and it’s OK, we just wanna see him.’ That’s not how the process works. And you know, when I said the fan, that’s not all the fans. I know that there’s a lot of knowledgeable fans. There are those loud, minority of fans that believe that we should be doing x, y, or z and we have to do our work based on what’s important and what we feel is right for the organization as a whole …I think it’s important for the fans to understand that what we’re doing is ultimately for the fan. When we develop those guys properly, we should be in position to be able to entertain the fans the way we want to on a perennial basis. We can’t make decisions based on what the fan wants from us. It’s ultimately about putting our organization is position to get us to the point, where we can entertain the fans in the best way we can.”"