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The Philadelphia Phillies Should Not Be Trade Deadline Sellers
Yes, you read that correctly. I don't believe that the Philadelphia Phillies should be sellers at the Major League Baseball trade deadline on July 31st.
No, I'm not crazy. I'm perfectly sane and I don't understand why anyone would want the Phillies to trade away their veteran players. Why? Two reasons.
1. Phillies President Dave Montgomery
2. Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr.
Everybody knows that Amaro is the worst GM in sports right now after taking over a World Series Champion in 2008 and running it directly into the ground. But I place more of the blame on Montgomery, because he is the guy who hired Amaro in the first place.
Montgomery might be good at the business of making the Phillies owners money, but he's terrible at picking front office men and even worse at being able to cut the cord. Let's start with the hiring of Amaro.
Amaro was hired when Pat Gillick retired after the 2008 World Series parade. Amaro was a Phillies lifer, having been a bat boy when his father was a member of the team, a player himself and then an executive who learned under former GM Ed Wade. Now before you assume he was ruined by Wade, think about the fact that the core of that 2008 team was drafted while Wade was the GM. And the Houston Astros have a very good minor league system, thanks to the work Wade did while he was their GM. The problem for Phillies fans is that some of that talent came from the Phillies in trades for Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence. Jonathan Singleton, Josh Zeid, Jarred Cosart and Domingo Santana would all look pretty good either wearing Phillies pinstripes or at least still being a part of the currently barren Phillies minor league system.
Who is Most to blame for the Phillies problems
The other option at the time of Gillick's retirement was Mike Arbuckle, who was in charge of the draft under Wade. Arbuckle has since gone onto the Kansas City Royals and helped to rebuild that downtrodden organization with quality drafts. Under Arbuckle's replacement, Marti Wolever, the Phillies have gotten almost nothing from their early draft picks.
As a matter of fact, all they've gotten in the form of major league talent out of the draft in the last decade are bullpen arms. That's the equivalent of a great special teams player in football. Excuse me if I'm not excited by that.
The last star player the Phillies drafted was Cole Hamels and that was way back in 2002, Arbuckle's last year in charge of the draft. Here are the Phillies' top draft picks since then.
2003 - Tim Moss, 2B
2004 - Greg Golson, OF
2005 - Mike Costanzo, 3B
2006 - Kyle Drabek, P
2007 - Joe Savery, P
2008 - Anthony Hewitt, OF
2009 - Kelly Dugan, OF
2010 - Jesse Biddle, P
2011 - Larry Greene, OF
2012 - Shane Watson, P
2013 - J.P. Crawford, SS
2014 - Aaron Nola, P
Oh the humanity!
The best player on that list is Crawford, who is all the way down in single-A ball right now. Biddle was a prospect until he was shut down recently to "clear his head", with a 3-9 record and 5.03 ERA at double-A Reading. Nola is a complete unknown for now. The rest is absolute garbage and explains why there are no young players helping this current Phillies roster. Cody Asche is starting at 3B, but even he is just holding the spot until Maikel Franco learns how to hit triple-A pitching. That is, IF he learns to hit triple-A pitching. Domonic Brown? Yeah, that was a hell of a six-week run he went on last year, wasn't it? The rest of his career has been a disaster, at the plate and in the field.
Amaro wasn't the one scouting all this dreck, but he is the one in charge of hiring those scouts and apparently they all stink. And it's not just the draft where Amaro's guys can't judge talent. Remember when Amaro foolishly traded away Cliff Lee to "replenish the farm system" when he traded for Roy Halladay? The players he received in return from Seattle were Phillippe Aumont, J. C. Ramirez and Tyson Gilles. Aumont is the only one who hasn't flamed out completely and he's pretty darn warm these days, not being able to throw strikes.
So what makes everyone think Amaro and his scouts will get even a decent player in return for trading all of the veterans on this roster? I have no confidence at all in their ability to identify talent and that's why I don't want the team to hold a fire sale at the trade deadline.
OK, they can ship out Jonathan Papelbon to whichever team is stupid enough to give the Phillies a middling prospect and assume a fraction of that ridiculous, record-breaking contract that Amaro gave him. But other than that, I say the team waits and makes moves in the offseason. Why? Because by then a new GM should be in place or a new GM and new team president should be in place.
If Montgomery doesn't fire Amaro, then he should join him on the unemployment line. Hell, Montgomery should probably be gone first.
Why Chase Utley is "The Man"
There are rumors that Montgomery might be more responsible for keeping this veteran core intact than Amaro. Montgomery is a sentimental sort, who values loyalty and wanted to reward the players who delivered a championship to the franchise with big contracts and make them "Phillies For Life." That's real nice in fantasy land, but it doesn't work in the harsh reality of professional sports and Monty should be gone.
Let's be honest. Montgomery hired Amaro and Amaro has been a colossal failure as the Phillies GM. Amaro's firing is long overdue and if Montgomery isn't willing to do it, he should follow the lead of a former Phillies president, Bill Giles and he should step down. Without Montgomery's blind loyalty, Amaro would be toast when another clear-thinking team president assumes control.
Montgomery has a minority share in ownership, so he can just keep his office while somebody with a clue takes over the team and hires a real GM. Amaro was a company guy and we saw what that got us. Let's also not ignore the fact that being a Latino, hiring Amaro was probably a great PR move for the Phillies as well. Don't be naive enough to think that didn't factor into Montgomery's (horrible) decision to hire Amaro as the GM over Arbuckle. Professional teams always have to be PR conscious, but they also need to know when they've made a mistake. Hiring Amaro was the fatal mistake that doomed this franchise's present and future.
Now is not the time to trade all of the veterans on the Phillies roster. Now is the time to get rid of Montgomery, Amaro and all of the scouting staff and really start over. That is the only way this team will be able to rebuild the franchise, because if those two are making the decisions for the Phillies franchise, you can guarantee that those decisions will be wrong.