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June 11, 2015

Ruben Amaro, Jr. and the benefit of the doubt

On Thursday afternoon, Ruben Amaro, Jr. felt compelled to do some damage control. He told the bow tied one, Fox Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, the following:

“Typically we would not comment on rumors. But when they reach this level of ridiculousness, I can say unequivocally that what has been written is false.”

Something obviously hit a nerve with the Phillies general manager, and in this case, it was a couple of reports. The first one was literally the last line of a post by CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury about the Toronto Blue Jays’ interest in Jonathan Papelbon:

"Seattle, even after acquiring Mark Trumbo, is still monitoring the market for hitters and spent the series checking in on Ben Revere."

That specific report on its own definitely isn’t a huge deal or anything worth commenting on. Next, Bob Dutton of The News Tribune in Tacoma, Washington piggybacked on Salisbury’s report by adding some detail about what the actual discussions between the two teams were like:

The Mariners inquired into the availability of Philadelphia outfielder Ben Revere, as first reported by, but talks quickly stalled when the Phillies asked for either Taijuan Walker or James Paxton in return.

It’s worth noting that Dutton later added Amaro’s response to his original post while mentioning the Walker/Paxton demand “was one version” of the story. The damage had already been done, though. The Internet had gotten a hold of that report and sure wasn’t throwing it back. Good times and "LOLRUBEN" were had by all.

Of course, the idea of asking for either of those guys in exchange for Ben Revere isn’t realistic. In Revere, the Phillies have a 27-year-old speedy leadoff guy with only a .312 OBP, someone with maybe the least power of any player in the majors, and a guy that hasn’t been an above average defender during his tenure in Philly. His speed and ability to make contact could absolutely interest a contender, but not for the price of either:

1. A 22-year-old former Top-10 prospect (Walker), even if his start to the season in the Mariners’ rotation hasn’t gone well.
2. A 26-year-old starter that isn’t viewed to have as high of a ceiling (Paxton), but who has been perfectly fine in 10 starts for Seattle so far this year.

There will always be misinformation (not saying this qualifies), but what’s interesting here is that Amaro went out of his way to deny the rumors. Around the league, it seems like a narrative has built up and circulated through the media that the Phillies GM is asking for way too much in return for his players as he tries to rebuild the organization from the current woeful state he is very much responsible for.

Amaro is portrayed as the Mr. Wonderful of Major League Baseball, all the way down to wanting some garbage royalty on every strikeout Cole Hamels throws for another team.

Mr Wonderful

A word of caution: Don't automatically let past missteps cloud your judgment and assume the worst. It’s easy to get caught up in what has already happened and assume the worst in every future situation, but things are rarely that simple. People evolve all of the time. They can learn from past mistakes.

The Phillies are in their bad situation partly because the front office held on to an aging core too long (and mostly because of poor drafting), but there are no quick fixes at this point of the game. They are going to remain a very bad baseball team in the near future regardless of whatever moves Amaro makes. This is the "taking your medicine" part, which is necessary but never fun.

Along the same lines, remember that Amaro made what were generally considered reasonable deals for Jimmy Rollins and Marlon Byrd this past offseason before the rush to judgment on his reported current demands. This tweet from Crashburn Alley’s Corinne Landrey came across my Twitter timeline the other day, and it's pretty funny. That's mostly because I think there’s some truth to it:

Ruben Amaro, Jr. hasn’t done a very good job, and because of that, he’s not going to receive the benefit of the doubt moving forward. Even as he tries to combat that perception, it doesn't seem to be going anywhere.

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann