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Amaro Delivers: Time for Phillies to do the Same

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The ticker tape from the 2008 World Series parade had barely been swept away when Ruben Amaro Jr. was introduced as the new Phillies General Manager on November 1st, 2008.

Ruben Amaro Jr.

In the nearly three years since his promotion, Amaro has made a routine of granting the wishes of fans, players, and his team’s manager.

Want a staff ace? Done. How about another? And another? No problem.

His latest gift to the franchise and its followers is an All-Star right fielder who is a perfect fit for this city and for the only void remaining in the team’s lineup.

Along with his predecessors Pat Gillick and Ed Wade, Amaro has helped construct a team that is stocked with talent. The Phillies feature a roster with 37 All-Star appearances among 14 different players. The only everyday player who has not been an All-Star is Carlos Ruiz, whom many consider to be among the best at his position. There are two former league MVPs (Jimmy Rollins and Ryan Howard), a World Series MVP (Cole Hamels), 3 Cy Young Awards (Two by Roy Halladay, the other by Cliff Lee), 7 Silver Sluggers (Four for Chase Utley, one each for Howard, Jimmy Rollins and Placido Polanco)  and 8 Gold Gloves (three by Rollins and Shane Victorino, two won by Polanco).

If sports are all about assembling talent and then getting it to perform up to its capabilities, then the Phillies have surely accomplished the first step in the equation. So, as autumn approaches, Amaro's work is largely done. He has taken advantage of every opportunity to augment his team’s roster. He has built the best major league pitching staff in recent memory to go with a lineup of accomplished players at every position.

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And at this point, the third World Series title in Phillies’ history does not ride on anything else that their general manager can do. It will, and should be, in the hands of the players. The players who will earn a total of $173 million this season. The players who will be cheered wildly by nearly four million home fans this season. The players who are as capable as any in baseball of winning eleven playoff games a couple months from now.

The Phillies will enter another postseason with a roster that every other playoff manager would likely switch with, if given the choice. But, as they learned last year, nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs. Winning eleven times in nineteen games (.579 winning %) would be a rate lower than this team has done all season (.632). Unfortunately, recent history baseball history has plentiful examples of teams whose regular season success accounted for very little when the cold October nights arrived.

Drew Hallowell: Getty Images

The Four Aces must live up to their billing by shutting down three good teams in what will surely be low-scoring playoff battles. Then, the talented players that hit and field in those games must be consistently good enough to support their terrific pitchers.

 Winning a World Series does not require eight position players to be red-hot at the same time. The 2010 Giants proved that in a way that Philadelphians can easily recall. Success in the playoffs is a product of different players coming through in key situations each night.

For the Phillies to do that, they will not need any more additions to their roster. There is no shortage of ability or experience on this team. Ruben Amaro Jr. has made sure of that. The next 55 games will be those players’ time to prepare for the task at hand. It is time for them to get dialed in, while developing the type of winning atmosphere that has existed in each of the last few Septembers.

Then, the Phillies’ players, and no one else, will determine what becomes of October.
 

 

Matt Babiarz was born and raised in the Philadelphia area.  He graduated from the University of Alabama, but remained a very close observer of the Philadelphia sports scene.  He recently began covering the Phillies for Philly2Philly.com. You can also read his work at Bleacherreport.com within the Philadelphia Phillies section. 

Matt can be contacted at mattbabz@comcast.net 

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Cover Photo/Team: Drew Hallowell: Getty Images

Four Aces Photo: New York Times