As the Philadephia Phillies approach the one-third mark of the 2015 season, they’re sitting just about where everyone expected them to be: under .500 and way out of first place. The team has crawled to a 19-29 record and boasts the second-worst run differential (-57) in the league, only one shy of the Brewers at -58. They have been forced into difficult front office decisions and are in the midst of a potentially brutal rebuilding effort, one highlighted by fat veteran contracts and a heap of growing pains.
Because many of those veterans remain on the roster, including Philly mainstays Ryan Howard, Chase Utley and Cole Hamels, the team has been the focus of intense trade rumors for much of the past year, and, with another depressingly unsuccessful season in full swing, those rumors are only continuing to heat up. However, general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. insists that the team has no plans to deal veterans in order to make room for their prized prospects, namely pitchers Aaron Nola and Zach Eflin. In addressing those rumors, he took things a step further and ripped into the team’s fans, telling Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly (via FOX Sports) that they have don’t understand.
They don’t understand the game. They don’t understand the process. There’s a process. And then they b***h 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.
Amaro would immediately backpedal on the intense comments, probably after realizing that he needs to maintain fan interest during a difficult stretch for the organization:
I didn’t say they don’t understand. Some fans don’t understand, it’s not all Philadelphia fans. That was not the purpose of it. It is some fans who think that bringing Eflin and 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 leagues. It’s those fans that really don’t understand.”
He took things a step further and offered a very lengthy apology and clarification for his initial criticism:
Obviously it’s caused a bit of a firestorm in Philly. The first thing I wanted to say about the comments I made is, one, I’d like to apologize to the fans. I’m a fan myself. I understand the passion and the knowledge that our fans have for our game and the other major sports, all the other sports in Philly. The comments weren’t meant to disparage our fans by any stretch of the imagination. I probably used my words incorrectly or poorly. I want to apologize for that.
When (I was asked) about our club and the organization and some of the things that we’re doing with some of our young players, listen, I’m as excited about seeing these guys, the (Aaron) Nolas, the (Zach) Eflins, the (Roman) Quinns, and some of the other players who are having a lot of success right now and many of them. I’m as excited about seeing them in the big leagues as anybody else. But there’s a process they have to go through. There’s a process and a plan in place. And I think that was more of the point.
I understand why the fans would want … because we’re not having a ton of success at the Major League level right now, why the fans would want to see these guys. But I think it’s incumbent upon the organization to make sure we do it at the right time and do it with the right plan in place. I will say this, if the fans are as excited about seeing these guys as I am, we’re one of those situations with the exception of Clearwater, they can go see these guys. Lakewood, there’s (Carlos) Tocci … there’s guys obviously in Reading. They’re not that far down the street. They’re close. They want to get a glimpse before they get to the big leagues there’s an opportunity to do that. And in Lehigh Valley when eventually some of these guys will be there at the appropriate time. It’s important for us to make sure that we don’t get … I get antsy about bringing the guys from Double-A to the major leagues. I got antsy about (Ken) Giles last year. I got antsy about a lot of guys. We also have to be at the tip of that, and try to make the right baseball decisions for the player and for the organization moving forward. I think that was kind of the gist of the conversation I was having and I used my words poorly.
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