Posted by Mike Frohwirth
(The following email was sent to Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. after the Opening Day roster was announced.)
I just wanted to drop you a note to congratulate you on a strong offseason. You did a really great job this year. Signing Cliff Lee? Amazing. I don't know exactly how much of that credit goes to you, and how much goes to Scott Proefrock and the ownership group, but great job all around. I know it may have been a little difficult for you to bring back Lee, a year after trading him, as I know you don't like to admit mistakes. But I don't consider that a mistake. When you traded Lee, you made the best decision under the circumstances at that time. When you re-signed him this past offseason, you didn't worry about the past, you just did what was best for the organization. That showed strong character, a trait that we will all benefit from, as we watch Aces take the mound every day.
You faced a strong challenge in reconstructing the bullpen, but I can't argue much with your decision making there, either. Jose Contreras had a strong season in the pen last season, and the veteran gained Charlie Manuel's confidence. While a one-year deal may have been preferable, considering Contreras' age, and the year-to-year erraticness of most relievers, retaining him at two years is defensible. Bringing J.C. Romero back, at $1.35MM, is a good move, provided you can convince Manuel to keep Romero away from right-handed batters. Kyle Kendrick? At $2.45MM, he is a pricey long reliever. While many underestimate the value of a league average inning-eating fifth starter, you may still have been better off setting Kyle Kendrick free. Of course, if you weren't forced to make that decision before the Lee signing even seemed possible, you may have chosen differently.
Besides the Lee signing, my favorite parts of the offseason may have been some of your quotes. There was that quote about Ibanez, "When you look at his numbers, they're not all that different than Jayson (Werth's)." Then you said, "Jayson's on-base percentage and stuff was better, (but) the difference in their production was not all that great." Classic Amaro. And earlier this month, when you said you had "no payroll space, and trade rumors are B.S", some people actually believed that one! The best quote was this Wilson Valdez quote, "Wilson knows what to do in the field. He knows where to position himself. He's got a sense of what's going on in the game." Wilson Valdez knows where on the field to stand! He knows how many outs are in baseball! Beautiful. Like you really don't realize how un-valuable Valdez really is, and you haven't spent the past offseason trying to replace him. Too funny.
Looking at the Opening Day roster, there are some weak links. Entering Spring Training, few expected David Herndon and Pete Orr to start the season as Phillies, or for Wilson Valdez to be the starting 2B. But no one expected Brad Lidge and Chase Utley to begin the season on the DL, either. You've assembled the best squad possible from the players currently available, and I'm confident that you and your staff are constantly on the lookout for upgrades. In previous seasons, you dumped sunk costs Geoff Jenkins and Adam Eaton, and I have no doubt that you will remove Danys Baez and/or Kyle Kendrick from the active roster, if/when appropriate. With you at the helm, I confidently (and eagerly) await another successful season. Play ball!