I don't have any empirical evidence to support the following statement, but it seems like every time Ruben Amaro Jr. makes a statement claiming the Phillies are limited in their ability to take on payroll, it is shortly followed by a transaction in which the club does just that.
It's what we heard last year at the trade deadline before he traded for Roy Oswalt, taking on approximately $11 million in salary over two seasons.
It's what we heard this offseason before he signed Cliff Lee, taking on $120 million over five seasons.
But I don't know if Amaro has ever been as direct as he was on MLB Network radio.
Here's his exchange with host Jim Duquette:
DUQUETTE: “This is the time of the spring when you’re starting to look at possibly bolstering your bullpen or your bench or whatever it might be, but from your stand point, is there room financially to make a bigger deal if it presented itself?”
DUQUETTE: “Not at all?”
AMARO: “No, there isn’t. Anything else you want to ask me?” (laughs) I don’t know how many times I can say that publicly. I have no money to play with. Our payroll is going to be over $160 million or so and I’m tapped out, my friend. Maxed out.”
DUQUETTE: “We were hoping for you, but alright, we got you, we’ll stop asking the question.”
AMARO: “And those rumors you’re hearing about third basemen and acquiring [a] second baseman and third baseman? All b.s., my friend. Just so you know.”
So RAJ is either bluffing in order to eliminate the perception of a need with Utley ailing, or the Phillies really are content with their roster, depth and all.
One thing he didn't mention: the club could conceivably clear $17 million of payroll over the next two seasons if they found a taker for righthander Joe Blanton and were willing to sacrifice the security he provides.
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