Wednesday, October 22, 2014
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Amaro: 'This is a championship caliber lineup'

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. held a news conference today at Citizens Bank Park to wrap up the season. Here are some highlights:

Amaro: 'This is a championship caliber lineup'

General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies need a different approach than they used in 2008. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Staff Photographer)
General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said the Phillies need a different approach than they used in 2008. (Alejandro A. Alvarez/Staff Photographer)

Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. held a news conference today at Citizens Bank Park to wrap up the season. Here are some highlights:

On the lineup: “Abilitywise, there is no question in my mind this is a championship caliber lineup and championship caliber players. We have to go about it in a different way. I have talked to Greg Gross and talked to Charlie. We have to have a different mindset or different approach than we did in ‘08 or 2010. We don’t have nearly as much power, have to be better with two strikes, better situational at-bats. Those are frankly things we have to change.”

On Ryan Howard’s injury: “I don’t think it’s going to be half a season. It may compromise part of the season. He is going to see Dr. Meyerson today in Baltimore. He may also seek another opinion from Dr. Anderson in North Carolina. We’re going to try to get it done as quickly as possible … Every single day we wait [impacts his return]. But we have to make sure the swelling has gone down enough to do the surgery. We are doing our due diligence to make sure we get the right guy, someone that Ryan feels comfortable with.

How long will he be out? “At least 4 months. After that, [I] would not even be able to tell you until after he has the surgery. [We] can discuss it with the doctors and go from there.”

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How will that impact potential offseason moves?: “I don’t think it will, unless they tell us he is going to be out for a year, and I don’t think that is going to happen.

On who would play first base if Howard is not ready: “We’re not sure. Gload is having surgery for hip labrum. If Mayberry is a guy that ends up having to play first base, we’ll be looking at somebody for left field. I’m hoping we won’t have to go that route, hoping Ryan Howard will be in that No. 4 hole in April.”

On talent in the system for trades: “I don’t know that we have to make that many trades. We have some strong pieces and a good core of players to work with right now. I would say if we are going to acquiring players, it would probably be free agents that we would sign from outside the organization. As you know, I am not opposed to doing that.”

On Jimmy Rollins: “We’re not going to have any discussions with Jimmy publicly ... There’s no question we want Jimmy back, want him to play shortstop for us, be in our uniform and play for the next several years. It’s just a matter of whether we can get to the finish line … Things will be kept private and we’ll try to figure it out.”

On Jimmy Rollins’ ability compared to his MVP season: “It’s hard to argue that he still has the offensive ability to do the same kind of things, because he hasn’t done it the last couple of years. Part of it is because of injuries. He still is one of the premier defensive shortstops in the game … That is probably one of the most important elements that Jimmy brings, along with his personality, is his ability to be so steady. He is about as steady a shortstop as can be.”

On Rollins’ desire for a 5-year deal: “As far as length is concerned, the commitment we’re going to put into it, internally, we’re still kicking it around as to how far we want to go with Jimmy to keep him here. He knows our priority absolutely is to keep him in our uniform.”

On the desire for the roster to get younger: “We do have to try to get young. We did it with our staff and have to do it with our position players. It’s a young game, played by young players and hopefully we can get younger.”

On Placido Polanco, who underwent double sports hernia surgery today: “Right now our biggest concern about Polly is to get him healthy … I’m not sure he was clearly 100 percent healthy during the end of the year. Age is an issue. We have to make sure to give him down time. I think he will play better if he’s not playing every single game. We have to give him some support as far as playing third base is concerned. Polly is the kind of guy that we’re trying to strive to have more readily at our disposal. Those are the kinds of at-bats. He works the count, he understands the importance of making contract with two strikes. Those are the things we’re looking to improve [overall]. He epitomizes that. He was not swinging the bat we think that he can and we think that he will.”

On left field: “It’s an open competition. If we were going to start the season, Ibanez is a free agent, we have a pretty darn good in-house candidate in John Mayberry … We certainly haven’t made a decision.”

On Domonic Brown: “He’s got some work to do in left field. He’s down in Instructional League. He’s got some things to work on his hitting … For me, I‘d keep him in Triple A and let him get 500 or 600 at-bats there.”

On Ryan Madson: “He sits in the same place as Jimmy. I talked to Ryan yesterday. He knows how we feel. We’d like to bring him back as our closer next year. It takes two to tango. Again, negotiations will be private. He is excited about being a free agent … On a personal level, I think it’s important for him and his family.”

On the closer, if Madson signs elsewhere: “I don’t feel comfortable with the guys we have internally. If Ryan does not sign, we might have to go outside the organization. There are some people in our system who think DeFratus or Aumont can do that; I am not convinced of that yet. “

On whether they would give Madson more than 3 years, which has been standard policy for pitchers other than Cliff Lee: “Those are questions that I’m not going to be answering. We will keep that internal. When ready to make an announcement on Ryan Madson, we’ll make it.”

On Roy Oswalt: “We’re still discussing that internally. I have to put a call into his agent today to get what his thoughts are. We have not made any final decision on Roy. He’s still one of the better starting pitchers in baseball. We have to make a decision, might be a tough one.”

On Cole Hamels: “We have internally talked about extending him and keeping him around … He is one of the more effective and one of the better lefthanded pitchers in the game. We hope we can bring him back and keep him for a while.”

Does the long ball favored by Charlie Manuel work with the Phillies' revised philosophy?: “We’re very much on the same page. Charlie is about getting a good ball to hit and capitalizing on it. He’s about grinding out hits. Charlie likes the home run. We all do. I do too. He’s come to the realization that its not just about the home run. A lot of different pieces of the puzzle to scoring runs. It’s not just about the home run. We just don’t have same offensive team that we had in 2008. We have to realize that and work with it … We should have more .300 hitters. These guys have the ability to do it, it’s whether they are committed to doing it or not.”

On whether the lineup would be more effective if guys got more days off: “Charlie is going to play these guys when he knows they’re ready to play. It’s up to Charlie’s ability to manage that. Martinez, Valdez got plate appearances, Mayberry got plate appearances. I’m more concerned about us committing to a different style or a different approach to our offensive game than I am about anything else.”

On the payroll, compared to this year's: “Don’t know yet. I would say it would be similar.”

On whether these players can get better: “We fail ourselves if we decide this is what we are and not try to get better. We owe it to our fans, our players and to each other to try to change to get better, to get it to this level. Our next level is to get to the World Series and win it. I am very pleased with how things worked out pitching-wise. I loved development of some of young pitchers in the bullpen. I think defensively we had a very, very good club again. We’ve been spoiled by that over the last 10 years. Offensively, we have to try to look at different ways to improve. We have the personnel to do it, it’s matter of whether they want to take the time and be committed to improving on some areas they need to improve on.”

On how the changes can be made?: “I think, for me, a lot of it depends on the composition of the club, a lot of it depends on what happens with Jimmy and some other players and how we allocate our available dollars. If the guys playing on our club don’t make adjustments we’re going to have some trouble … I am challenging Charlie and GG to help facilitate that … Charlie is in agreement that we have to change the way we approach some things. If we can do that and are committed to it then we can be successful.”

On the value of change in the clubhouse: “Change is good. I don’t think we need a whole lot of changes. We’re going to have to change because we have a lot of free agents. The changes may happen organically.”

On Utley’s knee issues: “I don’t think it’s behind him. The way he managed it and Scott Sheridan managed it was incredible. He was in the lineup every day. One of the things that he and Scott and I have talked about is to make sure that he stays strong. There may be times when he may need more days off over the course of the season. More importantly, working on ways for him to strengthen his legs. That is one of the things that he wasn’t able to do and affected his power. He was not able to squat and some other exercises because of the injury and what’s going on in his knees. He’s going to have to go about it a different ways. We’re going to go about different ways to make him stay strong.”

Can he be the player that he was?: “I couldn’t tell you. A lot of it depends on how he feels during the course of the offseason and how he goes about his business … Is he going to be a 30 home run, 110 RBI guy and hit .300? I don’t know that. I hope he is. That will help us. Whatever we get out of Chase is going to help us. I know he is going to strive to get to the point where he can maximixe his numbers and his production.”

What would losing Rollins mean?: “It would be a big loss. There’s no question about it. He’s been a big part of organization for a long time. We want him to continue to be a big part of this organization. … Not just on a physical level as a ballplayer, but I have an affinity for him as a person. I will say that it will be a huge blow for us, but not insurmountable. If he’s not with us, we will make the proper adjustments to replace him. Not sure whether that will be internal or going outside the organization. Some in the organization think Freddy Galvis is ready to be a shortstop in the major leagues every day; there are some who don’t. Time will tell. Hopefully we won’t have to take care of that. We will have to make those decisions once we figure out what is happening with Jimmy.”


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