Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was a guest on WIP this morning to talk about the Home Runs for Heart event that benefits the American Heart Association. Amaro has been the honorary chair for a dozen years. The event is May 1-2 at Citizens Bank Park.
“It’s an important cause and it is something we hold very, very dear to our hearts with many of our fallen ex-Phils,” he said.
Today also is the third anniversary of the death of Harry Kalas.
“I remember that day like it was literally yesterday,” he said. I was having trouble getting to the ballpark that day because there was so much traffic. I was in a taxi when I got the call and was devastated. Absolutely devastated.”
Amaro also addressed some of the hot topics surrounding the Phillies.
On the offense: “I get concerned about it. I’ve been concerned about it since we knew we weren't going to have those two guys in middle of lineup. We've had those types of injury before and we've had to deal with it for several years. We’ve lost Utley in the past, we’ve lost Howard and Jimmy Rollins. We’ve lost key players on our club for significant amounts of times the last few years. The key is to keep plugging along. We have capable people that can create enough offense to win baseball games. Are we going to be an offensive juggernaut? No. The strength of our club continues to be pitching and hopefully we can do that until they come back. When those guys come back, it’s like making a couple of trades. They are impact-type players.”
On playing small ball: “We're trying to create some runs with our legs. Guys are trying to move around bases a little more and create scoring opportunities. We're not going to bomb them. We'll hit an occasional home run. The fact of the matter is we are going to have to produce runs in a lot of different ways … We're going to need to get some big base hits and drive in the runs when we have the opportunities … We've got to make sure we do that on consistent basis, score the runs we need to score.”
On Freddy Galvis and the fans chanting his name: “He's been a pretty special kid when it comes to defense. He's a young player .. He's going to get beat up a little bit offensively for a little while. He's good makes adjustments … That was a perfect testament to our fans and how they can impact the game. That was superb. It makes me proud to be a Philadelphian and the support we have from our fans. It's fantastic. It really helps .. This is a young player who is replacing one of the Phillies icons right now. There's been a lot of talk about whether he can handle it offensively. He's outstanding defensively. For him to go through that in that situation and our fans to put impetus on him to get it done in that situation was really cool.”
Is he concerned about the bullpen? “I like our bullpen. Chad Qualls has thrown really, really well and throw well all spring. Michael Stutes is back and throwing. We’re getting Contreras back in a couple of days. He has the second of his back to backs today. He's throwing well. I like our guys. We have a little concerned about Bastardo because he hasn't pitched a lot ... You can never have enough bullpen arms. One of the things we have in our minor leagues is bullpen arms – Aumont, DeFratus. There are reinforcements if we have breakdowns. We have coverage.”
On was there any hint that Ryan Madson was hurt when the Phillies decided to sign Jonathan Papelbon?
“None at all. We were fully committed to taking one of those guys. We would have been happy with either one of them. Ultimately, we got who we felt was the best guy. We hope he performs like the best guy. We had no inkling, nothing was alarming. The only little difference between Pap and Madson was Madson has a little bit of a funky arm action. It creates a lot of deception and contributes to his success. Any time a guy has funky delivery, it can put a guy at risk. We had no reason to think he wouldn't be fine. I feel terrible for Ryan and his family. I know he will come back and be a very, very good pitcher. We have a guy who is pitching right now and is healthy, but you never know when that can happen to us.”
On negotiations with Cole Hamels: "I always stay optimistic about it. The dialogue is open. We don't shut off negotiations. That's not our style. ... I think Cole knows what the goal is, to try to keep him in our uniform. There are going to be signings like that that will affect his situation. Matt Cain is a very direct one. You have to be cognizant of it and figure out what is the right thing for us."
Is Charlie Manuel the right type of manager for this style of team? "There's no question Charlie has always had a lot of bangers. Go several years back and he had Jason Michaels and Kenny Lofton platooning in centerfield and we were creating rus in a different way. Both of those guys had great yers. Charlie has got good instincts as far as moving guys in and out of the lineup. He did a nice job with Mayberry last year, moving him in and out. there. ... This is a different type of team. I think he's up to the challenge and a smart enough baseball man to handle it."