Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. joined Angelo Cataldi & The Morning Team on Sportsradio 94WIP on Tuesday to discuss the state of the franchise.
While Amaro had plenty to talk about (his team has the worst record in baseball), a plea made by closer Jonathan Papelbon on Monday to be traded and his telling the front office that "it's time to you-know-what or get off the pot" added importance to Amaro's appearance.
Cataldi wasted no time bringing up the Papelbon situation, and Amaro accepted the frustration, "I understand his issue. The man wants to go and play for a contender. That's why he signed with us. That is what we sold him when we were having the discussion to bring him here to Philadelphia. And sadly, we haven't lived up to our part of the bargain. And I could understand why he would want to go play for a contender."
Amaro was optimistic that a deal would get done: "There are live discussions going on right now regarding Pap. I do believe that there is enough of a market that we could probably get something done."
However, Amaro warned, "There's nothing in anyone's contract that if you request to be traded, you have to be traded."
Fair enough, but what about Papelbon's criticism of how the Phillies' front office is structured in a way that would make getting a deal done difficult?
Amaro defended the franchise, saying, "Pap is a very good pitcher. He doesn't know anything about the front office. It's as simple as that. I'm the GM and [outgoing Phillies president] Pat [Gillick] is my boss. And in all of these deals, particularly in ones that are as complicated and can have so much money involved, these are all discussions that we've had. When I was with David Montgomery, same thing. These are all decisions that are made unilaterally. I don't walk into a discussion and make a deal. It's something that's discussed, not just with me, but with my boss and that's the same structure that we have right now. Right now, [incoming president] Andy [MacPhail] is part of the decision-making process, but only insomuch that he's an observer and someone who's gonna give us his opinion. Really, Pat is the one that ultimately will make the ultimate decisions."
Speaking of trade talk, Amaro briefly touched on the values of pitchers Cole Hamels and Aaron Harang after their struggles. "I'm not worried about Cole Hamels and his value. People know what he is. As far as Aaron Harang is concerned, he had a foot problem. He's dealing with an injury. You can't really trade a guy who's got an injury. Frankly, there was no real market for him prior to him getting injured."
Much like Papelbon, Amaro made waves when he declared that Cesar Hernandez would be taking over duties at second base from Chase Utley. Amaro doubled down, "I don't regret it. I was just being straight and honest. Maybe that's what hurt some feelings. But Cesar at the time is playing very, very good baseball. That may change. When Utley is ready to play, he'll get opportunities to play. It'll just be a difficult decision for [manager] Pete [Mackanin]. Hopefully, it's a situation where Chase is playing well and Cesar is playing well. We'll have to mix and match and make sure that guys are getting as much playing time as necessary."
Amaro maintained that Utley is not considering retirement. "No, he's absolutely unequivocally not ready to do that. He's got plenty in the tank left. I think that he believes that getting over some of those ankle issues that have been nagging at him for quite some time, I think he feels that'll get him turned around and hopeful that it does for a variety of reasons. For him, for us, for everybody."
Barring promotions for the Phillies' young prospects later in the season, this time leading up to the July 31 trade deadline should be a reason to keep an eye on the team.