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Inside the Phillies: Here's hoping Phillies' Amaro is 'a good liar' again

If only I could sleep like the Phillies offense. So Ruben Amaro Jr. says there is no big move in the Phillies future.

"We believe in these guys," Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "They're all very good players." (Sarah J. Glover/Staff file photo)
"We believe in these guys," Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "They're all very good players." (Sarah J. Glover/Staff file photo)Read more

If only I could sleep like the Phillies offense.

 So Ruben Amaro Jr. says there is no big move in the Phillies future.

"That's correct," the general manager said last week. "This is the team we have on the field and this is the team that will take us wherever we're going to go. It's kind of simple."

Except it's really not that simple at all.

Start with Amaro's track record.

Remember these oldies but goodies from the GM:

"There's nothing likely," Amaro said when asked about dealing for Roy Halladay four days before he acquired him from Toronto.

"I don't expect much to happen this year," Amaro said two weeks before he acquired Roy Oswalt.

"That's not really one of our priorities," Amaro said a month before he signed Cliff Lee.

"So I'm a good liar," Amaro said last week.

Maybe he was joking, but maybe not.

What's different now is that the Phillies need offensive help instead of a starting pitcher.

What's also different is that the payroll is just $3 million below the point where the team would have to begin paying a luxury tax of 22.5 percent per dollar spent. For those of us old enough to remember Veterans Stadium and a disenchanted Scott Rolen, this Phillies payroll seems as unlikely as landing a man on Pluto.

But a luxury tax should not be enough to keep the Phillies from doing whatever is necessary to win a World Series. We know the story is also out there that the Phillies are one of nine teams that failed to comply with Major League Baseball's debt-service rules, and there has been speculation that their situation could prevent them from doing anything major at the trade deadline.

Amaro insists that when he signed Lee to a five-year, $120 million contract, he left almost no wiggle room for the trade deadline.

"That's kind of where we made our move," he said. "Cliff Lee was kind of our move."

As much as the Phillies' commitment to excellence should be applauded over the last nine years, starting with the signing of Jim Thome in 2002, it would be such a waste of money if the Phillies could not find a way to add a bat if, as expected, one is needed at the deadline.

It's impossible to believe that it would be any more of a financial burden on the Phillies ownership group to fork over 22.5 percent on the dollar after the payroll goes over $178 million than it is for a lot of the fans who buy all those tickets to make sure Citizens Bank Park is filled every night.

Amaro, through his actions, has made it clear that he believes pitching is the way to win pennants in the 21st century. With scoring down across the game, his way may work out in the end, regardless of whether a substantial bat is added to the lineup.

The general manager offered some interesting insight into his team's offensive problems last week.

When it was suggested that age is his team's biggest offensive problem, he rejected the idea.

"I think we're a by-product of what the game has become," he said. "I think pretty much across the board, it doesn't take a genius to see what's gone on with the game. Part of that is the consistency of the pitching. It used to be flipped. It used to be the pitching was behind the hitting. I think that has changed pretty dramatically in the last two or three years especially.

"There has been a transition where pitchers have become more specialized and they are just better. They command both sides of the plate. They can throw breaking pitches at any time in the count."

So far, the Phillies hitters have not adjusted.

"We believe in these guys," Amaro said. "They're all very good players. We think they are one of the best clubs in the game and there is not going to be much done, I don't think."

Do you believe what Ruben Amaro Jr. says?