Amaro: Everyone will be held accountable
From top to bottom, Phils' GM expects better performance
PHILADELPHIA -- There are changes coming.
Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. overlooked the field from the GM suite at Citizens Bank Park on Wednesday afternoon, hours before Charlie Manuel blistered his players in a fiery team meeting following an embarrassing 10-6 loss to the Mets. Manuel demanded improved play from one of the most expensive rosters in baseball. He demanded accountability.
Amaro wants the same.
"Everybody has to do their part," he said. "We're all in this thing together. There are small tweaks we can do, but right now, we have to get the guys on the field right now to play better. Sometimes the onus is on the players. Sometimes the onus is on the manager. Sometimes the onus is on the GM. We all take part in it. We're all part of the wins and losses."
The Phillies optioned left-hander Joe Savery to Triple-A Lehigh Valley following Wednesday's game, but more moves are expected Friday. Triple-A pitcher Michael Schwimer announced Thursday on Twitter that left-handers Jake Diekman and Raul Valdes and infielder Hector Luna have been called up, although the club has not announced anything or made anything official. The Phils could replace right-hander Brian Sanches and catcher Erik Kratz, or even Laynce Nix, if he is placed on the disabled list because of a strained left calf.
The Phillies could make other tweaks to the bullpen and bench in the short term, if they choose. But anything substantial figures to come closer to the July 31 Trade Deadline.
And Amaro could have an interesting decision to make by then.
Buy or sell?
Amaro walked that fine line in July 2010, when the Phillies were scuffling. He made calls looking to find pitching help, but also made calls looking to see if he could find any interested parties in Jayson Werth, if Philadelphia fell out of the race. In the end, Amaro kept Werth, acquired Roy Oswalt and the Phils reached the National League Championship Series.
This year, Amaro could be taking calls for Cole Hamels or Shane Victorino, both of whom become free agents after the season.
"Here's how I view this," Amaro said. "We have not played that well and we're still in position to strike, if we get hot. At the same time, we better start showing some urgency, because it can slip away fast if somebody else gets hot. Fortunately for us, nobody is running away with it. Now, Washington has played well, but each one of the teams in this division is vulnerable and hasn't taken the reins and shut everybody else down. I think there's enough parity in the league and division that I think everybody is going to stay in pretty tight."
However, Amaro also told CSN.com on Thursday that he's not ruling out becoming sellers at the Trade Deadline.
"July is so far ahead," Amaro told CSN.com. "We just have to get on track. But if July comes and we're playing like this, we'll be sellers. How we play now will determine whether we'll be buyers or sellers in July."
Amaro insists his team has the talent to make the postseason for the sixth consecutive year.
"The club on the field, even though we're missing a couple guys, important guys, I think talent-wise, we match up fine," Amaro said. "Our bullpen has not been sharp lately and has hurt us, but we put a lot of pressure on our pitching. We all have to take part in the wins and losses. If we don't make mental and physical mistakes, we win a lot of these games."
The bullpen has hampered the Phillies recently. It has a 7.92 ERA in 17 appearances from April 21 through Wednesday.
Amaro said during Spring Training he liked the bullpen, but it is fair to ask if he overestimated their talents.
"I don't think they're nearly as bad as they've been pitching," he said. "Our guys still have good stuff. They just need to execute better."
It also is fair to ask if this team has lost its hunger. There seemed to be a remarkable lack of urgency in the clubhouse until Manuel laid into them Wednesday, like the players expected good things to eventually happen to them because they happened to them in the past.
"There may be some of that," Amaro said. "But I think most guys are realizing quickly that's not going to be the case. Nobody is going to roll over for us. Nobody is going to feel sorry for our injuries. Everybody else has injuries. We can't make that an excuse. We can't. We have enough talent on the field to win games. We just need to execute.
"We want to win the division. If we don't get on our horses, we're going to have a very tough time. It's going to take effort on everybody's part. Mine. Charlie's. The coaches. The players."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.