For the sake of brevity, let’s just say that I have been critical of rookie GM Ruben Amaro this season. Perhaps my criticisms were the result of my being a Phillies fan as well as an analyst, making an example of him in an unfair manner. Or, perhaps my remarks were right on the money. Who knows? What I do know, after reading something this morning, is that there is now at least one more reason to be optimistic about his reign atop the defending champions. And let’s get this out of the way before moving forward – this is not a Raul Ibanez post so please be mature and avoid derailing the comments thread.
The Phillies have reportedly been mulling over anyone and everyone in their quest to fix a bruised and underachieving starting rotation. Recently, their thoughts turned to Paul Byrd, the veteran last seen in action with the Indians and Red Sox a year ago. Byrd made 30 starts and posted a 4.60 ERA and a 5.14 FIP derived from a sub 4.20 K/9 and a higher-than-desired home run rate. Essentially, Byrd put up numbers that one might consider acceptable from a minor league prospect in his first go-around with the team, not a 38-yr old with no upside and limited utility in the present.
Fortunately, Amaro feels the same way. I’m paraphrasing here, but he told reporters they had been considering Byrd but ultimately concluded that the former Phillie would not represent an upgrade over their minor league candidates. The Phillies have Kyle Drabek tearing up Double-A, as well asKyle Kendrick, Rodrigo Lopez, Andrew Carpenter and Carlos Carrasco pitching in Triple-A. Sure, Byrd would be “new,” and fans occasionally mix up new with good, but any of those four pitchers, already employed by the team, would be equal to, or better than, Byrd.
Last night I called for teams to avoid signing Brandon Backe, at least as a starting pitcher on the major league roster, since he comes close to defining replacement level and would barely be an upgrade for even a cellar-dweller. Thankfully, at least Amaro feels the same way. It is time to give young pitchers a chance and to stop recycling the garbage that is Horacio Ramirez, Sidney Ponson, Adam Eaton, Brandon Backe, Bruce Chen, etc. Reading his words was a breath of fresh air. Now, if he turns around and sends Greg Dobbs to the Mariners for Miguel Batista, I might revert to my prior opinions, but understanding that new!=good and that veteran!=automatically > minor leaguer are two key characteristics I want a GM of my team to possess. They seem like easy attributes to attain but as we have seen lately, not everyone can stake claim as acting on this knowledge.