Despite pulling off the Halladay trade and extension, Phillies General Manager Ruben Amaro has continued to get flak for not keeping Cliff Lee too and shooting for the moon in 2010. He responded yesterday:
“I was talking to some people the other day,” Amaro recalled, “and I
said, ‘I’m not a dummy. I know what Cliff Lee means to our rotation in
addition to Halladay and [Cole] Hamels. It’s a no-brainer.’ … Our goal is to be a contender every year — not
just to be a competitor, but to be a contender every year. That’s
really my job. As an executive of the club, it’s my job to do what I
can to try to maintain that level of talent on the club and that hope
from the fans. So, yes, I’d like to have a championship, but not at the
cost of having our organization not be good for 10 years.
I’ve wondered about decision to trade Lee too, but I’m not going to go crazy over it. The Phillies should still be favored to win the division this year, and there’s no real reason to believe that they’d have the resources to sign Cliff Lee beyond 2010 after locking up Halladay. They did what they did, it’s not the worst move anyone has made this winter, and life will go on without Cliff Lee.
Still, I’m not quite sure that Amaro’s reasoning here is all that compelling. Sure, no one wants to have their team “not be good for 10 years,” but is the haul they got for Lee — Phillippe Aumont, Tyson Gillies and Juan Ramirez — the sort of thing that prevents that? As Matthew noted at the time of the trade, the Phillies, like the Mariners, likely view Aumont as a relief prospect. Ramirez has potential, but he got beat up a bit last year and is still a work in progress. Gillies had nice numbers last year in strong hitting environments, but probably projects to be a fourth outfielder.
Like I said, Amaro has a ring and has made some good moves, so he’s entitled to some benefit of the doubt. But ask yourself: is a relief prospect, a raw starter and a potential fourth outfielder the kind of thing that keeps a team competitive for a decade? Put differently, are they worth a season of a stone-cold killer of a rotation plus a first round pick once Lee leaves via free agency?
I kind of don’t think so.