Tag: Ryan Howard

Ruben Amaro Jr.

Phillies could keep GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. beyond 2015


Phillies GM Ruben Amaro, Jr. has been something of a lightning rod in recent years, getting most of the blame for the team’s fall from grace after the 2011 season. There were a number of poor decisions made under his leadership, including the Ryan Howard extension, the Cliff Lee trade to Seattle, separate trades to acquire Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence which depleted the minor league system, as well as some regrettable public comments with which he insulted Ryan Howard, showed he didn’t understand how OPS worked, and denigrated the value of walks.

The Phillies hit rock bottom earlier this year, when manager Ryne Sandberg quit suddenly due to an inability to effectively communicate with his players. Amaro named Pete Mackanin the interim manager, and the team has played much better and players have effusively praised Mackanin. Amaro also oversaw the overhauling of the Phillies’ minor league system, trading Jimmy Rollins during the off-season and executing trades of Jonathan Papelbon, Ben Revere, Cole Hamels, and Chase Utley. The Phillies now arguably have one of the five-best minor league systems in baseball.

And that may be reason enough for the Phillies to bring Amaro back for the 2016 season, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports. Amaro’s contract expires after the season, but incoming team president Andy MacPhail — taking over for outgoing president Pat Gillick — may keep Amaro in the GM seat rather than find a new candidate from outside the organization.

Heyman does cite as potential external GM options J.J. Piccolo of the Royals, Matt Klentak of the Angels, and John Barr of the Giants.

The Tigers promote Dave Littlefield to vice president of player development

tigers logo

The Tigers are trying to keep as much of the front office as it was under Dave Dombrowski, but there are some minor changes afoot. Here’s one: former Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield has been promoted to vice president of player development.

Littlefield has been scouting for the past five years, this one for Detroit, the previous four for the Chicago Cubs. Earlier in his career he worked for the Tigers for a spell and was a Dombrowski protege, working in Montreal and Miami. He was, of course, more famously the GM of the Pirates for six seasons during which the club went a combined 421-549 (.434).

His time in Pittsburgh can be somewhat hard to assess in that a lot of the moves he was infamous for making likely were directed by an ownership who routinely looked to cut costs, but a lot of GMs have done just fine under such constraints. Littlefield? Eh, not so much. As a review of his tenure reminds us, he traded away Aramis Ramirez in a bad deal. He once was offered a young Ryan Howard in exchange for Kris Benson and nixed the idea. He did end up getting Jose Bautista for Benson, but that was before he was JOSE BAUTISTA. He signed a lot of guys like Jeromy Burnitz, Joe Randa, Raul Mondesi and Benito Santiago, Actually, it was worse: he didn’t sign guys like them, he signed those actual guys.

Which, no probably isn’t that important to his job in Detroit as he’s likely going to just have an enhanced role in scouting while Al Avila calls the shots. But it’s always fun to take a walk down memory lane when an old friend resurfaces, as many past GMs have lately. I mean, in a world where John Hart goes from unemployed ex-GM to part time TV analyst to the architect of a rebuild in the space of a couple of years, anything can happen.

Reminder: even though the trade deadline has passed, trades can still happen

James Shields

I write some variation on this post every year, mostly because there is always someone who asks why guys are still being talked about in trade rumors even though the “trade deadline” was July 31. So, let’s do this again, shall we?

July 31 is the non-waiver trade deadline. That means that clubs can just straight up trade dudes. Between now and August 31 clubs can trade dudes, but to do so they have to send them through waivers first. It works like this:

  • A team wishing to trade a player as of now will place him on revocable waivers. That means that the team can pull the player back off waivers if the player is claimed by another teams;
  • If the player is placed on waivers and goes unclaimed by every other team (i.e.  he “clears waivers”) he can be traded the same as he could have been before the July 31 deadline. He’d be eligible for the playoff roster and everything, as long as it was before the end of August;
  • If a player placed on waivers is claimed by another team, the team doing the waiving has a choice: they can pull him back (which is the “revocable” part of “revocable waivers”), keeping him as if nothing happened OR they can let the claiming team have him. If they do that, the claiming team is stuck with the player, including his current salary;
  • There is an order to the claiming process — teams with the worst record in the same league get to claim guys placed on waivers first, and then the choice cycles through the teams in the other league, worst record to best as well.

You often hear about big names with big salaries placed on waivers. They’re rarely claimed, however, because as noted above, the claiming team would be stuck with the salary. So, for example, the Phillies may place Ryan Howard on waivers. There is a low possibility anyone will claim him, of course, because even if a team wants Ryan Howard, they really don’t want that contract. This is why it’s not really news when someone reports that “so and so was placed on waivers.” People still act like it’s news for some reason, but it isn’t. People get bored easily.

Likewise, a team claiming someone isn’t really big news because teams often play games with the waiver process. For example, sometimes a team will claim a guy for the express purpose of NOT allowing him to clear waivers and thus be traded to a rival. For example, if a club puts a guy on waivers that the Astros REALLY want, the Angels — who have a worse record than the Astros and thus claiming priority — may put a claim on him to keep him from clearing and thus being traded to the Astros. There’s risk involved to the Angels of course in that the team placing the guy on waivers may not pull him back, thus sticking him with the Angels, but that’s the gamble involved.

So that’s what waiver trades are all about. Some waiver trades will happen. If they do, they will either involve (a) guys with not-so-great contracts, particularly starting pitchers; (b) guys coming back from an injury who represent something of a gamble; or (c) role players, bench bats and the like. Jerry Crasnick of ESPN has a post up today about some possible waiver trade candidates. I’d add a couple more to that list he leaves out — Howard, James Shields, and Matt Garza come to mind.

Anyway, if you take nothing else from this, take this one thing: generally ignore reports about guys being placed on waivers. Almost everyone is placed on waivers. It doesn’t matter, however, unless they clear.