General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said yesterday that he has no plans to pick up a big bat before the July 31 trade deadline, telling Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia: “You will not see a major move this year.”
Philadelphia has MLB’s best record at 37-25, putting the Phillies on pace for 97 wins, but the lineup ranks just eighth among NL teams in runs and Ryan Howard (.803) and Shane Victorino (.812) are the only regulars to top a .750 OPS.
Charlie Manuel has hinted that he’d like to see the Phillies bring in some offensive help, saying: “I think there has to be a cutoff somewhere.” However, so far at least Amaro is showing a lot more patience:
Would I love to see this team perform at a higher level? Yes. And I still believe they will. Because they can hit. They can do things. You will not see a major move this year. I don’t think we need it. Right now, I’m happy with the guys we’ve got and I’m hoping they get us to the dance. This is a good team that is not playing as good as it is.
Of course, as Salisbury notes Amaro’s confidence in veteran hitters turning things around isn’t the only factor at play, as the Phillies’ current $175 million payroll is the second-highest in baseball and just short of the luxury tax threshold. Or as Amaro put it: “For $170 million-plus, we should be good enough to be a World Series contender.”
Bill Shaikin of the Los Angeles Times reports that Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax will be honored with a statue at Dodger Stadium, expected to be unveiled in 2020. Dodger Stadium will be undergoing major renovations, expected to cost around $100 million, after the season. Koufax’s statue will go in a new entertainment plaza beyond center field. The current statue of Jackie Robinson will be moved into the same area.
Koufax, 83, had a relatively brief career, pitching parts of 12 seasons in the majors, but they were incredible. He was a seven-time All-Star who won the National League Cy Young Award three times (1963, ’65-66) and the NL Most Valuable Player Award once (’63). He contributed greatly to the ’63 and ’65 championship teams and authored four no-hitters, including a perfect game in ’65.
Koufax was also influential in other ways. As Shaikin notes, Koufax refused to pitch Game 1 of the 1965 World Series to observe Yom Kippur. It was an act that would attract national attention and turn Koufax into an American Jewish icon.
Ahead of the 1966 season, Koufax and Don Drysdale banded together to negotiate against the Dodgers, who were trying to pit the pitchers against each other. They sat out spring training, deciding to use their newfound free time to sign on to the movie Warning Shot. Several weeks later, the Dodgers relented, agreeing to pay Koufax $125,000 and Drysdale $110,000, which was then a lot of money for a baseball player. It would be just a few years later that Curt Flood would challenge the reserve clause. Koufax, Drysdale, and Flood helped the MLB Players Association, founded in 1966, gain traction under the leadership of Marvin Miller.