“Over the next 48 hours or so, we’ll make contact,” Ruben Amaro said, not reaching out to a strange alien spacecraft hovering over the White House like he sounded.
Speaking as a guy who will likely spend his 40s in a box behind a toy store, sometimes you have to think about all this money flying around in professional baseball, and it really makes you sob openly into your hands. The cashier’s like “Debit or credit?!” with a series of increasingly panicked glances at her manager, and I’m all trying to calculate what this past week’s bender may have left in my checking account.
Shopping is hard.
But Ruben Amaro–typing that name just reminded me of how much of a protagonist he becomes in the off season and it is only day 1 or 2 or whatever–probably knows how hard it can be, and he doesn’t break into tears nearly as often.
–Ruben Amaro, Jr.
Boy. That is… that is not what you want to hear from your GM.
But Ruben’s not talking Jayson Werth, unlike every other Phillies person. Not in that particular utterance. Apparently, its the fear of the ever antiquating Phillies core, whose average age is now a ripe old 31.4.
Where will the youth come from? The ones we got are all in varying degrees of A-level baseball. I can’t imagine Domonic Brown starting with anything higher than a platoon role in the outfield. After him, of the starting players, there’s Cole Hamels at 26 and Shane Victorino at 29. From there on out is a slowly rising number above 30 next to the remaining names.
And, as age does, it has snuck up on the Phillies slowly, its thin, bony hand and disturbingly slow breaths that are somehow frigid and boiling at the same time arching their neck hairs like an alarmed street cat.
So that’s probably going to be an issue.
Then, there is of course, the curious tale of Jayson Werth; a man with a noodly beard, a murderous gaze, and a creeping free agency that terrifies everyone.
No, I’m not being dramatic. Well, yeah, sure I am. That’s why I’m not the GM. Nobody wants to see the guy principal in moving their players around respond to press inquiries by explaining his plan to invest most of Raul Ibanez’s salary in a new set of whackily-themed Phanatic costumes.
Jayson had his press conference and said all the wonderful, whimsical things everybody will get teary-eyed about when he goes. Ruben took over eventually and explained that the Phils have both the cash and the inclination to keep him around.
I don’t know if he’s saying that because he feels obligated to; the idea of this being a foregone conclusion has spread like rumor-fire for months and months and months. It is not as if the Phillies have ONE GIANT PROBLEM for the off season, and throwing a lasso around Jayson is going to solve everything. It would be a surprisingly solid start to the off season.
But dude. You know the numbers. $143 million for 16 players. 16 players are not a baseball team. Jayson will want somewheres in the vicinity of seven years, $120 mil (Thanks a lot, Matt Holliday). In five days he can announce whether he’s a free agent or not and in three and a half months pitchers and catchers will report to Clearwater.
And in all this Werth-talk, let’s not forget about the relief pitchers. J.C. Romero could probably be replaced by Antonio Bastardo; Jose Contreras will probably have a job, Chad Durbin is less guaranteed. Jamie Moyer will be 48 human years old, which means he will be 19 in Moyer-years (I was debating whether to combine that into “Moyears” but it just looked like a spelling error). A host of bench players–Captain Hugs, Benny Fresh, Greg Dobbs–have contracts sitting in Ruben’s inbox as well.
So Junior’s got a to do list, and its a little different than the “Third base, bullpen, bench,” mantra of last winter. And on this episode of “Phillies Off Season,” there will be changes. There will be drama.
And like any shopping trip for those of us with our money tied up in investments, or debt, or impatient druglords, there will be worrying.
UPDATE: Hey, everybody almost died! What a wacky off season.