As near as we can tell, “Philadelphia Phillies GM” was a job filled by a seal wearing a clown nose, who answered questions by barking and diving down a slip ‘n slide. It took several years for us to believe that the men filling the role weren’t just being funneled over from the unemployment office with “alarmingly blank stare” as the only bullet point on their resume under “Skills and Achievements.”
An evolution occurred to the office of the general manager in recent years, in that it was held by someone who seemed to want the team to succeed. That man was Pat Gillick. But every master needs an apprentice, and when Gillick decided to go out on top after 2008, Ruben stepped in, and can hopefully finish out his recently extended tenure without being bisected and dropped down an air shaft.
After the prolonged ancillary yawn arising from Charlie Manuel’s contract negotiations, Ruben’s deal seemed to be taken care of in a matter of smug winks and self-aggrandizing handshakes. For a moment, Ruben found himself targeted by the spotlights and audio recording devices usually reserved for his latest ace to dawn a Phillies uniform.
“My god,” he breathed, quietly having a panic attack. “Is this what I’ve been doing to people?” He briefly considered hurling himself out the window in the wake of one his home made smoke grenades, but given the explosively disastrous results of the test run in his garage, thought better of it.
Truly, the man’s work speaks for himself. When faced with a roster gap, Ruben’s usual response is to latch on to the nearest star pitcher and throw money at him until he plays for us. Which is a very awesome method of problem solving. The money he has at his disposal is of course unheard of, the most ever wielded by a man in his position. So he does have that. And inheriting the work of Pat Gillick is like
But that’s not to trivialize his accomplishments. People pay attention to the Phillies because of things Ruben Amaro has done. His worst blunder yet has been in many ways corrected; granted, Cliff’s driving need to return to Philly helped, but Ruben helped make the experience so enjoyable that he’d want to re-live it every day until his arm explodes.
So here we are, 18 days from the promised land, with four names next to each other in the rotation that, when uttered in the same sentence, summon endless speculation, legions of babbling reporters, and amorous moans of pleasure from the Phillies blogosphere. The offense isn’t so bad either, even though as you’ve probably heard by now, they are a crew of sad old men, their frail arms quivering from the weight of a bat as they stumble toward the batter’s box like grotesque skeletal meat puppets. Even Charlie’s got that new contract to chew on for the next two years.
But, with ghostly winds being the sole occupant of the second base position and Chase Utley searching for a doctor willing to say that chondromalacia actually makes you better at baseball, Ruben Amaro may be facing his biggest challenge yet. This is a gaping hole we’re all staring at with nervous smiles, and while it can be filled amicably, it won’t be perfect. And in Philadelphia, I think we can all agree that anything less than perfection is just not tolerated.
So, faced with an injury and the welcoming arms of a contract extension, Ruben’s first big problem of 2011 ticks toward a solution. The question, which ace pitcher will he acquire to fill the gap at second?