“It’s gotta be in one of those front compartments, yeah,” Amaro reports
Welcome to fabulous Indian Wells, California; located between the hamlets of La Quinta and Palm Desert. The birthplace of Desi Arnaz is most likely in a state of shock, as its widely Republican populace–the second widest in the state–is still reeling from the presidential election that didn’t apparently go their way.
And it in this funereal state of solemnity that they greet Major League Baseball’s general managers, who have assembled in this place to discuss life, golf, and families, all while calculating the next possible way they could stab each other in the back.
No, this group isn’t really a savage gaggle of mindless knife-carriers. They’ll share some drinks, share some laughs, and swap numbers, all in hopes of improving the franchise to which they remain attached. Less extravagant than the Winter Meetings to come later, these seem to exist for the purpose of feeling each other out and laying the ground work for blockbusters to explode after the weather turns even colder.
And here is Ruben Amaro, smiling, aborbing precious sunlight, and inspecting a free agent crop that will be wider and more accessible than ever.
“The payouts from TV contracts are larger than ever. Fewer free agents will cost draft picks as compensation. There are new caps on amateur and international spending. It could yield a booming free-agent market and one that moves quickly.”
–Matt Gelb, Philadelphia Inquirer
In a shifting market, Ruben’s own strategy must have changed as well. I mean. It must have.
I think we can all remember the last time Ruben was forced to “settle.” He signed Cliff Lee in lieu of Roy Halladay. Now he has both. He’s no stranger to sneaking into a high profile player’s bedroom at night, placing an open briefcase full of money next to them while they sleep, and leaving a business card with only his name written on it and an address where they could meet for a celebratory brunch in the morning.
But this time around, with the times significantly different–what with the free agent market, the amount of money in play, and the fact that the Phillies are coming off of a disappointing regular season and not a disappointing playoff appearance–Ruben has stated that he will employ that disgusting human notion known as “patience.”
“I think patience is going to be important throughout this offseason. And the reason that I say that is some of the opportunities that will present themselves … none of the opportunities that present themselves, at least at first blush, are all that fantastic. I think we’re going to have to, as far as the availability of all players, I think we’re going to have to be creative to try to improve.”
So, we can rule out an Upton-flanked Michael Bourn outfield. Which is good. This is good news. Probably shouldn’t have been ruling that in in the first place.
As things get started, we are being told to assume that this will be a more careful, calculating Amaro, whose plans, while not always visible, may already be in motion, in a place where corruption has called home.
Assuming he’s got that phone charger. Which he totally does.