Ideally, a fresh batch of Major League-ready bodies, the kind who were supposed to arrive in the Cliff Lee trade with Seattle, would supplement the Phillies' aging lineup.
Ruben Amaro Jr. earned high marks for building a boorish starting rotation but failed miserably in his one, controversial attempt to replenish the farm system. It’s a fact that’s coming to light now that most of the starting lineup is heading for either free agency or surgery. The window may not be closed on the Phillies’ chances at a World Series, but it’s plainly evident that the time to get younger has arrived. This upcoming season – 2012 – should have been the year when outfielder Tyson Gilles, right-hander J.C. Ramirez and right-handed reliever Phillippe Aumont were ready to contribute. Not only are they not close, nor do they project as meaningful contributors, they’re not even positioned to fill areas of great need, and that’s foresight that should have occurred at the time of the first Lee trade. A position like third base, for example, hasn’t had a projectable prospect roll through system since Scott Rolen. The position has been caulked by aging veterans or cheap role players for years.
At the minimum, Amaro needed to hit a bullseye with at least one of the players packaged in the Lee deal, which was heavily criticized for a lack of marquee prospects the Phillies received in return. It’s the kind of trade where the Phillies should have secured a real blue-chipper instead of a wish-and-a-prayer grab bag of athletes.
Don’t put it past Amaro to attempt the same type of deal this winter, trading from an area of strength, such as the pitching staff, to fortify an area of weakness, which could easily include a massive void at shortstop. Needless to say, Amaro and his men, who dwell heavily in the world of raw, amateur athletes and older minor league castoffs, have no track record for getting young and good on the fly.
That said, it's easier said than done. Amaro's hour has certainly arrived.