For the second straight year, very few of the Phillies' offseason moves have translated to wins. Ty Wigginton, Chad Qualls, Mike Adams, Delmon Young, Laynce Nix ... none of these moves worked. But Phillies president David Montgomery backed his GM Ruben Amaro Jr. in an interview with the Inquirer.
"We were not the club we envisioned to be in either of the last two years coming out of spring training," Montgomery told Matt Gelb, before approving the timing of the Phillies' managerial change. "I probably would have been very accepting of letting Charlie finish the year. But I think we owed him, when Charlie asked if he was going to be renewed, an honest answer.
"Some people think when we did it was disrespectful. But to do it much earlier than that would have really been..."
As was said often the week of Manuel's firing, the Phillies' performance these last two seasons was largely out of his control. He wasn't the one trading Hunter Pence for 10 cents on the dollar or signing Delmon Young to play right field. He wasn't the one putting his bullpen into the hands of an aging, deteriorating Mike Adams.
That was Amaro, who because of a bloated payroll filled with declining thirty-somethings was forced to patch together quick-fixes that didn't solve any issues. It is obvious that the Phillies need a few more borderline stars.
A right-handed, middle-of-the-order bat is a necessity. (Stop us if you've heard that before.) One or two elite relievers need to be added to a 'pen that has stuff but lacks consistency. Not Chad Qualls-like pitchers you're hoping to get lucky on, but Grant Balfour or Koji Uehara-like relievers who year after year have high strikeout rates and get tough outs in late innings.
"We have a lot more evaluation to do before we can say, 'This is the way,'" Montgomery told the paper. "We will be active. We just don't know how. It has become tougher and tougher to depend upon free agency to improve your club. And the reason for that is not economics. The reason for that is the talented young players are now increasingly being locked up by their clubs."
One young stud who hasn't yet been -- and might not be -- locked up long-term is the Marlins' Giancarlo Stanton. The Phillies have been infatuated with him for years, and Amaro admitted to CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury this week that he's "tried to trade for him at least 10 times."
As always, a trade remains unlikely, especially since both teams are in the NL East. One would imagine any conversation with Larry Beinfest would have to start with both Maikel Franco and Jesse Biddle on the table.
But even then, Stanton coming to Philly seems like a pipe dream. Amaro must get creative this offseason to fill his holes, because most of the top bats on the free-agent market are left-handed redundancies. The GM has his boss's approval now, but if another batch of moves don't pan out and another losing season ensues, this story will be much different 12 months from now.