Amaro not looking to shake up Phillies
Club's general manager: 'I believe we're going to hit'
NEW YORK -- General manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said he is paid to be concerned, which is good, because there are plenty of reasons to be concerned about the Phillies.
The club entered play on Tuesday 8-16 since May 17, which was the third-worst record in the Majors over that span. The Phillies have averaged just 2.5 runs per game since then -- the worst in baseball. Star second baseman Chase Utley has hit .165 with one home run and four RBIs since May 15. Jayson Werth has hit .171 with two homers and seven RBIs since May 18. Ryan Howard has hit .230 with two homers and 11 RBIs since May 21. Raul Ibanez has hit .236 with one homer and seven RBIs since May 25.
Amaro is not panicking.
"We're not making any major moves here," Amaro said before Tuesday's game against the Yankees in New York. "This is our team out here, and they'll be fine."
But why wouldn't a shakeup work?
"Because the guys have track records and they're good players and they're championship-caliber players, and they will be again," Amaro said. "We have one of the best nine in the game. I'll challenge anybody if they don't think we have one of the best [groups of] nine players on the field."
Amaro pointed to a 4-14 stretch the Phillies suffered last June. They finished the season 53-32, the best mark in the National League.
"We've gone through a tough time, but it's not like it's the first time we've gone through a tough time since I've been in the front office," Amaro said. "I think we'll be OK. We're concerned, yes, but I think we'll be OK. We were 4-14 last June -- pretty horrendous."
Of course, the big difference between this slump and slumps in the past is that the offense hadn't struggled as mightily as it has during this stretch.
"Yeah, but I'd like to have this happen, because I know we're going to hit," Amaro said. "I believe we're going to hit. We're not where we want to be, obviously, with the way we've played, but we will be, I think."
There are concerns up and down the lineup. Jimmy Rollins has missed most of the season with a strained right calf. He could be back as early as this weekend against the Minnesota Twins at Citizens Bank Park, but Amaro said that timetable might be aggressive.
But Utley's struggles have baffled a lot of people. Amaro said everybody is "a little bit confused by that."
"As far as I know, I'm healthy, yes," Utley said.
Ibanez has looked like a different player since having two sports hernia surgeries during this past offseason. Does the possibility exist that age -- Ibanez is 38 -- has finally caught up to him?
"He's still -- the first part of the season -- getting his legs underneath him," Amaro said. "I think having a surgery -- two surgeries like that -- is pretty significant. I still think he's getting his sea legs under him. I think he's swinging the bat better of late."
He doesn't think Ibanez is swinging a slower bat?
"I do not," Amaro said.
Perhaps surprisingly, Amaro said he is OK with the way the bench has performed this season. The Phillies entered Tuesday as the third-worst pinch-hitting team in baseball, hitting just .120 (10-for-83) with two home runs and 10 RBIs. Only the Toronto Blue Jays (.095) and Yankees (.050) had hit worse in pinch-hitting situations, but they use their benches less often, playing in the American League.
Of course, there is more to a bench than just pinch-hitting, but the deficiencies have been noticeable.
"I think Ben [Francisco] has been swinging the bat well," Amaro said. "[Greg] Dobbs has had his struggles. I don't know that [Ross] Gload has played a lot, so it's hard to get a rhythm. Obviously, we want everybody to perform better. It's got to start with the guys that are playing every day. That's probably the most important thing."
While Amaro ruled out a roster shakeup to spark the offense, he would not rule out a trade before the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline.
If a trade happens, it sounds like the Phillies will try to add pitching.
"Pitching is always the issue," Amaro said. "Everybody is always looking for the same thing. Again, a lot of it depends on how [left-hander J.A.] Happ progresses. We've got to get [setup man Ryan] Madson back.
"I like our chances when both of those guys are back. It gives us quite a bit of depth, I think. We've got to get these guys healthy. That's the most important element of what we need to do right now."
Todd Zolecki is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.