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Philadelphia Pressure


What does Phillies GM Ruben Amaro think about when he lays his head down at night?

He might be consoled by the fact that he has the best team in baseball based largely on his leadership. Since he took over in November of 2008, Amaro acquired Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Roy Oswalt for basically J.A. Happ.

Yes, Happ is a nice looking starting pitcher. Prospects Michael Taylor and Kyle Drabek have some major potential too, but getting Phillipe Aumont cancels out the talented, adolescent Drabek. The Indians' Carlos Carrasco also showed some promise at the end of 2009.

But you are starting to get the point.

Amaro, along with a large Brinks truck, has assembled one of the most talented and decorated rotations in history for what basically amounts to one middle of the rotation arm and five prospects (nine total prospects swapped for three prospects and Ben Francisco).

Yet, the talented trio will make roughly $70 million this year. Writing those kind of checks will keep anyone awake at night.

Money isn't the only reaason the pressure will be heavy in the City of Brotherly Love. Amaro's group has to win now because the window will not be open too much longer.

Make no mistake, the Phils are the team to beat in 2011. Maybe 2012 and 2013 too. But it will get tougher every year. Jimmy Rollins, Oswalt, Ryan Madsen and Brad Lidge are free agents after next season. Shane Victorino can walk after 2012. Halladay and Chase Utley can go after 2013.

The depth and talent is remarkable, but not young. One could argue that the top ten most important Phillies on the roster — Utley (32), Rollins (32), Lee (32), Halladay (33), Oswalt (33), Lidge (34*), Victorino (30), Madsen (30), Ryan Howard (31) and Placido Polanco (35) — are all over the age of 30. Additionally, World Series Champion manager Charlie Manuel is 76.

That puts the pressure squarely on the Phillies in 2011. There is no fathomable reason, with all due respect to the defending champions out west, that Philadelphia won't play into November next fall.

Amaro has brought the pieces together brilliantly, and now, he needs to see them perform up to their potential. Because if they do, the Philadelphia native will sleep well for decades in the arms of his hometown.

If they do not, well, the words tase, vomit and Santa Claus come to mind.

* - Lidge, born Dec., 23, 1976, will be 34 on Opening Day 2011.

Players Acquired in the three trades:
Roy Halladay, SP
Cliff Lee, SP
Roy Oswalt, SP
Ben Francisco, OF
Phillipe Aumont, SP
Tyson Gillies, OF
J.C. Ramirez, P
Cash (can't forget the cash from Toronto)

Players Traded Away:
J.A. Happ, SP
Kyle Drabek, SP
Michael Taylor, OF
Jason Knapp, P
Carlos Carrasco, P
Jason Donald, MI
Lou Marson, C
Travis d'Arnaud, C
Anthony Gose, OF
Jonathan Villar, SS/IF

-by Braden Gall