Ruben Amaro: 'I still think we're the best team in baseball'

Ruben Amaro: 'I still think we're the best team in baseball'

Phillies GM Ruben Amaro Jr. was a guest on Mike and Ike's midday show on 94 WIP this afternoon to wax poetic on the 2011 season and look ahead to 2012. RAJ didn't break any news about his plans, keeping his cards close to his chest per usual, but he didn't hide the fact that he's open to change. As for the 2011 World Series though? He can't bare to watch much of it.

"I can't watch it either. I do not watch. I watched a little bit of the game yesterday because it was a nice performance by the kid [Derek Holland]. I bet you I've watched maybe 12 innings. Because I still think we're the best team in baseball."

So what happened in the NLDS, Michael Barkann asked?

"It's called baseball, Michael, you know the game. We didn't get the big base hit. If Raul Ibanez's ball goes out of the ball park, if Chase's ball goes out of the ballpark, we're playing baseball I still think," Ruben said

Amaro goes on to talk about really liking the club he had, especially with the addition of Hunter Pence, but seems to be frustrated by the fact that guys like Placido Polanco weren't able to perform well in the postseason due to injury.

[more highlights plus audio from Ruben's spot on WIP below]

On Jimmy Rollins and whether the Phillies are hoping he gets a more lucrative/lengthy contract elsewhere.

"What we really want to do is sign Jimmy. Whether that happens or not kind of depends on if we can get to the place where we're all comfortable. Everybody knows what we want to do; no secret that we'd like to bring Jimmy back. Whether it's three, four, five, eight years, that's up to us to decide and hopefully with the help of Jimmy make the right decision to be able to keep him here."

Is it about the years or the money? Raj gave the same answer Jimmy Rollins did: "Both."

Ike Reese asked Ruben how can you improve upon what many considered to be the best roster in baseball?

"I'm going to have to be be passively aggressive because our priority is to try and bring Madson back and to bring Rollins back. I don't know how long that's going to play out. I have a feeling it may play out for a while. I like to be aggressive typically but I think in this situation because of the nature of these particular players' situations and where our payroll is, I'm going to have to be passively aggressive. At the same time, be ready to strike if there's a deal to be made either signing somebody or trading somebody. I don't want to preclude us from doing things with Jimmy or Ryan. That kind of ties us up a little bit in terms of timing, but that doesn't mean we don't have contingency plans and we work on those with agents and other clubs. I've already had several discussions with several teams about possible trades and I've also obviously talked to all the agents that our two players have to keep those lines of communication open."

On the need/desire to get younger in 2012:

"I don't mind change. It's hard to get younger with the situation we have. I would like to be a little different [than 2011]. If it's John Mayberry in left, then we're younger. We'll see. A lot of it kind of depends. I think there are things we can do to try to improve and try to get younger."

On alcohol in the clubhouse and the Red Sox situation:

"We do have beer in the clubhouse. We do not have hard liquor in the clubhouse. We do have beer. Our guys -- knock wood -- have been tremendously responsible. This is my 14th year in the front office, we've literally had like zero issues. That's almost impossible, but I think it speaks to the people that are in the clubhouse and the kind of people we try to target to be in the clubhouse."

Audio:

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Nerlens Noel trade: Sixers simply did not get enough

Nerlens Noel trade: Sixers simply did not get enough

Let's start with this: The Sixers did not need to trade Nerlens Noel. 

They could have kept him through the end of the season, made him an offer in restricted free agency and decide whether or not to match another team's offer sheet.

The Sixers held the cards. If a team like Portland or Dallas were to offer Noel $17 million a year or something this offseason, the Sixers could have either matched or let him walk.

If they chose not to match, they'd lose Noel for nothing.

So, given the return, the only explanation for Thursday's deadline trade of Noel to the Mavericks was that the Sixers definitively concluded they did not want to match a high salary for Noel.

Either that or they just really, really love Justin Anderson.

The trade was initially sold as Noel to Dallas for Andrew Bogut, Justin Anderson and a protected first-round pick.

In reality, the trade is Noel for Anderson and two second-round picks.

Bogut wants to be a free agent and will either be traded or bought out, according to multiple reports. So forget about him.

The 2017 first-round pick? It's top-18 protected, meaning the Sixers would get it only if the Mavericks pick 19 to 30. The Mavs currently own the NBA's seventh-worst record, so it would take a miracle for them to win enough games to decrease their draft stock that much.

If the pick does not convey in 2017 — and again, it's not happening — the Sixers instead get Dallas' second-round picks in 2017 and 2018.

So, yeah ... it's Noel for Anderson and a pair of seconds.

Ersan Ilyasova netted the Sixers two seconds. The only difference between that trade and this trade? Justin Anderson.

The expectation now, according to Adrian Wojnarowski of The Vertical, is that Jahlil Okafor will stay with the Sixers. It seems like they were just so uninspired by offers they received for Okafor that they instead looked to trade another big for value. 

But in this case, they didn't get value for Noel. They got the perception of value.

Unless Justin Anderson becomes a better player than Nik Stauskas or Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot.

Weird move.

Flyers' disallowed early goal costly for team struggling to score

Flyers' disallowed early goal costly for team struggling to score

It was just pouring out of Flyers swing forward Dale Weise after Thursday’s 4-1 loss to the Washington Capitals.

A disallowed goal because of him.

A strong game in every respect from his teammates.

A realization that things never seem to change for Dave Hakstol’s club.

“We come out with a great start,” Weise said. “Get on the forecheck. The building is lively. We score what we think is a first goal which we haven’t done a lot this year.

“I’m not going to say it’s a game-changer. Whatever it was, it didn’t end the game. But that’s a pretty big part of the game.” 

Weise ended up grabbing Caps goalie Braden Holtby. He said he did so for support or he would have knocked him over since he was trying to position his stick.

Funny things is, Holtby apparently never felt the contact. When the Caps challenged Jakub Voracek’s goal on the first shift of the game, it was overturned.

“Yeah, I obviously didn’t see the interference part I just kind of followed the puck and next thing I know it was kind of out of the play so a little fortunate, a great call by our video coaches,” Holtby said.

Weise wasn’t sure what he did amounted to much because it happened before Voracek’s shot and not during the act of shooting that would have prevented Holtby from getting position.

“To be really honest with you I don’t think I really touched him that hard,” Weise said.

Goals are so hard to come by these days for the Flyers. To score one a half-minute into play in a huge rivalry game, with them so desperate for points, and then to lose the goal and the momentum early, it becomes a significant event in the overall outcome.

The Caps made the most of their chances. Just like Calgary did last week.

“Winning and losing is so thin in this league and when you’re playing a team like that who just has loads of offensive talent, you give them one, two opportunities and they score on it,” Weise said.

“For a team like us that doesn’t score very often, that’s tough. We are playing behind the eight ball every night. It’s frustrating. I’m not going to lie and say it’s not in our head when we get down because you can see the way we play.

“We’re gripping the sticks. I really liked our effort though. I thought we played hard the whole night. Full marks to our team but it’s just kind of the same story every night.”

It’s trite but the term “snake bit” has been used a lot lately in talking about the Flyers since their 10-game win streak ended.

“That’s a good way to put it,” Weise said. “Look at that one there. Touch the goalie, goal disallowed. [Ivan Provorov] hits the cross bar. We had a couple other chances in tight. Snake bitten, I don’t even know if there’s a word for how I feel right now.”

It doesn’t get any easier this weekend with the Flyers' playing in their first outdoor game in five seasons.

Another even more bitter rival: the Penguins at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field on Saturday night. Taking two from the Pens will require a supreme effort and maybe a little luck for a change. The Flyers have been real short on luck all season.

The Flyers' dressing room after games, of late, has the feel of a morgue sometimes. Over the last 10 games, the Flyers have seven losses (including overtime). In six of those losses, they have scored one goal or no goals.

“We got a pretty positive group in here,” Weise said. “We try our best to come in every day and be positive. It’s a tough situation right now. Every day we’re fighting for our playoff life so that’s in the back of everyone’s mind.

“It makes it more frustrating when you’re playing, so well. I thought we played a pretty good game tonight. That goal disallowed we come right back. They make it two nothing on the power play.

“We kept going. We played well. We had a lot of chances. Good start to the second period again. We came out strong but we just can’t seem to finish.”

Veteran defenseman Mark Streit said they're playing well, but losing doesn’t make up ground in the standings. The Flyers remain three points out of the wild card going into the weekend.

Of their remaining 22 games, 19 are against the Eastern Conference, so mathematically, they have a chance to recoup points.

“We keep telling that we’ve been playing pretty well but lose a lot of hockey games,” Streit said. “We just got to find a way ...

“We have to find a way to turn it around, to get the bounces, just to get a little bit lucky out there, and to get the ugly goal. It’s tough. It’s frustrating. But it’s also the bloody truth.”