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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NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

NHL Playoffs: Penguins beat Senators in 2OT of Game 7 to reach Stanley Cup Final

BOX SCORE

PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Penguins are heading back to the Stanley Cup Final.

Chris Kunitz beat Craig Anderson 5:09 into the second overtime to give the defending champions a 3-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference final Thursday night.

Kunitz scored twice, his first two of the playoffs. Justin Schultz added the other in his return from an upper-body injury, and Matt Murray stopped 28 shots on his 23rd birthday.

The Penguins are trying to become the first team since the Detroit Red Wings in 1998 to win back-to-back titles. They will host Western Conference champion Nashville in Game 1 on Monday night.

Mark Stone and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa. The Senators rallied twice to tie it, with Dzingel making it 2-2 with 5:19 left in regulation.

Craig Anderson made 39 saves, but couldn't get a handle on Kunitz's shot from just outside the left circle. The Senators are 0-6 in Game 7s in franchise history.

The Senators forced a return trip to Pittsburgh -- where they lost 7-0 loss in Game 5 on Sunday -- by leaning heavily on Anderson in a 2-1 Game 6 victory, putting both teams at odds with history.

Ottawa came in 0-for-25 years in winner-take-all games, while the Penguins were 0-7 in Game 7s at home in series in which they also dropped Game 6.

Ottawa coach Guy Boucher told his resilient team to not get caught up in the big picture but instead focus on the small ones, a recipe that carried the Senators throughout a bumpy transition under their first-year head coach to the brink of the franchise's second Cup appearance.

The Penguins, trying to become the first defending champion to return to the finals since Detroit in 2009, came in confident they would advance if they could replicate their dominant Game 6, when they were undone only by Anderson's brilliance.

Pittsburgh has been nearly unflappable in the face of adversity under Mike Sullivan, going 12-2 in playoff games following a loss over the last two springs. He encouraged his team to "just play," code for fighting through Ottawa's neutral zone-clogging style and the bumping, grabbing and pulling that comes along with it.

A chance to play for their sport's ultimate prize on the line, the sheets of open ice the Penguins found so easily in Games 4-6 closed up. For most of the first 30 minutes, loose pucks hopped over sticks to spoil some scoring opportunities while Anderson and Murray gobbled up the rest.

Kunitz, relegated to the fourth line since returning from injury in the second round, picked up his first postseason goal in a calendar year when he completed a two-on-one with Conor Sheary -- a healthy scratch in Games 5 and 6 -- by slipping the puck by Anderson 9:55 into the second period.

The momentum lasted all of 20 seconds. Ottawa responded immediately with Stone -- who stretched his left skate to stay onside -- fired a wrist shot that handcuffed Murray.

Pittsburgh kept coming. Schultz, returning after missing four games with an upper-body injury, zipped a shot from the point through Kunitz's screen and into the net with 8:16 left in the third.

Once again, the Penguins could not hold the lead. Dzingel set up at the right post and banged home a rebound off Erik Karlsson's shot that hit the left post and caromed off Murray's back right to Dzingel's stick.

Notes
The home team is 21-20 in overtime Game 7s in NHL playoff history. ... Pittsburgh F Patric Hornqvist skated during warmups, but was held out of the lineup for a sixth straight game with an upper-body injury. ... Karlsson had 16 assists in the playoffs to set a team record. ... The Penguins are 10-7 in Game 7s. ... It was the fifth one-goal game of the series.

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick hit by pitch twice, removed from rehab start at Triple A

Howie Kendrick experienced a painful rehab start on Thursday night.

Rehabbing with Triple A Lehigh Valley, Kendrick was hit by a pitch twice before being removed after the sixth inning of the IronPigs' 8-4 loss to Indianapolis at Coca-Cola Park.

Both times Kendrick was plunked in the upper left arm, according to Tom Housenick of the Morning Call.

There was no update on if Kendrick was injured or taken out for precautionary reasons. Thursday marked Kendrick's second rehab start as he recovers from an oblique strain that has sidelined him since April 15.

The Phillies' leftfielder started at third base Thursday. At the beginning of his rehab assignment, Kendrick was expected to play four games and see time at third and first base, as well as in left field.

Kendrick made a throwing error at third on Thursday and finished 0 for 1 with a run scored. In his two games, he's 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

Kendrick hit .333 with four doubles, a triple and five RBIs in 10 games with the Phillies prior to landing on the DL.

When he returns, he could see time at third base instead of left field if Maikel Franco continues to struggle (see story).