For years Ruben Amaro Jr. has said he skirted advanced stats in favor of more old fashioned methods of player evaluations such as the use of the trained human eyes of longtime baseball men. It seems as if that human eye methodology was also used in the evaluation of all of baseball's General Managers and ranks Amaro dead last among them, according to the Sporting News.
Amaro took over for Pat Gillick right after the Phillies won the World Series in 2008, and since then, it has been a direct downhill run. Philadelphia lost the World Series in 2009, lost the NLCS in 2010, lost in the first round in 2011, missed the playoffs in 2012, and fell under .500 in 2013. The next stop could well be last place, but even if the Phillies manage to avoid the cellar, Amaro’s attempts to build a team as if it is still 2008 have been baffling. After a year in which the Phillies were too old and broke down physically, Amaro actually made them older in the offseason. You almost have to double check that Tony Gwynn and John Mayberry are not actually their fathers.
The decline is hard to argue with no matter what metric you choose. And the resistance to pressing the reset button in an attempt to build a younger core is certainly frustrating.
But the contract that will forever tarnish anything else that Ruben Amaro Jr. does as the GM of the Phillies will always be the Ryan Howard deal. Phils fans are remembered of that albatross all to often as Howard goes down on strikes night after night.
And where are any of the pieces Amaro got back for Cliff Lee when he needed to stock the cupboard? The records of the Phillies minor league affiliates this year are atrocious across the board.
I guess in Amaro's defense, Marlon Byrd is looking like a real nice pick up. Too bad it's not one of the moves he's made that will influence the makeup of this team for years to come.
One thing is certain, what happens with the Phillies prior to the trade deadline this season could shape their future. Whether you like it or not, the guy who ranks dead last among baseball GMs according to one random list will be making those decisions.
MILWAUKEE -- DeMar DeRozan scored 32 points and the Toronto Raptors squandered a 25-point lead late in the third quarter before holding on for a 92-89 victory Thursday night over the Milwaukee Bucks to take their first-round playoff series in six games.
Cory Joseph had five points in a 9-0 run in the final 2 minutes, including a 3-pointer with 1:27 left, to help stave off the pesky Bucks.
The Raptors move on to face the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals in a series that starts Monday. They'll need to work on finishing off opponents in the second half.
Jason Terry's 3 with 3:06 left gave the Bucks an 80-78 lead, completing an unlikely comeback from the 25-point deficit with 5:16 left in the third quarter. The Raptors looked as if they were on cruise control after DeMarre Carroll's 3 gave them the 71-46 advantage.
Giannis Antetokounmpo spearheaded the second-half rally for Milwaukee. He had 34 points.
But the Bucks finished one comeback short.
The furious effort appeared to sap the energy of the young Bucks. Even Antetokounmpo, a renowned gym rat, looked tired with his hands on hips as he caught his breath during fourth-quarter breaks. He played 47 minutes.
Antetokounmpo finished 13 of 23 from the field but was 2 of 6 in the fourth.
The Raptors could finally breathe easy after DeRozan went 2 of 2 from the foul line with 3.1 seconds to play for a three-point lead. Tony Snell's inbounds pass on the ensuing possession was intercepted by DeRozan (see full recap).
WASHINGTON -- Sidney Crosby scored two goals in 52 seconds, Nick Bonino had the winner in the third period and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Washington Capitals 3-2 in Game 1 of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.
In a high-profile showdown of Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, Washington's captain also scored and Evgeny Kuznetsov had the goal that tied it in the third. But Marc-Andre Fleury made 15 of his 32 saves in the third period to help Pittsburgh to the win.
Crosby was a threat to score just about every time he touched the puck. He beat Braden Holtby with his first two shots of the second period.
Holtby stopped 18 of the 21 shots he faced but allowed Bonino's goal with 7:24 left.
Game 2 is Saturday night (see full recap).
Karlsson helps Senators edge Rangers 2-1 in Game 1
OTTAWA, Ontario -- Erik Karlsson scored on a bad-angle shot with 4:11 left in the third period, sending the Ottawa Senators to a 2-1 victory over the New York Rangers in the opener of their second-round playoff series on Thursday night.
The Senators captain beat fellow Swede Henrik Lundqvist from just above the goal line. The shot pinged off Rangers center Derek Stepan before going into the net.
It was Karlsson's first goal and seventh point of the playoffs. The 26-year-old defenseman, who has been playing with a foot injury, also logged more than 28 minutes in the win.
Game 2 is Saturday.
Ryan McDonagh scored for New York, and Lundqvist finished with 41 saves.
Craig Anderson stopped 33 shots and Ryan Dzingel scored for Ottawa, which eliminated Boston in six games in the first round (see full recap).