I don't think any of us realize how time consuming and difficult the job of a Major League general manager really is.
A big league GM has to be on call all the time. They have to be ready to have their Thanksgiving dinner interrupted. They have to always answer their phone when they're on vacation. They have to know how contracts work, the minor league system, the rosters of every other MLB team, and learn how to put a successful team together, all within a budget.
And while I criticize Amaro for making moves that the rest of us would see as being counter-productive and, sometimes, downright unintelligent, after the year I've had as a fantasy football general manager, I can definitely relate.
You see, I've made some real stinkers this year. I've done some really stupid things, things that were reminiscent of some of the blunders Amaro has made over the years. I allowed desperation to cloud my judgment. I made moves without any forethought for the future. I was a slave to the win-now mentality, and it hurt me.
So, before you read any further, understand that I am going to talk about my fantasy football team. You may not care about this, so I won't blame you if you bail. But understand that I am making a larger point about Amaro.
You see, I AM Ruben Amaro. I AM the bumbling GM. I've done all the same things wrong that Amaro has.
First, a quick primer on my league, The Andy Musser Memorial League, named after the former Phils broadcaster. It's a 12-team dynasty league. Every year, we're allowed to keep at least four players from the previous years' roster, at the expense of a draft pick that year.
For example, if I drafted someone in the fifth round in 2013, I can keep that player on my roster in 2014, but it costs me my fourth round pick in '14. Make sense?
Anyway, enjoy my travails as general manager of The Fabulous Kotites. And after you read about some of these transactions, you'll understand that using Kotite in my team name is absolutely appropriate.
1. Last year, during the 2012 season, I traded away both my 1st and 2nd round picks in 2013 in an attempt to make last year's playoffs. And, it worked. I ended up making the postseason and even won my first-round game. It was the first time in 12 years playing in this league I had won a playoff game, so I was feeling pretty spry. I eventually lost the following week in the semi-finals by about a dozen points or so, but I scored over 100 points and had a really good game. I just ran into a hotter team.
However, those trades came at a price, as they left me short-handed this year without my first or second round pick in last August's draft.
As Amaro chased that third World Series appearance, he acquired numerous free agents, at the expense of first round draft picks. This, obviously, has hurt the organization now as it tries to re-tool. The lack of stud prospects is partially due to all the young players traded away and all the first round picks lost as compensation for signing all those free agents.
Yes, those free agents helped the team make the playoffs and even win some playoff games. But it did not bring another championship.
2. After Week 4, I was 2-2. But I had a weakness at the tight end position. I was starting Miami's Charles Clay at TE and getting beat at that position every week. So, I went about trying to find a replacement.
I was offered San Francisco's Vernon Davis as a potential trade target. Davis is a top-5 TE in fantasy and would be a definite upgrade over what I had. So, here is the trade that I proposed. Keep in mind... I PROPOSED THIS.
I traded Josh Gordon, Bernard Pierce AND my 2014 5th-round pick in exchange for Davis.
What in the holy hell was I thinking? It took all of about 35 seconds for my opponent to approve the deal. It then took me about 45 seconds to immediately regret it.
I specifically drafted Gordon in the fifth round this year, suspecting he was going to blow up and be a WR1 that I could keep on a yearly basis for the next two or three years. And that's EXACTLY what he became. I could have traded Reggie Wayne instead of Gordon, but I decided to trade Gordon because I was worried about Cleveland's QB situation, and Wayne had Luck throwing to him. I decided to focus on this year and picked the receiver that I thought would give me more production in 2013.
Obviously, I was crestfallen when Wayne tore his ACL and was lost for the year, while Gordon exploded as a stud. Not only that, WHY IN ALL THAT'S GOOD AND HOLY DID I THROW IN A 5TH ROUND PICK?
And did I really need to upgrade at TE? Was it really a position that was going to help me win a championship? Did I really have to give up so much to upgrade at a position that would only marginally affect my point total on a weekly basis?
This should all sound familiar to you. In 2011, the Phillies traded away some huge pieces of their farm system in order to land a bat to help them get into the postseason. They traded Jonathan Singleton, Jarred Cosart, Josh Zeid, and Domingo Santana in order to get Hunter Pence.
The Phillies didn't need a right fielder. They probably would have won just as many games with Domonic Brown in right. But Amaro's trade for Pence was designed to add a consistent right-handed bat into a lineup that was having trouble supporting the best pitching staff we've ever seen in Philadelphia. For Ruben, the trade for Pence was a necessary step in order to get back to the World Series.
And while Pence, like Davis for me, played well for the rest of the 2011 regular season, the move didn't really do what it was intended to do in the end. Pence struggled in the NLDS and the Phillies lost in five games to the St. Louis Cardinals. Now, Singleton is a top-30 MLB prospect, Cosart is pitching in the Majors and Santana is one of the better young prospects in the game. In fact, Santana was a THROW-IN, just like my 5th round pick was. There was no need to throw in a quality player like that, just like there was no need for me to throw in a 5th rounder.
Pence, meanwhile, was traded by the Phillies midway through the 2012 season for Tommy Joseph, whose stock as a prospect has fallen as he deals with concussion issues. The Phillies traded away valuable pieces of their future for a shot at a title. And, like my move, it didn't work out.
3. Luckily, I had a few keepers that I was able to hold onto heading into this year. One of them was Reggie Bush, who I was able to keep for a fourth-round pick. I mean, a RB1 for the cost of a 4th-rounder is a no brainer. Even though I was not able to select a top RB in the first or second round, I already had one on my roster. So, I got lucky.
But because of my lack of depth, and because Shane Vereen got injured (another keeper of mine) and both Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead sucked, I was playing short-handed at the running back position all year. Fortunately, because of Bush's stellar play, and a couple big games from Tony Romo early on, I started the year 4-2. But I knew I wouldn't be able to maintain that kind of record with just one running back. So, I decided to trade Reggie Bush in an attempt to get two running backs for him.
Here was my stupid idea. I'll trade one stud player for two lesser players. Real smart, dummy.
That's a cardinal rule of fantasy football. You trade FOR stud players. You don't trade them AWAY. Yet, I just couldn't stomach starting Pead or Richardson in my second RB spot anymore. I thought acquiring two legitimate starting RBs in exchange for Bush, whose injury history worried me, would be a smart move.
So, before Week 7, with a record of 4-3, I made a deal. I traded Bush and my 2014 6th round pick for Trent Richardson and Willis McGahee and the opposing team's 9th rounder.
Punch me in the face.
I really thought Richardson would be a RB1 in that Colts' offense. I honestly thought he would turn it around. And McGahee was the starter on a team that planned to use him at the goal line. Of course, Richardson's demise has been well-documented, and he is no longer the starter in Indianapolis. And McGahee is a dumpster fire. Neither player starts for me. Meanwhile, Bush is still averaging 15-20 points a game.
Baseball is the same way. You don't trade a stud player for lesser players. Quantity does not equal quality. Obviously, when the Phillies traded Cliff Lee to Seattle at the same time they were signing Roy Halladay, they thought they were trading Lee for good prospects. And the situations here are a little different, so it's not an apples-to-apples comparison. Still, it highlighted why you don't trade a pitcher of Lee's quality without getting quality in return. Simply acquiring players because you're getting more of them than you're giving up is a sure way to lose a trade.
4. Since making these moves, I've had to patch and fill. I traded my 2014 fourth-round pick and 10th round pick for Andre Ellington (who is now injured) and Roddy White, and picked up free agents like Chris Ogbonnaya, Steve Smith, Brian Leonard, Toby Gerhart, Michael Bush, Brandon Jacobs and Peyton Hillis over the last few weeks, while passing on productive players Andre Brown and Bobby Rainey.
That's like trying to patch with players like Michael Young, Ty Wigginton, Laynce Nix and Delmon Young, signing guys like John Bowker instead of calling up Brandon Moss, and keeping Laynce Nix and John Mayberry Jr. while non-tendering Nate Schierholtz.
Almost every move I've made mirrors a Ruben Amaro move from the last few years.
This is not meant to be an unnecessary slam on Ruben. This is to illustrate how hard being a general manager is. I mean, if I can make such stupid, short-sighted, amateurish moves as the GM of the Fabulous Kotites, even 12 years into this "job," I guess Amaro can do the same as GM of the Phillies.
Or, maybe I should feel fortunate that I can't be fired as GM of my team.
Ruben, I understand. We all make dumb mistakes. Some of us continue to make them, over and over and over again.
At the end of the day, my team finished the regular season at 6-7 and, shockingly, that was good enough to grab our league's final playoff spot. Of course, my disastrous decisions will ultimately cost me a real chance at both a title this season and competing for one next year.
So Rube, if you ever need to talk, just DM me on Twitter. Because I know how you feel, brotha.