Just when you think "You know, maybe Ruben Amaro isn't *so* bad", the man opens his pie hole and says things that perfectly illustrate just how lost the franchise still is.
You may be wondering what exactly Amaro could possibly say at this point that would make me have *even less* faith (not to mention respect) in him than I already did. Well strap in, because we're about to take a ride on the USS Disbelief.
Amaro gave a few comments yesterday on Jesse Biddle, the Phillies pitching prospect who is on the comeback trail after a nightmarish and bizarre 2014. At one point, Biddle was having trouble with even the basics of the game and struggling with his enjoyment level (read: he was incredibly unhappy), so the Phillies gave him what they called a "mental break". From Jim Salisbury's excellent piece on CSNPhilly.com:
Biddle believes some of his frustration at the time stemmed from his being struck in the head by an ice pellet during a hailstorm in Reading in May. He said he was later diagnosed with a concussion.
"I believe with the way it lines up, I was concussed and I was pitching with a concussion," he said. "I saw a concussion specialist and he said I had a concussion."
Reading this, the first thing that stood out to me is that the Phillies aren't involved in this at all. Biddle saw a concussion specialist who diagnosed him with a concussion, but he never missed any time due to it. The Phillies lack of presence in this is really puzzling, because concussions are not unimportant. They're a big deal, and MLB has finally recognized that by putting more emphasis on identifying and resting concussed players. Which is why this quote from Amaro (also from Salisbury's piece) is both idiotic and alarming.
Amaro this week acknowledged that Biddle had "concussion symptoms," but added, "I don’t know if it was a full-blown concussion." He went on to say, "That wasn’t the reason we gave him the break."
Does Amaro and the Phillies medical staff not recognize the credentials of an outside concussion specialist? Did they not bother to look into this? Why is he being so blase about a destructive head injury? And why is he insisting on blaming Biddle's pitching problems and month long break on "mental" fitness?
I know a few people in the comments lately have been questioning the competence of the Phillies medical staff. I haven't wanted to engage in that line of thinking, if only because we never have the complete picture when it comes to medical issues in baseball. But this? This is patently ridiculous. Biddle saw a specialist and was diagnosed with a concussion. End of story. Maybe Amaro doesn't want to admit that they missed something, or they didn't listen to one of their players. That's not unlikely, considering how much trouble Amaro has with admitting he or the team was wrong. But in doing so, they're asserting that a HEAD INJURY is meaningless (and may not even exist!) and it had nothing to do with Biddle's baseball problems.
But then it gets better. Of course, "better" in this case means "the worst thing ever."
In [Phillies pitching coach Bob] McClure’s opinion, none of Biddle flaws are really physical.
"I don’t think it’s physical at all," he said. "It’s a growth issue. It’s a mindset of, ‘I can do this.’ But you have to grow into it and it takes time. You can’t flip a switch."
I've always believed there was room in baseball for the old school way of thinking and a more modern approach. The old school guys serve a purpose, and some players really respond to that. But this is where I draw the line. McClure is essentially saying that if Biddle was mentally stronger and not such a baby boy wussie, he would have been totally fine after getting beaned in the melon by a pellet of ice hurtling down from the sky. THIS IS THE MAN THE PHILLIES HAVE CHOSEN TO COACH THEIR PITCHING STAFF. If "walk it off" is his answer, then the question should be "What is the one thing you could say about a head injury that should 100% get you fired?".
Just fire everyone. There is no excuse for any of this, not at all, not in the modern, futuristic times of 2015, so get them all away from my favorite team. If they're going to fuck around with a promising young pitcher who could be part of the future that they're finally starting to build toward, none of them deserves to be anywhere near a major league baseball team.
(For more righteous anger/analysis about Ruben "Dunderhead" Amaro's comments on Jesse Biddle, check out Brad Engler's post over on Crashburn Alley.)