Most of you probably know Ruben Amaro, Jr. as a character on the television show “The Goldbergs.” Some of you may even know that Ruben Amaro, Jr. himself has made a couple of cameo appearances playing his own father.
"(Amaro Jr.) did such a fantastic job,” Goldberg said in a release, “we had to have him back.” https://t.co/LgweoXCLrp— PhillyVoice (@thephillyvoice) October 26, 2018
But I’m not sure how many of you realize that this fun television character actually served as the general manager of the Philadelphia Phillies from 2009 to 2015. During that period, the Phillies won three division titles, one National League pennant, and set the team record for wins in a single season, making it undoubtedly one of the greatest spans in franchise history.
For those of you unfamiliar with the work of Amaro, I’m going to provide a helpful service. Each week, I will highlight a move made by the former GM in a feature I like to call:
For the first installment of this feature, I will discuss the very first trade Amaro made after taking the reigns.
The Phillies went through an unfortunate stretch where they weren’t very good at drafting, especially in the first round. (Seriously, take a look at this list after 2002. It isn’t pretty.) One of the worst picks in that span came in 2004 when the Phillies took speedy high school outfielder Greg Golson. Despite never really hitting well at any level, the Phillies continued to promote Golson up the ranks. He eventually made it to the majors in 2008 where he turned in a Mitch Walding-like performance, going 0-6 with four strikeouts.
Amaro correctly determined that the young outfielder was not going to live up to his first-round billing, and quickly cut bait, flipping him to the Texas Rangers. In return, the Phillies received outfielder John Mayberry Jr., who was also having trouble living up to his status as a former first round draft pick. Amaro described the move as exchanging speed for power, but I suspect Amaro also may have felt a kinship with John Mayberry since they were both eponymous second-generation players.
Mayberry began the 2009 season in the minors, before being making his major league debut in late May against the Yankees. He made a strong first impression, hitting a three-run home run off of Andy Pettitte. Making the moment even more special was the fact that his father was in attendance to witness the event.
As it turned out, John Mayberry Sr. was not actually in attendance, and the FOX broadcast simply mistakenly identified a random guy in the crowd as Mayberry’s father. (This video has apparently been scrubbed off the internet, possibly to erase FOX’s embarrassment.) Unfortunately, that homer turned out to be the highlight of the game, as Brad Lidge did what he often did in the 2009 season: Blow a save.
Aside from his debut, Mayberry’s most memorable moment as a Phillie may have come on Opening Day in 2011 when his RBI single capped a ninth inning comeback:
Mayberry received the bulk of playing time in left field down the stretch in 2011, and became a valuable contributor for the 102 win team. He stayed with the club until 2014 when they traded him to Toronto for minor league infielder Gustavo Pierre. (I am retroactively disappointed that Pierre never became anything, because it would have been awesome to have a guy named Gustavo Pierre on the Phillies roster.)
Mayberry never reached stardom, but he did have his share of highlights over the years. In case you’ve forgotten, here’s the highlight clip you didn’t realize you so desperately wanted until now:
As for Golson, he wasn’t nearly as successful. He played a grand total of one game for the Rangers before they traded him to the Yankees. He spent brief stints with the Yankees in 2010 and 2011 before being released. He bounced from organization to organization over the next few years but never again reached the majors.
Since the Phillies were the clear winner in the Mayberry for Golson exchange, Amaro’s first trade was definitely a success. But this was just the start of his tenure, and there were bigger and better moves yet to come. If you’d like to read about those moves, make sure to check back every week for another edition of Ruben Tuesdays!