The Philadelphia Phillies are 'here to win' now

Scott Cunningham

Ruben Amaro has big (old) plans for 2014.

Philadelphia Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr. isn't ready to consider rebuilding his team. In fact, he might never be ready to do such a thing. In an interview with USA TODAY's Bob Nightengale, Amaro reiterated his belief in the 2014 Phillies, and solidified his never-say-die philosophy.

The Phillies were set to enter the 2014 season as one the oldest, most outmoded teams in the game, but that didn't stop them from bringing back 35-year-old catcher Carlos Ruiz and signing 37-year-olds Marlon Byrd and A.J. Burnett.

Oh, and soon-to-be 40-year-old Bobby Abreu is back with the team this year as well.

But apparently, that isn't a concern for Amaro.

"I cannot look at our fans in the face and say, 'You know what guys, we're going to blow it up. We're going to be (garbage) for the next four or five years. But we will be back.  I just don't think in our marketplace, with the opportunities we have financially, that it's realistic. Nor do I believe it's fair.''

It's a nice thought -- competing every single year. And the Phillies haven't exactly failed in monumental fashion. They went 81-81 in 2012 and things got pretty bad last year when they finished 73-89, but before that, they hadn't posted a losing record since the beginning of the century, so Amaro's leash might not be tightening as much as it seems.

Of course, a lot of that stability was constructed by his predecessors, Ed Wade and Pat Gillick. However, if Amaro continues to refuse to consider a rebuild while his team continues to age in a very expensive manner, he might not be around to scoop up next winter's crop of fortysomething veterans.

It's not inconceivable that the Phillies could make a run in 2014. If everyone stays healthy, their pitching staff is solid, and they might just be able to put together enough offense to make it work for them. But the issue isn't necessarily this one season. It's the stubborn organizational ethos that refuses to adapt to a changing Major League landscape. The rest of baseball is trending younger and younger. Teams are making a more concerted effort to lock up their players' prime years of production rather than signing free agents based on previous track records that might not be sustainable into their 30s.

It might work this year, but how long can Amaro's philosophy hold up in a changing game as his team continues to age?

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