ATLANTA -- After Cliff Lee shook David Montgomery's hand in a back hallway underneath Turner Field, the Phillies lefthander and president went their separate ways Sunday morning. Lee, a 35-year-old man who lamented the ticking clock on his career, wants to believe because "you've got to expect the front office to make moves and do everything they can to keep that going."
Montgomery, ownership's public face, bestowed faith in Ruben Amaro Jr. as the man to fix a $160 million team that was outscored by 139 runs. There is no quick solution for a roster littered with holes.
Amaro, in a wide-ranging interview last weekend, said he cannot cross his fingers and hope the current core is enough. He plans to pursue an outfield bat, among other pieces. He said he "fully expects to take heat" for a failed season and his staff could place a heavier importance on advanced metrics when evaluating players.
"We have to try to be creative, maybe a little more creative if we can," Amaro said. "Can we go into the season and hope that our health holds up? We could. Is that the right thing to do? It may not be. We have to get better. We have to get better in a lot of areas."
The Phillies averaged 3.77 runs per game, which ranked 27th in baseball. The two Chicago teams and Miami Marlins were worse. One factor was the team's failures against lefthanded pitching; their .679 OPS ranked 22d. Another was a lack of outfield production; Phillies outfielders ranked 19th in baseball with a .720 OPS. (The league average was .742.)
The numbers, no matter how they are split, beg for reinforcements. A 2014 outfield consisting of Domonic Brown, Ben Revere and Darin Ruf is unlikely.
"Ruf is not a rightfielder," Amaro said. "I think he can fill in for us. I think he can fill in in certain areas, but I can't sit here and tell you that he's an everyday player for us. He's going to have to fight for a job in some way, shape or form. Can he add some depth to our bench, to our club overall? Call he play a little left, can he play a little right, can he play a little first and give (Ryan) Howard a blow? He can become valuable in that regard.
"But I don't know he's an everyday player yet. It's hard to say that he's an everyday player in the outfield. I think we're doing ourselves a disservice, because we just need to be better in the outfield defensively."
The price for righthanded power will be expensive. Former Phillies outfielder Hunter Pence established the market last week when he signed a five-year, $90 million contract with San Francisco. Some of the best available bats -- Jacoby Ellsbury, Shin-Soo Choo and Curtis Granderson -- are lefthanded.
Carlos Beltran, 37, is a productive switch hitter. Nelson Cruz, 33, has averaged 27 homers for five seasons as a righty but was trapped in the Biogenesis scandal. Mike Morse, 31, has attracted the Phillies before but batted .215 in 2013 and battled wrist problems. Corey Hart, 31, missed the entire season because of a knee injury.
Ruf's role, as outlined by Amaro, could still net him some 400 plate appearances and best align him for success. It is the job that John Mayberry Jr. has assumed for the previous two seasons. Mayberry, eligible for arbitration, is a definite non-tender candidate.
Given the dearth of righthanded outfielders available through free agency, Amaro could seek a trade. The Marlins are said to have no desire for dangling slugger Giancarlo Stanton this winter.
The pitching staff was flawed, too. The free-agent market is overloaded with mid-rotation types, and Amaro could spend there.
He again reiterated his desire to retain Roy Halladay. It is not a priority; the process could extend well into the winter. Halladay is difficult to evaluate because of his health. He made $20 million in 2013.
"As far as monetizing his contract, I have no idea where to go there yet," Amaro said. "I have to talk to our guys about it. It's going to be something that is south of where he is now clearly but the question is how far south do you go without embarrassing the player? We talked about the shared risk and that is something that will have to happen. But we have some time. It's not a pressing issue."
Amaro and his lieutenants will watch October baseball from a distance. At the end of the month, the general manager will activate a plan that could save his job or heighten the calls for his removal.
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