Phillies general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. is under a great deal of pressure these days, with the trade deadline looming and an aging squad that seems neither capable of winning consistently nor freefalling from the playoff race altogether. In addition to his stressful work environment, Amaro is also constantly under fire from fans and in the media, as if his job isn’t hard enough right now.
None of which is to get people to sympathize with the man, but you can maybe understand why somebody might buckle under the weight and “snap” so to speak, at least go on the defensive. And with reporters constantly pressing Amaro on the Phils’ next move – some of whom would no doubt turn around and say something critical of the job that he’s doing – there are plenty of easy targets for the GM’s wrath.
Amaro did take some folks to task over the weekend, but it wasn’t our pal Jim Salisbury or any of his Philly brethren. Rather it was the relatively anonymous group of folks who rate minor-league systems, rankings which have been generally unfavorable toward the Fightins’ farm system of late. Not to fear though – Amaro says they’re all full of it in his mini-rant.
Amaro will be protective of his minor-league prospects when considering trades. The Phils’ system is thin on blue-chippers, but it does have some coveted players. Amaro used the subject of the minor-league system as a springboard to rip those who rate minor-league systems.
“We have some guys that may be available,” Amaro said. “Clubs have asked about some guys that you don’t see on the top 25, top 50 lists of everyone who knows everything about baseball. I said that sarcastically, by the way, because I don’t think people know (crap) about it. You can print that if you’d like.
“There’s just a lot of those lists that come out that make me laugh. I don’t see anyone working for any major-league clubs that do that with those lists. It’s interesting.”
We’re sort of at a loss for words on this one. While I’m not quite certain how the Phillies stack up against the rest of Major League Baseball in this category, I’ve often felt their system isn’t quite as depleted as it’s made out to be. Then again I’m not sure prospect rankings are really being treated like scripture, either. Seems very out of left field to get heated over it.
>> Buy? Sell? Ruben Amaro still on the fence [CSN]
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For the fourth year in a row, Villanova was picked to win the Big East in the league's preseason coaches' poll.
The Wildcats received eight of the 10 possible first-place votes in the poll, which was released on Wednesday and doesn't allow coaches to vote for their own teams. Seton Hall and Xavier received the other two first-place votes.
Villanova finished the 2016-2017 season with a 15-3 record in the Big East, good for first place in the conference, and capped it off with the Big East tournament crown.
The Wildcats finished last season with a 32-4 record overall and reached the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The team returns two starters from last season, including forward Mikal Bridges, who was picked for the All-Big East second team, and point guard Jalen Brunson, who was selected as the 2017-2018 Big East Preseason Player of the Year. Brunson's averages of 14.7 points and 4.1 assists led him to an All-Big East first team selection in 2016-2017.
Sophomore guard Donte DiVincenzo, who averaged 8.8 points and 3.8 rebounds per game on his way to making the Big East all-freshman team, is another returning player that will play a big factor for 'Nova. The Wildcats also add freshman forward Omari Spellman to the mix after he redshirted last season. Spellman was picked in the coaches' poll as the preseason Freshman of the Year.
Jay Wright's squad tips off the 2017-18 season on Nov. 10 against Columbia.