Did Ruben Amaro take a Phillies team that won the World Series and make it better? I think he did. Whether or you agree with that opinion or not, the Phillies are on pace to win more games in 2009 than they did in 2008. After last night’s game the Phillies are on pace to go 95-67 on the year, which would give them three more wins than they had in 2008.

With a win on Tuesday night the Phillies also did something they hadn’t done since the 1993 season. They went 23 games above .500. Here’s the most games above .500 they’ve been for each of the last 17 years:

Year Most games
above .500
1993 35
1994 3
1995 19
1996 5
1997 1
1998 5
1999 13
2000 0
2001 17
2002 3
2003 16
2004 10
2005 14
2006 9
2007 16
2008 22
2009 23

After topping out at 22 games above .500 in 2008, the Phils hit 23 games above .500 this week. But is the team better than the other teams in the last 17 seasons? Better than last year’s team? For each of the seasons through the last time they were 23 games above .500 or better, here’s the average number of runs the Phillies have scored and allowed per game, the difference between those numbers and how that difference compares to the other seasons in the group:

Year RS/G RA/G Diff Diff Rank
1993 5.41 4.57 0.85 1
1994 4.53 4.32 0.21 9
1995 4.27 4.57 -0.30 13
1996 4.01 4.88 -0.86 16
1997 4.12 5.19 -1.06 17
1998 4.40 4.99 -0.59 14
1999 5.19 5.22 -0.03 11
2000 4.37 5.12 -0.75 15
2001 4.60 4.44 0.17 10
2002 4.41 4.50 -0.09 12
2003 4.88 4.30 0.58 4
2004 5.19 4.82 0.36 7
2005 4.98 4.48 0.50 5
2006 5.34 5.01 0.33 8
2007 5.51 5.07 0.44 6
2008 4.93 4.20 0.73 3
2009 5.12 4.36 0.76 2

So, for example, the 1993 team scored an average of 5.41 runs per game and allowed an average of 4.57 runs per game. The difference between the average number of runs they scored and allowed is 0.85 and of the 17 teams in the list the 0.85 difference is the best (ranked one of 17).

After the 1993 team the 2009 Phillies are the team in the group with the best differential between the average number of runs they scored and allowed.

Amaro obviously didn’t do it all himself. The players, for example, deserve most of the credit. Still, just about everything has come up roses for Amaro in his first year as GM. There have been two enormous decisions that Amaro has made so far for 2009 and both of them have worked out really well for the Phillies. First, the Phillies brought in Ibanez to take over for Burrell. Despite the long slump with the bat, Ibanez has been better offensively and defensively. Second, the Phillies needed to make a deal for a pitcher at the deadline and did they ever — Amaro deftly navigated a dicey situation with Roy Halladay and pulled an ace in Cliff Lee without giving up the farm.

It’s hard to get too excited about it when Francisco is on-basing .261 with the team, but I think the addition of Francisco is going to be an important one down the stretch. The Phillies had an enormous need for a right-handed hitter and Francisco was a great fit. The Phils also answered the questions about who would be the fifth starter in Amaro’s first year — whoever was responsible for the decision to plug Happ into the role, Happ has gone 8-4 with a 2.81 ERA and a 1.20 ratio in his 19 starts with the team.

I wasn’t a fan of the Ronny Paulino for Jack Taschner deal, but I think it’s pretty tough to find much criticism for what Amaro has done this year. Even if the Phillies somehow tanked and didn’t make the playoffs or got bounced out of the playoffs early I don’t think I’d feel like that happened because the team was poorly constructed. I think there may be one exception to that and one big test left, which is what they are going to do at the back of the bullpen with Lidge. Lidge has been awful almost all year long and if a weak performance from Lidge costs the Phils in the post-season I think the team will have opened itself up to some criticism.

Kyle Drabek and Michael Taylor won the Paul Owens Award for the best pitcher and position player in the Phillies’ minor league system. Drabeck appeared in 25 games between Single-A and Double-A and went 12-3 with a 3.19 ERA and a 1.21 ratio. Drabek turns 22 in December. Taylor played mostly at Double-A but also at Triple-A this season and hit 320/395/549 with 20 home runs and 21 steals. He turns 24 in December.

The article linked above says that Condrey and Bastardo will both make rehab appearances today. It also seems to suggest that the Phillies might have problems finding space for both Condrey and Walker on the post-season roster if there is a post-season roster and both are healthy. If both are healthy I would be surprised if both are not on the post-season roster.