In a move only stunning due to its timing, happening within an hour of our publishing a piece here at TBOH calling for his not returning as the Phillies GM beyond this current season, the team has announced the firing of senior VP and general manager Ruben Amaro.
Amaro rose from the Phillies’ bat boy during their 1980 World Series championship season to become a player for the team for parts of five seasons during the 1990’s, including the wildly popular 1993 NL champions.
“This decision is about taking the club in a new direction and that will be facilitated by new leadership.” ~ Phillies owner John Middleton
Amaro then became the team’s assistant GM, and finally the general manager following the 2008 World Series championship.
He made a number of controversial trades, some excellent, such as the acquisitions of Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, Cliff Lee, and Hunter Pence. But some were disasters, cuh as dealing Lee away on the same day he acquired Halladay, and hastily dealing away Pence.
Also on Amaro’s watch, the farm system continued to deteriorate, a process that began with his predecessor Pat Gillick, to the point that it became recognized as one of the worst in baseball.
That may have begun to reverse in the last 2-3 years, however. Only time will tell.
The team won a franchise record 102 games in the 2011 season under his watch. However, the final results also showed a steady decline: 2009 – lost World Series, 2010 – lost NLCS, 2011 – lost NLDS, 2012 – a .500 record, 2013 – a losing record, 2014 – a last place divisional finish, 2015 – worst record in baseball.
Phillies incoming club president Andy MacPhail stated “…in order to return to a top-contending club, we believe this is the right thing to do as we continue the rebuilding process” per ESPN.
“The Phillies ownership fully supports Andy’s decision not to extend Ruben Amaro’s contract,” co-owner John Middleton said in a statement, per that same ESPN info piece. “…This decision is about taking the club in a new direction and that will be facilitated by new leadership.“
I have devoted a handful of pieces in both the run-up to the 2015 season and during it, calling for a change at the front office level. That change involved ensuring that Amaro did not return as the GM in 2016 and beyond.
The Phillies have clearly shown with this move under Middleton and MacPhail that they understand the need for wholesale organizational change.
In the coming days, I will further address what this could mean for interim manager Pete Mackanin as well.