Phillies Rumors: Will Amaro Hold Off Other GM Candidates?


As the Phillies close in on their final month of baseball, the focus has shifted from moving on from expensive veterans, to evaluating what people in the organization currently will be here to start the 2016 season and beyond.

While Pete Mackanin is sure to at least draw some consideration to have the interim tag stripped from his title and made the club’s full-time manager, he will take a backseat to how incoming team president Andy MacPhails chooses to move forward at the general manager position.

Ruben Amaro, who once seemed a lock to be let go at the conclusion of the 2016 season, may have helped to keep his name in consideration for the general manager position with a string of impressive trades and signings over the past 12 months. Still, it feels unlikely that he will remain with the team in his current role past this season.

That said, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman wrote late last week that Amaro not returning as the GM in 2016 isn’t a lock.

"Though new club president Andy MacPhail isn’t saying what the plans are for GM Ruben Amaro — MacPhail is said to be “laying low” for a while, which is only the right thing to do — but there seems to be some belief Amaro may be given a chance to remain in the organization in some capacity. There seems to be some thought that Amaro looks a bit better now that the Phillies’ prospects are performing OK, the trades worked out all right and the team is playing better. The other longtime defense is that all those bad contracts weren’t necessarily all his idea. While many believe the team needs a fresh start, it isn’t even a certainty Amaro will be moved to a different job — which would likely come as a disappointment to many of their fans."

That it would, Jon. However, I’ve long since been the campaign that Heyman alluded to above that suggests that Amaro may simply have been making moves that David Montgomery and others above him were demanding, and he’s been left to bear the brunt of the blame. None of that is to say that he doesn’t still deserve some blame, but it would make you more comfortable about potentially keeping him under what the Phillies believe is a better executive.

Heyman says that if a change were to be made, there wouldn’t be a lack of candidates.

"If a change is made, Thad Levine, assistant GM of the Rangers, could emerge as a GM candidate, along with the J.J. Piccolo (Royals), Matt Klentak (Angels) and John Barr (Giants), among others."

Klentak has long since been a name mentioned with the job because of the work he did under MacPhail in Baltimore. It is possible, depending on what happens with the Angels’ general manager job, that he won’t be available, though.

So from there, candidates like Levine or Piccolo, who come from organizations who have built tremendous farm systems and had very good big-league success recently as well, become obvious candidates.

Barr has worked in the Giants organization for nearly a decade, and while the Giants don’t have quite the same farm system depth as the other two teams, the amount of elite young players developed under his watch as Vice President and Assistant General Manager, Scouting and International Operations (his title on the team’s website), is noteworthy.

Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe, while looking at limited number of minority candidates available for such positions, wondered if former White Sox general manager and current executive vice president Kenny Williams would be interested in such a position.

"Williams also could consider Philadelphia, where incoming president Andy MacPhail may be more of an overseer, like Williams is now, than a hands-on GM."

Cafardo also wrote that a team like the Brewers wanted a “younger, analytics-oriented general manager” meaning Williams wouldn’t be a fit for their vacancy. The interesting part about that is while the Phillies will have their own analytics system within the next five months and part owner John S. Middleton seems steadfast in implementing analytics into the team’s decision-making, they don’t necessarily seem to feel they need to hire a general manager whose first priority is analytics, but rather just one willing to use them. That may work in Amaro’s favor.

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MacPhail is 62 years-old and will be 63 early next season. He’s entering this job with probably a five to seven year window where he will really be involved. So keeping Amaro underneath him, if the last few months are any indication, might not be that scary. What is scary is that when MacPhail decides to step away, will Amaro then be handed (or re-handed) the keys to the organization?

In that sense, going with someone young like Klentak, who can be overseen for a few seasons and then handed the keys to the team may make the most sense for the team moving forward.

Amaro’s contract is up at the conclusion of this season, meaning the Phillies don’t have to decide to keep or retain him right away. I’m not sure if they would do this, but they could decide not to extend his contract, but interview him as though he’s a new candidate with the other potential suitors for the position. Re-impressing the Phillies may be Amaro’s best chance to retain the general manager spot, though doing so over younger, hotter-name candidates still feels unlikely.

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