Philadelphia Phillies: The Andy MacPhail-era is officially a disaster

(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rich Schultz/Getty Images) /

Despite having over four years on the job, the Philadelphia Phillies President of Baseball Operations has failed to restore the organization to contender status.

On June 29, 2015, in a move widely lauded within the baseball community, the Philadelphia Phillies hired “baseball lifer” Andy MacPhail as a special assistant to then-president Pat Gillick.

For a team having just seen its sad-sack manager quit mere days before, the addition of someone like MacPhail was a welcome addition for an organization seeming to lack any direction.

At the time, the writing was also on the wall that MacPhail would succeed the soon-to-retire Gillick at season’s end, taking charge of the search for a new GM to replace the much-maligned Ruben Amaro Jr.

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Amaro didn’t even last the season, losing his job in September, and MacPhail did indeed ascend to the president’s chair at season’s end.

At that point, it was his show. Matt Klentak was his choice as the new Phillies general manager, though it was one that should have raised red flags right away.

While the selection of a young, analytics-embracing executive like Klentak was a progressive step for the Phillies, Klentak’s own track record was underwhelming, to say the least.

MacPhail had hired Klentak in Baltimore in 2008, and Klentak remained on with the Baltimore Orioles as Director of Baseball Operations through 2011. But those were terrible years for the Orioles, who never won more than 69 games in any of Klentak’s seasons with the club.

Still, Klentak went on to find employment as assistant general manager with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, spending four years there as well. The Angels did at least make one playoff appearance during Klentak’s tenure, but they were a third-place club in the other three seasons.

Finally, Klentak was passed over when the Angels needed a new GM, which led him back to MacPhail in Philadelphia. Maybe the Angels knew something we didn’t.

Now in his fourth year as Phillies GM, Klentak has failed to make the kinds of impact moves that would set the Phillies up for success now or in the near future. And even the trades that looked great at the time, such as JP Crawford and Carlos Santana for Jean Segura, haven’t panned out so well.

But any indictment of Klentak’s roster construction should circle right back to MacPhail. As Klentak’s boss, does he personally approve of everything Klentak does? If so, he should be taking just as much (if not more) heat than Klentak and manager Gabe Kapler currently are.

Then again, if Klentak is making all of his decisions about the team with little to no input from MacPhail, one has to wonder what MacPhail’s role even is at this point.

No wonder his comment, “If we don’t, we don’t” regarding the Phillies’ chances of making the playoffs this year has been so derided in the local sports media over the past few days.

MacPhail also claimed that he didn’t think that the team was one player or one trade away from competing for a championship. As honest as that most likely is, there was also a distinct lack of accountability that went along with the statement.

The 2019 Phillies season was supposed to be an enjoyable thrill ride that, at the very least, would see the team back in the playoffs for the first time since 2011. Instead, we are all looking down the barrel of yet another season that epitomizes mediocrity.

We all must ask ourselves, can we honestly say that the Phillies are any better off now than on the day that MacPhail was hired four years ago? At that point, the major league team was a train wreck, but there was at least hope for the future thanks to a seemingly strong organizational talent pipeline.

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Today, the team has improved its winning percentage, but not nearly enough to compete with the true contenders like the Los Angeles Dodgers.

All the while, they remain maddeningly inconsistent while frequently exhibiting abhorrent fundamental baseball, doing things like not running to first base and forgetting how many outs there are in an inning.

On top of this, the farm system is now barren once again.

So while the Phillies take ineptitude to a whole new level with each passing game, we can call for the firing of Kapler because he always looks overmatched and does not seem to have the respect of his players.

We can pine for the dismissal of the man who hired him in Klentak because he failed to put the right pieces in place and address the team’s most pressing needs.

But in the end, the hammer should come down on the man who hired Klentak and started this multi-year mess in motion.

MacPhail got his start as a baseball executive a long time ago, which may or may not have had something to do with his father and grandfather, both of whom were Hall of Fame executives.

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Unfortunately, MacPhail’s time with the Phillies, however, is guaranteeing that there won’t be a third member of his family enshrined in Cooperstown.