Many seem to think Ruben Amaro's time as general manager will soon be over. But what if the exact opposite is true?
Even after beating the Atlanta Braves for the second straight night, their sixth win in eight games, the Phillies still remain seven games below .500 at 31-38, with the third-worst run differential in baseball. Through two and a half months, we've seen a 70-75 win baseball team play before us, and most of the blame for that performance has been hung around the neck of the General Manager.
As noted by our own 88Lindros88 earlier today, Phillies President David Montgomery gave Amaro and the rest of the front office a "vote of confidence," on Tuesday, seemingly indicating the owners are not planning on making any changes among the team's top personnel decision makers anytime soon.
If that "vote of confidence" is legitimate, if Montgomery really believes Amaro and the rest of his staff have done a good job and should stay on through the "retooling" process, then there are some interesting decisions to be made for both Monty and Amaro. And those decisions will have to be made sooner rather than later.
The biggest is, should Ruben Amaro get a one-year contract extension?
Of course, many you are going to climb onto your roof right now and shout "NOOOOOOOOO!" Please don't fall down. But here's how this could play out.
If nothing changes, Ruben Amaro would enter the 2015 season in the last year of his contract as a lame duck GM. If you're Ruben Amaro, wouldn't you push for management to, at the very least, give you a one-year extension that takes you through 2016? Being a lame duck general manager gives Amaro no stake in the future and all but prevents him from really planning for the team's future. His primary focus would be on winning baseball games in order to keep his job, not properly planning for the next few years.
Being a lame duck also lessens your authority over the people around you. Why would you listen to, or take seriously, the guy who likely isn't even going to be around after this year? It's a terrible way to go about the job.
Whether you want to call it "retooling" or "rebuilding," it's clear much work needs to be done on this roster, and everyone acknowledges that you can't rebuild Rome in a day. It is impossible for Amaro to make all the changes that need to be made in just one more off-season, which is all he would have left barring a contract extension.
If you're Ruben Amaro, how do you not ask to be extended for an additional year in order to avoid this unpalatable status?
Of course, should Amaro decide to go that route, a number of different things could happen.
If Montgomery's "vote of confidence" was less than sincere, he will refuse the request. Amaro could then decide to stay on anyway, or he could quit. It wouldn't be the first time a GM or coach/manager has walked away rather than work under the specter of being a lame duck. The Phils would then go about the process of either elevating the team's next chief architect, or begin the external search for one.
However, if Montgomery's "vote of confidence" is legitimate and he truly does have faith in Amaro and Co., why wouldn't he extend Amaro for one more year? Why wouldn't he allow a front office that, as he put it, "gave us the most successful period we had," to have an additional off-season after the 2015 season, when even more big money salaries come off the books, and recent draft picks are closer to the big leagues?
Why wouldn't Montgomery want his trusted GM to have as much job security and authority as possible? Having a lame duck general manager is bad for everybody, not just Amaro himself.
Now, it's entirely possible Amaro doesn't want an extension or an additional year and is happy to play out the string in 2015. But it's not very often a decision-maker is happy being a lame duck, and that is exactly what Ruben Amaro would be next year without an extension.
After this season is over, we should get a better idea just how strong David Montgomery's "vote of confidence" really is. If that loyalty to Amaro is strong, and he really does want him to stay, he should give him an extension.
If not, the writing will clearly be on the wall.