David Montogmery gave an interesting interview to the Philadelphia Inquirer, in which he touches on the firing of Charlie Manuel, his assessment of the job general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. has done, and a few other assorted items. I highly suggest reading the whole thing, so I'll just highlight a few choice pieces from it.
On the fate of the club and the firing of Charlie Manuel:
"We were not the club we envisioned to be in either of the last two years coming out of spring training. I probably would have been very accepting of letting Charlie finish the year. But I think we owed him, when Charlie asked if he was going to be renewed, an honest answer."
I'm on board with being surprised at the failure of the 2012 team, coming off of the most successful regular season in Phillies history, but their visions of what the 2013 team was likely to accomplish seem overly optimistic. It's possible he's being completely forthright, but as Joecatz and others have pointed out, judged solely on the personnel moves this season has been more of a soft-retooling and a preparation for the next few years with the potential to compete if a dozen things all fell the right way. These are ostensibly smart guys so I'm going to go ahead and assume there's some amount of
fibbing public relations management going on here.
Montgomery went on to say that he was okay with the timing of Charlie's firing and the way in which it was handled by Amaro. Toward the end of the article Montgomery throws cold water all over my fictional Good Phils Wanting scenario, in which Montgomery was pulling the strings with Amaro caught in the middle, as he states clearly that he wasn't involved in the process.
"I'm a chain-of-command person," Montgomery said. "I believe the clubhouse is the manager's. He should be the presence there. Ruben's responsibility is all of baseball operations, including the decision on the manager. My role as president and CEO is to make the global decisions, including the GM decision and other senior personnel. If you get out of that chain of command, you can have problems."
That's an interesting quote and to some extent contradicts some of the rumors we've heard about management being involved in various contract extensions and trades. The degree to which Montgomery sticks to this philosophy at all times is impossible to ascertain, but it's certainly possible that it's less than 100%.
Gelb also gives us a look into Montgomery's thoughts on the general manager.
He endorsed Amaro as the team's general manager and said no further changes are required in the front office, even after two straight failed seasons. [...] Montgomery, 67, said Amaro is the executive who will lead a renaissance. "Oh," he said, "Ruben is our general manager." He cited Amaro's willingness to consider a variety of opinions before making a decision.
Kind readers, do you also "consider a variety of options before making a decision?" If so, good luck, you've met the qualifications to be Phillies general manager! I kid, of course, but the point is that's not exactly a meaningful quote. Whatever your thoughts on the tenure of Ruben Amaro, Montgomery is still standing behind him, for whatever that's worth. These things can change quickly so I'm not going to get too worked up over it one way or the other.
Monty on the Phillies scouting and player evaulation team:
"The same group that identified Jayson Werth to be a pretty good rightfielder when nobody else was chasing him is still the same people identifying that talent today."
There's some truthiness in that quote. A notable loss to the team that found Jayson Werth is Mike Arbuckle-and Pat Gillick to whatever extent he's removed himself from the day to day personnel moves-so while they still have some percentage of those Werth-finding guys in place, I'm not sure I'd go as far as saying it's the same group of talent evaluators. Though again, finding guys like Werth rarely happens and faulting them for not acquiring more 5 WAR players off the scrap heap would be unfair.
There are other tidbits in the article, including some of Montgomery's thoughts on Ryne Sandberg, Charlie Manuel's potential front-office job, and the upcoming TV contract, so go read it if you have a minute or three.
Edit: There's a longer form Q & A version of the interview that you can access here, and Professor Cohen's reaction piece is here.