clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Why the Phillies should have hired Andrew Friedman

Honestly, this piece could probably be written concerning two-thirds of MLB franchises. But in the Phils' case, it's even more fitting.

Former Tampa GM Andrew Friedman is heading to L.A.
Former Tampa GM Andrew Friedman is heading to L.A.
J. Meric

The Los Angeles Dodgers made the playoffs this season. They won the National League West by six games over the San Francisco Giants, and finished with the second-most wins in the NL this year, 94.

They are a big-market team, playing 2014 with a $229 million payroll. Yet expectations were not met. They did not get as far as they wanted to go. They fell short of their ultimate goal, a World Series, and for that reason they reassigned general manager Ned Colletti and hired one of the smartest GMs in the game, Tampa's Andrew Friedman, to be their team president.

So while the Dodgers won 21 more games than the Phils this year, they went out and hired a new head of baseball operations, who will in turn hire a new general manager. Meanwhile, with the Phils stuck at 73 wins for the second year in a row, they stayed pat with their own organizational structure, comfortable in the knowledge they have their own Freedman, Scott - their Analytics Manager, already in the fold.

They should have tried to add another Friedman.

When the Dodgers saw an opportunity to land one of the best baseball minds in the game, they went after him hard. Meanwhile, the Phils fired their director of scouting, labeling him the fall guy, with the rest of the ship continuing to sail on with the same captain handling the wheel.

The Philadelphia Daily News' David Murphy put it succinctly on Tuesday.

You can talk about Yasmany Thomas and the recent amateur drafts all you want, but this is the kind of move that a true big market, big revenue organization makes when it feels itself slipping behind the rest of its brethren. There are proactive franchises, and there are reactive franchises, and there are whatever you’d consider the Phillies to be as they sit on their front porch, watching Main Street become an Interstate, yelling at the traffic.

As Murphy also noted, the Braves, who finished second in the NL East but missed the playoffs, fired their GM Frank Wren. Yet the Phillies soldier on, bravely, perhaps blindly, with the same crew that yielded the fewest wins per dollar of any team in all of baseball this season.

I am always reluctant to argue that a certain person should be fired. Certainly, Amaro's track record as GM of the Phillies has been mixed, at best. But I suppose he hasn't done anything over the last couple years that has tremendously crippled the team. The last egregious move he made was signing Jonathan Papelbon to a ridiculous contract prior to the 2012 season.

But is it really the job of the general manager merely to "not cripple" the team? Or is it to actually make the team "better"?

Andrew Friedman would have made the Phillies better.

Now, it's entirely possible Andrew Friedman would have only left Tampa for the L.A. job and wouldn't have considered coming to Philadelphia. In fact, he apparently turned down other jobs in the past.

But the larger issue is whether the Phils should be looking outside their own organization for help. They did that to some degree when they hired Atlanta's Johnny Almaraz to be Marti Wolever's replacement as scouting director.

If the Phils didn't at least call Andrew Friedman and take his pulse on the possibility of joining the Phillies, they were negligent in doing all they could to improve this team. If they didn't at least reach out, they were derelict in trying to get better.

Granted, that task is very tough right now. By Amaro's own actions, the team is limited in what they can do, thanks in large part to the payroll inflexibility caused by the Ryan Howard extension. They've also been hurt by an inability to develop the young players they were counting on to perform this season.

Despite hiring their analytics guy and a few interns last year, the Phillies are still very much behind the smarter franchises in the league. They are light years from where the Cardinals, Rays and Giants are, and it's scary to think about what the Dodgers could become with Andrew Friedman working with a $200 million payroll.

This is not an argument that the Phillies should fire Amaro. It is an argument that they should have been open to aggressively courting the man the Dodgers just hired, someone with a better track record, perceived to be one of the smartest GMs in the game.

Baseball truly is about...

Perhaps Phils' management thinks Amaro is just as smart, and just as capable of returning the Phillies to prominence. I remain skeptical. But as has been said a million times, this is a loyal organization, one that is sometimes unable to see the limitations of their own people.

The team will still be led by the same crew that has always done things "The Phillies Way." For years now, I've been screaming for the Phils to "hire all the Cardinals." And while that has largely been a humorous take on the situation, my overall point remains.

With the way the game is played now, other teams have found a better way.

The Los Angeles Dodgers did get a whole lot better on Tuesday.

For the Phillies, the status quo remains.