No one is the Phillies' general manager right now, but the team is grilling applicants every week. And who wouldn't want the gig? The team has money and a bright future brewing in the minors, with John Middleton, a co-owner taking vigilant interest in his team's success. And after several decades of careful deliberation, they have finally decided to embrace a modern take on the sport.
Also, the fans. We are great. Look at us, wondering who the new GM will be like a bunch of curious children everyone hates. Ask any previous sports executive in this city; we are an added bonus to the job's built-in sexy fun of being on the phone a lot. With two fresh interviews reportedly in the books this weekend according to Jon Heyman, let's review who has been lining up at the door.
Royals assistant GM J.J. Picollo
Despite only holding his current position since last January, the raccoon that lives in Buster Olney's garbage cans is pretty confident that Picollo is the man for the Phillies job. He's held a variety of baseball roles with the Royals since 2006, all with long-worded titles that indicate he has been circulating an eventual GM job, and if ever there was a time to be affiliated with the Royals, it's the last two years.
When he first joined up, the Royals were a 100-loss team, and now they're two wins away from their second straight World Series appearance. Is their improvement all because of Picollo's influence? I don't see a credible reason not to make that assumption.
Angels assistant GM Matt Klentak
"Team captain and starting shortstop for Dartmouth" sounds like something a smarmy scholar with combed hair would boast while half-smiling at a cocktail party in the '50s. I don't know if Matt Klentak has ever done this, but he very well could have, given the statement's truthfulness. The delivery would have been up to him. It's almost impossible to know what the Angels' assistant general manager's flirtations are like. Fortunately, the Phillies won't have much use for them, unless trade talks begin to entail a new level of negotiating.
While embedded in MLB's Labor Relations Department, he worked alongside Andy MacPhail (Eh? Ehhhh?) to compose the 2006 Collective Bargain Agreement. He was turned away for the open Angels GM job when Jerry DiPoto fled the scene this season, despite working for the team already. This made for awkward eye contact between Klentak and a few of the interviewers but he undoubtedly used that trademark Klentak charm to flirt through it.
Cardinals director of player personnel Matt Slater
Like the Royals, only for longer, being connected to the Cardinals is probably considered "good" in the industry. Slater's job requires him to have eyes on the annoyingly successful Cardinals' top talent targets, and to work closely with the general manager to assemble them. Working so intimately with the GM of such a hellbent franchise has also allowed Slater to build up a tolerance to toxic fumes like sulfur and brimstone, and because of the nature of the St. Louis franchise in general, Slater also likely has an even stronger tolerance for his own farts.
Slater was the tip of the spear when the Cardinals launched their global campaign to coax baseball talent out of the far corners of the earth. The team had no qualms about sending him into the planet's shiftier districts, either.
"I've seen several muggings and crazy things happen," [Slater] said. "It's a different world. You've got to be careful in some of these countries, especially when you stand out as an American."
I don't want to jump too far ahead and suggest that someone with experience firsthand in active crime scenes makes him a better fit for a job in Philadelphia, but here I am, sort of suggesting that I guess.
MLB senior VP for baseball operations Kim Ng
"Widely touted as the woman likeliest to run a Major League club," Los Angeles Magazine said of her in 2005. And many teams agreed with this enough to interview her and then not hire her over the course of the next decade.
Everybody knows Kim Ng by now, as she is a successful, reputable baseball executive, but the fact that her hiring as a GM for any team would make her the first woman to hold the position in any sport naturally stands out. She had some thoughts on this in that same article.
"I'm in the spotlight for a lot of reasons. It's because of what I do, and because of what I represent."
"I just try to concentrate on my job - what's the big deal?"
People in and around the Phillies, mostly fans, which is to say almost entirely fans, have spent the last week being curious about Ng's potential influence. She has plenty of experience as an executive, having started work for the White Sox in 1991 and becoming only more renown in the industry in ways we are all now more familiar since the dawn of the rumor that she was in the running for this job.
Former Marlins GM Larry Beinfest
Being hired by Jeffrey Loria makes it instantly seem like a person can't be trusted. But "Tough to deal with," is how Beinfest described owners of struggling organizations to the Miami Herald. You got the sense there was not a lot he and Loria agreed upon by the end (Beinfest left Miami in 2013), namely the firing of manager Fredi Gonzalez that was still haunting Beinfest this past August, and caused Gonzalez to downward spiral so terribly that he accepted a job with the Braves.
In 2003, while assembling a world champion team, Beinfest specialized in future Phillies, signing Juan Pierre, Jeff Conine, Dontrelle Willis, and Ugueth Urbina. But that was 13 years ago, baseball is a different game now. You can't just sign Juan Pierre and hope for the best. Ruben Amaro just tried that in 2012. Didn't work.
But when you look over the course of some of the more effective young Marlins of his era, Beinfest was responsible for bringing a lot of them in, like Ricky Nolasco, Josh Johnson, and Hanley Ramirez, and he is noted for doing a lot with little resources at his disposal. However, he also drafted Dan Uggla, so; you know. Hard pass.
Indians VP of player personnel Ross Atkins
It was right about this time of year in 2014 that Atkins was accepted the assignment to his latest post with Cleveland. Prior that that, he was the Director of Player Development, and you can read his yearly strategies in that role here. Atkins is regularly listed among candidates for the Phillies job, as well as the job in L.A. with the Angels. After that, people seem to stop talking about him.
Did I mention the Angels job he is also up for? Oh, right. Atkins feels like the Martin O'Malley of potential Phillies GMs.
The #Phillies are planning to decide on their GM hire by start of organizational meetings early next week, says a BB source.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) October 19, 2015
A person familiar with #Phillies search disputed a report that #Royals assistant GM JJ Picollo is the frontrunner for job.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) October 19, 2015
Hearing John Middleton's favored choice is Ben Cherington. But Cherington has indicated he doesn't want to dive back into GM job.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) October 19, 2015