As the Phillies embark on what promises to be a long rebuilding process, starting with this season's 22-42 start, president Pat Gillick and general manager Ruben Amaro are doing so on borrowed time.
It has long been known that Gillick did not want to be team president for more than a year or two, and Amaro's future has remained cloudy as a lame duck GM in the final year of his deal.
And now, it appears as if things may be happening.
A new report from CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury indicates the Phils are looking at 63-year-old Andy MacPhail as the future head of the team, the man who would be in charge of rebuilding a franchise that won 102 games four years ago and could now finish with 100 losses in 2015.
MacPhail reportedly has a long relationship with team chairman David Montgomery and Gillick, and was once mentioned as possible candidate to succeed Bud Selig as MLB Commissioner.
MacPhail was the general manager of two Minnesota Twins world champions, in 1987 and '91, and was president of the Chicago Cubs and Baltimore Orioles. He left the O's in 2011, and has not held a prominent position for any franchise since. And Salisbury says it's not clear what McPhail's role with the team would be, or when he might start.
It is not clear whether the Phillies would bring on a new club president during the season, wait until after the season to make a move, or simply stick with Gillick. Bringing on a new leader — perhaps even in a consultant’s capacity — with plenty of season remaining would make sense because that person would have time to evaluate the front office and field staffs as changes are considered. That person also would be able to have a hand in several important trades and player personnel matters. The Phillies have a number of those with Cole Hamels and Jonathan Papelbon on the trading block and iconic veterans such as Chase Utley and Ryan Howard in decline.
The last world championship MacPhail was a part of occurred 24 years ago, but he did help lead the Cubs to two playoff seasons in 12 years, and helped rebuild an Orioles team that has made the playoffs two out of the last three years. Consider some of the moves he made in his last go-around with Baltimore.
- Traded Erik Bedard to the Mariners in exchange for five players, including Adam Jones and Chris Tillman.
- Traded for J.J. Hardy in exchange for Jim Hoey and Brett Jacobson.
- Traded Koji Uehara to the Rangers for Chris Davis and Tommy Hunter.
- Drafted Manny Machado
- Hired Buck Showalter
That being said, having a close relationship with Montgomery and Amaro doesn't exactly signal a culture change for a team that is in desperate need of one. Aside from a couple small analytics hires, the team is still playing 20th century baseball in a 21st century world. MacPhail has been in the game for decades, and it's fair to wonder if he would generate the change necessary to truly take the organization in a new direction.
Of course, it's possible MacPhail understands the game is moving in a new direction and, if he is hired, would beef up the team's analytics department, just like his successor Jim Duquette has done with the Orioles.
As of now, MacPhail to the Phillies is just a rumor, and it remains to be seen if it's going to actually happen. If it does, the Phils will have a baseball lifer on their hands with a track record of success, although much of that success came during a time when the business of the game was done a little bit differently.
Either way, it seems as if things are happening.
And yes, the Andy "MacFail" jokes ARE too easy.