The Phillies have been old and stale for a few years now, and this year's embarrassment has given the team a black eye throughout the sport. They've been laughingstocks for most of this season, and at times, it's been hard to watch.
The public wants changes to be made, and that right soon. They want president Pat Gillick to do something, to fire general manager Ruben Amaro or manager Ryne Sandberg. They want players traded, or released, or the logo changed, or the Phanatic to be turned into a giant eel or something.
And while some of that stuff isn't very realistic, there are changes coming, gang.
CSN Philly's Jim Salisbury was the first to report the Phillies were considering MacPhail for a front office role, and now Heyman has confirmed that it appears as if MacPhail would be brought on board to be current president Pat Gillick's successor. I wrote about it last week, and now, I feel more confident than ever that hiring MacPhail would be an excellent move.
There are those who believe his closeness to Gillick and Montgomery means he'd be just another company man. But consider the alternative, another guy plucked from the current organization, the "next man in line," so to speak. This may be the way political parties pick who will be the next President of the United States, but it's hardly the way you pick a new professional baseball team's president or general manager.
I repeat, he took the CHICAGO CUBS to TWO playoff appearances.
And he was responsible for putting together much of the roster of the current Baltimore Orioles, a team that has gone to the playoffs two out of the last three years. Consider the moves he made before leaving in 2012.
- 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's pretty good, right?
Look, I get that many of you out there wanted some math whiz who knows how to calculate fWAR in his or her head to be the new person in charge. But before we know how MacPhail feels about sabermetrics and whether, unlike his predecessors, he would be willing to invest more of the team's capital in a true analytics department, it's silly to say he's simply another old hand who will do things the way they were done in the mid '90s.
Not only that, the Phils don't need a guy who is looking under every rock to find the cheapest way to field a good team. The Phillies have a ton of money at their disposal, and if they anticipate returning to a payroll around the $170-180 million mark, MacPhail would be an executive that would be able to get the most out of that kind of money.
Hey, Gillick did a half decent job as the team's general manager, no? Would hiring a guy with a pedigree like Gillick's was when he was first brought on board be so bad?
Of course, we all want MacPhail to embrace the modern game, and there's nothing to prove that he hasn't. Simply being close to former president David Montgomery and Gillick isn't enough to jump to the conclusion that he's a slave to batting average alone. He's come from three different organizations, with different philosophies and different ways of doing things in each of them. And as John Middleton continues to consolidate control of the team, the front office machinations could be changing as well. The Phils may not do things the way they always have moving forward.
Simply put, Andy MacPhail is a successful baseball man. This type of man does not typically let things pass him by. This type of man typically adapts and makes the best use of the resources he is given.
The big question is, what is the timetable? And will the arrival of MacPhail mean the dismissal of Amaro and manager Ryne Sandberg? If so, when? If not, is an extension coming for Amaro?
The plan appears to be to give MacPhail time to evaluate the two of them before making a decision after the season. Amaro's contract will be up by then, while Sandberg's takes him through 2016, with a club option for 2017.
My guess is the new team president will want to hire his own general manager, who just might be that analytics guy everyone wants. Or he might not be, and that GM would likely hire his own manager. Either way, it appears as if Amaro and Sandberg are safe for this year, but in serious jeopardy after that.
As I mentioned in my Cole Hamels rumors piece, Gillick is the man calling the shots in any Hamels deal, and presumably, with any other big deal this trade deadline. Amaro likely had a similar process with Montgomery when he was team president, although it would be logical to assume Gillick is probably a bit more hands-on right now, given Amaro's lame-duck status.
Regardless, big changes are coming. MacPhail will have an opportunity to start a brand new baseball team from the ground up, just the way he wants to. He'll have the opportunity to truly invest in analytics, improve the farm system, and continue to plug into the international markets, with perhaps more of an emphasis on Cuba and Japan.
But MacPhail would seem to be a good hire. Remember, just because the Phillies do something, doesn't mean it's always going to be dumb.