The Phillies just announced that they will not extend the contract of lame duck general manager Ruben Amaro. They have announced that Scott Proefrock will be the interim GM, effectively immediately. Which means Amaro is done.
We all probably knew this was going to happen. Amaro took the reins of a Phillies team built by Pat Gillick and presided over some excellent baseball. But he also made a ton of decisions that led to their downfall and which, in the eyes of many, delayed their rebuild.
Ryan Howard’s contract extension is the most notable among these, with Amaro overpaying Howard and extending him long before his current deal was up. But there were other bad high profile moves too. Trading Cliff Lee to Seattle. Trades to acquire Roy Oswalt and Hunter Pence which depleted the minor league system. He has likewise made multiple public comments which suggested to many that his and his front office’s grasp of advanced metrics was outrageously poor by baseball executive standards. It has not been a good few years for Amaro.
But ultimately it was the losing, however it was authored, that did him in. In 2011 the Phillies won 102 games. Since then it’s gone down from 81 to 73 two years in a row and they won’t get that this year. Indeed, they’re in a pitched competition to be the worst team in the game. Primarily because there was not either the money or the decent players to step in for Phillies veterans who declined or retired or who were sent away.
The writing was on the wall for Amaro when the club hired Andy MacPhail to be its new team president earlier this season. Lip service was paid to evaluating Amaro, but it was clear he was a dead man walking. You don’t get to preside over a rise, a fall and then another rise as a GM these days. You’re pretty much done after the fall. It seemed inevitable that MacPhail would bring in his own man after this season and he’s doing just that.
But for all of the scorn we’ve heaped on Amaro over the years, let’s give him some credit too. He likely knew he was on the outs sooner rather than later. But he put his head down and did his job this summer, making a series of trades in a selloff of Jonathan Papelbon, Chase Utley and others which all seemed to bring real value back to the Phillies when a lot of people didn’t think he could do it. He could’ve resigned. He could’ve mailed it in. He could’ve found himself at a negotiating disadvantage with other GMs who likewise knew his job status and not gotten the bang for his buck that he did. But he did a good job mitigating the disaster. Even if it was a disaster of his own making.
But that aside, happy trails, Ruben. It’s been a lot of fun. The Phillies, and I think at this point Phillies fans, are not sad to see you go.