Phillies

How the Sam Fuld hire came together

Phillies

In the last two weeks, the Phillies have hired their first-ever president of baseball operations, named a general manager under him, promoted a front-office up-and-comer and put a longtime baseball man in a more prominent role.

Dave Dombrowski is the president of baseball ops.

Sam Fuld is the new GM.

Jorge Velandia, who's been with the Phillies for a decade in a variety of player development and advisory roles, is now an assistant GM.

And veteran executive Terry Ryan, the Twins' GM for nearly two decades, is a special assistant to the general manager. Ryan had been here four years as a special assignment scout.

So ... who does what in this revamped front office?

It is obvious that Dombrowski is the boss. He's been hands-on wherever he's been, and he spent most of his time in Detroit and Boston without a general manager.

"The reality, as president of baseball operations, I'll be the one that would make the decisions when it comes to trades," Dombrowski said Tuesday afternoon as the Phillies introduced Fuld, Velandia and Ryan in their new roles. "I'll seek the input of everybody else, but ultimately that would be my decision, the final decision, working with everybody. But one thing I do believe in is delegation of responsibilities. People keep you informed on what's taking place."

In Fuld and Velandia, Dombrowski feels he's identified two members of the Phillies organization who complement his strengths. There were no external candidates — Fuld and Velandia were the only two people interviewed.

 

Dombrowski came away impressed by Fuld as he made calls to Phillies front office members to learn more about their roles. Fuld has been with the Phillies since 2017, initially hired by former GM Matt Klentak, and most recently was the team’s director of integrative baseball performance.

Dombrowski was aware of Fuld's resume and knew he was the runner-up for the Red Sox managerial vacancy that went (back) to Alex Cora last month. In their conversation, Dombrowski learned that the 39-year-old Fuld was more interested in going the GM route.

“I thought in the back of my mind, this might be a logical person as a general manager,” Dombrowski said.

The Phillies will lean on Fuld's background in analytics and Velandia's in player development and personnel but won't box them in. Dombrowski views this as an opportunity to mentor two promising young execs.

"I look at it from a growth perspective from Sam's and Jorge's perspective," Dombrowski said. "In Sam's case, he'll assist me with everything that takes place. He'll be involved in everything that happens at the big-league level. But also he'll be in a position where I really want him to focus ... the organizations that are progressive now, that are doing every little thing they can to get better, I look for Sam to be able to benefit us there and bring some of those ideas and thoughts to us. But, again, when he does that, he'll be working on every aspect of the organization with me."

Velandia's promotion is historic. He's Major League Baseball's first-ever Venezuelan-born assistant GM.

"In Jorge's case, he'll continue to do a lot of the same things he's done from an evaluation perspective," Dombrowski said. "We will also expose him to things that are going on in the front office and also be involved in our conversations from a trade perspective.

"The other people in our office, their responsibilities will not have changed. We'll all work very closely together. I think after the first of the year and we have a chance to further define some of this, we'll be able to sit down all of us together in a Zoom meeting and talk about anything more specific to that."

Hands-on as he is, Dombrowski will not make or field every single phone call. There's too much going on in the modern front office. He cited the structures of two other organizations as examples.

"You have 29 other clubs that I'm touching base with, you can't talk to every club yourself. There's not just enough time. Things have moved on," he said. "So they'll be involved in talking to clubs with me. 

"In baseball operations, the difference from when I first started is that we've grown so much. You can't do all this stuff yourself. You just can't. I think we probably would resemble some of the other organizations that have presidents of baseball operations and general managers. I think of the Cleveland Indians, where Chris Antonetti's in charge but Mike Chernoff does a lot for them and is highly respected. With the Cubs, Theo Epstein was the president of baseball operations and Jed Hoyer was the general manager. Even though I knew Theo and knew him well, usually my contact was Jed.

 

"I would think we would operate very similarly to that. But there's so much work to go around to be on top of it and to keep growing."

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