He was a polarizing figure in his role as Phillies GM. And whether you believe the downfall of the once mighty Phillies was his fault, or was out of his control, one thing is for sure about Ruben AmaroJr.
He wasbold during his time in Philly.As GM, Amaro broughtin Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee (twice) and a bevy of others while signing Ryan Howard, Cole Hamels and others to inflated contracts.
And after seven years of calling the shots following the Phils’ 2008 World Series title, incoming president Andy MacPhaildecided it was time to make a change.
“I’ve learned as much as I think I can over the last two months with this organization,” MacPhail, who was hired earlier this summer, said,”all with the intent of finding a way to return the Phillies to the consistent contender status they enjoyed in the recent past. Unfortunately we decided we need a fresh approach in the baseball operations department.”
Along with the ownership group, led by John Middleton, MacPhaildecided to turn the page. And according to the team’s majority owner, “We were certainly aware of the fans’ feelings.”
“All of us in this room exist because of the fans,” Middleton said in a press conference Thursday.”If they didn’t buy tickets or watch TV none in this room would have a job. They are critical, and what they think is important to us.”
Ironically, the legacy of Amaro’s impact on the Phillies can’t fully be judged yet. He led the club to a 2009 World Series berth but saw the team get worse and worse as each season progressed.
Over the last 10 months, he shipped off Hamels, Chase Utley, Jimmy Rollins and others and has brought in more than 14 prospects, many of them highly touted, to help the team rebuild for the future.
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“Ruben Amaro ran that trade deadline room,” MacPhail said. “He didn’t do anything he didn’t want to do and I thought at the time it would be too disruptive to make a change that close to the trade deadline.”
Amarogot a decent haul for Hamels, and was able to get good returns for Utley, Ben Revere and Jonathan Papelbon as well.
“I think there’s reason to be optimistic about theposition player future of this franchise,” MacPhail said, signaling his confidence in Maikel Franco, Cesar Hernandez and other young players on the Phillies’ roster.”The pitching issues are a concern, they are a big concern and that’s something we have to focus on.”
For now, the Phillies have the worst record in baseball, are the front-runners to pick first in next June’s draft and have reached record lows in attendanceduring their recent homestand.
“Right now we should all be about 2016,” MacPhailsaid.”Everything were do from this point forward is about 2016.”
Amaro’s former assistant Scott Proefrock will serve as acting and interm GM until the position is filled, most likely from outside the organization. The team also will continue to evaluate and consider candidates to manage in 2016 as Pete Mackanin continues in that capacity.