Phillies Owner John Middleton and President Andy MacPhail on the Decision to Fire Ruben Amaro and What’s Next
The decision the Phillies made Thursday morning to fire general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. was not entirely about the club's 2015 failures, according to new team president Andy MacPhail. But they certainly didn't help.
"The conclusion I reached is that we needed a fresh perspective in the baseball operations department, a fresh approach," MacPhail said on Thursday during a press conference. "In fairness, it would be difficult to make the case that Ruben Amaro didn't do good work while I was here. I think the organization is going to bear the fruits of his labors for years to come."
(Listen to ESPN.com Sr baseball wrtier Jayson Stark discuss Ruben Amaro Jr.)
One of the teams more visible owners, John Middleton also discussed one of the reasons that was taken into account when the team came to the conclusion to let Amaro go - his remarks, perception and relationship with the fans.
"Without the fans, none of us in this room have a job," Middleton acknowledged. "When you make a decision of this magnitude you have to do it for a host of reasons, and there is a lot of reasons - we are certainly aware of the fans feelings, absolutely."
MacPhail said the decision was based on the need to change the team's baseball operations department – from international signings and drafts to amateur scouting and analytics.
"If I am entrusted to create a baseball operations department that is going to compete and achieve success and sustain success, over a long period of time, I felt that a change was required," MacPhail explained. "Today the process will start to find the next GM."
"The person who is going to fill this job, absolutely has to have a passion for winning," one of the Phillies owners John Middleton explained. "He has to be able to think outside-the-box and be willing to do that, has to be able to push himself and the organization to continually get better and had to be able to embrace change. You cannot sustain success unless you are adaptable and flexible."
It's been a miserable season for the Phillies who already saw their manager, Ryne Sandberg resign earlier this year and are 54-86 and 24.5 games out of the National League east. Both Middleton and MacPhail indicated that they needed to keep an open mind when it comes to finding the next Phillies GM and not to back themselves into a corner, looking for a certain type.
"I intend to look at a wide spectrum of candidates," MacPhail said. "I think it would be a mistake if we pigeonhole ourselves into saying we're going to go for young analytics or go for a experienced baseball guy. I see that out there with other clubs, why would you restrict your ability to talk to whoever you want? Like I said here two months ago, lets look at everything and it's the same philosophy here, let's look at a wide spectrum of candidates."
Middleton said the decision was MacPhail's, but that he had the support of the ownership group.
"We recognize and appreciate that we have the greatest fans in the country," Middleton said. "We owe them our very best efforts all the time. Andy made this decision because he believes that it is in the best interest of the organization as we continue to move forward and rebuild the team. It is a decision that the owners support fully and without reservation."
MacPhail indicated that he took the decision like a pro, saying he was concerned for some of his guys who were still on the job. Middleton also took the time to expressed his gratitude to Amaro, who has been with the Phillies organization virtually his entire life.
"Ruben has a long history with the Phillies," Middleton explained. "He started as a batboy in 1980, he continued as a player, he was here for our glory years. As assistant general manager for 10 years he helped contribute significantly. As our GM, he won three consecutive division titles and the 2009 National League pennant. Along the way he assembled one of the great pitching rotations in baseball history. All of us wish Ruben well as he moves into the next phase of his career and we pledge our full support to him as he does that."
"In closing this chapter in Phillies history, I'd like to thank Ruben personally for his years of loyal service to the organization, for those three consecutive division titles, for the 2009 National League pennant and for the scores of memories that many of us will cherish forever."
MacPhail indicated that a new GM doesn't signal the end for interim manager Pete Mackanin, who still has support from the organization. MacPhail also said he views the Phillies' position players in the system as deep, but indicated there is an extreme need for pitching.
Many have said this is a good job moving forward, the TV deal, the replenishment of the farm system, the fans base and the resources they have - now they must find the guy who can use all that stuff to his advantage.