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October 09, 2017

Despite bad rumors and worse click bait, no, Ruben Amaro Jr. won't be next Phillies manager

It’s been 11 days since general manager Matt Klentak said the Phillies managerial search would begin “immediately” and it would hardly be surprising if names of potential candidates begin trickling out in the event that they come to Citizens Bank Park for interviews.

Or perhaps the Phillies’ brass conducts the interviews elsewhere to lighten the travel load for interviewees and keep the process out of the media glare. When team president Andy MacPhail and general partner John Middleton were looking for a general manager two years ago, they did their first round of interviews with Klentak and others in Chicago.

And unlike the franchise’s last managerial search – way back in the fall of ’04 – it’d be shocking if candidates were paraded out publicly and available for media interviews. There are different people running the show this time around and the franchise is in a very different time and place, too (they don’t need that kind of exposure/public relations).

All of this is to say that a surprising name or two could leak through the rumor mills in the next few weeks as the front office goes about their business. One surprising name that’s trickled out twice (first on the day Pete Mackanin was fired and then more recently on Sunday, with the latter gaining Modern Day Internet Media steam) is that of one Ruben Amaro Jr.

So let’s get this out of the way, even if it’s after you likely gave in and fed the Modern Day Internet Media Beast by taking their click bait: Ruben Amaro Jr. will not be the next manager of the Phillies.

It felt silly to type those last dozen words. Because we really shouldn’t have to say that, right?

In what world would an embattled general manager be let go by an organization only return just 25 months later as the manager of the same organization? Even in Philadelphia, where the Phillies and Flyers have made a habit of recycling their own former players, coaches, managers, and general managers, the idea of Amaro even being a legitimate candidate for the current managerial vacancy is utterly absurd.

And this isn’t to say Amaro might not be an effective baseball manager someday.

Despite his missteps (and those of the people above him) in his last few years as general manager, Amaro is a smart, savvy man who has grown up in the game and can relate to the both the people in the dugout and those in the suits in the executive boxes. We’ve already run down the good Amaro did in Philly (as well as the bad) a few months ago when he made his first trip back to Philadelphia as the Boston Red Sox first base coach. Amaro could even potentially be a managerial candidate in Boston if John Farrell is fired after the Red Sox second straight first-round playoff exit. 

Amaro would like to get the opportunity to be a big league manager. But he won’t be returning to Philadelphia this offseason as manager. 

And for that matter, the new manager will also not be Larry Bowa (also listed as “candidate believed to be in consideration for the Phillies” by the Boston Globe).

“I think a new voice in the dugout and a new style is necessary,” Klentak said the day he announced that Mackanin wouldn’t be back in 2018. “It’s time to look forward. That’s the message today: it’s time to look forward.”

Again, the whole premise of this Amaro story is silly.

And perhaps it’s just some media folks doing Amaro a solid (you have to figure he’s helped them out at some point) for his hopeful path to becoming a manager by mentioning him in a story. Maybe it helps him get a real interview somewhere else.

But linking him to the Phillies is, yes, preposterous.

It’s preposterous for every reason you’ve probably already run through your brain since you saw the words on your phone screen or social media feed. (And we all know such outlandish “news” travels fast. Case in point: I had a close relative call me Monday asking me about this “news” after they saw something from CBS on their Facebook. Modern Day Internet Media Beast for the win!)

But let’s knock it down in the simplest of terms, shall we?

Ten months ago the Phillies offseason was more than 10 weeks old (with the Winter Meetings over, too) and the team was still searching for a second veteran bat (preferably someone who hit from the left side) to complement their earlier acquisition of Howie Kendrick. A month later the Phils filled that vacancy by signing Michael Saunders.

But while they were still in search for such a player, two weeks before Christmas, we thought about the possibility of Chase Utley filling that role and explained why he’d made some sense. We did our homework and reached out to someone at Citizens Bank Park about such a possibility and the response was the one that we (and everyone) would expect: the Phillies were moving forward with their rebuild and bringing back a popular player from the glory years would be sending the wrong message.

So, if the Phillies front office wasn’t interested in bringing back the most popular Phillies player in the last two decades because they wanted to move the franchise forward, do you honestly think those same people would be interested in bringing back a man who very well may be the least popular Phillies figure in the last decade?

No, you wouldn’t think that’s a possibility. Because – and we can say this with absolute certainty – it isn’t one.

Follow Ryan on Twitter: @ryanlawrence21

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