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May 26, 2015

Dear Phillies: An open letter regarding Amaro, his 'plan' and the fans

Dear Phillies,

I think it’s time we had a little talk about your general manager, Ruben Amaro, Jr., the smartest man in baseball according to general manager Ruben Amaro, Jr.

As I’m sure you are aware, he said some things recently regarding those idiots who dare question his clairvoyance, his foresight and his general ability to formulate and carry out a plan; the baseball-ignorant morons who call themselves Phillies fans despite the fact that they don’t even understand the game. In other words, your customers.

In case you missed it, here's what Amaro said to Jim Salisbury of about fans being impatient with the rebuilding process:

“They don’t understand the game,” Amaro said. "They don’t understand the process. There’s a process. And then they bitch and complain because we don’t have a plan. There’s a plan in place and we’re sticking with the plan. We can’t do what’s best for the fan. We have to do what’s best for the organization so the fan can reap the benefit of it later on. That’s the truth.”  []

I know. I know. How dare they question a process that, on a macro level, has taken a World Series champion* and, in seven short years, made them one of the worst teams in baseball? I can only assume that was the first part of his plan; flawlessly executed, if you ask me. 

*One that was handed to you after being built by your predecessor.

But remember, I don’t understand the game or the process, so feel free to correct me if I’m wrong.

Amaro never shared any details of that plan with your customers while it was being executed. In fact, everything he said and did up until late last season — the inflated payroll, the lack of trades, etc. — indicated the plan was to continue competing, even as the team got worse by the year.

Well played. You got us. I can't think of a single fan or media member that predicted this massive collapse. We don't know the game and the process is far too complicated for our baseball-sized brains to comprehend. After all, we didn't graduate from Stanford.

However, it's not just about whether fans are smart enough to understand Amaro's masterful plan. It's also a question of their worth: Are they worthy of eating from his mythical tree of knowledge? Not if Amaro wants to avoid transparency, the one thing that can make it difficult to positively spin any miscalculations in the plan.

I mean, he isn't even sharing this top-secret plan with his employees — see: Cody Asche's demotion. How dare fans feel entitled to more information than the players? That's ridiculous.

So when Amaro joined SportsRadio 94WIP Monday morning to clarify his statement about the fans, it was a little disheartening to hear him soften his stance, saying "not all fans" are stupid. Just the ones that question his process. 

Here's the audio:

And here's a transcription, via

“That was not the purpose of it. It is some fans who think that bringing [Zach] Eflin and [Aaron] Nola, for instance, to the Major Leagues at this time is the right thing for the organization. It’s those fans that really quite, don’t know—or bringing young minor league players to the Major Leagues before it’s time for them to really be ready to reap the benefits of being in the Major League. It’s those fans that really don’t understand.
When I said that, it’s more about the fan that really doesn’t understand the process—and it’s not all fans. There are just some who feel like, ‘Let’s just bring this guy because he’s a young player and it’s OK, we just wanna see him.’ That’s not how the process works. And you know, when I said the fan, that’s not all the fans. I know that there’s a lot of knowledgeable fans. There are those loud, minority of fans that believe that we should be doing x, y, or z and we have to do our work based on what’s important and what we feel is right for the organization as a whole …
I think it’s important for the fans to understand that what we’re doing is ultimately for the fan. When we develop those guys properly, we should be in position to be able to entertain the fans the way we want to on a perennial basis. We can’t make decisions based on what the fan wants from us. It’s ultimately about putting our organization is position to get us to the point, where we can entertain the fans in the best way we can.”  []

For all the time spent arguing about whether or not fans understand and accept his plan, perhaps both sides would be better served if Amaro shared it with them. Not all of it. Just a little.

Look at the other teams in the city. 

The Sixers* are much worse — at least in terms of winning percentage — than the Phillies, yet excitement for that team is the highest it's been in years. The Flyers have a new coach and a relatively new GM, and despite the team failing to make the playoffs, hopes are high. And the Eagles, for the all the grief they get over being secretive, have shown glimpses of their plan, whether by signing players or trading away others. We may not fully understand it yet, but at least they seem to have an endgame in mind. 

*For more on how the Sixers (and others) differ in this respect, look no further than Mike Sielski's column highlighting how Sixers GM Sam Hinkie handled a situation similar to the one in which Amaro now finds himself.

Amaro, on the other hand, has been holding your customers hostage, promising a rebuild that seems to be stuck in a holding pattern. And as he continues to preach patience, it's not hard to see why some stupid fans — the ones who correctly predicted a few years ago this roster was not sustainable in the long run, despite understanding so little about the game — are having doubts. 

It's hard to believe in something when you have no proof that it actually exists and the one person that could enlighten us, Amaro, just told us we're too stupid* to understand it anyway.  

*Isn't that how a cult operates?

All of this assumes one crucial fact: that there is an actual plan. 

So let’s reexamine your general manager’s comments, and pretend they came from the mouth of one of your valued customers — the diehard type that continue to come out to the park despite the terrible product Amaro has built. 

"He doesn’t understand the game. He doesn’t understand the process because there is no process. And then he bitches and complains because we don’t understand his nonexistent plan. There’s no plan in place and they’re pretending there is. You’re certainly not doing what’s best for the fan. And if you’re doing what’s best for the organization, then explain what benefits the fan will reap from it later on. Cheaper ticket prices? Higher draft picks that will be traded away? If you have a plan, at least give us a hint that it actually exists. Because we don’t believe it does. And that’s the truth."

It probably wouldn't hurt Amaro to read that paragraph. He'd chalk it up to an ignorant fan or bitter writer trying to drum up some controversy. He's already said we don't understand the game, so why put any stock in our opinions?

I could ask Phillies fans the same thing about Amaro's original comment, because to be fair, they don't think much of their GM at this point either and shouldn't care about anything he says.

Unless of course he decides to let us in on his plan. 

There is a plan, right?


A Philadelphian