July 09, 2015
During Andy MacPhail’s official introduction, both John Middleton and Pat Gillick made it clear that the new president wouldn’t take over until after the season. Their explanation was that MacPhail needed a couple of months to familiarize himself with the inner workings of the organization he was hired to lead.
To steal a reference from “The Wire,” MacPhail is like Tommy Carcetti after he wins the mayoral election, riding around the streets with Bunny Colvin for a day to see what he’s really dealing with. The Phillies’ current 40-man roster is Hamsterdam, in this case.
In theory, that means the lame duck power structure of Ruben Amaro, Jr. the GM working under Gillick the president will remain in place through the end of the season. Trying to figure out who exactly is pulling the strings is quite confusing, especially when you factor in these tweets from ESPN and Philadelphia’s own Jayson Stark:
Other clubs say they thought Phillies close to trading Papelbon last month, then pulled back. Heard they spoke to Jays, Cubs, Tex, LA & more— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 8, 2015
Feeling in the industry is that the decision to pull back on Papelbon came from above Ruben Amaro, from Pat Gillick, Andy MacPhail or both— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 8, 2015
.@gzig21 Pulled back, in that they never got a deal done after pushing hard initially. Sounds like they wanted to wait for MacPhail hiring— Jayson Stark (@jaysonst) July 8, 2015
That is interesting. Waiting on MacPhail to give his blessing for a Cole Hamels trade, a potentially franchise-altering move, makes a lot of sense. However, the stakes on a Papelbon deal are much lower. Anyway, we will just have to wait and see if Amaro can get both houses of Congress to agree on a trade (or however the power structure is in fact set up) before the July deadline.
Speaking of Papelbon, he was in the news recently for reiterating his desire to get the heck out of dodge. The closer has pitched well during his three-and-a-half seasons with the Phillies, but he arrived as soon as the team started going downhill. From CSN Philly’s Jim Salisbury:
“The front office knows where my heart is and where my mind is,” Papelbon said. “And that’s to be with a contending ball club. The ball is in their court, so to speak.”
“I think everybody knows where I’m at. I’ve always been straightforward that I want to go play for a contender and I’m not going to shy away from it. I feel like that’s my right and my prerogative to have that opportunity and, you know, it’s in their hands.”
Those comments won’t win the already controversial Papelbon any points with Philly fans, but he doesn’t really care. He clearly wants a chance to close games more than once a week.
Expect another apology by Phillies GM Amaro after clumsy comments about Utley: Ken Rosenthal, Fox Sports
Rosenthal, who is one of the most respected reporters in the biz, had some harsh words for Amaro after Amaro had some harsh words for his aging second baseman:
Amaro is going to get fired, the entire industry knows that. But he figured to last the entire season as the Phillies transition from Pat Gillick to Andy MacPhail as club president. The question now is whether ownership will simply decide that Amaro is embarrassing the franchise, and that enough is enough.
Front Office Ratings, By the Community: FanGraphs
FanGraphs asked its community to rate baseball’s front offices, and unsurprisingly, the Phillies didn’t grade out very well here. Not only did they finish last in the polls, but also there was more of a consensus on Amaro and co. than any other team:
The Phillies, meanwhile, somewhat predictably came in last, and by a considerable margin to boot. Most of the talk at the moment is that Ruben Amaro is inevitably going to get fired, and while there’s a multitude of reasons for that, the community doesn’t seem to think the dismissal will leave the Phillies worse off.
Awkward Utley situation an ugly byproduct of reconstruction: Buster Olney, ESPN Insider
Here is part of Olney’s take on the Utley situation:
He is well-known for his reticence, for mostly keeping his feelings to himself, and maybe this was the way he preferred for this to go down. At least you hope it is. You hope that this isn't merely an extension of the tension that has existed, to at least some degree, between Utley and the staff.
But it's all very odd, and there are probably more moments like this to come, like when Jonathan Papelbon rushes out the door when he is traded, and when Cole Hamels is traded, whether that happens in the next 23 days or over the winter.
Phillies' Brown knows that it's time for him to produce again: Ryan Lawrence, Philadelphia Daily News
Domonic Brown made a couple of excellent throws in the Dodgers series, but this has largely been another forgettable season for the 27-year-old outfielder. Formerly thought of as the top prospect in baseball (even ahead of some guy named Trout), he is hitting a measly .205/.275/.260 since getting called up from Triple-A. The power that Brown once flashed looks to be completely gone:
"He's going to be getting some chances," general manager Ruben Amaro Jr. said. "But his leash isn't as long as it used to be. That's been communicated to him."
Brown has heard the message loud and clear.
"I agree with him one thousand percent," Brown said before batting practice at Dodger Stadium. "If I don't make the most of my opportunity, then he has to do his job and get me out of here, I guess. But I don't want that. I want to be in Philly. But that's part of the game, as well, and I understand that. But I'm not going to go out there and put extra pressure on myself because of that."
1. Angelo Cataldi is on board with John Middleton taking a more hands-on role.
2. It has been referenced many times in the post already, but here is what Amaro said about Utley and Cesar Hernandez.
Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann