Ruben Amaro Jr.’s words may cost him his job.
On Tuesday, CSN Philly posted an article containing these controversial comments made by Ruben Amaro Jr. He said, “They (the fans) don’t understand the game, 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.”
In the context of the article, there is a lot of truth to what Amaro said. Fans generally don’t have a great understanding of the process that prospects must go through before they reach the major leagues. The focus in the media has recently been on service time considerations for calling up prospects. In reality a vast majority of prospects aren’t clearly ready for the big leagues and held back due to service time considerations.
The development process takes time. Prospects must work their way through the levels of the minor league system. Aggressively moving a prospect from AA to the Major League could damage the development of the prospect. For the Phillies, there is no reason for them to be aggressive with their prospects. They aren’t going to win anything this year or next year and can afford to take these next two years to develop their prospects for the 2017 season.
Despite the fact that Amaro is probably correct in his assessment, he should have known better than to make those comments. The context doesn’t matter when the quote leads off with the fans don’t understand the game. Those words were and will continue to be fodder for local and national media.
More importantly, as a business the Phillies rely on the fans. Fan interest in the Phillies pays the bills. Ruben Amaro Jr.’s salary is paid for from the revenue the Phillies collect from fans. It is never wise to disparage the fans in professional sports. As a Philadelphia native, Ruben Amaro Jr. should have known to leave the fans out it.
Unfortunately, these comments will probably seal Ruben Amaro Jr.’s legacy as Phillies GM. He will be remembered as a failure who took a World Series champion and turned it into the worst team in baseball. A lot of this narrative is due to how Ruben Amaro Jr. handles the media. Since the day he took over in 2008, he has always been smug with the media. He publicly denounced advanced analytics. He said that he doesn’t believe in five year plans. A lot of the narrative about Ruben Amaro Jr. is due to his own public comments.
On a larger scale, these comments may give the Phillies cause to move on from Ruben Amaro Jr. His contract is up at the end of the season and the Phillies’ organizational structure is in a state of flux. Long time President David Montgomery has taken on the role of Chairman. Pat Gillick has replaced him as team President. Additionally, minority owner John Middleton is attempting to purchase a majority stake in the Phillies. At the end of the year it would not be shocking to see Pat Gillick retire and hire a new President, who would then hire a new General Manager. Ruben Amaro Jr.’s comments illuminate how much work the Phillies have to do as an organization to become relevant again.
Edited by Emily Berman.
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