It’s the most commonly heard phrase whenever the Phillies are part of the discussion…”Fire Ruben!”. On the surface, it seems like a pretty smart idea. It does however, beg a pretty important question though. If Ruben goes, who takes his place?
There are those who continue to make arguments for keeping Ruben around. Most of those folks are in the Phillies organization, though. They will tell you that he brought us the “4 Aces”. This is a very true statement. Of course the counter-argument is that he destroyed the farm system in doing so and neglected the offense that was needed around them to put runs on the board. Just this week, Pat Gillick stated the “Ruben didn’t all of a sudden get dumb.” and proceeded to quantify the stats related to win totals between 2007 and 2011. The conveniently neglected information in that argument is that the team was largely put together for that run was done by himself and (cringe) Ed Wade. Yes, THAT Ed Wade who was run out of town. Amaro’s real contribution to that run was the aforementioned 4 aces. Those are just a few of the most common arguments in his defense.
We’ve all heard the arguments for removing him. That could take a while to list. They can be pretty well summed up with the nickname that you see plastered everywhere, “Ruin Tomorrow Jr.”. Ruben may not be responsible for developing the minor leagues, but he certainly has a large hand in putting them together or in his case, dismantling them.
Rather than rehashing everything, let’s pull out the crystal baseball to see what things might look like if Ruben does go the way of Wade, Lee Thomas, Bill Giles and so many others who have worn out their welcome only to be replaced by another in house name (present company excluded, Mr. Gillick). Here are just a few possibilities:
The In House Guys-
- Gillick- Currently serving as interim(?) President, it’s highly unlikely that he wants to move back into the role but the fans would be completely on board with it. He put the icing on the roster that won the first World Series in 28 years.
- Dallas Green- He has some experience as a GM although it was a long time ago. Would the fans really go for a guy in the latter days of his baseball career who is also another one of the “Good ol’ boys”? Would the Phils even want to do it? I think everyone would prefer a newer model.
- Scott Proefrock, Charley Kerfeld, Ed Wade- Amaro’s current staff. Wade is the only one with GM experience. Proefrock has worked for multiple teams and has has likely picked up some tricks during his career. Kerfeld would be the dark horse of this group but might bring an interesting (read: younger) perspective
The Wishful Thinking Guys-
- Theo Epstein- What would the Phils have to give up to get him away from Chicago? He’s slowly building a young nucleus there that should be ready to contend. It’s pretty unlikely that he’d leave that for a sinking ship.
- Billy Beane- What could “Mr. Moneyball” do a with $170 million roster? He’s more likely than Epstein but if he hasn’t left Oakland so far, he’s not going anywhere.
- Mike Arbuckle- Arbuckle helped build the 2008 team then was let go when Amaro was given the job. That bridge is long since burned.
- Dan Duquette (BAL)- This is just a name that represents a larger faction. Along with others like Dayton Moore (KC) and Neal Huntington (PIT), Duquette is helping to rebuild the perennial bottom dwellers through the farm system. While none of them may have the money to spend in their markets that the Phils have, would they leave to start rebuilding all over again? It’s possible the potential payroll could entice them.
The list could go on and on. The Phils have been notoriously nepotistic over the years with Gillick being the only real exception. That turned out pretty good though, if I recall. If they decide to pull the plug on the Ruben Experience, would they venture outside their comfort zone again to find someone with the experience to build from the bottom up? Nobody knows and Gillick’s remarks certainly make this all sound like a moot point…for now. Even if Gillick holds on to Amaro for now, his contract is up after the 2015 season. Something has to happen in the next 12 months. Will we see one of the names above? Time will tell but with the team in a downward spiral in both the standings and attendance, a decision will have to be made soon. Will it be the right one???