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MacPhail Introduced as New President; Middleton Speaks for First Time

On Monday, the Philadelphia Phillies announced former Baltimore Orioles GM/President Andy MacPhail as their new President, effective at the end of the season.

MacPhail, 62, has not been with a major league ballclub since he left the Orioles in 2011.

Also present was Phillies owner John Middleton, who you’ve heard of but never actually heard from, until today. Middleton will assume a more public role with the organization than in years past.

Middleton said this about the hiring of MacPhail, who will take over for Pat Gillick at the end of the 2015 season:

“Andy brings an uncommon blend of old school experience and new age thinking.  Old school because he has been building winning teams for over three decades.  In 1986, Andy was the youngest GM in the history of Major League Baseball when he served in that role for the Twins.  The following year, he became the youngest GM to win a World Series title. When the Orioles hired him eight years ago, Andy became the first president of baseball operations in Major League Baseball.  During his tenure in Baltimore, he greatly expanded the use of statistical analysis in player evaluations.  That’s the new age thinking.  These qualities, combined with his positive leadership style, make him the ideal candidate to lead the Phillies organization.”

Here are a few thoughts/comments from the press conference today:

-MacPhail eluded to being out of the game for four years quite a few times. It gives him a fresh start and perspective, but is also worrisome. He also mentioned how the game has evolved a few times over since his departure. Can the 62-year-old keep up with the rest of baseball after being away so long? I was sort of taken aback by how often he mentioned being out of baseball. His reasons were personal in nature, saying he needed to be with his father who was late in life at that time, and that if he wasn’t going to be 100 percent in, then he wouldn’t be in at all.

-Ruben Amaro is safe until the end of the season, but I think it’s safe to say he has to be a goner. Middleton and MacPhail put great emphasis on sabermetrics and analytics being at the forefront of the Phillies climb back to respectability. Amaro, and cohorts like Scott Proefrock, have publicly dismissed this side of the game in the past. That won’t bode well for their futures, nor should it. The team was far to lax in that area, and Amaro and his assistants will likely pay for it at the end of the year.

-Middleton spoke of a new analytical system being built in-house for the Phillies. They’ve finally caught up to the rest of the league. How they will utilize it remains to be seen, but with the emphasis being put on it, they’ll need to get down and dirty with it. It seems that is coming, if you are to take MacPhail’s words as gospel:

“I can assure you, as you probably already know, sabermetrics is something of intense interest to ownership. When it comes to that sort of thing, I believe you look at everything, absolutely everything. Why would you exclude any information? You’re gonna try to do every piece of homework you can to push the odds of being successful in your favor — every stat, every formula.”

-MacPhail declined to put any sort of timeline on the rebuilding process, however, he mentioned that he’ll take the next three months to learn about the organization and its inner workings. He didn’t call it an evaluation process, and actually steered away from that term. Let’s be honest – that’s what it is.

-Pat Gillick seems and sounds like a worn-out man. However, he will assume the role of President until the end of the season, meaning he and Ruben Amaro will be in charge of the major deadline moves that are soon to occur. MacPhail won’t necessarily have say, although he will be part of the process should Gillick and Amaro want him to be. This is key. The old regime will make perhaps the largest trade in team history when they [possibly] deal Cole Hamels before July 31.

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