News traveled through the Twittersphere yesterday: press conference at 3:30. It was nearly a unanimous assumption that the Phillies were going to introduce Andy MacPhail as the new Phillies president. That never happened. Instead, Ryne Sandberg announced he was quitting as the manager of the Philadelphia Phillies.
It not only surprised fans and the media, but also the general manager and also the president, who said a grand total of six words at the press conference.
It was Sandberg's lack of it which would have been his eventual undoing if he did not quit. The lack of it also serves as an appropriate introduction to the complete disarray in the Phillies front office.
Imagine if someone was to approach the Phillies' front offices (if front offices actually are offices) and blast the question, "Who is the decision maker around here?" Who would answer those cries? Normally that should be an easy answer, but not at Citizens Bank Park.
The Phillies are a ship with several assistant captains and no head captain or president captain or Mr. Captain or Super Captain, or whatever boat people call them.
In most structured franchises, the general manager makes the decisions on any transactions. He may check with the team president if he does not handle that role himself, then he runs it past ownership to OK the dollars and sense, and the deal is done.
But not with the Phillies.
The Phillies have a lame duck general manager in the final year of his contract. According to this (unprofessional) exchange with Jim Salisbury, "Ruben does a lot of the leg work. He’s the GM. But Gillick makes all the final calls."
If things are as Salisbury says they are, Ruben is basically playing the role of assistant GM.
So, Pat Gillick makes the final calls on everything until Andy MacPhail arrives. What exactly happens at that point and who exactly makes that decision? Well, that is when the fun starts.
For a while it was the general partner who spoke for the owners. First it was Bill Giles then it was David Montgomery. Now, the decision making process in the Phillies ownership is a complete unknown to anyone outside the inner circle.
This band of owners, who meet in caves in the poconos for all we know, are discovered by fans when their initials appear on uniform sleeves (SLB, in case you are wondering, stands for Sara L “Sally” Buck, who passed away on August 23, 2014).
The only name most fans can identify is John Middleton, who reportedly started buying up shares in an attempt to become the majority owner.
But that was reported back in October. What happened to those final shares? Was Middleton blocked by the other owners? Does he not want to be the big decision maker? Do any of the owners care?
If Middleton is the guy, then be the guy, man. Grab whoever has the other pieces of the pie, throw some more cash into their bulging pockets, schedule another presser, and bring this organization back to respectability.
Someone has to take control here. It's not the lame duck and voiceless GM; it's not the 77-year-old, "I'm here as long as they need me" president; and, at least in the beginning, it's not going to be Andy MacPhail.
It needs to be John Middleton.
Hey John, stand in front of the media, announce that you are the majority owner and that you are in charge. Introduce Andy MacPhail, who will have full authority until you decide he doesn't.
Announce that Ruben Amaro is fired and that Pat Gillick is now the senior advisor to MacPhail.
Here is your new structure: Middleton is Jeffrey Lurie, MacPhail is Chip Kelly. That's it. Clear and structured.
If John Middleton wants to have a say, he needs to act now. Control the money, control the team, and control the future.
If not, expect more days like yesterday.comments powered by Disqus