Are the Phillies Pursuing the Wrong Guy to Run the Team? Probably

I don’t think it’s possible for me to agree with David Murphy any more than I do.

Here’s Murph, writing about the Phillies’ reported pursuit of longtime boys club member and apparent friend of Pat Gillick, Andy MacPhail, to run the team:

Maybe MacPhail is an exception. Maybe the Phillies are targeting him because they desperately want to build a modern baseball organization and they think he knows exactly how to do it. This isn’t about hiring a 62-year-old vs. hiring a 26-year-old. I have nothing against old people, apart from the crippling education and health-care costs they have inflicted on a generation that they then have the temerity to call selfish. I love my parents, and they are old. They also watch CBS, and if I hired them to run HBO, each episode of “Game of Thrones” would end with Tom Selleck imparting a life lesson to somebody. Their idea of an instant video app is the public library. Again, I love them.

Maybe MacPhail hates CBS. Maybe he is a long-lost descendant of House Targaryen. He does have blond hair. But considering the Phillies’ track record, it is difficult to convince oneself that they are targeting a member of one of baseball’s oldest executive lineages because of his progressive credentials. The problem with MacPhail is that he is the exact guy you’d expect them to hire. If you hired a sketch artist to draw a picture of the Phillies’ next president based on their usual profile, the sketch artist would say, “Why am I drawing you a picture? We both know they are going to hire MacPhail.”

Self-indulgence aside, that was perfect.

The idea of MacPhail may be worse than MacPhail himself. We really don’t know what sort of change he would bring to the Phillies. What we do know is that he built a couple of great Twins teams, had (relative) success with the Cubs (who went on to two first-place finishes the two years after MacPhail left– 2007 and 2008), and helped construct a small part of what has turned into a very good Orioles team.

On the surface, it seems all good… until you remember that baseball has changed drastically over the last five years. A deep understanding of advanced statistics, sabermetrics and market inefficiencies aren’t just a nice to haves, they’re requirements now. Where the A’s and Rays, and to an extent, Red Sox, were ahead of the curve a decade or so ago, they’re now just part of a pack – which includes just about every team except the Phillies – that is embracing a new way of quantifying value in baseball (and sports in general).

You can argue that the Phillies were the last great team to be built on old-school philosophies. Big power hitters, expensive closer, intangibles. And even that took the core of an All-Star-laden team hitting their collective peak – ages 28-30 – at just about the same time. Pat Gillick, to his credit, played a large role in rounding out the roster to include Greg Dobbs, Matt Stairs, Jamie Moyer, J.C. Romero, Joe Blanton, Jayson Werth, Brad Lidge, and others. But the time for the sort of thinking used to construct that team has passed.

Which brings us back to MacPhail.

It’s probably the number one requirement of a team President or GM in 2015 to have at least a grasp on analytics. And as I wrote the other day, hearing that MacPhail has “longstanding relationships with Phillies chairman David Montgomery and club president Pat Gillick,” two guys who clearly don’t embrace new-school thinking, you have to question whether he’s the right man for the job. Gillick, Amaro, Wade, and even Montgomery (though at this point he has little to do with the day-to-day baseball operations), are stuck in reverse. Is MacPhail, their friend, the guy to drive this thing forward? Murph doesn’t seem to think so, and I’m inclined to agree with him.

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45 Responses

    1. Anything on Ike Reese interviewing Riley Cooper at the Williamstown Shoprite?

      GO DODGERS!!!

  1. A small part of the O’s? Dude traded Erik Bedard for Adam Jones and Chris Tillman(sucks this year). But Adam Jones is a stud. As well as his drafting of Machado and Wieters. Both studs.

    Also acquired JJ Hardy for a bag of nickels. Signed an unknown Uehara and traded him for Chris Davis(not as good as his breakout year).

    Also gave Buck Showalter another chance and he’s turned into one of the best managers in baseball.

    Stick to Sixer Jersey posts ya idiot.

    1. Although I agree that I don’t like his connections to the front office. Clearly has a good eye for talent. Rumor was he didn’t resign with the O’s since he wanted to become the next Commisioner.

  2. “You can argue that the Phillies were the last great team to be built on old-school philosophies. Big power hitters, expensive closer, intangibles.”

    See: the team that beat us the following year.

    1. Maybe. But I’d argue the Phillies from 2007-2011 were the “great team” not just the 2008 team. In fact, they were better in 2010 and 2011 in many ways.

  3. The fat jokes are getting pretty old.
    I’m all for making fun of myself, but at least come up with something funny.

  4. Jesus Christ Kyle, just stop. You don’t the faintest clue what Andy MscPhail’s believes and doesn’t believe when it comes to building a team. Every team the guy has ever been around has improved dramatically or won big. I am getting more and more disgusted with myself for continuing to read you illogical, lazy and uninformed baseball writing. Being friends with Gillick is now a negative? You have reached new lows when it comes to the Phils, and that is quite an accomplishment considering how proud you are of the fact that you openly admit to knowing next to nothing when it comes to them. You basically are the RAJ of media members.

    1. Well, youth is certainly wasted on the young. “Crippling education and health care costs” will eventually be in your future Kyle. According to you everyone who is 62 or older should be put out to pasture. I am quite sure McPhail knows way more than you do about baseball, which is not saying much I agree. BTW, those “old people”‘s generation had real jobs, they didn’t sit on their rear and cut and paste all day.

    2. I’m not the one who wrote about old people– that was Murph. And I’m not sure how I could say it any more clearly– I’ve twice written I don’t know how much MacPhail knows. But Gillick brining someone in from the old boys club doesn’t feel good. Murph said it best– the Phillies don’t get the benefit of the doubt anymore. The organization has shown us nothing that they even have the slightest interest in being more progressive. And congratulations, you’re right– MacPhail does know more about baseball then I do. But I’m also not being tapped to run the Phillies.

      1. Ooh, getting a little testy now. It’s about time, you write crap, people call you on it and you usually ignore it. I give you some here though, you at least attempted to justify your ignorance. MacPhail is a dynamite executive that has had nothing but success everywhere he has ever been. To say he had a small part of the current O’s is laughable and shows that you really shouldn’t write of which you don’t know. Gillick is one of the finest executives in baseball history…his track record speaks for itself. How about a little God damn respect for the man. I understand RAJ not getting the benefit of the doubt but Gillick deserves every ounce of the opportunity to pick the next guy. It wasn’t him that ran this organization into the ground. Stop being an ignorant jackass and do some background before you spout off

        1. I didn’t realize that Gillick rode off into the sunset and had nothing at all to do with the Phillies…even though he was being paid as a consultant and by all accounts was involved. All I know is saying we need to just listen to Gillick is as asinine as it gets. Why the hell shouldn’t we challenge this? The Phillies are a laughingstock, probably the worst organization in pro sports, and your solution is to just leave it up to them? I like Gillick just fine and give him credit for being the one to get us over the hump when the prior guy just sabotaged his team each year at the deadline, but let’s not pretend like Gillick knows all, is in touch with the changing game and we just need to defer to him.

          I want to know why the Cubs have thrived since firing him and making an organizational philosophy overhaul. Doesn’t that bother you at all? This is the losingest organization in all of sports and I don’t think asking for a philosophy change is too much. He might be a great fit, but at the very least we should be allowed to question it without being told to just stay the course and leave it in the hands of Gillick and co…If Gillick were truly so great couldn’t he have talked his good buddies out of driving this team into the ground in a matter of 3 seasons, especially while being paid as a consultant?

          1. Too Funny,

            You are certainly allowed to question….the fact is though Gillick at one point did ride off into the sunset (after 2008) only occasionally doing a little consulting, mainly on the Halladay trade. Who the hell is supposed to pick the next guy if not Gillick? He only came back because Monty got sick, that’s it. He had had zero to do with RAJ’s total incompetency, again, because he retired. It really isn’t that complicated. Yes, he does deserve the benefit of the doubt (the only one in the whole org) because he has been brilliant and quite simply one of the best executives ever. His only job here is start to clean up RAJ’s mess. T he Phillies are a trainwreck, but to put that on PG is crazy. I rip Kyle because he openly admits to not following anything Phils related which I find embarrassing for a philly sports blogger

          2. Also Too Funny,

            You do realize that the Cubs hired Theo about 5 years after MacPhail quit? You do also realize that he left the Cubs a team that proceeded to win division titles the next two years??? So this organizational shift away from him you speak of is dead wrong. You do also realize that he was a huge part of the O’s resurgence? Let’s pretend though that he is some retread who the Cubs desperately were trying to fix his “mistakes”. Feel free to go with that if it better fits your narrative. I would say PG has his eyes on a pretty damned good baseball mind

            1. Do you think the moves he made and the way he built those few cubs playoff teams would work now? Or have times changed? Listen, maybe he knows some great young execs he can poach and maybe he has bought in to the new way of looking at things, but all the Phils ever give us is the slop re-tread friends and family route and I don’t think asking for a larger search, even if it’s a foregone conclusion, is a bad thing.

              As for Gillick, are you telling me he had NO influence on choosing Ruben over Arbuckle? None? He just backed his bags and said I’ll see ya later? Again, I’m not putting all of Ruben’s mess on PG, but from all accounts Ruben was keeping him in the loop (although knowing Ruben’s ego this very easily might not be true or Ruben just did what he and Monty wanted anyway), he was hired in Nov 2008 to work as a consultant, and I just don’t see how a man with such baseball acumen could just sit idly by and watch the team that employs him ruin the future. Either he wanted to be the night in shining armor, he didn’t want to rock the boat and maybe lose out on an easy paycheck, or he didn’t care what happened to the Phils, but he could have done something, anything to help in this mess. When 85% of all decisions the GM makes are wrong, you’d think a baseball genius such as Pat might step up and open his mouth.

              1. You can’t have it both ways…you can’t ask if it concerns me that the Cubs had an organizational shift in philosophy away from him when in fact it wasn’t true. When I point that out, and prove in fact that he was very successful, you can’t change it say his ways maybe can’t work. I am a sabermetric guy but I know it’s not the only way to build. Hell, the Giants hardly are at the forefront of the numbers game but use it in addition to snd have won 3 WC. So yes, his ways can absolutely still work, any executive worth anything will be thrilled to make decisions with more info at their fingertips. Gillick built a team in 2008 around the basis of offensive saber metricS while openly saying he wasn’t a big fan of.
                Gillick retired and was given a cushy consulting job like most execs at age 70 + when they choose to quit. He has been away from the day to day for 6 years. You can choose to believe he was involved but how does that explain the compkete change in philosophy after he quit. The fact that was named Team President last yesr tells me he was away, otherwise, why the title? I get you are frustrated, I am too, but once more….who do you want making the decisions if not PG?

                1. What great change in philosophy am I missing once he left? He preached roster turnover so I guess that counts, but am I missing all the talent they drafted while he was in charge?

                  As for the Cubs, you keep talking about it like they had all this success under MacPhail, when in reality they were a 2-year blip on the radar of success after he finally resigned. If he was so great why was the entire fanbase calling for his head? What exactly did he do to bring winning to the 07/08 teams? You can’t just say that he set them up to win without looking at it further. It was actually the moves made AFTER he resigned that made the difference. He had little to do with signing or trading for any of the core of that team. Here are just some of the guys brought in after he left. A-Ram, Soriano, Derosa, Harden, Lilly, Marquise. Those guys are most of the reason the Cubs had success in 07/08 and he literally had NOTHING to do with it. What am I missing? It took someone else coming in to get that team to be a “success” and then they blew it all up and went completely new because things have changed. Do you think a GM can come in and build a team through free agency anymore like that Cubs team did? Times have changed and just being a baseball lifer isn’t good enough.

                  1. We will agree to disagree on MacPhail and or/ Gillick. Call him a retread, I disagree wholeheartedly. While I would prefer the Phils move in a more Epstein type direction, I would have no issue with AM. Either way, thanks for having a civil discussion, doesn’t happen often on here.

  5. Hey all;

    I have gone to that great cable provider in the sky. I have passed away, but my son, Brian will continue to fleece you with 1,000 cable channels you don’t need but will pay for. I am also the one along with Brian (I trained him well) that has you paying for the lousy Phillies, Sixers and Flyers on Sportsnet even though you don’t watch what I now must admit is garbage. Bye bye all. Wait a minute. Bill Conlin? What the hell are you doing here and why is it extremely hot? <strong) WE'RE WHERE ?????

  6. Look at the Cubs today. Nowhere to go but up. Theo Epstein is one of those “stats guys” the old men wag their finger at. If Kyle new baseball he’d know that the Red Sox used to be great when Theo was the GM there. Unfortunate for the Sox he jumped ship to Chicago. Now the Cubbies may just finally break that no championship streak.

  7. I misread the headline as “Are the Phillies pursuing the wrong guy to RUIN the team.” Seems more appropriate, I think.

  8. “This isn’t about hiring a 62-year-old vs. hiring a 26-year-old. I have nothing against old people, apart from the crippling education and health-care costs they have inflicted on a generation that they then have the temerity to call selfish.”

    Is this David Murphy fucking joking? So, people in their 60’s are the reason for education and health-care woes? Yeah, I guess it has nothing to do with the animals in the inner-cities in this country having kids at 12 years old who destroy the schools or the 30+ million illegal aliens that eat up funds in our health-care system because they don’t have any coverage and don’t pay a dime into it.

    Murphy works for the right newspaper, the Daily News/Socialist paper. This country is going down the tubes. God help us.

    1. Maybe if the animals in government and those with corporate power didn’t do everything to stack the deck against those “animals in the inner-cities,” they wouldn’t be animals in the first place…That’s ok, just lock em up! That’ll fix it. You make me sad and need to just die off. Isn’t there a tax cut/gun rally somewhere you can attend?

    2. Well I have a similar issue with the statement but from the other side. Here is what I wrote Murphy.
      “”This isn’t about hiring a 62-year-old vs. hiring a 26-year-old. I have nothing against old people, apart from the crippling education and health-care costs they have inflicted on a generation that they then have the temerity to call selfish.”

      You know, you and Scott Timberg should team up. Its truly insipid and historically and culturally inept frankly to get into generational blaming. I see this from writers your age all the time.

      I’m sorry you weren’t born in a more “favorable” time period. I wish I were God to accommodate you. But I’m not.

      Neither were the millions of my generation who could not prevent the frenzy of baby making our parents “the Greatest generation” indulged in when they came home from the war. Maybe they should get the blame, hmmm.

      You know I wish my father, as a typical man of his generation wasn’t such an emotionally closed, abusive SOB growing up. He refused to take responsibility for his family emotionally and started a new family secretly in another city. Boy did I steal from you on that one.

      If you had an ounce of intelligence, you would understand that “crippling education and health care issues” are deeply institutional ones that go so far beyond individual wishes, which most people are doing the best they can. and encompass a vast country that is impacted by a huge number of regressive red state and a compulsion to hold onto the most regressive health care system on Earth as part of its “ethic” as well as the biggest shift in wealth inequality in more than a century. This has been across all generational lines since the 60’s. That the money has gone to the top almost exclusively , that America is the most highly militarized nation on Earth and we blow 3/4 trillion on it EVERY YEAR, and has very little interest in its citizenry has been a right wing dream fulfilled since the advent of Reagan in 1980.

      You might read Bartlett and Steele’s “America:What went wrong” (which was an examination of the corruption of the Reagan Years-not Boomers by the way) and “Who Pays the taxes”. (They wrote for the Inquirer). Then you might actually learn something.

      I think you are a fairly fine columnist.

      But you need to grow up in this regard. Or continue to wallow in your victimhood and misguided blame game.

    1. Yeap has nothing to do with the continuous horrendous mismanagement of funds by the government in everything they touch.

      1. You are neglecting the vast centralization of corporate power, the shift of wealth upward, and the movement of meaningful work overseas. As of now, the Government works for them . Or have you not been paying attention?

  9. Sounds like “Murph”? (Kyle you are such a wishy washy pussy, you used to hate this guy) is getting ready to arrange a mass shooting at a retirement home. The O’s look pretty good nowadays an this “old guy” had a lot to do with it. How old was Gillick when he started putting the 08′ Phils together?

  10. Kyle, do you EVER have an original thought, or do you just rely upon local writers and Deadspin to keep this blog running? Just curious….

  11. I hardly believe Billy Beane, who is himself 53, is any sort of mathematician and somehow by the Grace of God was able to embrace this “new wave” of thinking. I for one am not a proponent of Age Discrimination and believe Old Dogs can learn new tricks, especially if that trick is simply hiring some Pubescent Nerd advisor. Furthermore, I think this movement to rely simply on statistics and calculations is just the sort hubris that comes with every new generation thinking it knows more than all of those that preceded it. Specifically, it fails to realize that stats are inherently limited and still need to be interpreted. Subsequently, they should be used as a compliment to EXPERIENCE WHICH IS THE TEACHER OF ALL THINGS (All hail Caesar)

    1. “Furthermore, I think this movement to rely simply on statistics and calculations is just the sort hubris that comes with every new generation thinking it knows more than all of those that preceded it.”

      There is no movement to “simply use” stats and calculation of to build teams. This is just blatant BS actually. Baseball stats are just another useful tool to help you make an intelligent decision. There are still scouting departments on every single team. Only fantasy baseball GM’s rely on nothing but stats. You did not use “hubris” correctly.

  12. I want the the next GM to be any fucking guy that gets rid of that useless piece of fucking monkey shit KKKKKKKKKKKK machine and sends him the fuck home to write fucking books with his whore white wife.

  13. Mike Sielski got shit from Ed Snider back in October 2013 when he bluntly told Snider that the Flyers may want “a fresh perspective.” Murphy wrote a very similar piece and justifiably so. This is a sports town that has owners who hate change. Props to the Eagles and Sixers for trying to change that mindset but the Flyers and Phillies may never win a championship for a long time. But we can always have alumni weekends.

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