Is Ruben Amaro, Next In Line?

With Pat Gillick announcing that next season will be his last in Philadelphia, the rumors start to fly about who will succeed him. It could set up somewhat of a power struggle as inside candidates jockey for position.

When Ruben Amaro, Jr first joined the Phillies front office, there were some eyebrows raised. First, Amaro wasn't completely convinced that his playing days were over, even though his career certainly wasn't as promising as it seemed to be at one time. Second, to retire from playing and instantly assume a job as an assistant general manager was quite a leap. Amaro decided to make the leap and threw himself into learning all he could from Ed Wade and the others around him.

Over the past couple of seasons, Amaro has emerged as one of the young, up-and-coming potential general managers in baseball. He's had a few interviews for head jobs in other cities, but has come up short. He also received a complimentary interview with the Phillies when they were last searching for a GM. Just recently, it looked like the GM job in Houston was Amaro's, but in the end, it went to his Wade. That brought up rumors that Amaro could head to Texas to work under Wade, but he's now in somewhat of a tough spot.

Amaro's contract - like that of manager Charlie Manuel - is up after the season and it's not out of the question that other organizations will come calling. If he jumps ship though, he likely takes himself out of consideration for the Phillies job which will open in one year when Gillick leaves - as he has said he's going to - at the end of his deal. For that reason, Amaro likely only goes elsewhere if it's to be the GM and not an assistant. It's not out of the question that the Phillies will negotiate a new deal with Amaro, which would take him from an assistant to the head man in 2009, giving him a season of work not just under Gillick, but along side of him. It would also set a clear course for the Phillies front office and avoid potential posturing that could come from a season with a lame duck GM and at least two assistants that would love to have the job.

Mike Arbuckle gets high marks for his scouting and minor league abilities and has taken a more active, but behind the scenes role with the Phillies when it comes to Major League issues. He isn't the front runner to succeed Gillick, but can't be counted out. (Photo:Holly Oswald/PBN)
Like Amaro, Mike Arbuckle has interviewed for GM jobs in other cities and come up short. He's been largely responsible for turning around a Phillies farm system that was completely woeful when he arrived. To acknowledge his contribution to the club, Arbuckle was made an assistant GM and has played an important role with the club. If he comes up short to Amaro, it's likely for two reasons. First, Amaro is a homegrown talent. His father played for the Phillies, Amaro himself played for the Phillies and he's paid his dues in the Philadelphia front office, taking an ever increasing and higher profile role with the club. Second, the Phillies may decide that they want someone with a younger approach to the game, which would give Amaro an edge over Arbuckle.

Other front office members could get a quick look, but will likely be passed over and can hope for a promotion to assistant GM as the best possible outcome for themselves. That would include Marti Wolever and Steve Noworyta. Wolevery serves as the Phillies Director of Scouting and Noworyta handles the duties of Minor League Director.

Amaro has played a more public role under Gillick, but Arbuckle's influence and level of input on Major League issues has grown greatly since Gillick took over.

Going outside the organization is always an option. The Phillies may consider the fact that right now, Boston Red Sox GM Theo Epstein has a contract that expires at the same time that Gillick's does and his future with the Sox is unclear. He already made one exit from the club - albeit short and temporary - and another longer and more permanent exit could be on the horizon if he finds the right opportunity. Going after such a high profile outsider would be against the grain of how the Phillies generally conduct business, but wouldn't be out of the question, especially if the Phillies string of playoff misses were to continue this season and next. Epstein could be viewed as somewhat of a savior who could come in and bring his considerable resume with him. Former Astros GM Gerry Hunsicker could also be a candidate, especially considering that he has ties to the area and is well respected within the Phillies organization. Hunsicker was considered briefly for the job when Wade was shown the door and could be another key outside option for the club if they were to decide to go that way.

For now though, the speculation will continue. The Phillies would do well to fight off some of that speculation by acting quickly if they do plan on making Amaro or Arbuckle their next GM.

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