Amaro Needs To Juggle a Lot of Issues

As with most moves, there are some who love the fact that Ruben Amaro has taken over and there are those that think it's a bad move. So, is Ruben Amaro poised to become a favorite or a flop in Philly? One thing is certain; he's got a lot of items on his "To Do" list.

Ruben Amaro, Jr. has seen the Phillies organization from every angle conceivable. First, he was the son of a popular player, growing up, going to school and following sports in the Philadelphia area.

From there, he became the bat boy for the 1980 World Champion Phillies team before going on to play in the majors and spend two stints with his favorite team, including one that made him part of the 1993 National League Championship club.

Eight years after that World Series letdown, Amaro would retire as a player and become an assistant GM under Ed Wade. Wade quickly allowed Amaro to take over parts of the job and before long, Amaro became the point-man when it came to negotiating contracts and deciding on which free agents to pursue. When Pat Gillick arrived, Amaro stayed on and over the last year, Gillick handed more and more responsibility to his protege. Even before Gillick announced his retirement, Amaro was the face of the front office.

Now, Amaro is officially the face of the Phillies and he's also the brain, in charge of making the moves that will keep them on top of the baseball world.

So, where does he start?

After the press conference to officially introduce him to the media, Amaro headed straight to California for the GM meetings. There, he'll plot the course for the future and get to work on the nitty-gritty.

One of the things that he'll have to work on is reshaping the front office. Mike Arbuckle, who was in charge of shaping the Phillies drafts, has emptied out his office and will resurface elsewhere. Kansas City, Milwaukee and Seattle are all possible landing points for the popular assistant GM.

The question is, who else will leave?

Arbuckle was not only popular among fans, but other members of the front office were also enamored with him and may remain loyal, looking for other jobs either with Arbuckle or simply away from Philadelphia. That's not to say that Amaro hasn't been liked and doesn't have support from other front office members, but he may lose some key members of the brain trust, including Scouting Director Marti Wolever. Wolever's contract is up at the end of the year and he hasn't committed to sticking with the organization. Perhaps, an invitation to take over Arbuckle's position would entice him.

Ruben Amaro answers questions during his inauguration as GM of the Phillies. He's flanked by former GM Pat Gillick, who is staying on as an adviser to Amaro and Dave Montgomery, the president of the Phillies.
Besides Wolever, Amaro may consider other in-house candidates to serve under him and handle the jobs that he and Arbuckle handled for Wade and Gillick. Steve Noworyta, the Phillies Director of Minor League Operations would be a likely choice to step into a higher role with the Phillies. Gordon Lakey, Director of Major League Scouting and Chuck LaMar, Director of Pro Scouting will also both be given consideration to move up in the ranks. LaMar is credited with building much of the Tampa Bay Rays that the Phillies defeated in the World Series when he was their GM for ten years. Charley Kerfeld, who served as a special assistant to GM Pat Gillick, deserves some consideration for a promotion as well.

We may also see some old friends return to the fold. Dave Hollins, who was a teammate of Amaro's on the '93 Phillies is now a scout with the Baltimore Orioles and has developed a good reputation around baseball. Perhaps Amaro brings him back to Philly. Another former Phillie, Rico Brogna, is now scouting for the Arizona Diamondbacks and has also gained a good reputation around baseball. Brogna and Amaro also played together during Amaro's second stint with the club.

Then, there are the on-the-field decisions. Re-signing Jamie Moyer and Scott Eyre figure to be pretty easy calls, but Pat Burrell is a decision for the ages. It may come down to how long of a contract Burrell will demand, with the Phillies holding the line at a maximum of two seasons. Since Burrell is a Type-A free agent, the Phillies are likely to at least offer him arbitration so they can cash in on the compensation they would be due if he does sign elsewhere. Of course, if the offers aren't as lucrative as he would like - and there are rumors that teams are going to drastically cut free agent spending this winter - Burrell could pull a Kevin Millwood and accept the offer to return to the Phillies for one season.

If Burrell exits, the Phillies will likely intensify their discussions with the Colorado Rockies to acquire outfielder Matt Holliday. The Rockies reportedly want young pitching in exchange for the runner-up MVP in 2007 and the Phillies have some young arms that they could give up. In fact, the two teams may be a perfect fit for a deal.

Acquiring Holliday would also bring another issue to the forefront. Holliday is represented by Scott Boras, who the Phillies have had some run-ins with in the past, especially over J.D. Drew. But the Drew debacle came before Amaro arrived and centered upon Wade and Arbuckle, who are both now gone from the organization. Perhaps the relationship between the two sides will now thaw slightly. Holliday is eligible for free agency following the 2009 season.

Another minor issue will be the coaching staff. While Charlie Manuel is signed, the coaches aren't and there are no guarantees that they'll all return. Odds are that Amaro will leave the decision up to Manuel and odds are that he'll keep the staff intact.

Clearly, Amaro has no time to breath. He is in the same situation that Cedric Tallis was 31 years ago. Tallis took over the World Champion New York Yankees after their victory in the '77 World Series when Gabe Paul made a hasty exit from the Bronx. The Yankees went on to repeat with Tallis at the helm and Amaro can only hope to have the same kind of success.

Now, if only he can have a moment to breath.

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